Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Pants pillow


                                                                                      Pillow made from 1960's? cotton corduroy pants that belonged to my brother-in-law's grandfather, 1920's (or earlier) wool tapestry , 1960's cotton curtain fabric, assorted silk, linen, and cotton scraps, a vintage tape measure, and catfish line (a nod to the time his grandfather spent in the Louisiana bayous.)

construction project

interior of pillow front showing applique stitching on old sheet, and white cotton pants pockets at bottom


.. plaid lining of the pillow back... I resorted to hand-stitching in places at the side seams where my machine couldn't sew over the thick pocket-seams in the pants.  One aspect of working with a garment-- something I've been wanting to try-- is working around bulky seams. Using the pants was an opportunity for me to do that and to make something for my brother-in-law and sister that has personal meaning, but the process was cumbersome, so I think I'll call this experiment a one-off.

no-label pants

                                                                                The corduroys used in the pillow were one among several "no-label" pairs of pants, including these chinos, which appear to be professionally made.  The quality of construction details, while beyond  amateur sewing, is nowhere near the finish level of fine tailoring.  A guess is that his grandfather regularly ordered up sturdy and serviceable pants from his tailor and said  "make it fast".

thinking of...

Peruvian artist Jorge Eielson who made art with old clothes-- this is Camicia 1964--  came to mind.

 Also the Gee's Bend work-clothes quilts, like this one by Lutisha Pettway    The dark spots indicate pockets that were removed prior to sewing, possibly to avoid sewing over bulky seams?


....the return of Tillycat 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

New, old, ancient

 New pillow made from vintage fabrics (1920's- 2013) which include a 1930's blue cotton flour sack,  1950-60's gray floral-print cotton (my grandmother's curtains),   green woven 1960's cotton (our den curtains growing up),  1980's plaid wool (my sister's pants), and newly bought yellow burlap and digital print silk from my scarf .


                                                I think the oldest fabric in the group is this red woven wool which was in a box with some other upholstery scraps and a receipt dated September 1926. The color and weave brought to mind ancient South American textiles....

                                                                                                 ......like the one I sketched when I visited the "Wari: Lords of the Andes" exhibition at the Kimbell Art Museum in Aug 2013.

Referencing the photo in the exhibition catalog, I pulled together the other fabrics to complete the color palette.


the main idea was to showcase the pattern and weave of the red wool. 

thinking of a color-blocked composition like  Hans Hofmann 's painting "Elysium" 


The blue wool plaid reminded me of  Japanese boro textiles  , like this jacket

and since I wanted to use up some scraps that were already in strips, I sewed them, along with other darker cotton scraps onto an old bed sheet.   

 Then I cut that textile into strips...

and sewed those strips in layers to make a textile.  The white sheet pops through in places and accentuates lines and texture.

the scrap of digital print silk was added just before I sewed the pillow together.


Here, the right and wrong side of the curtain fabric are sewn together to make a new pattern. The matrix of raised, stitched lines is the result of sewing with a double needle.  The curtain fabric is old and tears easily in places; sewing it onto a lining not only reinforces it, but creates another texture, a map-like effect, which I really like.


The handwritten label sewn onto the pillow back is made of the cotton lining of our 1960's den curtains.