'JANUARY IS FULL OF POSSIBILITIES' - at least that is what is says on the opening page of my 'Simple Things' mag this month and I like that idea. I am so excited to begin this project and as I have absolutely no plan at all, it will be winding and colourful journey. I have reservations and I am a little anxious that at the end of the year, I might end up with a mess and have ruined some vintage textiles...but on the other hand, I keep telling myself that I have enough experience of needlework now, to create a MASTERPIECE - LOL!
So where to begin. First of all I suggest you launder all the vintage linens. Some of mine had stains on and after gentle washing most of these just faded alittle, but didn't come out. Perhaps this is for best though because I might feel less inclined to cut them up if they were pristine! I pressed them using spray starch, which is useful because it can give old textiles a little more body and it makes them easier to work with.
Not having a plan is a bit random I know, but it does make it all the more challenging. I decided to try to keep all blocks to 12.5" (of course this might change as I go along) and know that in most cases, I will need some sort of backing for the vintage pieces. I will use Kona Cotton squares for this and so I have the flexibility to change colours and mix things up a bit. Probably often it will be white, but for the first corner block I picked a hand crocheted table runner out of the box and as this has a very pretty lacy pattern, I decided a bold colour would be a good start.
I chose a bright cobalt blue which really made the crochet work stand out. There were a few holes and snags in this table runner, so I pressed it and found a bit that I could use as a corner. Having cut out what is about a 10" square from the runner, I placed it to one side of the backing block so that I have the possibility to do some hand embroidery around the border edge. I will keep the rest of the crochet to one side, because the motifs are really pretty and I think there may be the possibility to use some of it again further down the line.
Fixing it on to the backing was not easy. First of all I machined around the two edges which will be in the seams.
This was just as well as I didn't like the effect at all, but at least it is fixed on 2 sides and won't show in the end. Pushing the thick cotton through the machine wasn't easy either and it is easy to distort the pattern like this. So hand sewing it is then......
Using perle cotton #8, which is similar to the original crochet cotton, I went all around the edge fixing it in place. It looked smooth and secure once it was done, but the trouble was, it became apparent that I needed to fix the rest of it down too and I probably should have done that first, working from the common corner outwards. Bearing in mind that I intend this to a 'forever' kind of quilt, it needs to be 'heirloom' quality and 'washability' definitely needs to be in the mix. I fixed the block up on my design wall and got on with something else and spent the rest of the afternoon glancing up at it wondering if I should use colour to do this or not and whether I should use the pattern of the crochet or not. It was hard to decide. After a while, I decided to work on the border embroidery and see if it helped with the 'fixing down' along the way...it did.
Totally inspired by this fabulous little book that I got at the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate a few weeks ago, I embroidered a border of what I call 'Lollipop flowers' around the edge. (I will be reviewing this book in more detail here on the blog soon). It looked really pretty and made it easy to decide to add in some colour pops in the crochet and to help secure it to the backing.
I used a simple star motif in the centre of the small circle in the crochet pattern to fix the crochet down. This kind of pulled it all together and helped to alter the otherwise rather dated look of the crochet. I could have added more....I may add more...but for now, I think I'll leave it until I see how the other blocks develop.
So when it was finally done, it looks like this and I am pretty pleased. I zig zagged around the edge which was fraying quite badly from all the handling and made a mental note that I should have done this at the start. Overall, it is just a beginning, but I suppose it sets the general tone...maybe....perhaps....not sure. I have a feeling this is going to be an ongoing...'not sure' kind of discussion quilt!
In fact can I just say that one block in, this project looks nothing like I envisioned...although I can't quite put my finger on what that was. However.... it is already taking on a life of it's own. I have absolutely no idea how this will work as a cohesive quilt, but we shall see. The next block or should I say 'experiment' will be around Feb 1st. Hope to see you then....