Friday, May 22, 2009

Everything But the Kitchen Sink


"Everything but the kitchen sink" is a wonderful ideomatic expression originating during World War II ....when everything possible was used to contribute to the war effort. Women gave up silk stockings and lipstick. Metal of any and all kinds was re-used or saved for the US arsenal. It was collected, melted down, re-used and re-purposed.The only objects left out were porcelain kitchen sinks.

Suddenly, a simple concept became a cultural phenomena befitting the frugal, scrap saving economy.If you grew up in the forties and fifties, as I did, it was a common expression. I grew up with a mother who put 'everything but the kitchen sink' in her stews, in her potluck meals, and the description of what she bought, packed, hid away, or put into already stuffed suitcases, handbags or our Fibber Magee closets.

In quilting, it became most popular when quilters began using the term for scrap quilts that included almost every fabric they had leftover in their scrap basket.

Highly popularized by RJR Fabrics who introduced their "EVERYTHING BUT THE KITCHEN SINK "SERIES of reproduction fabrics to hark back to an even scrappier time in quilting.
(Thimbleberries did the same with their own Kitchen Sink Fabric Line as I believe, did Moda.)

Many others followed suit and suddenly that kind of 'kitchen sink' quilts began to be a popular art form amongst many quilters. You can see this style in everything from the quilts of Gee's Bend (who use everything they can find including clothing in their quilts), to the art quilt, to the down home and cozy comfort quilt. Not everyone might have known or used that term, but we were certainly all frugal enough to be doing it!

Once quilters began using the actual term 'Kitchen Sink Quilts' in books and TV shows (Eleanor Burns etc.) it became a more common and generalized term for scrappy quilts of all kinds..specifically those with unusual or odd combinations thrown in for good measure. So whether you call them scrappy, kitchen sink quilts, or fungly's...they're quilts that cry out to be noticed and examined in fun-loving detail.

Often consider the predecessor or even the origin of the "I Spy" quilt style for children, because of the great fun children had in finding their favorite quilt square or crazy quilting patch amongst the general hodge-podge of colors, soup to nuts patterns, styles, periods and fun.

I've always loved kitchen sink quilting, especially for picnic quilts and frequently toss my donated scraps into my hodgepodge scrap bin for combining later.


It's only when I look at the finished product that I'm suddenly aware of the oddball extras...Budweiser Beer fabric from the 70's is a prime example.... that I wonder if the quilt recipient might wonder...'why in the world did she buy that'. Well, she didn't.

'She' was given it an an orphan block section or perhaps a whole stack of pre-cut squares, or maybe her mother passed them onto her from her own collection. And so,
it was thrown in, as well...this time right along with everything else... but the kitchen sink!

Most of my 'kitchen sink quilts' made in the 70's fell apart years ago, or they've been 're-purposed' and turned into other items.... but because I'm also famous for saving 'everything but the kitchen sink' (in runs in my family) I'm sure they're probably all packed away in bins and boxes in the attic along with my other vintage 'early Goodwill and Grandma's attic decor.

My 90's on quilts are still considered new quilts in my mentality.... and in active use...I'm the Frugal Friday lady with 5 quilts on her bed, remember? And one of them was actually made in the 70's....."Everything's on my bed but the kitchen sink."

Frugal Fridays

I'd love to see a wonderful showcase of quilts and quilting across America showing our scrappy nature and ability to combine unusual fabrics to encourage fun and frugal creativity.

Link to the theme above from my own blog post and show me your fun and scrappy quilts...whether it is an ancient scrap quilt, your typical scrappy favorite of all time, a hodge podge assortment of I Spy fussies, or Everything But the Kitchen Sink !

Please contribute this weekend through Monday in honor of my 'Memories' theme (Monday is Memorial Day (observed in the US).....or do so on any and all Frugal Friday posts! Or be truly scrappy and just do it any old time, any old where, with any old things!

We need to truly think about this world of ours and how we can "live our best lives" in the ways we use fabrics!

And yes! Please do share how YOU best epitomize that scrappy philosophy as you both live and quilt in your own life!

With Heart and Hands
From the Heart of a Quilter
My links to over 2,500 Free Quilt Patterns

11 comments:

  1. I'm a scrappy quilter. Most of my quilts are scrappy type of quilts. I love using scraps from everywhere and from everything. I love color, so the more scraps I have the more color in my quilts. If you want to see some of my scrappy quilts, you can go to my blog, look at labels "quilting" and "quilting for the north".

    You said "We need to truly think about this world of ours and how we can "live our best lives" in the ways we use fabrics! -- I totally agree.

    Nothing gets thrown out here when it comes to material. My daughter sews and is another who is totally frugal when it comes to sewing and the use of material. She saves every little piece. We are always going into each others scraps and making use of the material.

    Living on a fixed income, it's the only way I can quilt!!

    Wonderful post full of info and wisdom.

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  2. Hi Michele, got your email and have almost gotten everything put into the post. Great post from you today...HURRAY for us scrappy quilters *VBS*.... *VBS* Double smile you see!
    I'll share in another post tomorrow. Today has been fragmented, and not in a good scrappy sense. Thanks for thinking of this great topic to post about. Hugs, Finn

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  3. Can't call my stash large enough to be a scrappy quilter and the awesome crazy quilt that my grandmother made was "used to death" when growing up. But after making a quilt I using the fabric I purchased, the "scraps" were used for a bag, a tissue holder, an ipod case and coasters. I still have a little left for another project or "my very own scrap bin".

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  4. I think scrappy quilts are often the most interesting. I love your idea of getting others to think more frugally instead of always having to have the latest and newest and best of everything. Sometimes we all get a bit carried away and forget our own pioneer roots in quilting.

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  5. Thanks for the comment, Michele. I don't do a lot of scrappy quilts, but I find it very very hard to throw away any little scrap of fabric. I just know, one of these days, I'll use it in a quilt somewhere. I'll take a look at my photos and see if I have any other scrappy quilts to share.

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  6. Wonderful! I looooove my scraps. I think of each tiny piece as a brush stroke in my art quilts. I'm taking the opportunity of your campaign featuring quilts made from scraps to share about a huge (14'x 10') installation that's keeping me busy. Come on over to my blog to check it out.

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  7. Okay, Finn and Michelle, just for you two... I've joined in your scrappy showcase - it was fun searching thru my quilt pix and finding four per year to put up!

    Thanks for the idea, you two. ;)

    ForestJane

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  8. I use everything but the kitchen sink in most of my quilts--and I've been making them for a very long time too! The "Home Sweet Home" thing I'm working on now is just scraps, too. By the way--during WWII there were no panty hose. There were no nylons, either. I was little then, but we were wearing cotton stockings. And pantyhose didn't get popular until I think about the 70's.

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  9. O I love scrap quilts! I concentrated my post on flannel scrap quilts from my past. Thanks for the invitation.

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  10. Thanks for the great idea, Michelle. I posteed on the topic and linked back to you.

    http://outofthebasement.blogspot.com/

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  11. I love your scrappy quilt. It's so full of interesting bits of fabric.

    As for Memorial Day scrapping, I didn't make a quilt but did use scrap fabrics to make an appliqued star on the back of a shirt to wear to the Memorial Day concert last night honoring the men and women who've died in service of our country.

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Michele Bilyeu blogs "With Heart and Hands" as she journeys between Douglas, Alaska and Salem, Oregon.