My quilt of many concerts

 

In a play on a coat of many colours, I am making a quilt of many concerts. Actually, it will be more of a blanket than a quilt but that doesn’t sound as snappy as a title. I have a shamefully large pile of t-shirts from concerts I have attended over many years. Each one is a memory of music, friends and places, and it seems a waste to have them languishing in a drawer.

I hit on the idea of making a blanket from them, a colourful snapshot of musical moments.
Something to keep me warm as the economy is destroyed, our jobs are gone and I can no longer afford electricity to heat my damp mouldy flea pit.
Please note: In continuing to read this post, you are committing to withholding judgy-ness about my musical taste.

My first ever concert was Dire Straits at Athletic Park back in 1986. I was hooked. The big sound, the lights, the crowds, a concert is an assault on the senses. On my OE in London in the 90’s, I was blown away by the choice, and spent a bunch of hard earned pounds seeing as many as I could.
One of the things I love most is that in a great concert, there is always something that gives you a new window into a song or into the life of the artist.

I had always liked Bruce Springsteen’s “We are alive”, a catchy tune and lyrics that told a story, but I didn’t really “get it” until his concert in Melbourne where he talked about why he wrote it. The song was inspired by a childhood experience of his Mum taking him and his sister to the cemetery every week. While she paid her respects to family, Bruce would make up stories about the people beneath the headstones. That slice of his life lead to a little click of understanding about the lyrics and now I listen to the song with a new appreciation.

Alison Moyet talked about writing her song “The English U”. Her mother was a stickler for correct English grammar. She hated the Americanisation of the language, and the loss of the English U in many words. As she aged and Alzheimer’s stole her away, she could barely recognise her own daughter but until the very end she was still passionate about the English U. When you read the lyrics, they really are beautiful.

I’m a bit of a procrastinator, so I’m relying on you lot to keep me motivated and get this thing finished. It should be a good project to do over winter, spend an hour or so after work a few nights a week, and just keep chipping away at it.

My main reason for prevaricating so long already is that I need to figure out what size to make the squares. My plan is to make individual squares, and then once I have a bunch of them I can start putting them together. So the squares need to be the same size, but of course, the motifs on the t-shirts are totally inconsistent, as is the size of the t-shirt. The need to get this right has paralysed progress for a while now, but recognising the need to poo or get off the pot, today I took the plunge and cut out my template.

The blanket will have a front made out of the front of the t-shirts and a back made out of the back of the t-shirts, which often has tour dates and venues. All the fronts will be sewn together to make a blanket, all the backs will be sewn together to make a blanket, and then I will sandwich the two together for a double layer of warmth. Each t-shirt piece will be sewn onto a cotton wadding, this is to add warmth and provide a solid base for the stretchy fabric.

Photo: Whaleoil

I plan to stitch around some of the motifs so that it attaches the centre of the patch to the wadding and highlights some of the motifs. Ditto the back, where there is text. I’m not sure yet what to do for the plain backs: I thought I might stitch a very rough “score” with staves and a few notes to keep with the musical tone of the project. That may be too ambitious, so at this stage, it’s just an idea and some practice will be needed to see if it’s achievable.

This is very much amateur hour, I haven’t done anything like this before and I’m sure there will be a few hissy fits as things don’t go to plan! It may even get flung into a corner until it has a change of attitude and decides to cooperate.

Photo: Whaleoil

Sadly a lot of my shirts have been retired, no longer meeting standards of decency or minimum viable product. However as bookends for the raw material, I have a t-shirt from my first Melissa Etheridge concert in 1990, and my most recent concert Imagine Dragons just last week. There is a whole range of stuff in between. A lot of them are black, so it will be a challenge to arrange them in an even-handed sort of a way.

Here’s a taster of what the final product may look like.

Photo: Whaleoil


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