Introduction: Katrina Memorial Cube Sculpture

About: I love to create things from treasures that I find. I also love to meet other indie artists. I think it great how the web has allowed indies to meet and to take their work more directly to the public. I am als…

I am originally from Louisiana and although I was living in NYC when the Gulf Coast was struck by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, I have family who were directly affected. On my trips down to visit family I am awed by the incredible strength of Gulf Coast residents. It is in their honor that I contribute this instructable to the SewUseful challenge. I feel that this piece of art may be very useful as a healing tool for many and more than that I believe that art is perhaps the most useful thing we do as humans. The ability to create, process, and reflect allows our mind and often our bodies to heal. So, I hope these photos and instructions are useful in bringing about some measure of healing for those who have endured so much. That said, it is difficult to price art. The price I have decided on for my listing in my Etsy shop is part payment as artists should be compensated, but half of the proceeds will be donated to relief efforts. Specifically, if the Katrina Memorial Cube Sculpture sells, I will donate $500 to a Katrina/Rita relief organization that benefits local artists. The buyer may choose the organization.

The Katrina Memorial Cube Sculpture is fiber art that contains images of Louisiana that are dear to me. One of the images is of a crab. As I child I remember crabbing with my family, and later 4.when I became a mom I also took my children crabbing in Lake Ponchartrain. I have also included a pelican, cattails, a traditional New Orleans "shotgun" house, a turtle, and a child next to a growing oak tree. I hope each of these images carry messages of resilience for those along the Gulf Coast.

The other important thing about this fiber art is that all of the materials used are recycled. One of the themes in my art is sustainability. This is important to me simply because I believe that it is important to take care of our habitat. But also, I love to think about the history of found objects and materials. It is always more challenging to create a project and seek out the colors and texture you need from what you happen upon. Too, the Katrina Memorial Cube Sculpture seemed to beckon for reclaimed materials. Many of my favorite artists working in New Orleans today use reclaimed materials in their work. This is a tribute to them as well.

Materials Needed:
1. 4 old t-shirts,freshly laundered
2. cotton thread (I choose a contrasting thread - Black)
3. sewing machine, machine needles, bobbin, scissors, dressmaker pins, pinchusion, pencil/chalk, lint brush, and measuring tools/cutting board.
4. pillow stuffing for memory box - I choose a pillow stuffing that is hypoallergenic. You will need approximately 6 large bags.
5. fabric, found objectsfor embellishing
6. memories, love, patience, and stories to share
If you look at the instructable tonight, keep in mind that I am not quite done with the instructions. I will finish tonight. Thanks for looking.

Step 1: Choose and Prepare Material

I chose to use old t-shirts to make the Katrina Memorial Cube Sculpture . I found a turquoise blue, a brown, and two off-white t-shirts for use. Gather the t-shirts that you will use and decide on the colors that will go well together. Make sure you wash the t-shirts well before using.

Using the freshly laundered shirts, lay out the t-shirts in the color formation that you would like to use. You may need to rearrange the colors several times until you are pleased with the combination. To make this project I decided I would make a cube. To do so meant I would need 6 sides. I did not want each cube side to be a solid color so I decided that each cube side would be made up of 2 panels of different colors. The top and bottom cube sides would be a patchwork pattern. So for the remaining 4 cubes that meant I would need 8 panels. I decided that my cube would be 18"x18". So each panel would need to be 9" by 18" for the finished size.

I knew that if the finished panel needed to be 9"x18", then I would need to add extra fabric for the seams. So I planned for each panel to be 9"x18" but added 5/8" extra on all four sides to give me room for the seams. 5/8" is the standard allowance for seams. This would mean that each t-shirt would provide me with 2 panels. I had chosen 4 t-shirts so I had enough to make the 4 sides to the cube. For the top and bottom of the cubes, I used the t-shirt sleeves and other leftover materials to make the patchwork look.

Pin the t-shirt along the line that you will need to cut. You can use chalk to mark your cutting line if you like.

Step 2: Sew Your First Cube Side

Place 2 panels right sides together' and sew a 5/8" straight seam to join them together. The rectangular panels should be joined so that when you are done you now have a 18"x18" side of the cube.

If you followed the previous step closely this should not be a problem. I always lay out my pieces before I sew an envision how it should be pieced together. Then I pin the pieces right sides together and then open the pieces out to make sure that I have everything lined up properly before I begin to sew. This saves you from headaches later.

When you start the seam be sure to backstitch a few stitches to set your stitch. When you get close to the end of the seam you will need to back stitch again. Then, to save thread and time, place your next set of panels on the sewing machine and prepare to sew these together as well. So as soon as you finish backstitching on the first seam, move the next panel into place and begin sewing together your second set. Remember to backstitch at the beginning as well. This is a trick my mom taught me when I learned to sew as a child. It will save you plenty of thread over time, plus you have less stopping and starting and cutting in between seams.

Look at the notes I have added to the photos in this step to see what I am talking about. If you have questions, leave me a comment and we can chat some more.

Step 3: Continue to Join Panels

You should have four sides to your cube when you are done with this step. Each side is made up of two panels. The top and bottom of the cube will be added at the very end.

You will see a photo below with the panels sewn together in a row.

After you have your long strip, you will iron open the seams to help the seams lie flat. You can use your household iron and set the heat to match the type of fabric you are using.

Step 4: Add Your Embroidered Images

Now it is time to add your embroidered images. You can choose to embroider each image by hand if you like. I like to use the sewing machine. I like the challenge of freestyle sewing. I generally draw a light pencil drawing on my fabric of the design that I want to use.

For the Katrina Memorial Cube Sculpture I used images that were familiar to me from Louisiana. I started with a traditional New Orleans shotgun house. As you may know many of these historic homes were destroyed in the flood waters. I wanted to bring one back to life. This house is set on a blue background. I choose this particular blue for the project because it reminded me of some of the colors I have seen in New Orleans.

Step 5: Add Embellishments to the Images

Now you will add the embellishments to the images that you have embroidered.

First you should add the curtains to the windows. In the first photo you can see the curtains on the windows. I choose to use a plaid from the sleeves of a shirt that I had. I first zigzagged around each curtain, then I sewed each curtain on the house across the top. You will need to tack the curtains down so that they stay put. To do this you will need to hand sew.

Thread a needle. I always use a double thread to make my stitches stronger. Now tie a knot. If you have never tied a knot, it can be tricky. See the photos below for detailed steps.

For the house, I choose to add a tin roof. We often have tin roofs in Louisiana. Many people love to hear rain on a tin roof. I made the tin roof with a gray sock that had ridges, just like a real tin roof.

Finally, sew a nice button on the door for the handle.

Step 6: Make the Mosaic Top and Bottom for the Cube

Now that you have completed the long strip that will make up the sides of the cube, it is time to make the mosaic top and bottom for the cube. You can of course create the top and bottom similar to the other sides. I choose to be more creative and do a somewhat patterned mosaic for the top and bottom. I used the sleeves of the t-shirts to cut out pieces for my mosaic, plus other remnants from the t-shirts. I didn't not cut a pattern for this step, but instead choose a more free style approach. You can follow your own creativity. In the end you will need a top that is 18" with the same 5/8" border on all 4 sides. And then the same size for the bottom.

As you can see from this photo of the top, I used the blue to form a stripe down the middle horizontally and vertically and then used brown and the off-white shirts to form a general pattern for my mosaic.

Step 7: Sew Top and Bottom to Sides

This next step may appear to be tricky, but just think back to the cube you are trying to make. Take a look at the pattern, and if it helps cut a pattern from paper and fold it to make a cube. The idea is that you have the row of sides sewn together, now you will sew one side of the top, pivot, and sew the next side until you have joined the top to the sides.

Look at each of the photos below very closely and you will see the progression of steps. Upi will pivot and then continue your seam, and you can see how you will make a turn and your stitching lines will be perpendicular to each other.

Continue this pattern until you have sewn the top to the sides.

You will repeat this same series of steps with the bottom mosaic as well. The only difference is that you will leave a 6" opening along the bottom so that you can stuff the sculpture. In the end you will stitch this opening closed by hand.

Step 8: Stuff Your Cube and Handstitch Seam

Fill the cube with stuffing
Now it is time to stuff your cube and sew up the final edge. I used pillow stuffing to stuff the Katrina Memorial Cube Sculpture. It took approximately 6 large bags of stuffing to fill the cube. When you are done you will need to handstitch the opening where you stuffed the cube.

Pin the 6" opening closed
Use dressmaker pins to close the 6" opening that you left earlier when you were sewing the cube. When pinning, you should turn the seam allowances to the inside.

Sew a Blindstitch to Close Seam
Thread the needle with thread that is as long as the opening plus an additional 18 inches. This will help to insure that you have enough thread to complete the job and give you plenty of "working room." Use a color similar to the material.

Place the needle about a 1/2" above the beginning of the opening. Pull it through to hide the knot inside the seam. The idea with the blindstitch is to hide stitches.