Monday, February 27, 2012

Breaking the Rules: Sashiko Quilting pt 1

When I weary of one project I hop to another.  I have sewed on enough buttons for a time and am now laying out my log cabin lap robe. I pieced this classic pattern together using recycled wool I had collected from clothing.

I first lay out the rich, dark brown, wool backing on the floor and add the quilt top. Once I have centered the top on the backing, I pin it together from the middle out, pinning the edges last.

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to keep a quilt on the table and finish my projects that have waited too long to be completed.  I remember my mother and how she used to always have a quilt spread out on this same table in her dining room, and hope it will call to me as it called to her, “Come and quilt me!”

Traditional Sashiko quilting is usually done with a special long and large-eyed quilting needle with a coarse decorative thread. This type of quilting not only attaches the quilt back to the front and through a batting, but it makes a bold design statement that sometimes regular quilting doesn’t make.

I have chosen the heavy thread and big stitches as my felted wool is coarse and heavy and I want to emphasize its primitive style.

I wonder how to bury my thread as I do in hand quilting and must pause. Sashiko quilting not only uses a coarse thread but it is stitched with a double threaded needle. My resources indicate that knots are usually left on the back side of the quilt. I want to hide my knots as I do in regular hand-quilting.

Studying the top of my quilt,  I can bury my knot just as I normally would. And it works! I pull my knot through a looser weave and anchor it right in a corner of the quilt block against a tighter woven wool.

I decide to start my running stitch going diagonally, corner to corner in each square, starting in the middle just as I would if I were basting a quilt back to its front and smoothing out any wrinkles along the way.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Bits of Buttons continued

I have been creating like crazy - the deeper I find myself in buttons the more ideas emerge.

I can't help but feel like I am beach combing with these sandy bits of bead and button.

Buttons Galore!

I remember my mother had a tin full of buttons. Old and new, mismatched, shiny, pretty, hand-painted, simple and glorious. This tin was not full of sets of buttons but rather individual buttons that would come on clothing in case one fell off. There were trouser buttons, and blouse buttons, shiny and dull buttons. I would sort and string and create with these buttons. I would make button necklaces that were too heavy to wear, only to be returned to the tin.

My fingers would search for my favorite button, the treasure in the bottom of the chest: A giant broach like, black button. A one-of-a-kind button with a sculpted cluster of grapes that I would run my fingers over and reminded me of something my great grandmother would use to keep her shawl closed. It was nothing I could picture on something I would ever wear, but a button requiring a set of gnarled fingers to get open and closed and a set of hefty bosoms to support the weight of such a button.

As an adult sewer, even with my fond memories of buttons, they became something dark in my mind, functional, and really quite a nemesis as I DETEST sewing on buttons, or replacing a missing button. I can never get them back where they were, or make them line up with the button hole (funny, I still select patterns based on the need to make button holes and stitch buttons on and at a point quit making clothes all together)

Despite my distaste for these functional enclosures, there is still something fundamentally ever so delightful about these gems, especially when stored in tins and mason jars.

I still love to sort buttons, and when I venture through my collection I love that you can still feel the quality of the old buttons, the one of a kind buttons, the buttons from a favorite sweater, the well loved buttons with the finish worn off where fingers had buttoned and unbuttoned. I love the colors, the blues and reds, the leather and the glass, even the plastic with their textures and their shine. Some simple and strictly functional and some ever so decorative with their designs and patterns.

There is an art to selecting buttons, matching or contrasting, new or vintage. From the fabric shops, from old clothes, from an antique store, sold on cards or in jars.

There is an art to stitching buttons, two stitches will never hold, and you have to attack it from multiple angles. You carefully pick out your threads to match or even daringly to stand out, a yellow button with black thread makes such a statement.

I have taken a break from my cutting, and have started playing with buttons, not for keeping pants up, but rather arranged creatively to form compositions on wool. These button compositions will turn into small wool bags, but I am thinking of framing some. The results will be colorful and texture rich regardless.