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How do you define home?

Webster's defines it as 'the place where a person lives';  'the social unit formed by a family living together";  'a familiar or usual setting'; 'a place of origin'; etc, etc, etc…..
It is all of these and so much more.

I have been thinking a lot about homes, families and the memories made there lately.  It was provoked by the guild I'm in- North Suburban Needlearts Guild.  We have a yearly project challenge that is purely elective. I had not participated in a couple of years due to time constraints and the subject matter.
But this year's was different. The theme was 'Shirt Tales".  Create your tale on a shirt whether it be an old shirt, newly constructed shirt, deconstructed or even No shirt at all. Your choice, your design.

It eventually dawned on me that I had finally thrown my favorite shirt EVER into the scrap fabric bin in my workshop. It was way past it's prime. Actually, the shirt was my husband's very briefly until I chose to start wearing it around the house as my 'comfy-lay around the house' shirt. That was about 18 or so years ago! It had stains on it-most likely ink and/or paint as I also wore it while working in my studio at times. (I've never been good about wearing aprons). It had numerous holes in it. The collar was threadbare around the back of the neck and there was a long rip from the bottom up toward the mid section of the shirt tail. Most likely due to me getting it caught on various things due to the hole that WAS there prior to the giant rip. So the shirt was deemed unwearable unless of course I patched it up which is why it landed in the fabric scrap bin.

So I knew I had the perfect shirt to tell my tale on. The only thing left was what sort of tale did I want to tell??  My life has been a veritable whirlwind of activity through the years. I have all sorts of tales.
As I contemplated what to 'say' on my shirt I starting 'sorting' through my memories. For some reason I store memories in my mental filing cabinet by the houses I've lived in. All my memories can be recalled by date according to where I lived. I'm not sure if that's odd but that's how I can recall what happened and when it happened.  The good times, the not-so good times, the ups and downs of life are stored in little boxes in my head with a photo of the house we lived in at the time the events took place.
To me, it seems normal. How else to you remember all the stuff that happens when you move around a lot?

I decided that the title of my shirt tales project would be "A Tale of Seven Cities". Not exactly original and all the places I lived weren't all technically cities BUT…artistic license-ok?

I started by searching through photo albums-the real thing, not just my digital files!Which of course conjured up lots of happy memories. Fortunately before the digital age I was very good about keeping my photos together and up to date. Like my memories, my photos are arranged into photo albums with dates and there are about 3 albums per home that we lived in.  Just don't ask about my digital files (they're a mess).  Photos were all found, scanned and printed onto fabric. So then it was time to arrange and stitch.
Front of shirt-houses 1-5
 I fused the printed fabric onto the shirt as well as some other bits of fabric to cover some of the holes.
I left some of the holes because life isn't perfect-there are some bumps in the road of life as well as potholes!  The long rip was 'sutured' together as you can see in the above photo.  I added stitching around the houses. I used a fabric marker to write the # of each house as well as the city of each house and the years we were there. After writing with marker I stitched with the machine. Added a few stars and heart buttons as well as some decorative ribbon with flowers. I became a vegetable gardener in house #2 but not an avid flower gardener until house #4. The flowers represent all the flowers I have planted along the way.


The back of the shirt with houses 6 & 7. I chose to do two photos of our current house #7. The seasons are so dramatically different that I feel like I live in two different houses. So I chose a photo in spring and a photo with 3 feet of snow!

In the shirt pocket I've written little nuggets of happy memories-red letter events that took place at each home on tags.

Our first home was especially sweet! It is in my hometown and so it's not the first home I lived in but the first home of our married life.

Since I only put the city under each photo I decided to machine stitch the street names of all the homes across the upper back. Around the collar is the street number of each home.

Oh Boy! If this shirt could talk… the shirt was with me through quite a few of these homes- I'm sure it would have lots to say.


Through all the moves and all the houses there is a constant thread-the people that loved, lived and flourished together. We are family, these are our homes.

"home is where the heart is'
"home is where you hang your hat'
'make yourself at home'
'a man's home is his castle'
'there's no place like home'
'you can never go home again'
'home sweet home'

Life your life creatively~ no matter where you live!

cathy




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