Thursday, October 19, 2017

Scraps and Substrates

Do you know this picture that hangs at the Art Institute - Chicago?  It is That Which I Should Have Done I Did Not Do (The Door) by Ivan Albright.  It was in the World Literature book I taught from for many years, and it has intrigued me.  It was in the Human Nature and Justice portion of the book. 

I should be working on commissioned projects.  Yet, today I want to play with my scraps.  My scraps are having scraps.  And honestly?  Many of my scraps are from fabrics that I just love. 

Victoria Finlay Wolfe wrote a book Fifteen Minutes of Play and suggested just playing with fabrics in an improv manner daily or when blocked.  I did this yesterday when I finished the top of the t-shirt quilt I'm working on . 

I picked out all my grey, black and white bits from the current scraps pile.  And then I remembered to take the lid off this "scrap pile" and of course found more bits.  And then I remembered the bin of grey, black, white and red fabrics for one of my many unfinished projects.   And now I'm playing. 

I am not working on the several almost finished Tudor bags.  I am not working on the 4 cute little RunAround bags due Thanksgiving.  I am not working on the t-shirt quilt (truly I'm waiting for its owner to make a decision about the outer border).  I am not working on the Sloan bag which I am really eager to start. 

Before I get back to work, I must discuss substrates, a word I never used or heard in connection to sewing/quilting until Sunday, when three guildsters and I did a little presentation on bag-making.  Betty Lou from North Texas, this next part is for you!

It's frustrating to spend time making something out of quilting cottons, knowing that cottons don't last forever.  Face it, we aren't working with concrete or wood.  But quilts, even ones that are used a lot, last fairly long because the layers - the top, batting, and backing -  give strength.  Apply this same principal to bag making.  The longer you want something to last, the more you need to pay attention to the substrate(s) used.  Here are my two favorite substrates for bag-making:

Shape Flex 101, a fusible midweight interfacing.  It comes in white AND black.

My 60" x  I-dion't-know-how-many-yards of Soft and Stable.  Think thin foam that you can sew and quilt on.

The purse I carry daily and my matching travel bag are holding up beautifully.  I interfaced each purse/bag piece with ShapeFlex 101 and then quilted it onto Soft and Stable.  And here's the result:

For simple bags, like Morsbags, the only part I will use a "substate" on are the handles, if I make them.  More and more, I am using cotton webbing/strapping for the handles.  My husband will take one and jam it into his back pocket before he walks to Trader Joe's.  In fact, for him, I will make Mors bag out of a batik, because it's more tightly woven than most others cottons, and not even line it.  Perfect for jamming into a pocket. 

To get back to "That Which I Should Have Done But Did Not Do", when I am stuck on a project or when I'm not sure which of the several projects in front of me to work on, I will often make a Mors bag, just because I know in 45 minutes I will have something that is completed.

For now, I'm going back to scraps!  check out the last picture for the direction my scraps are headed in.

Scraps on the table

Scraps on the work table

Scraps on top of the scrap "basket"

The inside of the scrap "basket"

T-shirt Quilt waiting for a border decision

12.5" blocks

1 comment:

Betty Lou said...

I got a kick out of reading your post and finding a reference to me. I'll have to think more closely as to when to use my substrates and when not. It will be a good topic at my next Bee meeting, we can discuss substrate preferences. Get to have a sew day tomorrow and play around with tote bags. The totes I am making now will be sold at the church function, so can't call them Morsbags.