An Artist's Quest

Urban Wabi Sabi Comes Home to the Country

This a about a 1/2 yard of my Urban Fabric

This a about a 1/2 yard of my Urban Fabric

At the beginning of June my little family left our country home and headed out to NYC to spend a couple of weeks with my city mouse sister and her family in their uptown (way uptown) Manhattan apartment. The spin of our country mouse life is quite different and it’s always fun to get a drink of the city life, zipping around on the subway, museuming, people watching and neighborhood hopping. This visit I had a little project in mind, I wanted to bring home a bit of the grit and grind, color and clash of the city back to my quiet county home.  I decided that thoughout the visit I would take pictures of this urbanscape up close. I whipped out my phone camera at the subway station to take picture of torn posters and cracked tiles.  I took pictures of manhole covers and metal grates, concrete edifices and rusted pipes. It was a fun side pursuit, and it kept me watchful and present looking for the beautiful, busted and broken – a kind of urban wabi sabi scavenger hunt.

When I got home I decided I wanted to make these photos into fabric. Earlier in the year I had started printing images of peeling bark on fabric to make a throw blanket. I had done this but spray gluing fabric to cardstock and running it through my printer. This process work well enough but the printer is kevetchy and needs a lot of babysitting and the cutting and mounting of fabric is tedious.  That is a long-winded way of saying I didn’t want to print it that way for my urban wabi sabi photos.

Some close ups of the fabric after quilting

Some close ups of the fabric after quilting

I made a photomontage of my urban images in Adobe Photoshop then uploaded the image to and had them print my fabric.  It costs about $18 a yard, which I think might even be cheaper than printing the same amount of square inches on my home printer and the colors are brighter and more vibrant. The photo above is about a ½ yard of fabric.  Once I got my fabric what should I do with it? It seems a bit bold for clothing? A quilt maybe?  Then I had a brainstorm, couch pillows!  I liked the idea of the hard, gritty, urban images made into soft cozy pillows. So pillows it was.  I wanted to add more texture and pop,  so I quilted the fabric with thick red buttoning thread  and a thin layer of batting to give it a little poof .  I love how they came out!  Now I’m thinking I might just have this printed on a knit fabric and sew a blouse after all…what would you use it for?

Lovely soft pillows made with my hard urban images.

Lovely soft pillows made with my hard urban images.

Here is a link to my Spoonflower shop where you can see the urban fabric as well as some bird and still life panels I did on my iPad .  All the images can be printed several types of fabric from quilting cotton to silks.  You can even have designs printed up a wrapping paper.  I had the Urban image printed as paper too and I love it!

Lucky loves them too!

Lucky loves them too!

7 responses

  1. Pamela

    That is so creative from start to finish. And I love the pillows! I wish I had the time to learn how to quilt. I have a lot of t-shirts that have sentimental value (having been gifts or from places traveled) that I thought could be made into a quilt for my son (his t-shirts, after all, which he can no longer wear and doesn’t want, but was excited by the idea of a quilt or maybe a wall hanging). But, I have no idea how to go about making this happen.

    July 16, 2013 at 4:21 pm

  2. molmsteado

    You are so talented! I’m off tonight for my uber urban adventure in NYC for a week… Can hardly wait to get there although the weather seems a bit challenging this summer….

    Sent from my iPhone

    July 16, 2013 at 5:04 pm

  3. Carol Jones

    What a great idea Lisa. I love the pillows…lots of sewing and free motion work. Really enjoying your blogs.

    July 16, 2013 at 5:10 pm

  4. Barb Schaum

    Wonderful!!! Thanks for sharing.

    July 17, 2013 at 6:33 am

  5. Kitty de Brauwere

    You are freaking amazing – I so want to learn from you – not just the art you create, but the ability to get it done!!! WOW, love it too. Fun to see you last evening, I told my friend, “I bet she made the bag you were carrying too”.


    July 17, 2013 at 11:20 am

  6. Jane

    I adore this idea and the fabric itself. I have a million photographs that I dream I will one day make into cards, now you have given yet another project to add to my dream list. (Not that i really needed one – thanks to you I already have enough project ideas for several life times!)
    I love urban environments and especially like the way you thought to combine, the contrasts of environmental images, texture and function in these cushions for your home.

    July 17, 2013 at 1:38 pm

  7. I love your urban fabric! I have been playing with images printed to fabric also. I love the collage idea.

    September 2, 2013 at 4:44 pm

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