Recycling has been in my blood since before I was born. My mum was a great recycler, long before it was termed recycling. She used to call us ‘second hand Roses’, Maybe it was being brought up during and after the war that did it. (My mum, not me) The only thing I remember getting new as a child was shoes and a new dress for the summer made by a friend. ( I have 3 brothers you see and very often got their hand-me downs)

So when I started introducing fabric into My work/paintings it was already second nature to use fabrics that had had a previous life. Once friends know you are happy to accept unwanted fabric, it arrives in abundance. And I love it, it’s like Christmas any day of the year. I get so excited when a new bundle arrives, you never know what treasures it includes.

The first skirt I made as a teenager was from curtains my mum was throwing out. I loved the fabric so much I made a skirt with them. My very first quilt top was made from squares of favourite clothes I didn’t want to pass on. I was aged about 13 at the time. I wonder where it is now. I so wish I’d taken it with me when I left home. When my parents died I found it very hard to let their clothes go. I sent anything useful to the charity shop and used the rest. I made cushions for family members from mums skirts and 13 sock monkeys for his grandchildren from dads old socks. I still have some treasured scraps left from both parents.

So I will give you a tour of some of the fabrics I use in my journal quilts.

The flowers were from my stash, the little hedgehogs are from an old wooden cardigan belonging to my dad and their bunny ears are an old swimming costume of my daughters.

Gullivers wing was a cardigan of mine. The sky was a leotard belonging to my daughter and the ground hubbies old jeans

The background to this one was a quilt cover, Gullivers hat and scarf a shirt and the bobble on his Hat and his gloves that same cardi belonging to my dad. This little quilt had lots of leaves on it, each one from different recycled fabrics. The little yellow gingham leaf you can see, my daughters dress.

As you can see, in art quilts you can use anything that comes to hand. My large stash of fabrics is akin to my painting pallet. I would encourage anyone to give recycled fabrics a go.


  1. Maggie Attfield

    What a lovely, warm post. I too, felt the need to use clothes to remember my mum, and found it incredibly helpful in grieving. I wish I still had things if my dad’s but it is too long ago. I shall look at Gulliver with renewed interest now!