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


  1. Beautiful post Sarah and good luck with finding the quilt.... look forward to the update!! xx

    1. Thank you Liz, and lovely to see you on Saturday all be it fleeting x

  2. Yes yes yes .. antique quilts talk to me too

    1. Ah its so lovely to meet ( all be it virtual) lovely like minded people.

  3. I admire your patience and talent.☀️

    1. Well thank you so much. It comes naturally to me being patient with slow stitching. It has a calming effect on me. Glad you found this site.