Friday 24 February 2023

Textile travels ...


The act of sewing is a process of emotional repair.

Louise Bourgeois.

The wonder of textile travel sometimes amazes me. I have bought before now pieces of very beautiful old linen pieces or sheets from France or other European countries from a vintage fair all over our English counties, salvaged, sorted and saved by others.

Pieces of antique quilts that have been stitched here in England and ended up in Canada or America possibly brought over to those countries on large ships when pilgrims landed on other shores, only to come back again to their country of origin and

being sold here a hundred or more years later!

In my imagination they have gathered memories and stories along their journey.  If they are in good condition for their age I could never take a pair of scissors to them however if they are weathered and worn, they can be salvaged by cutting them into pieces to create something beautiful and unique to be framed with added little stitches and words in another century or decade to be seen, loved and cherished by others and that can only be good.

I marvel at their beauty and resilience, the fact they are repurposed and seen through different eyes and stuffed into a box in a loft somewhere is a real blessing to those of us who collect and slow stitch.

my days are filled with designing and imagination of how to preserve them and make them beautiful and pleasing to the eye of the beholder and indeed enjoyed in a different form once more.

Antique threads are another addiction to me when I can find them but they have to still be strong and fit for purpose as some can become weak. My go to then is the hand

dyed shaker threads that I purchase in New England or New Hampshire in the States.  I do feel another visit sometime soon to harvest some more of these exquisite threads with such yummy names eg Red brick road. The added benefit is that they are light and easy to get back in your suitcase.

The other love as you all probably now by now (unless this is your first visit to my pages) is hand carved antique mother of pearl buttons.  I have some beauties in my collection over the years and if I am lucky enough to purchase more than one of the same button I use one in a piece of my hand stitched fabric art. 

To me it's the icing on the cake the 'piece de resistance' of any of my projects - I keep moving the button about as my project starts to take shape.  Only when the last little stitch has been sewn do I stitch it in it's final resting place. It does not always end up where you thought it would blend in but stand out with your piece of work.

When a piece of old quilt with it's worn fabrics and wounds of years of love and functionality comes back with me, it is washed carefully and given a new lease of life

which will hopefully be admired, looked at and loved once more and maybe framed for others to gaze at ... well that pleases me and my job is done.  All the care and love that I have bestowed upon it adds, I believe, to it's story.

Now you might think what I am about to say here is a bit looney tunes but pushing aside that possibility I will  write it anyway Old fabric quilt pieces almost speak to me, yes I know but they do!  I look at each piece and instinctively I can see in my minds eye a word, quote or embroidery that would add to its soft fabrics without taking any of it's history or beauty away.  I like to think I embroider a little bit of my heart into the fabric and of course love and like to think that I make each piece simple, naive and primitive but significant.

The days are getting longer and the weather is improving ( not that I mind stitching in a cosy chair by the log burner) Birds are building their nests and flowers are coming up from their Winters nap.  This means sewing in my studio with the radio on low and the top of my of the stable door open.  Smelling the scent of hollyhocks and foxgloves in the air and watching the bees busy collecting sweet pollen on their little feet and the little hum they make.  All soul food to me!

Every great design begins with an even better story

I am really drawn to washed out reds, blues and whites when looking for antique quilt pieces.  I seem to gravitate towards these more that any other colour.  I try to mix it up of course but those colours I can not seem to walk past.  My collection of these colours and hues seems to grow more that others.

At the moment I am sorting out a quilt for a future project and to honest antique quilts are getting harder and harder to find.

Lots are in private collections and no one really wants to sell and pass them on, I know that is true because I am one of them.

I am looking for a particular quilt, well colours and pattern and I think I may have found one so going to see it later this week, fingers crossed.

So dear readers wish me luck in my quest.  I will let you know if i am successful and will keep you updated.

I hope you are all well and you have enjoyed my vintage ramblings.  Take great care and as always Happy Stitching !

Sarah XX

Sunday 19 February 2023

Weathered & Worn, loved and cherished a Victorian quilts final story ..


Quilt - meaning 

A warm bed covering made of padding enclosed between layers of fabrics and kept in place by lines of stitching, typically applied in a decorative design ... Oh but it is so much more than that!

Some might look at this piece of Victorian log cabin quilt in horror, or god forbid think it should be in a rag bag or worse a bin!  Me well I think it is utterly beautiful in every way.  Thread bare? well maybe - OK  yes but oh the textures and colours and so full of history if only it could speak and tell us stories.  Those of us who are fascinated by history and antique fabrics would flock any time of the year with a warm drink in our hands and sit and listen to what something like this amazing quilt piece had to say.  From where all the little pieces of fabrics came from to whom stitched it all together, was it one person or a sewing bee all around the table with the laughter and chatter of that period in time.... 

I have a few pieces from this quilt that I purchased, sadly too worn to adorn a bed any more but having cut (by hand not rotary cutter) it up and washed all the squares they are now ready to embellished by tiny hand stitches and to have a little bit of history added to them from me.

When I look at them they make me smile and idea's  fill my head and warm my soul with such love of them.

Each one is so tactile with their thread bare pieces of antient fabrics and have been patched a little over some decades ago.  Loose threads hang from them all with so much history soaked into the weft and weave .. stunning!

I have photographed each one of them for prosperity and am now having oodles of fun sketching designs and picking out words and quotes that might
be stitched upon them.  I am a wordsmith by nature and find that even one word can evoke thoughts, memories or emotions to a piece of slow stitching.

I often think of my late Dad - I miss excitingly  phoning him or running through their kitchen door to tell him something or another.  He tried to see things through my eyes and rejoiced in my happiness over silly things really, however I think he might struggle with my happiness and delight over what some may see as '"seen better days" fabrics but I know though if he were still here I could talk him round with my enthusiasm and joy.

Picking them up and laying them out on my large work table in different ways. Stroking the delicate and timeworn fabrics and all the time | know I have a huge smile on my face.

So many possibilities lay before me and it is an exciting journey of design and fabric art that lays ahead for them and for me.

Telling a story through fabric and threads is a beautiful and gentle art or indeed no real story at all just a piece that is stitched with little stitches and made into delicate patterns which everyone who looks at it sees something different in it with it gorgeous hues of colour and textures.

Preserved and adding to their beauty they will, I hope, be still loved and

cherished long after me.

One thing is for sure I am loving every moment of this creative process with these gorgeous squares of history from first finding the quilt to cutting it up and washing  each piece carefully and then the design and finally the stitching of them.

The shear joy of slow stitching is good for your soul and creating something unique, beguiling and primitive, to me, is perfection.

With freedom, quilts, books, flowers and the moon who could not be happy!

Oscar Wilde and me!

The Spring is on its way I can feel it in the sunny days that we are now having and my little garden needs some attention after the Winter and all the hard frost that we have experienced.  The last time we had a very hard frost I was in the garden and putting out some seed and worms for the little birds.  I saw that I had left a trowel in the soil and went to pull it out to pop it in my shed and as hard as I tried and pulling with all of my might I could not get it out of the raised border! Then sat perched on the angel that I have in that border was a robin who looked on with mirth and merriment at me .. cheeky little thing.

Save to say I have managed that now and I know that I must get out there this week to sort it out ready for all the little plants that are just peeping out of the soil and would like the weeds, that have prevailed over the Winter to be removed.

Vintage fairs are starting there season now too and I am ever so pleased.  I miss the social aspect of them, meeting up with friends old and new and of course wandering around and seeing all the wonders on each and every stall that is there.

So watch this space for an update on those that I can attend and they are starting in the next couple of weeks and I can not contain  my excitement.

I hope you have enjoyed my little vintage rambling today and hope you all have a great week.

Take care and as always dear friends .. Happy Stitching!

Sarah XX