Monday, March 7, 2011

Zipper Art

One of the larger projects I've been working on this winter is my "Zipper Art". Above is the wall hanging, I just finished this afternoon. I completed most of the squares on my trip to Texas. It was a perfect hand-work project, since I did not have my machine with me. It's taken me over a week to get it finished and put together, but that's because I put it together twice. I just wasn't happy with it the first time, so I took the squares apart and tried a second time.  I think I'll call this good enough. This one is available for shows and/or sale, since I've put my "keepers" in frames to display in the fireplace room.

Framed "Zipper Squares"

I also have 2 more zipper squares to frame for sale or show. It's been a lot of fun designing and creating these pieces. So much so, that I may continue for a while with new designs and varied frame sizes.

These pieces were inspired by the hundreds of zippers that came from my mother-in-law. I guess I should explain that a bit. In December, it was necessary to empty my in-laws' family home and get it ready for sale. My DH and his 4 siblings worked hard to honor, but pack up, give away, and distribute the things that made up 60+ years of living in their parents' family home.  Since none of them are "sew-ers", or even crafters, they asked me to clean out their mother's sewing room. My mother-in-law was quite the seamstress in her day. She had 1 room packed with every sewing accessory imaginable, and a whole other room packed to the ceiling with fabrics. I went through it all. I sorted, grouped, and tossed. It was like a sewing archaeological dig. There were patterns and supplies from the 1950's up and into the 1980's. There were yards and yards of fabric - mostly double-knit (Yikes!), but also including some very nice Pendleton wool.  There were bias tapes, laces, and seam bindings in every imaginable color. There were elastics, hooks and eyes, yarns, needles, threads, zippers and buttons.  In fact, I ended up with over 5 large tins of buttons, and over 200 zippers. Hundreds of buttons and zippers - some were new; some were recycled from old clothing. 

zipper bow or brooch
 Now, I almost tossed the oldest zippers away; they were used and metal.  I had them all sorted out into a trash bag, but at the last minute I thought, "Oh, come on. Try a little creativity." I checked the internet for ideas, and found Martha Stewart making some "zipper bows".  I tried a few of these - not too hard to do. They dressed up a few Christmas gifts, and 1 went on the side of my friend's new hat. While searching the internet for zipper bows, I happened upon some brooches made from zippers and felt. This got me to thinking. Could I incorporate zippers into a quilt block?  I drew up some ideas, bought a little brightly colored felt and gave it a try.

Fleece hat with red zipper bow.

Actually, I am pretty pleased with the results. I incorporated some of the buttons also, and hand embroidery dressed it all up. My technique improved with each square.

Here's some tips I learned:
  • Designate 1 pair of old scissors to cut the zippers, so that you don't dull all your scissors.
  • Fabric glue doesn't work well for basting because it's too hard to hand embroider over it.
  • Use transparent thread to baste the pieces and zippers in place before adding embroidery.
  • A needle threader is a must when working with transparent thread.
  • Knot both ends together when sewing with transparent thread or you'll just keep pulling it out of the needle.
  • Clip the zipper's tape every 1/2 inch to help it bend around curves.
  • The zippers lie much flatter on a concave curve than on a convex curve.
  • I used 3 strands of embroidery floss.
  • Make the squares just a bit larger than you want them,so that you can square them up when they are finished.
Here are some close-up shots that show some of the detail on these quilt blocks.

1 comment:

  1. Love the creativity, love the recycling, love your tips!