Make Something: Paper as Fabric

With 20 minutes to accomplish today’s make something assignment, I felt like I was taking a timed test. The rush was purely due to our family calendar. We were leaving for a few days of water park getaway, but first we had errands to run, things to manage around home, and a final performance of the play my daughters have been rehearsing for weeks.

In the midst of all this, my son and I grabbed a quick lunch at Panera. The paper sack they gave us was striking: a brown paper bag printed in festive red, green, and white, with bold lettering and simple holiday icons. I knew right away I wanted to play with it!

So after I inhaled my salad, I sliced the sack into ribbons, then wove them into a large rectangle, a bit bigger than a standard sheet of paper. With about 10 minutes before I needed to be at the play, I took my woven mat to the sewing machine and stitched around the edges, making a square.

At this point, I thought of my sister and how she designs beautiful, meandering lines of stitching into her textile art. How would it feel, I wondered, to “draw” freehand on this surface, using the sewing machine to create a fluid line across the work?

With mere moments left in my available time, I attempted one continuous line of stitching, with three loops like cursive “e”s, making a winding path across my woven paper square. In my mind, I could see the line I wanted the stitches to travel. If not for the wiggly paper, the cluttered sewing table, and the curious cat batting at my work, I might have achieved the graceful curves I envisioned.

As it was, I fell short. But I finished the work in time to make it to the play. And I now have the confidence and maybe even the desire to try some freehand fabric quilting.

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