Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Hanky Quilt

My dear friend, Kathryn, hired me to make a quilt for her mother's 60th birthday. It was a unique challenge because A) I don't quilt and B) she asked me to make it from her grandmother's handkerchiefs. I was happy to take it on, however, because the hankies were just gorgeous. Sadly, I did not take many pictures of this project, and I wish I had photographed some of the individual handkerchiefs. She had a stack of 24 that were beautiful and made from  vintage linen and cotton batiste, and it was up to me to figure out how to put it together. I took them to my local fabric store, and the kind ladies there helped me figure out how to make it work. It was decided that I would lay them out in 3 rows of 8 and separate the rows and hankies with lace. So, I bought a ton of lace (I used a couple of different kinds in order to get a wide enough row), which added up in price pretty fast.

I laid the hankies out on a large piece of cotton batiste (actually assembled to make it wide enough), arranged and then rearranged them. The challenge was that they were all different sizes, so I had to find a way to make it so that they wound up in a sort of rectangle. Also, I needed to make sure they were placed in a manner that made sense, color and pattern wise. Then I sewed the lace to each handkerchief.

And that is when my trouble began. As it happens with all new projects, there is a learning curve, and this one was kind of steep for me. It took a while for me to figure out how to sew lace without it getting all funky in the machine. Then, trying to keep it flat while going around the corners was another challenge. But, eventually, I got it sorted out and I got all these handkerchiefs bordered by lace. I attached them to the batiste, pinned batting to it, and I machine quilted it. Another obstacle was that once they were on the batiste, the hankies tended to puff out a little. I really didn't want to sew through them, as that would mar their beauty. So, I pressed and starched the hell out of them, and that helped a little. In retrospect, it would have made much more sense to attach the hankies to the batiste first and then sew the lace to the batiste also. I have no idea why I didn't think of that. 

After the stitching, I put on a backing of royal blue silk satin. I planned on tying the back on with small individual stitches, but that idea deflated pretty quickly. I was supposed to ship the quilt to her the next day, and I started the tying on at around 7 that night. Me, being the time challenged person I am, thought that it would only take an hour or so to do that (did I mention that I had never made a quilt before?).  After about 30 minutes and about 3 stitches later, I decided to just use the tying on mechanism on my sewing machine (you know, the little start/stop button), and things sped up considerably.

Finally, I finished it at around 2 a.m., and I was able to ship it off.  Kathryn's mother absolutely loved it! She didn't know that Kathryn had all these hankies, and she was very touched that she had thought to make something with it. It turns out that K's mom remembered some of the hankies as being HER grandmother's also from when she was a child. I am sure it brought back many fond memories.

For me, I have not as many fond memories of quilting, and I consider myself retired from the profession.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

A Wrap

My sister-in-law, who is a bit of an ebay freak, gave me this fabric several years ago for Christmas. And it has been just sitting in my stash. Why I haven't used it until now, I don't know. Except, perhaps it was meant for this particular project. Perhaps it chose to not be used until now. Is it possible that the fabric has controlled my life and my choices? Well, sometimes it seems that way. If you saw my stash, you might think that it does, indeed, control at least some aspects of my life.

Anyhow, I got a cool book on skirt embellishments. The ideas are really quite unusual. I decided to try to pattern in the book to make a sample skirt. This skirt has no embellishments, but, with this crazy print, it doesn't really need much else, right? After cutting out the pattern and trying to make the skirt, I realized that maybe the book is only good for the decorative ideas. Because the pattern stunk! I mean, it was baaaaaaad. Even my studio mate, Susan L., couldn't make head nor tails of it. I am a semi-moderately skilled seamstress, but Susan L. has been sewing all her life. So, basically I just used it as a template sort of thing and figured out the assemblage part myself. In the end, I think it turned out pretty cute. It's on my etsy site if you want to buy it. Hint, hint!

This is the back.  Obviously, it is a size small.

I lined it with a pink cotton lawn.  I left the lining free so that, if the wind blew, you could see it.  I think it makes a nice contrast.

Really, a wrap skirt is one of the greatest inventions. They are comfortable, adjustable (this style would be the perfect choice for your Thanksgiving dinner- hahaha!), and classic.