Denim Story

The next bag I made from old denim has a story.

I put out the word out to people I know to save their old jeans for me. One day a neighbor that I know casually brought me several pairs. One was made from black denim, from Germany.  I explained to her what I was doing with the denim and this lead to a nice chat. She intimated that she was in a very distressing situation with her adult son. He was in rehab. He was about to be released and she was very worried that he was not ready for the real world. She was right at the doorway of reality. She knew this was the defining moment…she could not cave….she must stay strong; but it was plain to see, she was terrified. She had to believe that what ever happened it was up to HIM, not her.

I could relate as I went through a similar situation not to long ago. This was the first person I had met that I could offer sound advice and encouragement from experience. I was surprised at how confident I sounded…that I could immediately cut through what she was saying and translate; her words and thinking revealed how unsteady her thinking was. My responses were immediate…I knew exactly what to say….the same things others had said to me….that I couldn’t wrap my brain around. Now I could see this clearly and be supportive in a kind way that enabled her see the reality from a new source.

During my struggle last year…I sought counseling.  I went weekly. It was a constant acknowledgement of my pain and deeply troubling. I knew I had to face the truth…that I could not fix it. I was fixated upon impending doom. My counselor stood by me and relentlessly repeated what I had to do. Eventually, it came to a point where she made me aware that I had come far enough, that I knew what I had to do. My counselors parting words were:

If you don’t get out of his way…..he doesn’t stand a CHANCE.

Wow! That hit me smack in the gut. That became my mantra. I am so grateful for the wisdom of my counselor Erin Brower.

Thus, the chat with my neighbor was highly beneficial for both of us; we bonded through crisis.

I proceeded to use the denim jeans she gave me; her black jeans and her husbands well worn blue jeans. I used bleach to remove color using both liquid and a bleach pen. I enjoyed using the bleach pen but it didn’t go far. I wrote words and swirls. The black denim changed dramatically. The end result was a pinkish beige and black areas. How interesting! Now I a multitude of ideas about black denim.

I love it when I see something totally unexpected. This immediately jump starts creative thoughts.

I decided to make a bag for my neighbor with her black jeans.

As I thought about the style of a bag and how it could relate to her….I continued to think about her STORY.  My STORY and hers had connected.

The black denim had wonderful character and I liked the overall effect thus, I decided to use whole chunks rather than cutting up the fabric which reduced the construction time a lot. The black denim was gorgeous but an accent color was needed. The blue denim was the perfect accent. The picture shows pieces of the bleached blue jeans. This doesn’t look like much to work with does it? This is how it starts.

BB_blue_denim

The bag was developed with a front and back side. The front would have a functional pocket and details. The back would be subtle and personal.

I wanted to tell the STORY on the back without it being obvious. This way she could share the  STORY to certain people when it was appropriate. The purpose of the STORY was to define life’s reality and option. The story is brief and to the point.

Your Chance-Your Choice

She could selectively reveal the STORY. It HIS CHANCE for a new start…as well as HERS  and both had a CHOICE.

The construction of the bag went smoothly and as I sewed I continued to think about her, her son and my story. The design is called a knife edge, referring to the seaming of the front and back. This image shows the bag wrong side out with front and back joined and the darts on the corners.

knife_edge

I included a monogram, of the letter B; like Chanel (two C’s). This was free motion stitched. First I stitched a rectangle and then positioned the two B’s back to back. monogram

 

 

 

 

I also made a large initial B out of blue denim.

large_BThe swirls were the perfect spot to write text. I made a stencil from freezer paper for the word CHANCE. I painted this in yellow to stand out. I used a small alphabet stamp set to write the other words.

I spent 30 hours creating the design and constructing the bag plus one week dyeing and planning.

I called her and told her I had something for her. I walked to her house and we chatted and she gave me an update.  In the elapsed time her frame of mind was completely improved. She had managed to stand firm. Her son did leave rehab, he moved into a half way house and had a job. At 45 years old, he now had for the first time in his life a new start….a CHANCE. She beamed with happiness (as well as relief).

Then I knew it was the perfect time to present the bag to her.

She gasped!

She was completely blown away!

She cried and cried…she repeated: I love it…thank you…thank you….thank you.  More tears and more thanks…it was truly the perfect gift. I then explained the process, my reasons and how she could share the story if she wanted to. She immediately said “I do want to share the story”.

We, who have been through something like this, know this is how we heal…through support and encouragement.

Her husband was in complete amazement….he said, “no one has ever done anything for her like this”.

A perfect ending to a perfect story.

bag_finished

P.S. I am proud my son has taken control of his life. He has come along way. I commend my daughter for taking a stand and initiating the recovery for are family. We are grateful this is behind us now. Thank You Erin.

If you would like a bag personally made for you or someone else…please contact me. I love making these bags.

**I ask that you respect my original design. Please do not copy or put any of my images on Pinterest. Thank You.** 

 

 

 

 

Website Redesign in Progress-Denim Bags

I finally gave in and decided to have this website redesigned. Anyone who uses WordPress for their website knows how often the updates are issued. This eventually becomes problematic. I have hired Holly Knott to do this work. She is very talented and also makes art quilts. I am very excited about this change. I estimate the new site to be up by mid-March.

In the meantime, I have continued my focus on sewing with old denim. I love the feel. I love the comfort of it. I made a bag for all three of my grandchildren for Christmas. The first two are conservative and practical, for the boys. The third, for my granddaughter, took a completely different direction.. What fun this was! This bag took a lot longer and I almost didn’t finish it by Christmas day. I was still hand sewing the edges as we drove to their home. All three kids love their bags. I wrote sentiments on the inside and the date.

I am optimistic that these bags will connect me with specific people who will embrace them for art as well as a functional bag.

Major concern:

To be copied or added to Pinterest. I admit, I truly don’t think anyone could actually copy me, but, rather take the concept. Thus, I will only show sections of the bag here

The denim used for this bag was prepared by a process to remove some of the indigo dye. I used shibori techniques and loved the results. Each type of denim produced a unique coloration. This truly amazed me and prompted me to think about a completely different look.

.M_bag_section1

I used original stamps and cut stencils to apply various colors of paint. Her favorite color is purple so that is the main color. The body of the bag is constructed with sections of jeans mixed together. Any pockets are left open and usable. This is challenging. Some motifs are outlined with hand stitching.

M_bag_section3M_bag_section2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yo-Yo’s, lace and buttons as embellishments.

More to come about denim bags in my next post.

 

 

Forever Blue Jeans

L_side2_RI recently discovered how much I like to sew denim, primarily old blue jeans. The older the better. Stains, holes, faded…I love it all!

I have asked my friends to save their blue jeans for me. I’ve got a good start on a collection already. A project I decided to do for Christmas was to make denim bags for my three grandchildren. A sturdy bag that they could use for carrying things, like books from the library. This didn’t come to me until the first week in December. I didn’t think it would take much time to make them. So I began on the bag for the little guy, Liam, 5 years old. This went fast and I was encouraged. This is the front which was primarily a denim dress I got at a 2nd hand store. The denim was stretchy and soft, thus the bag is sort of floppy.

The capital L is made of soft leather and stands for Liam.L_side_R   The patch on the front top was too thick, thus a curve developed there which I liked. That patch is actually left of center. The Right side has a pocket and is trimmed in the same leather. The inside was left unlined, instead I put a wide facing and hand stitched it down. Hind sight: I would sew a complete lining, put right sides together and turn down the top edges and top stitch.  All of the seams were overcast and top stitched in various ways. I used authentic jeans thread which is very thick.

The second bag is larger. I made it basic to look masculine. This one has red ultra suede trim.

A_front_RI combined several types of denim.

The upper right patch is more of the dress.

A_back_RI came up with a logo that is an outline of a red heart with a G in the center. G for Grammie.

 

I wrote inside of each bag. Including names, dates and sentiments.

T0tal time: 16 hours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fabric Bridges and Blending

UFO’s (unfinished objects) wait patiently to be finished. Some of mine are being very patient. Some UFO’s present challenges that I am not up for or do not have solutions for. Some are reminders of courses I took that didn’t pan out the way I hoped. Some have good ideas but need to be finished with new ideas and techniques that I have not come across or thought of yet. What I love the most about UFO’s is the potential;  the opportunity to create something totally unexpected. Having the space of time from initiation to the final (new) steps is valuable. I rarely throw out a project as I am hopeful for good things to come. The benefits are worth the wait as I found in my most recent attempts.

Image3

In November I decided to revisit a quilt design that I started over three years ago, done with a traditional snow ball block design. But, what I like most about it is the fabrics and the way they blend and build bridges. I used some of Kaffe Fassett’s fabrics which have fabulous colors and batiks that complimented.

This quilt was intended for my daughter Michelle. I was shooting for a lap quilt but somehow the finished size grew beyond that, 60″ square. After I had the quilt top about 1/3 done, I showed her a book of Kaffe Fassett’s work and asked her if she liked it and she turned her nose up. That dashed my spirits and I lost all interest. It has been in a box ever since.

Since I started my new series titled Bridges, I now notice fabrics that are good candidates for building a bridge. A bridge is an element in a design that travels across from one point to another in a bold or dynamic fashion; that unite and blend as well.

I think Kaffe’s fabric has marvelous blending qualities.However, I included some batiks to compliment them. I like the combinations.

My daughters old lap quilt that I made her about 14 years ago has completely disintegrated. It was made of flannel and not a good quality either. I made it as one of my very first projects. I had no idea of the various qualities of fabric at the time. This quilt has gone everywhere even to the labor/delivery room 3 times. She has been needing a new one for quite some time. I thought about starting a new one, letting her pick out the fabrics. Instead, I decided to take out the one I started and rethink things. When I took it out, I realized how much it fit into my current series theme of blending and bridges. Was I ahead of myself when I started it? Did I need to wait for experience? I think so. I do love the fabrics and the design.

My daughter likes pineapples and butterflies. I put a large pineapple as the center piece and found a fabric that had butterflies (border).

center

I drew the design of the pineapple and created it on a interfacing foundation, hand appliqued and then attached as one unit. This is a favorite applique technique of mine.

center 2 I rather like working in a square format it sets up different observations.

This one is too large for me to quilt so now I am searching for a long arm quilter that does creative work. I hope I find a good one.

I was able to finish the top before Christmas and could present it to my daughter. I was delighted to see the WOW! expression on her face. She LOVED it. Success. Not only did I need to wait to finish it, but she needed time to appreciate new things.

Image3

 Another UFO complete.

 

Bainbridge Arts and Crafts Gallery August Exhibition

I was honored to be invited to show my art work for the month of August at the Bainbridge Arts and Crafts gallery on Bainbridge Island. The theme was “textile artists thinking about water”.  The exhibit was cohesive with beautiful sculptural wood by one artist that added a dynamic contrast.

This video is a tour of the wall that my work filled. Unfortunately the color is not accurate. The main color in the palette is aqua.

Four pieces sold. One was purchased by a woman who is decorating a little house in Ireland.  The other three pieces are proudly hanging in my neighbor Cheryl Lannoye’s home.

The gallery staff did a fine job and made the collection look fantastic;  I was totally pleased. Opening night attracted quite a lot of people. The energy in the room was electric.

The follow day, Saturday, I was invited to give a demo of my hand work. My granddaughter Madeleine joined me.

Madeleine prepared for this event. She visited me two weeks prior to learn embroidery. She picked it up right away. She brought a drawing of a landscape that she wanted to sew. She wanted a unique background so I took out various fabrics and cut some small squares allowing her to pick and place the colors where she wanted. I stitched them together to make a 7×9″ piece. She knew exactly where she wanted certain colors and values.

Madeleine’s landscape background

She started with the tree and included a shadow. She couched on nubby yarn to create the tree trunk and tree foliage. The sun is in the right top corner thus the angle of the shadow. We had a discussion about what color shadows are. She got it right, a darker value of the same color. (Some people think all shadows are gray.)  She used a seed stitch to depict the texture of the grass in the area of the shadow.

My daughter Michelle was with us at the demo.

A perfect event.

 

On Sight Demonstration

August 4th my granddaughter Madeleine and I will give a demonstration for one hour at 12:30 p.m. at Bainbridge Arts and Crafts gallery. We will show how to add beads and decorative stitches by hand.

Madeleine will be working on her landscape and I will work on a collage.

Please stop by and visit us.

 

 

 

 

My Other Blogs

I have several blogs. Two are from my early days that I do not use anymore and one is geared to home, family and travel which I will continue to use.

It is amazing to look back at that blog and see where my head was at the time we moved to Washington two years ago. I was euphoric!

Check it out.

Title: goodasitgets