One of the most enjoyable things I do, in the course of my work, is making something old, new again. From a client’s mother’s 1940’s silk-satin wedding dress and several bathrobes his dad wore, I am entrusted to build an heirloom quilt . I have had these pieces in my care for a couple of months. I’ve sketched ideas to demonstrate the possibilities in the client’s price range, but it is not until I begin the work, that I actually know what will become of this tangle of wrinkles.
I have been scrambling to finish some hand binding on another job. I love hand-work, but the urgency to keep on schedule steals my calm. To regroup for this sentimental journey, I spent a good hour, communing with the fabrics in the shop.
I examine the details of the dress, the buttons, which I plan to turn into a central monogram, the button loops, a scallop of handwork that I think must go somewhere on the quilt, or be lost.
The pleats in the side bustles, a store of wide fabric, folded and sewn so no raw edges would show.
I marvel at the handwork that has remained secure for so many years. The discoloration of the knot, a place where the seamstress left oil from her fingertips. I imagine how adeptly were sewn the strings of covered buttons with one thread.
scissor marks, perfectly straight lines os sewing machine stitches.
I start to deconstruct, saving the buttons, a couple of silk roses, the scalloped fretwork, the train.
I estimate 10 or 15 feet of trailing silk – a good piece for the 60″ pillar details I’m imagining for the sides of the quilt. That should work nicely with the basket weave brick pattern I dreamt up the other morning.
Next episode: pressing, cutting, assembling