FTC Disclosure

I’ve made upcycled quilts, and I’ve made art quilts, but this is the first time I’ve made an upcycled art quilt.

Birds on a Thread

A local group, Birds on a Thread, meets quarterly to discuss art quilting and to set a challenge theme. Past themes have included Windows, Still Life of Fruit, and Lines. Our current theme is Upcycling.

Back in November, when I heard the new challenge theme, I started collecting some items that I thought might be useful: net fruit bags, coffee bags, cut-off ends of zippers, a sliced-up measuring tape, a broken HDMI cable, a chunk of inner tube from a flat motorcycle tire…. Initially, I figured I’d do something “breakfast” related with all of my food goodies that would tie back to the still life challenge quilt, but then I narrowed it down to coffee. Much of my life revolves around coffee.

I sketched out a close-up view of a coffee cup, and decided to use the coffee bags and inner tube. I also made myself a couple of cups of tea to think over the design and to stain some tea bags to use for “foam” in the cup. The problem with all of those materials is that they perforate, so you don’t want to make too many holes (or mistakes). So I thought that instead of binding them, I’d couch the HDMI cable around the edge instead of binding–but it was a little bulky (a lot bulky). My husband, for some reason, had two broken phone chargers out in the garage. It was all coming together!

Because the inner tube is curved, I wanted to get that in place first so it wouldn’t bubble up. I cut out paper templates for the basic shapes I wanted for the cup and the coffee, then cut around them with (NOT THE GOOD) scissors. I decided to sort of quilt-as-you-go to minimize perforation of the materials, and used a little spray adhesive to temporarily stick the inner tube and coffee bags directly to a square of batting left over from my last quilt. I backed it with a block that I removed from an abandoned (and to my eyes, quite ugly) quilt top.

I used YLI invisible thread (loosening the top tension to 2) and a jeans needle to tack the shapes down with a long-ish zigzag stitch.

I glued some shredded tea bag to the border between the coffee and the cup to resemble foam.

Since my husband had so kindly handed over two broken charging cables of different colors and textures (as a thank you, I won’t complain about the hoarding for a week or two), I decided to use one to add definition to the coffee cup. I tested a couple of sewing machine feet and tried single and double cord couching options, but ended up just using the walking foot and reducing the foot pressure to 5. I also set the zigzag stitch to as long and as wide as possible.

Couching the silvery cable around the outside of the 12″ x 12″ quilt was kind of hard, because the cable kept slipping off the edge (not a lot of traction on those bags, you know). I started by putting the USB end of the cord right in the middle of the coffee to emphasize the “wired” theme and just zigzagged to the edge before couching the cable around all four sides, simply cutting it off with (again, NOT THE GOOD) scissors when I got back to the beginning.

I thought about adding some embellishments, but I think I’ll end up just leaving it as is.

Wired Upcycled Art Quilt
“Wired” by Becca Fenstermaker, 12″ x 12″. 2019.

For more about using unconventional materials in your sewing, I strongly recommend Blair Stocker’s books, Wise Craft and Wise Craft Quilts.

4 Replies to ““Wired” Upcycled Art Quilt

  1. How you could take all of those “ingredients” and come up with such a cool quilt is amazing. I’m in a similar group, and our theme (and my first with the group) is texture. I have my piece close to finished, but I’m at that stage of “should I start over”? Love your creativeness in this piece!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.