For the personal project, we were required to research about anything that is in our interest. The topic is completely up to the student as long as they have a clear goal and global context to focus on. The topic I chose to do my personal project on was patchwork and quilting. As I originally enjoyed crafting, drawing and hand sewing, I have decided to make a large blanket so I can do all of these. My project focuses on Personal and Cultural Expression since my product would be completely original and handmade by myself.
The project has 4 stages, Investigation, Planning, Creation and Reflection. For the research I have mainly looked for procedures to make patchwork and brainstormed ideas for my quilt design. For planning, I planned my working schedule over the summer break and the quilt design. In the creation, I basically sewed my quilt and finally I have reflected on my whole process throughout the personal project. At the same time we were able to develop personal skills such as self-management, research and communication skills.
The goal of my project is to create a patchwork quilt of old clothes, to be creative in showing the Japanese culture and sew, and to recycle clothes rather than throwing away or donating. Using cloth by cutting clothing I wore out of shows and connecting them together is like keeping your memories together especially because most of the clothing I used were ones I wore very often during my childhood. I could have donated them as well but they were too dirty to let somebody else wear. This topic is also very eco-friendly as there would be less clothing being dumped and burned.
My project mainly focuses on Personal and Cultural Expression as I focused on being creative in designing my final product which is a handsewn quilt. The design also shows the Japanese culture which would be part of cultural expression. This product will help achieve my goal because it will give me the opportunity to design, sew and recycle wasteful clothes. For the research I focused on the procedure of making the patchwork quilt. I collected both primary sources and secondary sources over the summer. Appendix A and B show the process of my secondary source research very well by combining all the information and tips, as well as examples of people actually reusing clothing to create patchwork quilts. For the primary source, I chose to ask my grandmother who is used to sewing as she has spent a lot of time sewing kimonos, and also my own pictures of quilts that I took in New York which I looked at as examples for the quilt design. Appendix C is my strongest primary source as she would know more tips to make the sewing part more time efficient. From her long experience of sewing she showed me how to hold or pin the cloth together and when to change the stitches. However I was not able to complete this project only with one source for sewing. I went on the internet and looked for more sources of how to do patchwork or make a quilt in general. I tried to find as many sources that I thought were legitimate, and for this topic would be more blogs and tutorial videos that guide through the steps. For the second part of the research which is looking for features that represent Japan, I have mainly used primary sources regarding my knowledge and some pictures I took of flowers and designs also known as wagara (Japanese patterns). This part is just for brainstorming so I decided to put many examples of Japanese flowers and wagara especially from origami (Appendix H).
From the information I went on and started to plan my quilt design. To do this I have basically planned out my schedule for work and the design of my product. The success criteria for this product is to be able to achieve the goal which is to hand sew a quilt out of old clothing and using Japanese designs. I also added a criteria for communication as it was my first time to do patchwork although I have sewed many times before. I started this project without knowing anything about patchwork and quilting, meaning I had to do extra research and do communication with my supervisor and my grandmother. I also asked my mother for any old clothing of mine and hers, so I had more color options. For the action plan I made a table before summer identifying what I would be doing during the summer break to keep myself organized and make sure I work on it during the summer (Appendix D). I have planned to complete all my research and planning during the summer break, and if possible start the sewing by August. It was ideal to collect all clothing material to use for this project, which completed very quickly as my grandmother not only taught me how to sew, and gave me a large pile of leftover kimono fabric she found. The most important part of the planning was designing the product. I drew in my process journal the designs and Appendix G, representing the Japanese four seasons is what I chose in the end. I have followed this schedule very well over the summer, actually earlier than first planned except for the sewing which I was not able to start until the end of summer vacation. After school started I kept myself organized through managebac which showed the due dates and was an easy source to look at my drafts to prepare for the report.
Looking at my self management skills, I was able to manage time well as my research, designing and collection of old cloth were all completed during the summer break. Even before and after the break I have contacted my supervisor many times to have meetings and ask questions about what I was unsure of for written assignments. However I may have not been able to organize my creation time as well as I had to work very hard towards the deadline.
I believe my product links to my global context very well which I am very proud of. As mentioned before, my global context is Personal and Cultural Expression, and I have expressed both. For example because the product is an original creation I would be expressing myself through creation and designing. For cultural expression the product design has Japanese flowers representing the four seasons. In addition the cloth received from my grandmother all had Japanese patterns, which is most obvious in the spring area at the very left (Appendix F). When I looked at the TSC (Appendix I) I created I would probably be able to score a high grade in “Cultural”.
The communication skills are shown clearly in my research notes, especially for the one where my grandmother (Appendix C). As mentioned earlier, I have asked her many questions on the tips of hand sewing a large piece since she is used to hand sewing kimonos. I communicated a lot with her and got many support from the detailed research notes I took. But I think I could have researched a professional of sewing and quilting as well, if possible contact and ask questions to have a total of three reliable sources to help me on the creation. Although in the creation process I communicated more with my supervisor as she frequently asked me how I was going with my final product at the same time as supporting the writing tasks.
Some of the issues I came across during this process was doing my homework and assessments in school at the same time. As soon as school started I did not have as much time to work on my personal project. To this I worked slowly, for example cutting pieces for one seasons a day when I had time. Overall I feel like I did not have as many issues except for time management in creation.
Overall, I have learned a lot throughout this project about sewing and it gave me a new interest of patchwork and quilting in this small topic. I have extended my knowledge and understanding of this topic and global context by evaluating sources to see if they are good to get ideas from as well as getting direct support from close people. Since patchwork and quilting was a challenge for me I had to keep myself open-minded and look back at my basic sewing skills and see how I can use or improve that in my project. In addition the fact that I have been reusing clothing made me think about how much fabric people are wasting when just throwing one piece of T-shirt away. The t-shirt or skirt or anything can be remade into anything by cutting into cute shapes and stitching them together.
Looking at the success criteria I created for my product, I think I was able to achieve most of the criteria at the higher band. The criteria were created based on my goal, which is to create a patchwork quilt, to be creative in showing the Japanese culture and sew, and to recycle clothes rather than throwing them away or donating to others. The four criterias were Research, Cultural, Environmental and Communication. For the research, I might be able to achieve a substantial grade as I was able to collect all the information I listed in the plan, and pasted in annotated pictures and diagrams for additional explanation. The product shows relevance to the information about Japanese features, with pictures of Sakuras and Hydrangeas both used in the final design. I could have added pictures of the autumn leaves as well, to show how they represent Japan’s autumn and perhaps a picture of the real ume flower rather than pasting in a piece of origami. For the Cultural aspects, I would probably achieve the top bands. For example some the fabric used had Japanese patterns printed and the Sakuras, Hydrangeas, Autumn leaves and Ume flowers represent Japan. Autumn leaves may not be considered a flower, but they do represent Autumn in Japan. For Environmental, I have achieved for sure. There is evidence in my process journal (Appendix E) showing which cloth I used and received from my grandmother, and what clothing of mine were used. Even though the fabrics from my grandmother are not clothing, they were once used by her and her mother to sew blanket covers considered as “old cloth”. Some of the T shirts have been used for the Ume blossoms, the autumn leaves and the background of the hydrangeas. Finally for Communication, I had used a wide range of secondary sources from the internet, including blogs, tutorial videos, websites with detailed procedures and pictures I actually took. However I might not be scoring high as the only interviewed primary source was the direct sewing lesson from my grandmother. As mentioned earlier, it might have been better if I could have interviewed a professional quilt teacher. I could also have interpreted some of the quilt designs in New York and for example adapt some of those ideas for the background instead of four plain strips of patched cloth (Appendix H and Appendix I).
As an independent learner, I felt very proud of myself presenting my product to the students and parents at the Personal Project Exhibition. I received many questions especially from parents, about why I chose this topic, patchwork and quilting. I answered that I was originally interested in sewing so I wanted to try something new and large rather than making a small pouch with regular sewing. I also explained how the design represents the Japanese culture and the four seasons which most parents were able to understand instantly. But most of the questions were related to my goal, and especially ones related to the fabric I used and the purpose. I explained how I did not purchase any cloth for this project and only my old t-shirts, old bed covers and kimono fabric I received from my grandmother. I also said the purpose for this whole project was to identify the importance of reusing not only paper, but fabric as well and all the possible things you can make by cutting and stitching pieces of old fabric together. After the exhibition I felt I was able to accomplish a completely personal project which I started and managed by myself. Using this experience I will try to manage my time better as an individual, even during regular assessments like working little by little so I do not rush at the last minute. This would benefit my school life especially during the IBDP courses.