On Noticing the Details

During quiet moments in the bustle of preparing for a family Christmas I have been stitching on a small piece (31 x 29 cm) and thinking nostalgic and grateful thoughts.

Eight Patch

This design is Gustav Klimt’s and comes from a small detail in his painting Portrait of Fritza Riedler (1906). The patches are from a set of taffetta decor samples, which are appliqued onto a cotton background. The photograph hopefully shows how much stitching fun I have had during this past week in our rustic family shack on the Hogsback mountain. Before we left, I baste quilted the piece and attached the binding with my sewing machine. The remainder of the stitching has been done by hand.

This is not the first time I have worked with taffetta. This fabric responds beautifully to being stitched, probably because it is shot (different colours used in the weft and the warp) and because it is a shiny textile. In anticipation of this I took photographs to document the effect of the stitching.

To explain the title and the reason for my grateful thoughts : I would never have seen this small gem in that Klimt painting if I had not been given a calendar containing twelve reproductions of his works. The calendar hangs above the kitchen table and so I spend 30 days worth of mealtimes looking at the image for that month. And this is how I came to notice and study and then want to copy this block of eight patches nestling in the background of the splendour of Fritza Riedler. The calendar was given to me by my son-in-law’s mother (my mother-in-common) because, she said, it made her think of me when she saw it. And for this I am grateful.

Seeing as I was so “snap-happy” during the making of this piece, I also photographed the back before I stitched down the hanging sleeve.

Answer. The first photograph in the series is upside down.

15 thoughts on “On Noticing the Details

  1. I like the look of this very much. And I like your story of its inspiration. Mentioning taffeta, it makes me think of the bridesmaid dress I wore for my sister’s wedding in 1986 (pink taffeta, very full skirt).

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  2. Thank you for this post. The piece is beautiful. I never thought of binding before hand-stitching. I have some “different” rich and shiny fabric that my brother gave me. He is director of operations at a design showroom. I have been thinking of ways I could present this fabric in a piece. Once again, you have provided information and inspiration. Also, there are some unflattering bridesmaids dresses in my past. There is a story there!

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  3. Me! Me! I caught the upsidedown ‘mistake’!
    πŸ™‚
    What a wonderful derivative design piece- filled with so many creative twists and what I’d call ‘experiments’ in technique/texture that resulted in a hugely successful end product.
    BTW: I was wondering about the backside stitches and was happy for that photo.
    Who knew about the versatility of taffeta? I had a handmade by my Ma purple taffeta dress (not frilly at all, very 60s/early 70s design wise) for the homecoming dance in my Sophomore year in High School…I picked the pattern and the fabric and Ma sewed it up like the whiz she was.
    Seems like you’re enjoying your Hogsback time with family and lap-projects!

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  4. Oh well done on spotting the mistake !!
    Again, thank you for your considered comment on the piece.
    I am so pleased you were happy to see the backside.
    Your purple taffeta dress sounds like a dream come true.
    Yes, we are having a good time on the mountain

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  5. Well looking at a Klimt calendar sure beats studying the cereal box while having breakfast πŸ™‚ Of course I looked up the painting and spotted the tiny design that inspired your lovely quilt in the background.
    I think the first time I heard of taffeta was reading “Little Women” when I was a child. Since then I mostly associate it with theatre and ballet costumes, never having been a bridesmaid …
    Enjoy your time at Hogsback and best wishes for the holiday season.

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    1. I would thoroughly recommend Klimt reproductions over the information on cereal boxes πŸ˜†
      Glad you looked up the painting and found the detail. Thanks for your kind words.
      Taffeta is strong, durable fabric, which probably why it is used for theatre costumes. You are lucky you were never bridesmaided into taffetta!

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