This quilt is for Hannah, my cousin-to-be down in Georgia. Hannah will be the first baby born amongst the eight cousins on my mom’s side. Can’t wait to meet the little one!
Made from men’s dress shirts, this is probably the most amount of colors I’ve ever used in a quilt. The back is two yards of Liberty of London, which seems to be my fabric of choice for making baby quilts.
A huge thanks to my dear friend Ayça for being the model behind this quilt. She has the strongest fingers and most quilt holding endurance of anyone I know. We photographed the quilt together around our Brooklyn neighborhood last weekend, cheering up the slushy snow from recent storm Nemo.
Let me introduce you to my bicycle. She’s a 1972 Schwinn Breeze, manufactured in our very own Chicago, Illinois. The Schwinn catalog will tell you her color is Burgundy, although I like to describer her as Raspberry, pronounced razzz-berry (sounds so breezy, right?). She was a gift from a long-ago boyfriend, and while he didn’t stick around, she found a place on display in my apartment. I was initially attracted to her glitter handlebars, and the two-tone seat sealed the deal.
I have a love/hate relationship with this two-wheeled beauty – she’s a bit slow, very heavy, and loves to run out of air. Maybe a few of those things could be fixed, and she’d certainly look heavenly with a wicker basket and streamers at the end of those magnificent handles, but while she’s on winter hiatus, let’s just leave her be. She’s resting up for summer, where she will make her way to various Brooklyn beaches, fending off catcalls from hipsters whizzing by on their fixed gears.
Winter hiatus. Or you could call it winter hibernation. It’s the few weeks each year I take vacation from work to stay in the city to explore, rejuvenate, get inspired, and make things. The quilt in the background is my most labor-intensive yet, totaling exactly 2,808 pieces, 13 men’s dress shirts, and almost a hundred hours (so far!). It will be a few months until I finish putting all the layers together, and make important decisions such as, “What should the back look like? What color should the quilting thread be? And the binding…?” After finishing the patchwork last night at 3am, I’m looking forward to taking on some smaller endeavors in the meantime.
On her latest visit to Brooklyn, my friend Stephanie suggested a quilt block exchange amongst our trio of textile lovers, including Tara. We formed our rules: each person must make six squares sized 24″x24″ using shades of white and creams. Each person keeps two of their own squares, and sends two squares to each of the others. The deadline was December 19, but of course, none of us hit the deadline (poorly timed with holiday gift-making season!). This week, after somewhat mastering the skill of quilting circles, I delivered my pieces to Stephanie and Tara.
My fabrics are a mixture of men’s dress shirts and purchased yardage. I wanted an excuse to start using the 3,287 (maybe a slight exaggeration) decorative stitches that my sewing machine can produce, so I added texture with rows of embroidery. I’m going to create a throw-sized sampler quilt with all six of our combined blocks, so stay tuned.
I’ve spent the past three months collecting an obscene amount of men’s dress shirts for my quilts. I picked up half the shirts at the Goodwill outlet in nearby Queens. The other half were the result of losing self-control on recent vacations to Maine and Michigan. There was no reason I needed so many shirts (I can’t quilt that fast!), and both my carry on luggage and checked baggage hated me.
I approach a new quilt design from two angles, and depending upon where inspiration strikes, either approach comes first. One angle is the layout of the patchwork, which begins with a hand sketch and evolves into a digital mockup. The other angle is the color palette, where I cut small swatches of the shirts and arrange them in color palettes. This is where the complexity enters: one shirt only has so much yardage, so if I want a big patch of something like red, I have to collect many shades of reddish shirts and make sure they are a harmonious combination. And color is all relative, so when multiple colors are introduced, I have to make sure the figure-ground relationship is clear.
Today I cut swatches from my inventory of 100 shirts and laid them out to evaluate my craziness collection. After arranging them all by hue, I re-arranged the swatches into mini palettes and photographed them to inspire my next quilt.
The last two quilts I’ve made from men’s dress shirts are here and here. With the holiday season approaching and winter hibernation kicking in, hopefully I’ll have a new quilt to share soon.
Last weekend I shared close-ups of this quilt, and here are all 910 of the squares at once. It’s made from a countless number of men’s dress shirts, cut into 3″ x 3″ squares and arranged in a cascade of white patterns to solid blues. Other than loosely planning the gradient from top to bottom, the placement of the squares is completely random. The effect is sparkling, like a body of water viewed from above, or an image pixelated in Photoshop.
This quilt is a wedding gift for one of my close childhood friends who gets married tomorrow. I hope it accompanies her and her husband on a lifetime of love and happiness!
A big shout out to my very tall friend Colin for being the man behind the blanket. It was a windy day on the Hudson River last week, and he managed to hold the quilt gracefully, even making himself eerily invisible in the photographs.