Surprise, and Suits and Ties
May 11, 2010
You: doing your bit in the trenches to help Nashville including the part of Nashville that is your very own basement. Me: knitting and quilting and generally going about my business, several stories above dry land. I wish I were there, keeping you company and following directions. But like everybody else, at least I can give. This is one of those situations where “throwing money at a problem” is not a bad thing. Ready, aim, throw.
I was starting to despair of ever getting my hands on a copy of Jane Brocket‘s latest book, The Gentle Art of Quiltmaking. Such was my despond that I dang near plunked down the shipping charges from the UK. (I know. That shocks you to the core. Me too. I scared myself.) But finally, mere weeks after its UK debut, the US edition is out and my copy is in the house.
Jane did not disappoint. What is more, she surprised.
As a longtime reader of Jane’s blogs past and present, I was willing, waiting and wanting to be beaten about the head and shoulders with colour! glorious colour! I was anticipating a trip to a heady world of floral prints of every scale, and inspiration from the garden and candy store. Those signatures are there, to be sure. What I was not ready for:
Suits and Ties. Despite my devotion to Amish quilts, which often were wool, I have never been able to “see” a wool quilt of my own making. I wanted to see one that I could get excited enough about to make. This is the one. Whether I can actually bring myself to cut up sacred suits and ties….well, I don’t have to go there. Get this: according to Jane, they sell suiting fabrics and tie silks, by the yard. No emotional investment required. (Oooh, though. Just had a thought: the linings of suits. I suppose they sell shiny lining fabric by the yard, too.)
I was also blown away by the Ball Gown quilt. (No gasp-spoiling photo here.) I just did not see this one coming, from Jane or anyone else. The top is made with silks, plain and embroidered (!), and the backing is quilting cotton so the quilt won’t slip off the bed or sofa. It’s stunning. And a bracing wake-up from ordinary quilting fabrics (lovely as they are).
Jane’s attitude toward method is one I’ve adopted myself, out of necessity–just get busy and make a quilt. If you love quilts, and you want to make them, but you wait –for the space to quilt, the time to quilt, the skills to quilt, your knitting UFOs to get finished so you can quilt– you will not produce the stacks of beautiful, useful quilts you want, quilts that have a story, even if the story is only, “And then I made this quilt.” (That is a good story.) Quilts that will hopefully be the first thing grabbed if the water starts rising.
As a how-to book, Jane’s instructions are clear and her tips go beyond the strictly technical to tell you stuff you still need to know. The best tip for apartment or ping-pong table quilters: “Lay out and pick up in one day.” So yeah–you won’t get to revisit your layout day after day, tweaking here, balancing there, as you would if you were Nancy Crow and could stick multiple quilt layouts on the walls of your 3 barn studios. Get over it! You are not Nancy Crow; learn to look faster. You’ll make another one, right? Just being told this, while looking at Jane’s beautiful quilts made in space borrowed from teenagers, is empowering. The perfect is not the enemy of the good (and the barn studio is not the enemy of the alcove studio).
Second favorite tip: “Do not walk on laid-out quilt pieces in socks.” News I can use, people. (“Do not allow terriers in vicinity”–just a suggestion, for the next edition.)
I close with a favorite picture.
Hymns on the wall, quilt on the table. Amen!