Tag Archives: upcycling

When the drapes became the bedspread

It’s been the time of year when I have to give up my much loved down duvet for a lighter bed covering for a few weeks now.

I have to shamefully admit that we’ve been using a plain green store-bought quilt for the last few summers since buying a bigger bed. (And I still haven’t gotten around to finishing a bigger quilt… yes, that shirt one I started years ago isn’t any further along, and it is even further from my thoughts.)

I’m thinking of other quilts I’d like to make, but I don’t really have the space or patience right now to make one as big as I’d like – at least king-sized, though the bed is a queen – so I accepted another summer of the boring commercially-made thing.

Then a week or two ago, I stopped by the thrift store to find some summer pants to replace the ones I intentionally (and not) turned into paint pants, and happened to wander by the home textiles – a land of either intimately disgusting, or wonderfully fabulous, textilely things. In the past I’ve scored vintage drapes and tablecloths that I’ve re-sold well online, and our current perfect-condition woolly throw blankets are pre-owned.

bedspread-curtains

This time, a set of jacquard toile drapes – two panels and two valances – caught my eye and passed my it’s-pleasant-to-the-touch, seems to be natural fibers, and doesn’t stink or have gross stains test (though the dye had bled and the fabric was a bit puckered from a hot wash or dry). I passed them by, but came back just before leaving, figuring I could use the fabric to make knitting bags…

or perhaps, a bedspread?

Now, the fabric really isn’t my thing. I collected blue and white dishes for only a half a second in my past, once put a cobalt blue wine bottle on the kitchen windowsill for a few weeks, and only have just a few toile pieces in my stash. I like deer, but don’t like hunting scenes, and the over-the-top romanticism?

No, because it falls in with things I don’t like such as the paler pinks and purples, some peach (but not peaches), pearlized things, potpourri, Precious Moments, things with panache, plump, perfume, things with poof and pounce, pathetic romance novels, and most of all:

putti.

bedspread-putti

And our house is an amalgamation of mid-century modern, late 19th century office, Italian/Moroccan/New Mexican fusion, and art school detritus – nothing frilly or froofy or sickeningly sentimental between our walls.

But I wanted this perfect-weight cottony thing on the bed.

bedspread-no binding

And so it is.

bedspread-binding detail

I cut the curtains in half, alternated the right and wrong sides, and added one of the valances.

I wanted it to be reversible, so I sewed twill tape over the seams. I wanted to dye the tape, but I figured that would set the project back days or years. The seams on the tape are a bit wonky due to my impatience and the difficulty in shoving this huge heavy thing into my old machine on a too-small table, but it is a practical piece that will get laundered and abused, so perfection is pointless.

bedspread-binding

And I think I like the tape side better as the public side…?

bedspread-deer

So now I can slumber under slaughter-in-progress deer, and hope the putti don’t plunk down in my dreams…

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Filed under collecting, home, home decor, quilts, recycling, sewing, thrifting

Child stitchery (not in a sweatshop)…

On a trip to visit my folks (I won’t say home because they tragically (for me) sold it some years ago) earlier this summer, I finally found this little fabric picture that used to hang in my bedroom.

Birdscene

The scene is one I drew, and drew quite often as a slightly obsessive little sh*t, and at the dumbsh*t age when I didn’t comprehend that the sky wasn’t just up there and therefore depicted it as a stripe.  So let’s say I was four, or should four-year-olds understand how the sky works?  So maybe I’ll say three…  Regardless, my mother deemed my “Bird In Flight to Nest” precious and decided to turn it into a sewing lesson.  I’ll say that it was my first, but I really don’t know.  She cut out the pieces, sewed the margins on the machine, and gave it to me to applique.  I do clearly remember getting somewhat bored or frustrated with it, and it is also quite clear that she finished it for me and then added a few embroidered embellishments.  I don’t know if this took place in the span of a day or I abandoned it for some time and she got tired of having it only partially completed for weeks or months.  I also don’t remember if it was during the one truly massive blizzard of my youth (though I think I was down with the chicken pox then) or in the leisurely long days before I had to go to school.  Either way, it was something I did as a child wherein my hands and mind were engaged (and it wasn’t so traumatic that I didn’t want to do it again).

Birdscene-det

This was before the recent cringe-worthy days of fashionable “upcycling.” Smack in the 1970s when fuel crises, a renewal of the back to the earth movement, thoughts of Silent Spring, and the birth of Earth Day were kicking around.  My parents left their urban home to escape air pollution, overcrowding, and to grow wholesome organic food on a few idyllic acres.  We were also broke-ass poor, so recycling old clothes into craft projects was both a necessity and entirely practical – how many thousands of years have we just used what we have and then used it some more?  Why should this now be a trendy buzzword to help sell our crafty stuff?  Convince the buyer that her materialism is ok because it’s upcycled and therefore she is a conscientious fabulous person?

Fabric is fabric is fabric… and is infinitely re-usable.  Sometimes the perfect print is on a bolt, sometimes it’s a pair of pants… you’re not special for using or buying either one.

But back to the picture.

The components are:

Sun:  I assumed the terrycloth sun was salvaged from a much abused towel, but my mom said it was leftover fabric from some shorts she made for my brothers as small children in the 1960s… I’m not sure I’d like terrycloth shorts… they seem so, absorbent?

Tree trunk:  Yep, that’s my dad’s old tie – gotta love plaid neck wear…

Sky:  Leftovers from a quilt my mother made for me of yellow, green, and blue gingham to match my wallpaper of the same colors (only the wallpaper also had puke tones in it too).

Flowers, eggs, bird parts:  Felt scraps – who didn’t have random felt scraps lying around?

Nest:  Burlap feed sack – we lived on a little farm with little animals and a pony.  Food for them came in burlap bags.

Bird:  This is an odd denim/oxford cloth hybrid that was probably clothing in its former life.

Grass, leaves:  We can’t remember what these scraps are from, but I wore various homemade calico skirts, shorts, halter tops (remember, 1970s over here) and dresses.

Background:  This could have been leftover paining canvas or material for rustic curtains.

And even though this turned into a rage against the preciousness of upcycling, it was originally meant to be a rage against not teaching children how to sew or make bread or brush animals or do anything constructive with their hands.  Yeah, there are a few schools that teach such things, but as a whole we’re becoming such boring dumb-asses with our iSh*t.

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