Saturday, December 30, 2006

Grandmother's Flower Garden, or Something

During the summer after my senior year of high school was the first time in my life I ever worked two jobs. At night I was a cook at Pizza Hut, and while I never actually met my goal of getting sick of pizza, I didn't gain any weight because I rode my bike to work every day. Dad picked me and the bike up in the Bronco (silver, not white) each night so I wouldn't have to ride home in the dark. But in northern Michigan where it stays light outside - broad daylight-light - until at least 10pm for most of the summer, that is very late indeed. (When I went to visit last summer I literally could not believe that it was 9:45 and I was standing on the porch at my Grandma's house taking pictures outside WITH NO FLASH.)

Anyway, the other job I had was for some company or other which was a clothing factory, and I was a seamstress (stop laughing!). I flunked the machine test because I didn't know how to thread an industrial bobbin, but to be honest I didn't really know much about machine sewing anyway, so that was for the best. So I got put into Piecework, and for much of the summer I spent my days hand-sewing furs on wool capes. Yes, ponchos. It was the 80s, y'all. Remember how awful the 80s were for fashion?

So I had a cape and a fur that was about eight feet long and I had to sit in a sweltering sweatshop of a place with no air conditioning and IT MUST BE EIGHTY DEGREES OUTSIDE AND NINETY IN HERE (it was northern Michigan! we didn't have a/c in my house until I was 28!) and one of those big giant fans you see in the movies like what Leeloo dives out of in The Fifth Element, but it was in the ceiling. I brought my lunch and sometimes I stayed too long in the bathroom just standing around because I did not fit in with these people at all, and my thumb hurt. I had a callus in my right thumb for three months after I quit the job, a neat little dent that made everyone at college look at me weird.

Well, I learned hand-sewing. And at some point recently after looking at all the magnificent quilts on the blogs, I thought "I'd like to do that." I mentioned this to my mom, who offered to give me a lesson over Christmas on her machine (and offered to let me borrow her machine for a few months). And somehow I ended up with this half-finished quilt in my possession, on behalf of a good friend, whose grandmother started it and mother worked on it and then it just never got done and she got arthritis.

So here is the quilt, one 3' x 8' piece (in two shots) and two side pieces:

Quilt 2


Quilt again

The piecing isn't done, and there isn't anymore fabric. But isn't it kitschy-cool? The fabric all looks to be 1950s, and I think the pattern is a variation on Grandmother's Flower Garden, which would usually have not had the purple thingies in it but which seems to work well here. So my goal is to find some more fabric that goes with this and start piecing again. It's partly hand sewn, partly machine. I can do the hand sewing, maybe even some English Paper Piecing.

But look, y'all, at the way all of the blocks have the same solid color in the center. The next ring is a solid, and the next is a floral or print. Then the white. See how even in the midst of mixing blue and red and green and aqua together, it's very orderly? It has a structure. I really like that. I didn't see it till I took pictures of it, which I think is funny. I guess the two smaller pieces are meant to be edges.

I don't know what I will do when it comes time to quilt it, or if it was meant to be a sewn quilt, or tied, or what. But my friend's mom will give me lessons on what to do, and that is old skool, huh?

So let me say only that as for the machine-sewing lesson, I hated it. HATED. Too fiddly, too much preparation of piecing and cutting and pinning and very little sewing. Honestly I think I just don't like sewing very much! The machine gave me fits, and we did not make friends. I came home without it, and that's just as well. These little 1.5" hexagons aren't going to be much sewing trouble - it's more the cutting and ironing and basting that will be bad. I need to invest in a fabric marker and maybe some stabilizer and some good pins and some patience. If it takes me years to finish, ok. I'm down with that.


Anonymous Mintyfresh said...

very cool, to take this on--what a neat history, too. I personally have no patience for handsewing :)

12:07 PM  
Blogger Zonda said...

That is just gorgeous! I like the purple between the flower blocks. I hope you have luck with finding more fabric. Hancocks of Paducah may have some from that time era.

Um..I had to hand quilt and hand piece the entire one for my MIL scroll to mid post to see! It was hard for me to handsew, meaning I don't particularly like to, I prefer machine, but as you know full well, hard to do it on this pattern.

Feel free to email me if you need to! :)

12:48 PM  

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