Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Square Foot Challenge

Southeast Fiber Arts Alliance (SEFAA) here in Atlanta hosts a Square Foot Challenge each spring. I've missed some years but do like to participate when I can. It's such great fun to see what everyone makes. The invitation is open to all comers, so no stress. It must be no more than 12 x 12 x 12 inches in size and use fiber in some fashion. They also need to be able to attach it to the wall with push pins.

cotton flannel base

This year they offered free silk kimono remnants to anyone who was willing to make a sq ft piece using those items. Of course, I signed up! A few weeks later a little package arrived with the remnants. Here is what I received:

Just like every time I work from a challenge, I panicked. What on earth would I do with these mostly fragile pieces of kimono? OK, maybe not no-stress. 

It is good to be constrained. I know that. And they were flexible enough to allow us to use our own fabrics, just as long as at least 3 of their pieces showed up in the final piece.

The blue is a kimono silk from stash, as is the eco-printed cotton sateen. You may be able to see the prints from my Japanese maple tree leaves in the picture. The print was mostly lost though. I liked the color of the piece and was not really interested in highlighting the leaf prints.

I did some tests and decided it would be necessary to fuse the large orange piece to light weight interfacing. It worked great and was much easier to cut and manipulate. The interfacing made it easy to fussy-cut part of the orange print. I left it raw-edged.

Now I have finished and delivered it. I used something of everything they sent. It is titled Ravel, Then Unravel. 

Of course, I covered it in hand-stitch. I love doing that. It is so very calming and satisfying to me. I was able to use some of the techniques I learned recently in a class with Ekta Kaul on kantha stitch. More about that later.

I auditioned color for the frame of my 12x12 canvas by photographing the finished piece on dark blue, and then trying it out on bright orange. Bright orange was the winner.

Originally I viewed it like this.

But I like it better viewed like this. So that is the way the hardware is attached to the back of the canvas.

Because I volunteered to use SEFAA's donated kimono pieces, I was allowed to enter two pieces. Here is my other piece:

Grandmother's House was constructed from an old soft cotton pillow case my grandmother embroidered decades ago. I have a number of these and finally decided it was time to stop using them as pillow cases! They are so soft and tempting but becoming quite fragile. 

Grandmother, like me, needed to stitch by hand. Maybe it's genetic. She was in an old folks home at the end and bored, so she stitched on pillow case blanks. I suspect I'm not the only grandchild with a few of these. I love them not just because she stitched them, but because I can tell when she began to go. Her stitching starts out crisp, sweet daisies with petals and leaves. At the end, it's a jumble of stitches. I like that one just as much as the earlier ones. Maybe more.

I took a piece of one pillow case and added other fabrics. Then, following her lead, I began to practice the feather stitch all over the piece. Now I am crazy about the feather stitch, especially with French knots added to the tips. 

It is a vague memory of Grandmother's house. Granddad bought it in the 30's because it was walking distance to Texas Tech University (not a university then, I'm sure). He wanted his kids to go to college. Grandmother and Granddad were divorced and he lived in another tiny house across town. I thought that all grandparents lived separately. 

It has since been bull-dozed and replaced by condo's and apartments. Too bad. I would love to see it again. There was a little house in the back that she rented out for *pocket* money.

Oh, my, I am getting old, aren't I? Actually this is the best time in my life, doing things I love. I just finished a 2 day hike with my daughter and granddaughter.

And here's the new, old me, wrinkles and all!


  1. Lovely artwork and nice memories. I like the new hairdo too.

  2. Those are both beautiful pieces. I have a pillowcase I embroidered at my grandmothers during one of the 'stay all night' events that happened during the summers when I was in elementary school somewhere in a box...I used it until the embroidery began wearing off years later. I know it's not doing any good in a box but I couldn't bear to part with it. Maybe I should turn it into an art piece...

    And I love the new 'do! It suits you.

    1. Oh, yes, you should, Lisa! I'd love to see it.

  3. What an inspiration you are !!!!! These are lovely, lovely pieces. Including the last photo you shared!

  4. I have been reading your posts for quite a while and love them. I feel like a little copy cat, especially with your Sewing Workshop patterns. I recently made the Coral Style Arc jacket and added sashiko stitching. May I send you a photo of it? Your new hair style is lovely. I, too, have white hair and it likes being short!

    1. Yes! Please do send me a photo of it. I'd love to see it. martha myers at gmail dot com

  5. So much to admire today! Love the first of the art pieces, and the addition of French knots to the feather stitch. What a difference that makes! Love your new hairdo, and the photo of the three lovelies from three generations.

  6. great "DO" Martha! Love the stitching, wish I had access to the Kantha stitch class - just made a Wiksten Haori from my Kantha quilt - turned out great, finally. Not the colors I had hoped for when I ordered but some creative piecing made it work! How fun to work with the old fabrics - like sewing one love!

  7. Just saw Sewing Workshop post of your whistle shirt. Love the shirt, and love your new hairdo!