Inspiration round-up – eco-aware quilt making

We know that a lot of you reading Youngish Quilters are concerned about our environment and this awareness shows through your quilt making.  We hope you enjoyed reading Tuesday’s post about Natural Dyeing – did it inspire you to think about trying something new?  Today’s post offers some more sources of inspiration for  environmentally aware quilting.  Whether this is something you think about all the time or if you’re looking for ideas for this year’s Festival of Quilts theme ‘Reuse, Reduce, Recycle, Rethink’, there’s lots of food for thought here.

Many quilters are thinking about how their textile practice impacts on the world around us.  I’ve selected two artists who I really admire – both for their work, and their environmental awareness – who I hope you will also find inspiring.


Converge by Kim Eichler-Messmer – photo from the artist’s website

Kim Eichler-Messmer is a modern quilt maker who dyes much of her own fabric. She explains on her website:

“I use natural materials such as wool, silk, cotton, and linen almost exclusively and use dyes and pigments made from plants and insects. I grow or forage many of my own dyes, such as black walnuts, Osage orange, marigolds, and weld.”

She goes on to explain that she enjoys the process of using natural dyes and enjoys the ‘variation and surprise‘ of doing so.  Or as our post on Tuesday said – it’s both science and magic!!

Kim’s gallery is absolutely beautiful and I particular recommend looking at the natural dye section.  Pivot (below) is one of my favourite quilts and I was lucky enough to see this in person a couple of years ago. The combination of shapes and colours – while initially appearing quite simple – draws the viewer in. There is so much to look at, and I particularly love the spiral quilting.


Pivot by Kim Eichler-Messmer – photo from the artist’s website

The second artist I am recommending to you today is Bisa Butler. I have only just discovered her work through reading this fascinating article.  It explains how the textile artist uses mainly vintage and re-purposed fabrics to create the most stunning quilts.  She creates rich, vibrant portraits which beg to be studied. Just look at the amazing colours and detail in this quilt.

Dear Mama by Bisa Butler – photo from the Claire Oliver Gallery

The fabrics draw you in but close up there is so much to look at.  Check out the article to learn more about Bisa’s practice, including how she re-purposes fabrics, and then go and find more of her work at the Claire Oliver Gallery and on Instagram.

I’m sure by now you feel inspired to start work on your own eco-aware textile art – I know I do!!  If you need some more ideas why not check out The Quilting Company – they offer some suggestions for ‘frugal and eco-friendly sewing, surface design and quilting’.  One of their suggestions is to think about using worn-out clothing – you may have seen one of Chris English’s quilts on our Instagram earlier this week and he’s a master of using recycled fabrics in his work.  Another idea I love from the article is making your own fabric out of unusual materials.

Leland Ave Studios offer 7 ideas for eco-friendly quilting .  They suggest scrappy quilts as a way of making use of every little bit of fabric you have.  I love a scrap quilt.  Here’s one of mine.  Although the colour palette is limited so it doesn’t immediately look like a scrap quilt, this is made entirely from odds and ends from (my mum’s!) scrap boxes.Green quilt.jpgAnd finally – in case all of that is not enough – Bluprint offers lots of ideas and tutorials for recycled quilts.

So much inspiration – I can’t wait to get going…..and for once I don’t want to go fabric shopping!!


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