I have got a little behind with this over the last month or so, largely due to summer diy projects in the house, but it is a great project to pick up in quiet moments, when I find myself in need of some prettiness. Even though I have already made 4 blocks, it seems that my stash is hardly diminished and looking at it this week, I can see that I have the potential to make really quite a large quilt. My blocks are 12" square so far and I probably should start thinking about how I want the overall quilt to look. Do I just want blocks this size, or maybe a medallion centre of some sort? I am not sure, so for the time being, I am just carrying on making the smallish blocks and having set the thought process in motion, I will mull it over while we are working on revamping the kitchen!
So this is where we are.
This time when I opened my box of linens, my eye caught by one of the busiest and most colourful piece in the box. It is an old tea stained tray cloth that looks well worn, but is exceptionally pretty. I matched it up with some left over crochet from an earlier block and some buttery yellow Italian linen, that I bought in Rome several years ago, and which I feel belongs in this project.
When I started to really look at the little tray cloth, I was absolutely astonished at the level of workmanship in this piece of fabric. It had this beautiful hand embroidered appliqué on one side of it and although it is very faded, you can still see the teeny tiny stitches used to hold it in place - the blanket stitch is minute. It is very beautifully crafted and I am in awe. It seems a bit reminiscent of the 1930's, with all these soft colours, but I am not absolutely sure.
When you turn it over to look at the back....
You can see more clearly the work that has gone into this cloth. It is completely hand sewn, even the border! How is it that we never seem to have time to make such things anymore? Is it that we can buy cheap imported, machine made things cheaper....is it that we just don't want them anymore.... or is it that we simply don't have the inclination to spend time on such a gentle pastime? Whatever....I believe this sort of work must be therapeutic and satisfying and might just have a go at replicating an appliqué like this.
Sadly, I don't have any idea where this tray cloth came from, but in a way, having no emotional attachment to it, means it was easy to take the scissors to it. I did wash it and try to get rid of the small marks on it, but they wouldn't budge, so it is time to use a little imagination to try and work with them.
I decided also that I wanted to keep a little bit of the lovely mint green border, so I cut a section out and laid it on my yellow linen square. It seems a simple way to deal with this block, but the intricate embroidery does all the talking really, so it doesn't need to be complicated.
I pressed an edge under all the way around and machined it in place. To cover up the stains, I cut out some of the crocheted motifs and splashed them around a little, hand stitching them in place. This helps it to blend in with the other blocks too, adding some quirkiness to the overall effect of the quilt.
I am rather charmed by this one. I love the soft colours, which is unusual for me as I am normally one for bright colour pops. Perhaps it is just that I am taken back to another time, when needlework was crafted with precision and used and loved and worn. I love that.
I am feeling inspired to progress with this project now...stay tuned to see what pops out of the box next time.