Tag Archives: silk

Letters to my Grandchildren

No, not my grandchildren – I haven’t got any!! This is the¬†last of my pre-Christmas speshal sekrit projects, that I’m now allowed to talk about ūüėČ

A totally handmade quilt, using¬†recycled fabrics and little babyknits, and incorporating letters from the recipient’s mother (sadly now deceased) to her grandchildren.

It’s a quilt covering four generations, and was made for a lady who is now a grandmother herself – she has three children, and six grandchildren – using the baby woollens *her* mother had knitted.

It all came about from the lovely little baby knits that had been saved, and passed down and around the family, so that all the babies had worn most of them at some point or another.

I really, really didn’t want to cut into the knits … they were too darling, and it was in my mind that should the great-grandchildren want to, they could always remove them from the quilt and use them again. There was also the issue that the knits weren’t all wool – some were acrylic and some were cotton, so not amenable to felting. (I accidentally attempted to felt an acrylic jumper once … I’ve never seen anything GROW so much – that’ll teach me to read labels!!).

So …. I made each of these 9 little knits into a separate square for each of the children and the grandchildren, using various fabrics – some fine old white linen, a little embroidered silk, some pale pink flower-patterned satin … stabilising and setting-in the knits to the fabric was a little stressful, but successful, I think.

I hand-stitched the quilting, keeping myself to 4 colours of thread – pink, gold, green and white, because I didn’t want to distract too much from the knits or the other detail – over the top of each quilt square is embroidered the name and date of birth of each of the children and grandchildren.

Because this was so personal to this lady, we decided to incorporate some letters from her mother to her children …. embroidering that amount of script would have been a herculean task, that I’d probably still be working at, so instead I scanned and printed sections of the letters onto printable cotton.

These got cut and stitched together, and form small strips in between the main squares …. and a single, entire letter on a slim bias tube running around the central square. Cross stitch over the top holds everything together (it’s all slip-stitched as well).

I really enjoyed making this … the only not-so-fun part was the printable cotton – it was terribly unfriendly to hand-sew, so I don’t think I’ll be using it again.

The result is gorgeous, and I’m so pleased to have these photos of it in-situ (particularly as I forgot to take photos myself before I sent it off!!), and to see it being used on an everyday basis.

Sunset rain, lilies

Coming back after weeks of various injuries and ailments, too tedious and frustrating to revisit, to one of my favourite blocks from the cloth-to-cloth course. I loved the contrast between the vibrant exuberance of the silk and the sober solidity of the dark wool suiting fabric, and the feel of the two together was somehow quite luxurious.

I have a little penchant for oriental textiles, so one of my favourite places to visit is¬†Dancing on Temple Tops … blogging about the ongoing adventures of a seamstress in Tokyo. A recent post¬†on the Ikeda Collection¬†caught my eye, in particular the glorious clutch purses, and I thought that this piece,¬†with quilting and embroidery, might be an ideal starting point for a little experiment¬†in that direction.

Inspiration comes from the strangest of places.

A glorious page of scribble from¬†Bella (age 3) done specially for me,¬† could so easily have gone the way of so many other artworks (sadly … how is it possible to keep it all?) if it weren’t for the central red squiggle, looping around itself.

Hmmm. What if?

What if I traced over it?

oh yes, I like that, and with a bit of batting and some red silk fabric, ex-skirt-lining, for backing, it was time to start working those embroidery threads.

I still like it, but on its own it’s not enough … and the detail is dissolving. I needed to do more, both to clarify the floral element, and to properly fix the woven cloth into a coherent whole.

So. Whipped the stab-stitched lines to define individual petals and leaves, and stitched down within them to suggest the structure of the petals, and I brought in a couple of additional colours to further delineate the different areas.

And the more I worked on it, the more it seemed to become a pair of waterlilies resting on a pond at sunset … and the more I knew I needed to fill the spaces between somehow … without overcomplicating the design or distracting too much from the flowers. Waves? A suggestion of current & waterweed? Ripples? Ripples, yes, from raindrops, expanding and interrupting each other, each one a little off-centre from the next, but fulfilling its purpose to join both the design and the fabric into a single whole.

So pleased with the result. The finished piece is supple, but with reassuring weight and structural stiffness, and the feel of it under hand is just wonderful, and the shimmer of the silk and the texture given by the stitching over the batting distracts the eye from the almost-regular checkerboard pattern of the underlying weaving.

A little border, a little folding, a little finishing:

I love this bag.