Friday, February 8, 2008

On handwork

The other day, Sew, Mama, Sew! featured a post by Jennifer of Moving Hands about hand-piecing and it's place in today's quilting world. It was a wonderful impetus for me to revisit my current hand-piecing project, a Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt.

Aunt Gertie's Grandmother's Flower GardenThis project was inspired by the quilt pictured at left. It was made by my Great Aunt Gertie (my grandfather's sister). It was given to me after my grandfather died, and is a beautiful display of handwork. It was pieced and quilted by hand. The main colors are orange (faded to a soft peach color) and off-white (which may have begun as white in some distant past), and features wonderful feedsack prints as well as what were probably pieces of old shirts and whatnot. After using it non-stop for years, I realized the quilt was wearing out. Some fabrics were disintegrating, others beginning to fray. If you look, you can see that the block with the red center is surrounded by bare batting now... all of the fabric in the inner ring just wore away. That's the worst one, but not the only one that has worn. It has become too fragile to use.

So I decided to take a class taught by Donna Poster at the Houston International Quilt Festival on making a Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt. I think it was in 2002, but it may have been 2003. (I need to start writing dates down...) Anyway, that's when I began. I knew I wanted a queen size quilt. I knew I wanted to use Asian themed fabrics. And I've been working on it since then.... very, very slowly. I think I actually completed more blocks in 2007 than I had in all of the previous years combined. I think I have about 30 blocks to go at this point. It's a slow process, but there is just something about the handwork that is so relaxing. It's deliberate, it's more thoughtful, more quiet. I don't know. But it's different than doing it on a machine; different in a good way.

Tonight, I got out some of those flower garden blocks, ironed them, took a picture, and then made my new blog banner. I'm feeling pretty proud of it right now. I love that it showcases some of the blocks I've made. It's definitely me. :)

And now I'm going to go do a little handwork.

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