Sunday, April 05, 2015

Ready, set, sew!

Or, think about sewing anyway. I did get to the store to buy the necessaries so I can begin. I needed a package of needles, some sharp scissors, a small ironing board I can just pop on the table to press seams, that sort of stuff. 

I dug around in the closet before I went shopping because I knew I had a box of fabric left from the days when I wielded a needle. And I found a partially-finished quilt top, just wall hanging size, but a project I'd dearly love to finish. 

There's a story behind it that's put me off finishing it for 22 years. Being a gardener I designed a wall hanging sized quilt I called "White garden by Moonlight". All the materials for the background squares are dark florals or leaves, and onto them I bonded flowers cut from silk, which I drew out on silk of white and various pastel colours which could be built up to create shading and layers of colour. I planned to embroider details on and over these flowers once the top was finished, adding stamens, and in some cases stems and leaves. One square holds the moon and a cloud, another a spider's web in silver thread touched by a fairy, whose wings will be added by embroidery.  I think the web needs repairing, don't you? 

The corner squares, yet to be added, are navy blue filled with tiny stars. And the borders between are a dark floral. I'll quilt the top, batting and backing together by hand, using an 10" embroidery hoop which I hold in my lap. Tonight I tossed the top over the back of Tony's recliner to take a picture, so it's rather lumpy and floppy, but you get the gist. The squares may not look square, but they are.   

I took the top with me when I flew to visit my family in 1993. I also stayed with a quilting friend  pen pal for a couple of days. We'd never actually met, but over the previous five years we'd exchanged hundreds of letters and spent hours on the phone (this was before the net). She was picking me up from the airport. I was staying two days with her, then my sister's family was driving the 200 miles to pick me up and take me the rest of the way to their home. 

The visit started wonderfully. We talked a mile a minute. I couldn't believe this woman had a 12 x 14 foot room with floor to ceiling shelves filled with quilting fabric, an eight foot long cutting table, two sewing machines and a quilting machine, and boxes of fabric under the table. She was quilt obsessed and turned out two or three quilts a week. She showed me the dazzling array of colours and patterns of the quilts she'd made in the past few months, and I felt quite bowled over. I couldn't make one of those in a year, let alone three in a week!

Soon she demanded to  see what I was working on. I was reluctant to show her, and had just started to explain what my idea was when she began to laugh. "This is all wrong," she laughed, and she pulled it out of my hands. "This is not a proper quilt! And it's not even square!" 

She zipped her roller cutter across and removed the bottom inch and a half  from the quilt, cutting right through the stems and leaves of the bottom rows of irises. 

"There!" She said, wadding the quilt top up and tossing it at me, "at least it's square now …" I was stunned. I'd spent weeks on that quilt, and she'd just ruined it in a five second zip of her cutter.  She said nothing but she must have seen the look on my face. She wheeled around and left the room, leaving me standing there on the verge of tears. 

The rest of our visit was strained and uncomfortable. We continued to keep in touch afterwards, but the friendship was never quite the same.  She's been gone for 10 years now. Sad really. I learned over the 15 years that I knew her that she was a bully with everyone, which eventually soured many of her friendships, her marriage and her relationship with her children as well. 

But I looked at that quilt top yesterday and thought, "I'm going to finish this. I'll find a way to compensate for the hacked off bottom. Why should I let a bad experience over 20 years in the past ruin the pleasure of finishing and enjoying that little quilt? It's time to set that memory free." 

So anyway, while I was needle shopping, because I really needed a new pair of pants that fit I also took a quick run through the pants dept, and found a rack of petite slacks in a nice soft fabric that doesn't look like it will be a cat hair magnet. Since I've lost weight I thought I'd try the 12 and I could turn around in them, so went and got a 10! Even they are a bit loose, but they didn't have an 8, so I'm happy to buy the 10. Ladies, that is down from a 14 to a 10! Happy dance anyone????    

Now I'm set to start sewing. Have to decide what to make first. 

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