Revive Your Wardrobe with Art Quilt Techniques

Every time I'm planning one of my crazy "Surviving the Runway" retro themes for Make It University!TM and we start scrounging up '80s prom dresses and Halloween costumes, the members of the staff who were teens in the '70s start going on about adding fringe trims to their bell bottoms and embroidering their jeans jackets. There's also talk of crocheted vests and patchwork shoulder bags and other fashion trends that would fit right in today, with just a bit of updating.

In fact, it's easy to update items currently in your wardrobe like t-shirts, jeans, and denim jackets to give them modern '70s style with art quilting techniques and supplies you probably already have in your studio. 

So, are you ready to rock the '70s? Here's a list of ideas for adding some vintage modern style, gathered from the Quilting Arts staff.

Tie-dye. Admit it, you were bitten by the dyeing bug the first time you tie-dyed a t-shirt at camp or in Girl Scouts. Experimenting with colors and patterns hooked you right then and there. Now that you know a little more about mixing colors and creating patterns with tied resists, how about tie-dyeing a t-shirt or fabric to make a scarf out of using shibori techniques?

Embroidery on denim. Studios Editor Cate Prato fondly recalls wearing a denim work shirt she hand-embroidered with designs from the cover of Elton's John's "Good-bye Yellow Brick Road" album. (Hmmm, now we know what Cate's going to wear if we ever do a '70s theme at Make It University! TM). Embroidering on denim is still a great way to personalize a pair of jeans or a denim jacket today. But if you're in a hurry, you could use Shiva® Paintstiks® and stencils to create a colorful pattern all your own.

Patchwork. A lot of art quilters got interested in quilting because of the patchwork craze in the '70s. But judging by the popularity of patchwork again today, young quilters like Assistant Editor Pippa Eccles-who wasn't even alive in the '70s-are just as enraptured with those little squares. How about making a patchwork shoulder bag using modern (or new retro) fabrics in vibrant colors rather than blue and brown tiny prints?

Fringe. Fringe was really big in the '70s, from long strings of macramé style fringe hanging from bolero tops and crocheted ponchos to short, embroidered fringe that girls attached to the hems of their bell-bottoms. You might not want to go there, but how about edging a lightweight jacket sleeve with crocheted lace trim you've over-dyed to match? 

Mod motifs. Mushrooms and owls were hugely popular designs in the '70s, and they're making a comeback now. Use these images in clothing and accessories today by making a mushroom or owl motif with appliqué, embroidery, or needle-felting and stitching it onto a jacket, clutch, or eyeglass case.

Are your glad to see the return of '60s and '70s fashion trends? How do you use art quilting techniques to include them in your current style? Leave a comment below!

Other topics you may enjoy:


Quilting Daily Blog, Sewing Techniques

2 thoughts on “Revive Your Wardrobe with Art Quilt Techniques

  1. I love, love, love it!!! Since I tend to dress like a hippie as it is (flowing skirts, long hair & silk hair scarves), I now have licence to take it to the max. When I was in high school (early ’70s) I had a suede shoulder bag made at a local leather shop. It was red with a white star on the flap, and had long, blue fringe to the ground. Plans have been in the works for a new one for awhile and this is the summer to see it happen!!!
    Vyvyan in WNC

    See my quilts of JIM MORRISON and JANIS JOPLIN at: