August 22nd 2013
Labour of Love
Some years ago I was as obsessive about patchwork piecing as I am about applique now. In 2002 I was particularly smitten with paper piecing tiny strips of fabric together, log cabin style and I spent several weeks making a whole pile of cushions in two similar designs, a paper pieced fan shape and a traditional twisted log cabin design. I have always loved the look of a mass of pattern and colour heaped together and so I made a total of eleven cushions, each measuring 24 inches square..
Piecing each individual top, tying it or quilting it and then making it into the finished cushion took one week of several hours of sewing a day which makes me think that I must have been mad at the time. Such was my haste to get them on the sofa that unbelievably (with four messy sons at home) I stitched home made pillows inside, each without any opening at all for removal and washing and then bound the whole lot together with a double binding (and not very well either). The pillows were also a home made hastily put together mass of lumpy bumpy what-ever-I-had-around mess of batting, old polyester filling, home made strips of fabric cut up etc etc. Mmmm. doesn’t sound good really but they did look gorgeous and I’m pleased that I had three months of such lunacy as they have given me no end of pleasure for years, all those wonderful colours and patterns heaped up on two white sofas for over ten years now. They have survived more than a decade being piled onto sofas, thrown off sofas, used as weapons, thrown onto the floor to lie on through three different boy teenage epochs, a puppy and now adult dog sleeping on them. They have moved from Venezuela, to Canada, to Chile and back to Canada. I love them. Even more amazing was that before I renovated the lot last month they still weren’t looking too bad, or smelling for that matter. A miracle given that they have never been washed. In ten years. Yuck. It was time to bite the bullet and unpick all those bindings and remake them all.
Each pillow has had a painstakingly tedious renovation, I bought new backing for each, put a zip in every back, took every cushion apart, removed the bindings, mended any little holes (some had been made of silk), stitched together seams that had fallen apart, re-knotted with new embroidery thread where appropriate and bought new feather pillows to put inside. I bound them all with new binding.
I learned a lot throughout the process – I discovered that I knew nothing about how to sew on binding 10 years ago, that it is amazing how much upholstery comes to life when washed after ten years, that cream and black toile always look lovely to my eye and that Ikea sell beautiful feather pillows for literally one third of the price of all the other retailers I could find here in Montreal. (Ikea = great feather pillows)
It really was worth the work. They look like new and are ready for the next decade.
How about this for a gorgeous gift to fall through the letter box? Such beautiful new Oakshott shot cottons, such astonishingly beautiful colours, so perfectly folded together.
For the moment I just gaze at them lovingly and wonder how long I can go before I have to open them. These are two new collections, Lakes and Italy and some new Ruby Reds. (www.oakshottfabrics.com) Thank you Michael!!