Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Time for a Picnic - It's June!

I know it's June but I can't get Julie Andrew's voice out of my mind from last month, "It's May, it's May, the lusty month of May" (Camelot). Try substituting 'June' and 'lovely' and don't forget the British accent.
But unfortunately, May was anything but lovely across much of the country. Let's hope for a calmer June. Today in Minnesota it IS lovely so it's time for a picnic!
Rail Fence - The Inspiration
My Aunt Agnes made us this quilt around 1970.  We've always called it our Picnic Quilt.
One could certainly sleep under it but the fact that it's made of heavy fabrics both front and back and quilted in-the-ditch with large stitches distinguishes it from the typical bed quilts she made. (You’ll be hearing more about Agnes later this month) Many of the fabrics in this quilt are what we called tarpoon at the time – cotton plaids and some solids in what fashion fabrics at the time called 'bottom weight'. I made many skirts, shorts and pants with it.

My sister and I both sewed most of our own clothes and saved the ‘cuttings'. We brought Agnes these extra fabrics as well as the clothing we no longer wore. Others did this, too, knowing she would put it to good use. She had a large room overflowing with colorful scraps in piles on a large table with more in boxes on the floor.

Over the years we've kept this quilt in the trunk of the car.
It has covered damp ground at the 4th of July fireworks, dirty picnic tables at rest stops and even works as a tablecloth for the hood of a car - talk about 'make do'!
My Mom and Dad about  1980 - can you see the quilt under all that food?

It's been washed countless times and ..... now I see it has a burn hole. I am not embarrassed to tell you this. It's living the life it was meant to live and over 40 years later it just keeps ticking!

When my kids grew up I wanted each of them to have their own picnic quilts. With two boys we had lots of old jeans and I got more at rummage sales and in 'Free' boxes. I love finding different colors.
Rail Fence
I made this one for my oldest son. Does it look familiar?

I cut the largest pieces possible from the legs of old jeans, sewed them together and then trimmed the block to size. I even included a side seam here and there.

The fill is an old cotton sheet blanket. I pick them up at church rummage sales for about $1. They add a nice insulating layer for something that may be used on the ground.
I purchased the backing; a 54" wide  lighter weight denim stripe. I simply brought it around to the front at about 3/4" and machine top-stitched it down. That's whats fun about making this type of quilt - it's meant for function and hard use. Nothing fancy about it. As a matter of fact, many vintage quilts used this edge treatment. It was thrifty in that no extra fabric was needed and also saved time -  the method is simpler than cutting and applying a separate binding.

I machine quilted it with both straight and zig zag stitching.  I sewed a different jeans pocket on each corner and inserted kerchief napkins in different colors. (I wonder where those went?)
This quilt has also been put to good use...I know it covered an old couch for awhile and I recently learned he kept it at work to spread out on the University mall at lunch time.

Medallion Mish Mash
I made this one for my youngest son. He went to high school when the colored brushed denim jeans were popular - and W I D E! Yipee. I'm telling you....never  throw anything away! I was getting interested in the medallion style at the time and wanted to do something different; making use of those wide leg pieces at the center. I thought I would surround the center with the blocks that have a square in the center but that seemed dull and too predictable. I began using  leftover pieces from the first quilt and having lots of fun.Then I added various jeans labels, pockets and his initials.

I  used a variety of big-stitch and tacking or tying techniques with cotton crochet thread to hold the layers together.

The red stitching is called Crow's Foot
He has used it to wrap a fragile art project for transport and on camping trips.

There isn't much left of a pair of jeans when I get done! 

If you are inspired to make a denim picnic quilt,  I recommend using large pieces and a 1/2" seam pressed open to reduce bulk.  See for more tips on working with denim

String Quilt for a Red Pick-up Truck
Last but not least, this one was made for my husband; the first quilt I've made just for him!

I used scraps and strips of  regular weight cotton prints sewn in the stitch-and-flip method on a foundation of old fabric cut into squares.  The scraps of many colors and designs are somewhat contained by by using a common red solid on the diagonal in each block.  I tied it at the intersections and the center of each block with crochet thread. I eliminated the fill  thinking the foundation of the piecework would be enough but when used on the ground it's not as protective.  On Golden Sands beach in Florida, however, it didn't really seem to matter. We use our quilts!

 I embroidered his name right on the front.

Making a picnic quilt is a perfect summer project. It gets your creative juices flowing and  before long you will have a quilt in your trunk for any occasion. Now I'm excited again..... I think I need to make a few more for gifts. I still have plenty of denim!

Coming Soon:  New and Improved 
(two new quilts from an old top)

1 comment:

  1. Love the photos with your family enjoying the quilts!
    Makes me want to load up and have a picnic this weekend...


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