Up-Cycled History

the felt needle book I made for my mother, aged 10!

In these times of deep economic recession, up-cycling old items of clothing into new inventions is all the rage.  Couple this economic gloom with the dark days of winter (for me, a traditional time of hibernation), what better way to while away these long winter evenings than a bit of hand-stitched patchworking?  A recession-busting activity not only good for the soul but also kind on the wallet.  With the first buds of Spring just around the corner, and my first grandchild due in the Summer, what better incentive is there than to channel my excitement at the prospect of becoming a Grandmother into making something like a unique cot quilt to welcome the new arrival?

Once Liz (at Threads) had shown me how to make a patchwork ‘flower’ using a hexagonal template, there was no stopping.   I had planned the whole project to be a surprise, but my daughter ‘skyped’ me one evening and caught me ‘in the act’.  Having owned up with some relief that I could now enjoy my progress with her, she was absolutely delighted with the flowers I had produced thus far, calling them ‘stars’, a description which I prefer.

a few ‘stars’
reverse view

Having bought a selection of new materials from Liz to get me started, I then raided my old trunk for other likely scraps I could use with the result that my ‘starburst’ patchwork is now studded with patterns from my own family history.   Scraps gleaned from old jeans, surplus curtain hems, discarded arm-chair covers, cotton shirts and old duvet covers, finding a new life in a quilt lovingly put together for this very latest addition to the family, slowly embedded with a scattering of old family memories.

rough layout

Far from being boring and repetitive, this activity is proving to be a very satisfying and therapeutic thing to do, particularly when only half an ear is required for telly viewing.  For such intricate, close-up work, (my eyesight being no longer 20/20 vision, not that it ever was), a strong light and a needle threader are vital aids for the job.  The needle threader, being no bigger than the width of a human hair, does have to be treated with the utmost respect.  I’ve already lost one in the pile of my rug, so have taped my current one to its holder so that it shall not escape, or I shall be utterly lost.

I am already looking at other types of quilting techniques and particularly like the creative aspect and sometimes random method of patchworking.  This one, my first, is evolving as I go along, a creative technique that is very familiar to me.  But I fear I will become more ambitious.  I’m already planning other quilts and looking at what people are wearing with a critical eye!   I think I shall have to raid the charity shops for a new source of material, even though in these times of austerity, I think most people are probably holding onto their old clothes.  Perhaps I might tap into the wonderful ‘network’ that is Network Cornwall and get a message out there that I am looking for scraps of material for up-cycling!   I have never known this network not to come up trumps.