August 31, 2011

Repair of a Grand­mother's Flower Garden Quilt

This is a 1930s Grandmother's Flower Garden Quilt.  This pattern was very popular in this era, and often made like this one, with a variety of pastel scrap fabrics on white.

What makes this one special is that it is owned by the woman who used it on her bed as a young girl.  At that time, her mother altered the shape of the quilt to fit on her bed.  Originally, it had two scalloped edges and two straight edges, bound in green.  The alteration took the scallops that used to be along the edge at the top of the photo, and attached it to the green-bound edge on the right.  The new top edge was turned and hemmed.

There was much wear on the quilt, and much patching needed.  The owner had started the work years ago, and sent the fabrics she had found, several of them vintage.  I added fabrics from my collection, both vintage and reproduction.

Here's one flower, showing 3 stages in the patching process.

Sometimes, the batting was missing, so I basted small bits of batting into the open spaces before patching.

Choosing a good fabric is always an audition process.  Sometimes what works best is using the reverse of a fabric to get the faded look.  I auditioned both sides of this red reproduction print, and decided pretty quickly that the right side was way too intense.

The reverse was almost too dark, but relative to the original red fabric on the far right of the photo, not too far off.  

Most of the wear was towards the center of the quilt.  I always imagine that's because the edges that hung down over the bed didn't suffer from being sat on.  In choosing fabrics, I used some that were more strongly colored than what was left of the original fabrics, after checking to see that they were not brighter than fabrics in better condition on the edges of the quilt.

Here are in-progress and after photos of the portion of the quilt that had the most wear.

Once these decisions are made, it's just a process of sewing one hexagon after another.  In the end, I patched 271 little hexagons.

Books on tape help a lot!  So does downloading interesting radio shows.  So do long phone conversations with friends.

Here's the completed quilt:

Then I added velcro to the long straight edge.  It is now going to hang in a hallway, both because of the long, thin shape, and because it will be more protected from light damage there.

August 17, 2011

More and More Buttons

I visited my friend Gloria today.  In amongst the memorabilia she pulled out, she showed me her mom's button collection.  And then she let me take it home!!

Gloria's mom was a fantastic seamstress.  And had a button box to prove it.

I'm going to make some kind of button project for Gloria - to memorialize her mom, and to get me started figuring out what kind of art I can make with all the buttons I am acquiring.  I am a happy, happy person tonight.

Here they are:

Look at these neato pink leaves with clear bubbles on them.  And I love the purple ones with golden centers.

Pretty silver filigrees.  Don't the center ones remind you of a fancy shortbread baking pan?

The orange ones at the top left remind me of orange slices.  The ladybugs are adorable, as are the delicate floral wreaths.  

Here are some one-of-a-kinds.  That large gold one is sort of about the solar system, I think. Do I see a flying saucer in there, too?

I think I'm going to check out some button collecting books next time I'm at the library, and start getting some idea of what these are all about.  Isn't it amazing how many kinds of buttons have been, and are still being, produced?!

August 10, 2011

Back to the Fen

In the home stretch now!

I've completed (I think....) the final detailing and embroidering on the bog quilt.  Here's the scoop:

I did, indeed, make another kayak, so that it is long enough to extend across the border.  This is the third and hopefully, hopefully final attempt at the kayak!  I managed to salvage the grey bits this time, and reattach them to the new kayak body.  But I did need to embroider the detailing on them again.  I also, added a black cord and attachments.

My philosophy on such re-dos is this.  They take some time, for sure, but the few hours they take are short compared to the whole lifetime of the quilt.  Having no regrets is "priceless".

I embroidered vein lines on the water lily leaves.

I made little French knot berries.  I had considered doing them with 1/8" ribbon, but it was too large.

I made cattails with a brown yarn adding the fuzzy texture of the heads.

I made arrowhead leaf plants.  These, too, I attempted with ribbon, but settled on using floss in the end.

Now it is ready to quilt!

August 7, 2011

Buttons, Buttons, Buttons

I've been strongly drawn to old button collections lately.  At an estate sale a couple of weeks ago, I found a delightful baggie of buttons.  Here are some of them, washed, and sorted.

Here's one of my favorites (5/8"):

Then, at a garage sale this weekend, I found Buttons.  This must be capitalized, because of the quantity.  The sale was actually a fun double garage sale, two neighbors on opposite sides of the alley, two garages full of ancient things.  In amongst it all....crates full of boxes full of buttons.  

I decided on one box each, yellow, red, blue, and green.  I dumped them all in the sink to wash.  

My darlin' daughter said - How silly looking!  I want to take a picture!  And I thought - Oh!  Me, too!  Blog! 

So, y'all can thank her for reminding me that I now have a blog for such silly topics.  :-)

In amongst the piles of doo-dads, I found these cool things to add to our collection of military medals.

The stars and bar are still attached to bits of garment.  They are attached with a tiny screw and nut, not the simple little squeeze back that is more common on lapel pins and such.  Pretty cool.  

August 1, 2011

Magic Transformations

Thin Ice Theater's fall 2010 production was "An Ideal Husband" by Oscar Wilde.

This necessitated upper crust British formal wear c. 1895.  My research showed that this was the era of the largest mutton chop sleeves ever seen on Earth.  Plus froo-froos and lace and ribbons and feathers.  Definitely a "more is more" look.

We wanted the look to be over the top.  It's Oscar Wilde after all, and the theme has a lot to do with how over the top these people are, while at the same time maintaing that stiff upper lip in the face of actual Life happening to them.  But we were certainly not going to make new dresses for everyone!

We went to our costume boxes (see the post "Thin Ice Theater's Costume Collection" for the story of our costume boxes), and pulled out some gowns.  Most were clearly 1980s prom dresses, not exactly the same style as 1895!  We considered adding mutton chop sleeves, but quickly decided it would look too odd to have all these dresses on stage with sleeves that didn't match the rest of the dress, even if we added some of the new fabric elsewhere.

So Annie suggested that we leave the mutton chop era behind, move ahead a few years on the fashion timeline, and go for an overall look without the huge sleeves.  Just because we can.

Annie masterminded the transformations and many people sewed.  Many of the additional fabrics were bought resale - curtains, tablecloths, and such.  It's a great source for very inexpensive yardage.  (And the white overskirt below used to be a plain ol' slip.)  Then, lots of ribbons and trim were added to the mix.  Matching hair doodads and jewelry and accessories - plus hot rollers, bobby pins, and lots of hairspray - completed the look.  Here are before and after looks for some of the dresses.





The whole set of Ideal Husband costumes can be see on my website at: