Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Climbing the Walls (Part II)

... cont'd from Part I.

[Author's note:  If all goes well this evening, final installment tomorrow!]

Don’t get me wrong.  I love me some denim. Gap dark wash Long and Lean jeans are the only casual staple in my wardrobe (primarily because they have the words “long” and “lean” right there in the title).  But, sewing denim is rather akin to sewing aluminum screening (which I’ve done on my Kenmore, by the way).  It never seems to go well.  Add that to the mental anguish I conjure at the mention of denim patchwork, and let’s face it, it’s hard to imagine how this could possibly end with anything “modern.”  
Nevertheless, a week or so later, Dawn arrived at work with two pair of jeans belonging to her son, Jordan.  “They’re a little rough,” she said.  “He’s been doing a lot of free-running lately.”    

Cool!” I answered.  “Not a problem.” 

A quick Wikipedia search later, and I’d discovered that free-running is a non-competitive, extreme sport in which participants maneuver their way from Point A to Point B through a series of acrobatic tricks or stunts with obstacles they experience in their urban landscape.  Such athletes will often jump from building to building or literally flip from fire escapes in an effort to express themselves and their creativity as impressively as possible. 

Free-running scene from recent James Bond movie, Casino Royale.

Indeed, once I’d read it, I remembered being in Dawn’s office a short time before when the principal called to say that Jordan was getting detention for standing on the roof.  I thought it was strange that a student would be penalized for such a thing until Dawn explained that Jordan had actually climbed the side of the building to get there.  While there technically weren’t any rules on the books against it at the time, I suspect the “Jordan Clause” is now firmly immortalized in the local high school handbook.  

Photo courtesy of Metro, online news site in the UK.  (http://www.metro.co.uk/news/79556-free-running-teen-jumps-50-000-metres)

Suddenly fascinated with the athletic side of this nice young man I’ve only ever known to play the mellophone in the marching band, I dug open the bag to investigate.  I have a hard time imagining that denim is actually the textile of choice for this extreme sport.  On the rare occasion that I wear jeans to work, I’ve got barely enough flex to lower myself into a chair, let alone scale the side of a building.  Yet, there they were, just as Dawn described:  Ripped, stained, and enough fringe at the bottom to make Charo swoon.  Add that to the fact that Jordan weighs 98 pounds (dripping wet with rocks in his pockets), and it was clear that we were going to need more fabric.

Good pair of Jordan jeans, minus the usable parts.

A quick trip to the Goodwill store, followed by a brief stay at the laundromat (and a solid week of jean surgery) left me with this partial stack of denim fabric, and a healthy set of hand cramps.  

I’d been searching the internet for modern denim patchwork, but with the exception of a handful of rag quilts and a few high-end handbags (here and here), there wasn’t much to be found.  So, the question remained:  What to make?  Enter my talented friends from the St. Louis Modern Quilt Guild.

I had just joined the STLMQG a short time before, and was drunk with happiness scouring the Flickr feeds of my fellow members.  Two beautiful string quilts, in particular, caught my eye (here and here) created by fellow guild members Cara and Mary Claire, respectively.   I had also just received the book The Practical Guide to Patchwork, by Elizabeth Hartman , that just so happened to contain instructions for a string quilt of this type.  So, I ran my rotary cutter through a pile of aluminum foil (does anyone actually think this works?) and started stripping.    


  1. Question...why did you ever sew aluminum screening?

    Thanks for Part II, can't wait for the final installment.

  2. God help me if my son ever gets into free-running! Can't wait to see the quilt all finished!