Blog Tour: Deploy That Fabric


Jen Eskridge of ReannaLily Designs is my new-Stash-book sister! Her book, Deploy That Fabric: 23 Sewing Projects That Use Military Uniforms in Everyday Life, is all about upcycling military uniforms to celebrate service members, and mixing these textiles with modern fabrics to create beautiful and awesome things for everyone.

Of course, I have to zone in on the fabric angle. I wondered not only about the history of camouflage prints but about the qualities of military uniform fabric, and the etiquette of recycling uniforms. And of course, Jen had the answers. What follows is part interview, part link roundup, part fabric gallery, part giveaway. See the end of the post for details on the latter.

 

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What is the typical type, fiber content, and weight of your typical camo fabric (if there is a typical camo)? It looks like the kind in your book has a woven texture to it …

All the fabrics in my book are uniform + quilter’s weight 100% cotton. The uniform itself has a few varying weights. There’s a much heavier winter weight fabric that is more like the weight of denim and a summer weight uniform that is much more like home dec weight. Then between the different branches the uniforms have varying weights as well. In my experience, flight suits seems to be the lightest weight of the uniforms. I don’t worry too much about the actual weight of the fabric, though, you can always apply a fusible interfacing to your quilter’s cotton to fortify it up to match the weight of camo you are working with.

{ Pixel Camo in Sand from Timeless Treasures }

 

What’s up with the pixelly camo?

The pixel camo is newer and is desert camouflage, though there is also a more organic looking desert camo from our conflict in the 90s. Of course, the pixelated camouflage comes in a range of styles (colors), corresponding to each branch of service. And don’t forget, for the True Up readers around the world, the camo pattern is different in many countries, so there really is an endless selection of actual patterned styles.

 

Urban Camo by Urban Chiks for Moda }

 


I know you advise people to ask the service member before cutting up their uniforms. How many uniforms do they usually have? Maybe because I don’t have any military people in my life, I thought uniforms were probably sacred, and that it’d be somehow wrong to disassemble them.

For a service person who, say, joins for one tour — they probably purchase or are issued about four sets of uniforms. I mean, they do wear them ever day, so similarly, how many pair of pants do you own? Then while working on the job the uniform may become worn, ripped or stained and the service person would then buy another uniform. Service members are also issued uniforms for deployments. And lets say, a service member, like my husband, has been in for 13 years. He came in when the military wore all green “jungle camo,” so we have many sets of those. The green is being replaced by the pixellated desert camo, so now he has many sets of those, too. I’d say he has at least about five sets of each style, at least. (Cough Cough, well, he did before the book!!!) And I have to agree with you on the “sacred” part in that as far as work clothes go, these are some pretty important, patriotic, representative garments. And they are quite a big tangible part of our military family and lifestyle, I’d hate to throw them out. Instead, I decided to preserve them and give them a new life.

 

 

{ Extreme Team Jigsaw Camo from Michael Miller is a clever interpretation of the traditional camo print. }

 

That makes sense! I imagine you must accumulate lots and lots of uniforms over a career military member’s lifetime. For those of us who don’t have such access, what do you suggest? What are your favorite sources for camo?

For me, my favorite fabric sources, primarily for uniforms is either friends’ donations or the thrift store. Many thrift stores, especially in military towns have uniforms. I actually have never made any of my designs with “camo off the bolt” but I do know it is out there in all sorts of weights — from Moda’s Urban Chicks to home dec weights at the larger discount fabric chains. I mean, aside from the military connection, tons of hunters and outdoorsmen use varying styles of camo and camo stitched items. Camouflage on the bolt is available online as well. Actual uniforms can also be picked up at places like eBay and Craigslist.

Thank you so much, Jen!
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Some sources I (Kim) found on my travels:

Above, just one kind of True Timber Camo at Fabric.com — they have all kinds of camo depending on the type of woods you want to hide in.

Authentic military patterned camo fabrics, and the notions to go with them, can be found at Rocky Woods. They also carry hunting camouflage and blaze orange fabrics.

I got lost looking around Camopedia, which contains an exhaustive history of camo patterns used by the militaries of every country in the world. I mean, wow.

 

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Giveaway Time! In the comments, tell us about what kind of camo you would sew with, and what you’d make with it. One lucky commenter, drawn randomly, will win a copy of Deploy That Fabric AND a Camo Quilt Eco Messenger Bag from Stash Books. The winner will be drawn Monday evening, October 17, around 9pm Central U.S. time. Good luck!

 

34 Comments

  1. Henria O. says:

    I like the Pink Urban Camo fabric above! It would be great for a military style jacket for my daughter!

  2. AshleyM says:

    How cool is this! I am active duty Air Force and have a ton of my old BDUs (classic camo, five sets) in a box waiting for a project. I knew that after wearing them for five years (before the AF switched over to the pixellated tiger stripe) I would want to do something fun, but I have yet to decide exactly what to do. Immediately, I think of a quilt…something that could be passed on in my family, but I’m just not sure. Also, I am intrigued by mixing color with BDU fabric. Awesome book.

  3. CJ says:

    I would have to say that I’d go with the more traditional type of camo. I’m actually planning on next month making a camo/deer quilt for a toddler because he loves it when he see’s his dad dressed up in camo getting ready to go out hunting and he loves deer as well. So I’m planning on making him a Christmas gift, camo/deer quilt. So this blog post DEFINITELY helps out! Thanks… :)

  4. DianeY says:

    I’ve used the jigsaw camo you showed in a little boy’s quilt, but I’ve never used actual uniforms. I don’t really have access to any. I did have to laugh though. I took my grandkids (6 & 7) to a fabric store last time I was in LA & they both walked up to me carrying a bolt of fabric. Regular brown/green camo for him & pink/brown/white for her. They now have their new jammy bottoms out of their choices. I also just ordered some camo with skateboarder silouettes in knit from an etsy shop for a Tee

  5. Anne says:

    I love that jigsaw camo, never seen it before! I think the idea of using these military fabrics in quilting and crafting is a neat one… thanks for sharing!

  6. Tabitha O. says:

    I have just used the plain green of the large military bags (not sure what they call them) and have never sewn with actual camo but I like the pixelated one, very cool. I got this book at my library and really enjoy the projects.

  7. marg says:

    I would never have thought to sew with any of these materials until I saw this book and fell in love with the messenger bag, now re thinking all the great things I could do.

  8. Jenny says:

    id really enjoy a chance to work with the Urban Chiks camo! but that being said, i love the idea of this not only encouraging people to think of reusing camo clothing, but seguing into using MY old clothing…or my kids…oh the places we go!

  9. Pam says:

    My son is in the Army and has been deployed once. I am going to check with him to see what he has. I think it would be a real honor to use his uniforms to make something great for him and his family.

  10. lee says:

    I love this idea! I would love to make some cool duffle bags for my boys out of uniform or camo material! and maybe one in pink camo for me! thanks!

  11. Em says:

    Oh goodness! I have no idea what I would make with camo. It’s never been on my radar. I guess that’s why I need this book!!

  12. Mary P says:

    I’d probably use desert camo from my cousin Becky. She has been to Iraq a few times and has quite the collection. It would be cool to make her something she can use.

  13. Jennyroo says:

    I like the Urban Chiks Moda camo, especially the pink and the royal blue colours! I’m also considering a visit to our local army/navy surplus store to see if they have any neutral camo prints to use!

  14. manybooks (Linda) says:

    Oo – i would like to use some pixelated camo in something a bit more grey – I bet it exists! And I would pair it with some fun colors to make a tote. I’m in love with the idea of this book!

  15. Grace says:

    I love the look of the Urban Camo by Urban Chiks. I think that pink fabric would make a cute skirt!

  16. Giles says:

    What a fantastic idea! And it’s interesting how it leads to very functional items. I’d love to read that book and see what other ideas there are!

    I really liked the pixelated desert and the jigsaw fabrics.

    Giles (Touch And Sew / touchandsew.blogspot.com)

  17. Debra Lee says:

    I have a few of my old traditional camo uniforms stashed somewhere and would love to cut them up!

  18. Beth T. says:

    I’d make something with pink camo for my niece, whose dad is an Army private. i think that would please both of them.

    Thanks for the giveaway.

  19. karen says:

    I would use some old camo from my husbands Marine Corps days. I also have some fabrics that belonged to my grandfather that date from the Korean War, but not sure if I should cut into that…

  20. Barb Colvin says:

    There are some hunting camos that would be great for bags. I like the cattail and shadow grass versions most.

  21. Trish says:

    I would have to use fabric from the store, since I don’t know anyone in the military.

  22. MarciaW says:

    Mixing camo from the store (easy to find in our Wal-Mart and from my relatives) and perhaps some of my Uncles’ older-style uniforms, think could make a nice quilt using the directions in Deploy That Fabric. Thanks for that chance.

  23. Dianne Megenity says:

    I think it would be so cute to make something out of the pink Urban Camo (Moda) for my hunter brother if their next child is a little girl! He’d love that!

  24. I think that jigsaw camo is great – could see it being used in a new winter bag somehow…thanks for the fun giveaway!

  25. Anita T. says:

    Loved the jigsaw blue camo. I’d probably use it to make something for a grandchild – or two.

  26. Kathy S. says:

    I haven’t sewn with any camo yet. I will probably pick a print at JoAnn Fabrics. I would also like to try cutting into a used uniform that I find at Goodwill.

  27. Patty says:

    If I had camo fabric I’d pick the pink to make jumpers for my granddaughters.

  28. Shawna G. says:

    I’d have to ask my mom first, but she has a flight suit that was my Granddaddy’s. He was in the Air Force and has since passed away. I also have a brother that is currently serving in the Marine Corps and I’m sure I could get some of his old uniforms. The projects in Jen’s book are super. I never thought of mixing camos with modern fabric. Thanks for writing the book. Great giveway and thanks for a chance to win.

    missmoozie(at)gmail(dot)com

  29. Libby says:

    I have some poplins and woodlands from when I was active duty in the early 80′s. I made a quillow for my husband when he went to TBS, and he has cut the pockets off the legs to store fishing reels, and scraps to make small hunting accessories, but would love some new ideas! The poplin holds a crease very nicely and the woodland is more like denim. The newest cammies that I have seen on local Marines are a blend – not sure how they would work in a project but I know the Marines like not having to iron them!

  30. Lisa P. says:

    My Dad was in the Navy, so it would end up being the Marine Corps version from a few years ago (the Marines are part of the Dept. of the Navy, but don’t say that to their face…anyway, my Dad has a bunch of uniforms from his time with them). :) I’m pretty sure it would end up being a quilt or bag of some sort. I’d love to see this book, and share it with my Mom.

  31. Jodi G. says:

    I am so glad that Jen wrote this book. With my Dad being in the Air Force for over 20 years and my son currently serving in the Marine Corps, I have some actual uniforms to work with. I remember watching Army Wives and seeing a quilt on the back of a chair. I stopped the show, rewound it and studied the pattern. I even took a picture of the TV screen with my phone (isn’t modern technology great?) So see I’m ready for this book. I’m glad it even gives instructions on how to breadkown the uniforms.

    Thank you and Stash Books for the giveaway and a chance to win.

    usairdoll(at)gmail(dot)com

  32. Megan L says:

    I love Urban Chick’s line for Moda; that’s probably what I would sew with. I know quite a few career military men, and I know this book is going to be so loved among all the military wives and mothers who want to remember their men while they’re away from their loved ones.

    Thank you so much for the giveaway!

  33. Carla G says:

    I would have to get some camo fabric as I don’t have any…but would love to sew a messenger bag in blue camo fabric. Thanks for a chance to win! :)

  34. Rachel M says:

    I would never, ever have considered using any kind of camo in any project before reading this post… but True Up, you have done it again! The way Jen pairs camo with bright pink fabrics (shown on Amazon) is really surprising and looks amazing. Plus the pixels are really in right now.

    I’d probably sew with a thrift-store uniform if I could find one… otherwise I’d find the blue pixelated camo online. I’d probably make a big bag with the camo on the bottom, like one in the book.