Friday, April 3, 2009

A Pocketful of Possibilities

There's something mystical about pockets. They offer such possibilities.

They seem so simple, so innocent positioned in a shirt, covering a man's heart. Or hanging at a comfortable length to enfold hands for warmth in a cozy jacket.

Mom's aprons always had a most fascinating assortment of found items in them. Items she discovered while cleaning house, funny what dusty corners reveal.

Perhaps the 'unknown' of pockets and their possessions make me want to include them in unusual spots on quilts or pillows, in wall hangings and even in cards and letters. With that in mind I looked around a little on the Internet to see what others are doing with pockets.

Kate North's imaginative and delightful little quilt immediately captured my attention. She describes what she has done: "Onto the background, I then attached pieces of organza, which I sewed down with cotton thread, capturing a variety of items inside and used a soldering iron to remove the excess organza. Next, I used Markal paintsticks to outline the edges of the pockets, and then couched a variety of threads all over the top, including around the organza pockets. The piece was then fairly heavily machine quilted using loops and vague flowers. Finally, after binding, I added strands of beads (which hang loose) at the base of each organza pocket."

She's turned my image of pocket quilts on their ears!

You may remember the quillow. What a great idea -- a single-person size quilt that will fit inside an attached pocket and look like a pillow when all folded up. But when unfolded the pocket provides a cozy place to warm your toes.

And of course whenever I think of a quilt with pockets, I first think of a denim quilt made of odds and ends of raggedy jeans. Don't we all have a collection of holey jeans? The pockets are so perfect added to a quilt square. I made a couple little nephews some small flannel and denim pillows with a pocket big enough to carry their favorite little matchbox trucks. And when thinking of a masculine quilt -- denim seems an obvious choice.

Children and pockets seem to go hand in hand. So to speak. Wall hangings that serve as storage make perfect sense in a child's room. Or perhaps a gift quilt that acts more like the greeting card with a pocket that holds the true gift. Heather Finnell designed a quilt that will make any birthday happier for it. (see photo) Visit her site and see what she's designed for other special celebrations. I like her choice of quilting patterns, too.

Advent calendars, calendars of any kind are like a collection of pockets. Maybe a wall hanging made of men's shirt pockets -- those crisp and clean looking oxford stripes would make a nice traditional look. The photo is one of Martha Stewart's creations. Doesn't it look like something she'd make?

Yet my most favorite and magical and imaginative is Kate North's organza pocketed art quilt.

Pockets hold lovely treasures or at least hold the unknown. We live in a pocket of time, in a pocket of culture, in a geographic pocket. Pockets seems to fit with any topic -- time, landscape, nature, animals, children. Or wombs -- the ultimate pocket.

Additional note: Here's a great tutorial for making a hooded bath towel and it would be even greater with a pocket!


margaret said...

When "repurposing" shirts, I've always wondered what to do about the pockets - it didn't seem useful to unpick them. Hence, a collection of shirt fronts with pockets, waiting for just the right project. Thanks for these links!

Dawn said...

Wow, I'm so glad my blog was helpful, Margaret! Thanks for letting me know. I'd love to see a photo of one of your pocket projects.


katelnorth said...

Lovely article, Dawn, thanks. And you know what? It makes me want to run off and make a quilt of shirt pockets :)

Dawn said...

Hi Kate,
With all of this talk about shirt pockets, I think I'll cut them out the next time I weed the worn and frayed shirts out of my husband's 'favorites' shirt collection. I never thought of saving anything but the buttons in the past....

Send me a photo of your shirt pocket quilt!


TexasRed said...

Fantastic! I haven't experimented with pockets on quilts before. Have to brainstorm about this.

Dawn said...

There are so many ideas for pocket quilts. Some put the pocket on the back to hold a story book or favorite toy for a child or to hold family photos that are linked in some way to a quilt. Some put a little pocket in the label to include a history of the quilt. Have fun with your own version of a pocket quilt.