Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Walk to the Quilt Shop

The time of red berries and yellow leaves is here. We took a walk to a part of town which is actually less than 2 miles away from the city, but nice and quiet with shady gardens and a squirrel:
This one wasn't shy at all and approached us to a distance of about 2 yards. But it was moving too fast to be caught by the camera.
In this part of town, there are two shops that attract us. J has his comic book shop where he purchased the latest Marvel book; and I got a little pack of long hand quilting needles in our quilt shop. There were beautiful quilts for sale or just exposed to be admired. Beautiful cloth, wonderful colors, traditional patterns, well-sewn -- to put it short: boring.

What was I thinking? I can't believe what I said! Sorry!

I just noticed that I took a pledge. It is named the Poverty Quilt Challenge. I feel like founding a web ring named CIRQUE. Chaotic Inspired Rag Quilts of the Universe and Europe. Badge may be copied freely.
This is all self-evident for American readers; you are invited to skip it, if it is so.

Germans have a different attitude towards used things. They associate them to the years 1945-1948 when they had literary nothing. Very little food, heating material and clothing. Everything was recycled and formed into something useful. Steel helmets were made into cooking pots. Parachute silk was crocheted into bed quilts. And it was not over during my childhood in the Fifties! I had a doll quilt made of parachute silk! We mostly wore clothes from my older cousins. My granddad used his pencils, until they were so short that he could not even put them into a pencil holder.
Most older people in Germany hate second-hand material like rags because they remind them of 1946/47.
This was a poverty that was not self-chosen. But some think it was just.

But I dig recycling. I find it inspiring. The rules I chose for myself are such:
"It is a matter of self-chosen limits. At least 75% of the quilt should be used or vintage fabric. Limitation is sexy! Use what you've got. Own stash, discarded clothes, swapped, given, inherited, second-hand bargains.
It is a matter of Feng Shui. Use what you have or give it away. The sum of items kept in your household can decrease this way, this is a healthy process.
It is a matter of environmental protection. Textile garbage is a serious challenge.
It is a matter of magic. Used fabric, especially those that have been used by you and your family, are bearers of memory."

When I saw these beautiful fabrics, I started thinking about the origin of patchwork. It started because Indian calico was forbidden to import in the 17th century by the King of GB. But as these fabrics were so popular and beautiful, women kept every last scrap and made appliques out of the flower motifs or created pieced bed curtains and bed throws. -- The korak quilts of Central Asia, the rally quilts from India -- they are results of limited stash. And there was patchwork in Buddhist India. The monks made their gown out of given cloth pieces and dyed them marron to reach an overall look. Some parts of Buddhist ritual robes are pieced today, too. As they had taken the vow not to own posessions, this was a natural results. The Choed yogis of Tibet went even further: They used rags from the deceased in order to demonstrate their renounciation on worldly goods and their fearlessness about taboos like not to touch things that were taken from a dead body.

Quilting wasn't invented in order to cut good fabrics into scraps and rearrange them. But it is possible, it is fun and the material is there. Fabrics are a color palette like any other. Anyone who has fun doing so, should do it -- certainly there's nothing wrong with that! We are lucky to have this abundance and beautiful colors.


Clare Wassermann said...

Yes what a super post. I am of the bought fabric school but moving toward the found fabric movement. I now inhabit second hand shops and look in skips. It's much friendlier!!

jude said...

i think there is room for buying, but i do tend to buy from hand dyers rather than the quilt shop. , but then again small shops are pressed to make a living too. it is all quite confusing. i think it is a matter of not wasting first and then getting what you need from an honest merchant.

Eva said...

Jude, of course you are right. It is just what I implied on myself.

Gerry said...

In my closet there are mostly non-woven tops and jean-like bottoms - not that great for quiltmaking.
My better dresses and skirts are still around after many years of use. Guess I'm not one to shop for current fashion.
HOWEVER, Clare may have a good point regarding second-hand shopping just for current projects.
Gerry - in the land of the throw-aways

Deb G said...

What a great challenge! It is interesting how different cultures perceive new and used.

I haven't bought new fabric for anything other than dyeing in the last couple years. Yarn is another story! I try to get organic or hemp when I can and buy from locally owned stores as much as possible.

Deborah said...

I love this post! When I first started quilting I used only second-hand materials, my own clothes. Then I used inherited stashes and clothes from thrift stores, etc. I do buy new fabric on occasion now, but only in bits and pieces as they call to me. Decades ago my grandmother and great-aunt admonished me to use only new fabric, but happily I haven't followed that advice.

Pat said...

what a great post. thoughtful. i have used both new and recycled and upcycled fabrics and clothing in my textile work. one of my favorite quilts was made almost entirely from the stash of an elderly quilter who had given up quilting. i also my own scraps from that woman's stash who make hexagon quilts for gifts. now to be truly honest in self-disclosure i must say: yes, i do have a stash of 'new' purchased fabric from retail outlets. and i LOVE it too.

i think you bring an historic and cultural experience to the 'art' of recycling that none of us can share but all can appreciate. thank you eve for giving us your experience....

Margarita Korioth said...

Moin!It is off-topic..but just came back from Hamburg; you live in a beautiful city!
It is always nice to visit your blog and read your opinions and see your work.
regards from Florida:)

Quilt Architect said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Diane said...

I use as much recycled fabric as possible in my creations. I think iitis important for our environment to adopt this attitude. I do buy new when it is necessary, but for the most part...used its the way to go!