Pattern Migration
September 4, 2011 5:00 PM   Subscribe

What should I make to participate in artist Stephanie Syjuco's community textile art project?

The Columbus Museum of Art (Columbus, OH) is hosting an exhibition featuring textile/new media artist Stephanie Syjuco. Basically, Syjuco had a Bejing factory manufacture 5,000 meters of laminated plastic fabric that bears a pattern from the CMA 19th century Musselman wool textile "Coverlet." If you check out her link, this is what she does--migrates canonical patterns onto reproducible contemporary materials.

This "pattern migration" project involves the community in that she gave away, to a bunch of different museum goers, 5 yards (each) of the laminated plastic "Coverlet" fabric. Those of us who got the yardage are charged with making something out of it and posting our projects to a flickr stream.

I am a intermediate to advanced (depending on project) sewing person (and have a machine). This is an example of the fabric and what someone else did with it (shopping bags). I am a huge, huge fan of textile art from way back, and so participating meaningfully appeals, but I am uninspired by the idea of making projects that are typical for an oil-cloth like fabric (bags and more bags, outdoor cushions, etc.). I did flirt briefly with making panniers for my bike.

So I am openly soliciting any and all ideas for my five yards (45" wide) of laminated plastic fabric printed with a 19th century Musselman design. It has a similar flexibility and drape as oil-cloth. I am open both functional and non functional ideas--and to be clear, the yardage went out to museum-goers randomly and was meant to be used in any and all ways by those of us that got it, as long as we shared what we did.
posted by rumposinc to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Lawn furniture cushion covers? Or big fluffy outdoor pillows? Reupholster some indoor kitchen chairs?

Would you be able to make an umbrella for yourself if you got a frame? Raincoat? Rain hat? Rain jackets for doggies? Rain booties for same (you'd need something sturdier for the bottom for sure)?

Lunch sacks? Laptop sleeves? Messenger bag? Luggage tags? Make up pouches? Wallets?

Picnic spread with fabric ties? (I know, that's super simple! practically not even sewing. But maybe you could make like, a picnic tote that holds all your picnic stuff, but also opens up to be a blanket type thing? Maybe? If so, can I have the prototype?)

That pattern seems a little vaguely Holiday-ish. Maybe a Christmas Tree skirt? (The plush ones are a total pain to get pine needles out of!) In the holiday vein, maybe re-useable gift wrapping?

Kids' art aprons? Baby bibs? Cloth Diaper wet bags?

Library tote bags for your local, uh, library?
I should be working on a paper about the 2 or 3 things Polybius thinks are most important in a governing system. Obviously, I'm not...
posted by bilabial at 5:46 PM on September 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh. Uh. I see that you said no cushion covers. Well.

I also meant to say that I really like the idea of panniers. Or maybe pannier covers?
posted by bilabial at 5:48 PM on September 4, 2011

I was just reading this review of Sewing with Oilcloth - maybe see if your library has it?
posted by polymath at 5:50 PM on September 4, 2011

It's a pretty bold pattern, but I think it'd actually make a really cute raincoat and/or hat. You could also use it to cover a book, photo album, or box(es)...
posted by polymath at 5:59 PM on September 4, 2011

A long raincoat was my first thought, too, especially one that looks kind of historical, like a drover's coat, duster, redingote or pelisse. Folkwear Patterns is a good place to start looking for historic clothing patterns, but there are lots of other sources. Bike panniers are also a great idea but I think they require a fair bit of hardware (clips or hooks that attach to the bike's rack, grommets, etc) that can be tricky if you don't have the right tools for setting it into the fabric.
posted by Quietgal at 6:38 PM on September 4, 2011

I love the drover's coat idea - I have the Folkwear pattern and have been meaning to make it for a while.The pattern suggests "medium-weight denim, canvas, poplin, wool, linen; ripstop nylon, microfiber, or other water-resistant fabrics" - depending on how drapey your fabric actually is, it might end up sort of stiff which may or may not please you.
posted by catlet at 7:03 PM on September 4, 2011

I second the idea of making an umbrella.

Also, you could do something super practical like a hanging shoe rack, but maybe with smaller compartments and you could keep spice bottles in them instead.

Other ideas: a case for a musical instrument, a door hanging, a lampshade (I don't know how safe that would be with the material), slippers, a stuffed animal, a pleated skirt, a crazy hat, a vest with too many pockets...
posted by seriousmoonlight at 9:00 AM on September 5, 2011

Thank you everybody! I do love the Folkwear patterns (I have had previous successes with them), but after playing around more, I am concerned the fabric is a bit stiff. I LOVE the idea of making an umbrella, and have been poking around for umbrella frames--if someone has a source for umbrella or parasol frames, let me know (I could take apart an existing umbrella, but that seems wasteful, and umbrellas with bad nylon often have something wrong with the frame, too).

I also REALLY loved the idea of making book totes for the metro library. I was even thinking about making basic totes that reflected iconic bag shapes (a 'birkin' tote, messenger tote, hobo tote). I think if I go this direction, I'll email one of the community program librarians to see if they would be interested in anything from me.

Also, while there isn't enough to make a soft side case for my cello, there might be enough to make one for my kid's 1/4 size cello. I wonder if the rental shop would mind if I took apart his current case from the shop to make a pattern? :)

Thanks for the ideas! Bilabial, I actually do make a "picnic to go" tote for friends that is my own design. It's meant for the car (or whatever) and it creates an instant picnic--just add take-out food (roll out blanket, cutlery, etc. inside tote). I have made many (it's my go-to engagement/wedding/partnership gift). Memail me, and if you send me the fabric I'll make you up one with my thanks.
posted by rumposinc at 7:14 AM on September 7, 2011

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