Thursday, June 29, 2017

Spring 1893

In the spring of 1893 someone we will never know stitched a remarkable embroidery square.   Nearly 125 years later there it sat in a box of hot mitts at a church rummage sale.  It was folded so that the embroidery was on the inside, so easy to overlook.  A jewel hidden in plain sight.  But something about that little muslin scrap caught my eye.

It is a Victorian crazy quilt block, 11.5 x 12 inches. The back is two pieces of old muslin of a fairly coarse weave.  The front was pieced of ribbons, and probably taffeta and silk.  But it is nearly completely covered with dense embroidery.  The embroidery thread is the style not made any more.  From the looks of it, and the style of needlework, I believe that the embroidered date of "Spring 1893" is accurate.  Nearly 125 years old!

I'm posting a photo in a larger format than usual so you can perhaps zoom in and appreciate some of her work.  Every time I look it over, it seems there is something new.  I've found bugs, butterflies, horse shoes, a violin, a crown, an anchor, St. Andrew's cross, paisley swoops, a bluebird, a book, moon and sun, flowers, clover and ivy.  I saw the date 1893 right away, but didn't even see the word 'spring' until I got it home.  What a delight!  I've put it in a shadowbox frame for now. Such stories it could tell!  If only she had embroidered her name as well.

Monday, June 19, 2017

You're not going to wear those pants!

That was my daughter's reaction when she caught sight of a pair of batik pants that were in my sewing room.  "You're not going to WEAR those pants!  You bought them for the fabric...right???"

Yes, she knows me pretty well, and I guess there are some things that a woman of a certain age should not be seen wearing.  (Though I will admit that I tried them on when I got them home. lol)  A recent thrift store visit led to the purchase of a $4 pair of pink batik pants, probably made in India. They had a wide border around each leg, but I really bought them for the pink fabric.

Of course, the first thing I did was wash them in cold water....multiple times!  The dye ran, and ran, and ran.  Vinegar rinses helped, and finally the excess dye seemed to be gone.  After drying them I was was in such a hurry to play with the fabric that I went charging on ahead and de-constructed them without taking a photo.  You'll have to use your imagination. (The burgundy stripe was the bottom, then the turquoise stripe, then the florals with a yellow stripe between the two styles. From the knees up the pants were dark pink batik which will go into my stash.)

Front and back leg pieces gave me a total of four 13.5-inch squares from the lower pant leg border.  I cut each of these in an X, and started to play with the resulting triangle pieces.  Here's what I came up with...

A very nice table runner!

It took a while to audition fabrics for the border.  I think I learned a lot about color and value.  Here were my best choices:

Bottom:  The main fabric of the pants, which is the fabric I really wanted for my stash.
Next:  Mottled dark pink that matches the pinks pretty well.
Then:  Turquoise that matched the lightest turquoise in the border.
Top:  a deep gold which was even darker than the dark gold in the border print.
Not making the cut:  a lighter yellow that matched the yellow in the border and the backing.

I learned that matching is a good idea, but isn't always the best idea.  The dark pink just disappeared as a border.  It would have worked, but it didn't really add anything to the piece.

The turquoise was my first choice.  I thought it would be perfect.  Nope!  It matched the bright turquoise, but it made all the darker colors look muddy.  The same with the light yellow - only more so.  In fact, it was amazing how they actually made the piece look ugly!

Finally, I tried the dark gold on a whim.  It was amazing.  It made the light colors in the border pop!  It gave something for the eye to contrast the lights against, and that made all the difference.  The bright yellow and light turquoise in the border fabric sparkled.  It 's something that I'm going to have to remember when selecting colors in the future.

So, here it is.... all finished!  Not bad for the cut off bottoms of a pair of pants.  It was a such a fun little project. It still needs a name.  Any ideas?
17.5 x 35 inches 



Thursday, June 1, 2017

More Baskets of Plenty

May has flown past and here we are in June already!  Not much happening in the sewing room, but I did work on few more baskets from Cheri's 'Baskets of Plenty' sew-along. Perhaps a few of them need more work, but I'll have to think about that for a while.  Sometimes you just have to wait for a block to tell you it's own story.

This block thinks it's all done!

This one feels lonely and wants a little bird at the bottom.

More berries?  No, then it gets too symmetrical. 

This one might need some more flowers, but for sure wants a button in it's star.

Happy Summer!