This week I resurrected a project I started months ago. I started out this year with a notion about renovation, making things new. Then, while cleaning out a closet, I found the very first quilt I had ever attempted over 40 years ago. The fabrics were leftovers from a summer job as the sewing assistant for a costume maker. Our project was to create costumes for a production of Moliere’s Les Femmes Savantes. I wish I had photos of the costumes–they were fabulous.
It was really more of a comforter, bordered and backed with some hideous navy blue polyester that was probably all I could afford, but I considered it quite avant-garde in1973. I had a lot of sewing experience at this point, but my focus had always been clothing construction, pattern-making, tailoring, etc. I didn’t think I had the patience for tiny, fiddly piecing, so I made a few quilt tops using over-sized versions of traditional blocks. This item was used for years, and then put away, worn, wrinkled and falling apart. Because I loved this and the memories that are in it, I decided to renovate it.
I started by deconstructing the whole thing, and discarding the borders, backing and batting. I re-stitched all the quarter circles that were coming loose. Then I bonded each square to a piece of light muslin to stabilize it.
Now it is in the embellishment phase. First, I made some stencils and started painting radiating designs in the quarter circles. I am using Jacquard Neopaque and Lumiere Paints for this. This week, I completed all the painting (48 pieces).
Then I continued with further embellishment of the quarter circles (and beyond) with machine embroidery. This is my favorite part, because there are no rules and every one is different. It’s like doodling with the sewing machine. I actually started some of these earlier in the year and then somehow a rats nest of thread got down into the bobbin winder part of the machine, which is the only one in my collection that I can’t just take apart and fix (newer, electronic machine). It had to go in for service and the project was put away for months. But this week, I finished a whole bunch more sets with embroidery. I’m still not sure what else might happen to these pieces, but I love how they are looking so far.