My immediate thought for what I wanted to do for the upcycle project was to make a shirt. I’ve wanted to get better at sewing for a long time, and I thought it would be a great idea to make one for this class. The only issue was that I had absolutely no idea what to make it out of, or what aesthetic to center it around. I considered making a shirt from cardboard or even scraps of vinyl wood flooring, until I finally had the idea to to patchwork.
The basic idea with patchwork quilting is sewing together pieces (patches) of fabric in the top layer of a quilt to form a design, or at least an aesthetically pleasing pattern. While quilting likely goes back more than 5,000 years, the style of patchwork I plan to emulate with my shirt is uniquely American, arising in the 19th century and becoming something of a “folk art”. Patchwork quilting has become a bit of a symbol of some parts of the midwest, specifically Ohio and Kentucky. Growing up in Ohio and visiting family frequently in Kentucky, we often drove past barns with brightly-colored patchwork quilt designs mounted to the front of them. Allegedly, this began with Ohio Arts and Culture and caught on in other areas.I was also inspired by the popular Dolly Parton song “Coat of Many Colors”, where Parton sings about a coat her mother made her out of many different scraps of fabric. She loved the coat very much, and didn’t understand why the kids at school made fun of her for it.
My goal with this project is to create a shirt in the style of a patchwork quilt by using an assortment of fabric that I am hoping to find as scraps or from other garments, but ideally buying no new fabric. I will, however, need to buy a set of patterns for a shirt since I have never sewn a shirt and definitely cannot make the patterns for one freehand. Though I lack experience in sewing, I plan to first create a patchwork of different fabric pieces, then cut and stitch together the cutouts into a shirt. We’ll see if that plan has to change. As for color, I’m drawn to blue and white; depending on what fabrics and patterns I can get my hands on, I’m hoping to make a shirt that not only satisfies the definition of patchwork but also is something I would wear outside of this class.. Patchwork quilt. Retrieved from https://www.aquiltinglife.com/easy-quilt-patterns-for-beginners/
. Barn with quilt pattern. Retrieved from https://aquilterstable.blogspot.com/2019/03/kentucky-barn-quilts.html
. Polo shirt. Retrieved from Polo Ralph Lauren.