Sudden Outbreak of Quiet Good Taste
January 14, 2008
We were sposed to get a whale of a Historic Three-Incher last night, but it has come to naught so far. (I wouldn’t have put it past the school to declare a Wet Day, but they didn’t.) I’m heading for the airport and I’ll be seeing you soon. Don’t linger too long knitting at the library–we’ve got work to do! They’ve listed Book 2 on Amazon, woman. We better finish the book.
When not devoting my energy to recipe collection and preservation, I have been busy with the sewing machine. Something curious has happened. My quilting habit, which originated in a desire to crank out splashy, clashy blankets faster than the speed of knitting, has taken a bizarre turn: tastefulness and straight seams.
Exhibit A: The mixed media project. First I knitted the edging, intending that it would edge 2 yards of shot cotton embellished with machine embroidery. Then, whilst innocently stopping by Purl Patchwork one day, lo, I beheld the Nani Iro. I stood in the radiant light, blinking. What, I asked nobody in particular, did the Nani Iro demand of me, its handmaiden? The Nani wanted me to buy 2 yards of 2 coordinating prints. It wanted me to take the yardage, and the linen edging, to Philadelphia and await further instructions.
Note that the knitted edging (Euroflax Sportweight Linen) is sandwiched between the top and bottom layers of fabric. There is also a layer of lightweight cotton batting. This was a challenging project, sewing-wise. I now know that I should have basted the batting to one of the layers, and then do everything else I did. (Basically I think my method of binding the quilt is called the pillowcase method. You sew right sides together, leaving an opening in the stitching, turn the piece inside out, and then sew the opening shut. Before I did this, I had to handstitch the knitting to the edge of one of the pieces of fabric so that it would lie flat. The machine-stitching was more or less done by feel, as I was trying to stitch down the center of the yarnover row so that the edging would appear even.) One step remains: doing some sashiko style embroidery, through all the layers, to keep the batting in place. The Nani Iro sticks to the batting really well, but it needs a little insurance. I’m planning to go back to Purl for some orange embroidery floss or quilting thread. Silk? We’ll see what the Purl girls recommend.
My not-so-humble thought about this project is that the somewhat awkward execution is redeemed by the marriage of edging and fabric. I rely, hard, on beginner’s luck. I would have hated to ruin this fabric.
Exhibit B is a long slide further down the slippery slope of refinement:
This is a limited-run Liberty fabric. (Limited-run meant that I had no choice but to buy it, regardless of the fact that I had no idea what to do with it at the time.) Last weekend, I desperately wanted to sew a quilt top from start to finish in a few hours. Flipping through Last-Minute Patchwork Gifts, I saw the project “Cutting Corners”, which uses a simple plan for a large swatch of Liberty fabric framed by a second cotton print and solid borders. I had some leftover beige linen, in a heavier weight (which actually came to me from Liberty of London, which I took as a Sign and a Symbol). I had some (Joel Dewberry?) fabric that matched like destiny. I followed the pattern (really!), cut all the pieces (including the binding) in an hour, and the quilt top came together like magic. My favorite part is something you can’t see–the way the dense, soft linen’s substance and subtle texture contrasts with the smooth, almost transparent cotton lawn. (It was tricky telling the right side from the wrong side of the Liberty print.)
This one is going to the machine quilter’s house, once I find a backing fabric. I’m taking suggestions for a zingy all-over print, preferably with some chartreuse and a dull gray or brown. I’ve already cut and pieced the binding. I can’t wait for this one to Be a Quilt. It is quite a feeling, this ability to run up a blanket top on the machine.
I know you probably can’t believe the non-crookedness of these projects, the lack of bleach, the absence of recycled shmattas. I don’t know what came over me.
See ya soon!