August 17, 2016

Favorite Quotes #13 - What is Art

Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.
Edgar Degas

I found this quote in just about the most difficult spot ever to photograph!  It's on an overhang, with a brightly lit ceiling just beyond and a dark tall wall above....  But I loved it.  And I love that it's in a high school, seen by budding artists every day.

I do think successful art has two parts:  first, a sharing of what the artist sees (in the broader sense of feels and experiences), and second, what that touches and brings forth in the viewers' sensations and inner knowledge. That's why good art feels timeless and magical.

Here are two favorite stories:

With One Voice - 2002 - 33" x 33"

For as long as I can remember, I've been fascinated by the idea of "drawing" with pattern or texture instead of outlines, and was exploring that concept with this quilt. The large flower is created with lots of smaller flowers lightly stitched into place and then covered by a piece of tulle and secured with machine quilting.  The title was found, as many of my quilt titles are, in the thesaurus, in the list of synonyms for "unison".

The story:  The quilt was hanging at the annual fiber show held at the Botanic Garden.  A young friend, just starting her vocal music career, had gone up to the garden to walk and clear her head prior to a big audition, and wandered into the fiber show by chance.  Not only did the title catch her eye, but then she read that it was made by someone she knew!  She called me right away to say how much inspiration and joy the whole synchronous experience had given her.  

Here's another story:
Nature's Perspective - 1989 - 107" x 81"
The concept of a quilted farmland came to me while driving home through Wisconsin at dusk.  When our friend Jon saw the work-in-progress, he commented that for him the design perfectly represented the way he sees landscapes - the sky's smoothness (uniform diamonds) against the land's textures (the patchwork blocks.) 

I wrote about this quilt in Favorite Quotes #10, where you can read the full story including the process of design and construction of the quilt.

The story touched me so unexpectedly and deeply that it is constantly with me to this day.  Not only is it still the basis for my answer to the perennial question "What is art?", but I look at the world differently myself now, a little view through someone else's eyes.  In other words, art can create a reciprocal exchange of what both the artist and viewer see.

August 8, 2016

Heirloom Cross Stitch Quilt

Isn't this a lovely quilt?  Sometimes the simplicity of a two-color design can create the most impact of all.

This cross stitch quilt is a family heirloom, made by the grandmother of the current owner.  She was living in Columbus, OH, at the time she made the quilt in the 1970s.

The stitching is very well done, including nice feather quilting around the borders.

The fabric and the embroidery threads are both getting weak with age.  There are small tears in the white background fabric.  Some have earlier repair stitches.

I used a herringbone stitch to close the slits.  The stitches are parallel to the slit which makes them less likely to pull through the torn edge, and the diagonal threads that get laid down help the slit lay flat and closed.  Where possible, I slipped a piece of new cotton underneath the slit to help support the mending stitches. 

You can see detail photos of how this process works on this post about a schoolhouse quilt.

Here is a patch I added, on the left, next to an older patch. 

The owner now brings the quilt out just once a year at Christmas.  And what a perfect Christmas quilt it is!

August 2, 2016

Summer Sewing

Sitting out in the back, beading and buttoning on my FFF (folded fabric flowers) project.  This will be another little quilt in the Something From Nothing series. 

It's quite thematic for a summer's day, don't you think?

And then I started looking for other things to photograph....  I love the freedom and the possibility of excess of digital photography!

July 25, 2016

100-Year-Old Christening Gown


This christening gown is a family heirloom with a full pedigree.  The left photo is the front, right photo is the back, third photo is the matching slip.  Here's what the current caretaker knows about the gown:

"The 100 year old christening gown and slip belonged to my mother-in-law who was born in January, 1917.  It was handmade by her maternal grandmother and has stayed in the family.  My mother-in-law grew up on the north side of Chicago, married, and had nine children.  Now the fourth generation is thrilled to have their babies wear it for christenings.  Depending if it's a boy or a girl, a pink or blue ribbon is woven through the sleeve cuffs on each christening day.

"The generational countdown that used the gown is:
Mother-in-law 1
Her children 9
Grandchildren 17
Great grandchildren 10

"So 37 babies have been christened in this gown with 3 more on the way!"

What a wonderful story!

Both pieces have inset lace.  I really like the curved lace on the front of the gown.  The gown also has embroidered leaves and flowers, and a scalloped hem.

Both pieces have finely finished French seams.

Both have tiny shell buttons.

The gown has tiny faggoted trim on the shoulder and sleeve seams and the eyelets on the sleeve cuffs.

To repair the torn lace, I started by removing some older repair stitching.  I often like to keep old repairs because I think they add to the history of the item, especially one like this with family tradition.  But in this case, I felt that the lace would be better protected by adding a supporting fabric, and to do that, I needed to see where it was actually torn.

I backed the lace with crepeline silk.  I pinned a piece of silk (cut extra large for ease of handling) to the inside of the gown and attached it to the seam at the edge of the lace with a small running stitch.

I used a small herringbone stitch to attach the thicker (and therefore hopefully stronger) parts of the lace design to the crepeline.

Then I finished the edge of the crepeline with my favorite, the rolled hem.  I still get such a charge out of pulling the thread and watching the fabric magically roll up!

I followed the same steps to mend the tear at the front neckline of the gown, except that I used a cotton batiste instead of crepeline.

The patch does show, especially when photographed against the black background I've used for these pictures, but the gown will be worn over the slip and then the patch will not be nearly so visible.

I also put little batiste patches behind a few of the buttons where the fabric had torn.

I really enjoyed having the gown here for a while and being part of such a deep history.  I hope the gown and its slip will now be ready for quite a few new additions to the family!

July 19, 2016

LeMoyne Star Plus 9-Patch Equals a Great Quilt

This quilt is signed and dated, one of my favorite kinds of quilts.  It was made in 2002 in Intercourse, PA, by Esther Martin.  Sign and date all your quilts, folks!  Quilt lovers of the future will thank you!

Repairing fairly recent quilts like this one is very different from repairing quilts of the 1800s or the early 20th century.  It's so easy to find patching fabrics!  All I have to do is go into my sewing room and look at the piles of fabrics I've bought over the years for my own quiltmaking.

See how easy this was!  In these next two photos, the original, torn piece is on the right.  My patching fabric is on the left.  (The new solid matches the original unfaded color that appears elsewhere in the quilt.)


I really do like these colors!

Here are before, during, and after photos of one of the areas I repaired.

And another area with quite a few patches.  Challenge for the day:  See if you can find the patches!

I'll finish this post the way the quilter finished her quilt, with her very appropriate scrap binding.

July 16, 2016

Shopping Spree

I'm sure many of you know how easily this happens....

I was sitting down to repair this lovely Victorian silk and velvet log cabin quilt. 

And lo and behold, I discovered that I somehow had let my supply of black thread run completely dry.  And then somehow, my thread order ended up with just "a few" more spools than just the black.  The pages and pages of yummy colors were just more than I could resist!

This, by the way, is 100% cotton size 60 thread.  It's what I use for repairing quilts, especially ones like this log cabin with very fragile fabric.  Regular sewing thread is larger, size 50.

Close-up photos of the fabrics in the quilt and of the conservation work I did on the fragile old silks are in the previous post.