Tag Archives: “hand stitching”

sun in sun out

It is one of the those days where the sun and clouds cannot agree. A sunny morning turns dark at noon.  A dramatic spattering of rain dries to nothing, and the sun reappears.  Then it darkens at two, to the point of needing to turn on indoor lights, thunder threatens, and a half an hour later, it is over.

But I think it is a good day for a graduation, if for no other reason than it is the day that graduation is scheduled.

I am working on the former cardigan panel, quilting up a storm.

The areas that I had tucked and gathered to shrink the shoulder span of the cardigan cannot be untucked without significant reworking of the sky, so I am edging over the bumps and quilting more than I might otherwise to make the dimples of the surface somewhat uniform.

Here, a piece of the red and white Irish linen dish towel finds a place.  Because it was out.  Because I needed it.

The bottom denim edge I am contemplating leaving as a pocket, a place where prayers or ticket stubs could be housed.

There are lots of ways for cloth to be useful besides covering our bodies.

Once I determined that this panel would become a birthday gift for K., I consciously selected some clothing to represent his (our) family.  That grey paisley wool was a sweater I wore to work last year, which shrunk terribly during a less attentive laundry moment.  The blue and white checks were either D’s or C’s pajamas.  The denim cuff came from a rejected pair of jeans of K’s (pants which after I cut the cuff of, I tried on – and lo and behind they fit! I will be repairing them for me). A piece of C’s shirt is not yet there, in the mix, but will be.

Building a House with Supports


The boro sampler that I made awhile back is turning into a house — perhaps for another garden installation?

There is something satisfying in turning a rag-a-mag-tag piece into something functional, even if marginally functional.  A purely decorative piece based on a peasant tradition of patching holes to extend the life of a wardrobe rubbed me the wrong way… in the same way that basing a fashion trend on torn/refugee-like/distressed garments rubs me the wrong way.  Wearing out an article of clothing by LIVING in it seems so much more in accord with good value and good values.

The last felt house was constructed as a grouping of fabric panels first, and then the branches added, second.  This time, the branches are integral to the construction, creating some decisions about which way to push the edges.

“Having a spine” is a refrain, here.  And “building supports in”.

Collage with Fabric

To-Grow-Quilt

Parts of the whole — vintage lace, cuff of New York City scenes polyester shirt, pale taupe and white shirt pieces (shells and floral clusters), phototransfer of Mexican flashcard (the ladder), iron on transfer of self portrait, inkjet-printed words on linen.

To-Grow-My-Profile

“I WANT TO GROW” was not the sentiment I began with, but as I pawed through my scraps of words and what I call “precious tidbits”, these two phrases seemed to work.  I, in fact, DO want to grow.  It seems odd to say this, but for a long time (the time almost exactly coinciding with the intensive years of parenting two boys, two years apart), my growth was not at all on the radar screen.  Survival, more like.  Their growth.

To-Grow-conch

Here, a shell, ripe cherry tomatoes and peas, as well as a fragment of New York seem to echo the longing for ripening and fullness.

To-Grow-Ladder

The ladder makes the rather obvious connection to UPWARD growth — not spiritual growth, necessarily — but certainly in a direction counter to downward. The fact that both of my parents grew up in Brooklyn makes the quilt resonate that much more.  Both of my parents were from poor families.  None of my grandparents went to college.  They were seamstresses, bricklayers, and shipbuilders.  My parents’ growth was up and out, in a way.  They left the city, went on to have a family and careers.  And mine?  We shall see, I suppose.  There is the question of time.  I find it interesting that although I have a graduate degree in law, I am working with my hands — sewing and digging gardens.