Imaginative, Alternative Quilting Projects
May 16, 2011
Can’t quite bear the thought of saying goodbye to that threadbare pair of jeans or stained suede jacket? Consider making a quilt entirely out of discarded clothing. Even the ugliest holiday sweater or loudest Hawaiian shirt can discover new purpose when tastefully incorporated into a quilt that will serve as a reminder of where you’ve been and what you wore.
Challenge yourself to push past the boundaries of symmetrical quilting patterns and try something more freeform. You might begin with a favorite photograph, trace and simplify the basic elements, and enlarge the whole to make a new pattern. If you’re familiar with a graphics editing program, its likely to allow you to “posterize” an image by reducing it to a limited number of colors, which will make it easier to match the tone and shade of the shapes. Or simply squint at the photo to help reduce the details and spot the basic forms.
Many craft shops sell colorfast fabric paints. Even if you don’t fancy yourself an artist, you can achieve unique effects by painting your own fabric scraps with different textures or patterns. Try making an apple tree quilt by daubing red and yellow paint onto circles of muslin, and cutting them out for rosy apples nestled into leaves of green fabric.
Who says you have to stop with fabric? You can create a stunning decorative quilt with new layers of texture by including beadwork or by incorporating metallic trim into the design. Or try experimenting with letting the seams of your quilt show, and let the piecing edges fray for added interest. Hunt for unusual scraps from recycled materials such as sails, sheepskin or cowhide, or even printed billboard material.