Two things happened this week that made me feel very grown up : the installation of a linen cupboard and the completion of my first quilt commission. Last week I added a teaser (which was also a prompt-to-self) about the quilt and promised to write about it this week.
But first the linen cupboard. I had thought that linen cupboards only appeared in British novels set in grand houses and was content to store the linen on spare shelves in the clothes cupboards. When we renovated our old house there was talk of that spot on the landing being a good place for a linen cupboard but other more essential carpentry took precedence — like the staircase itself and kitchen cupboards. And then along came lockdown. Look what The Woodworker has produced during this time:
Isn’t it the most handsome of cupboards. (The section of staircase that is visible in the photograph is also his work, treads, turned railings and newel post included).
While he was beavering away in his workshop, crafting the cupboard (which was made from old ceiling and floor boards that had to first be cleaned and planed) I was behind my sewing machine working on a commission for a pair of trees. Here I wish to publicly thank my patron for not only commissioning me, but also for her enthusiastic and supportive response to the quilts.
When she gave me the measurements and colour scheme, she also said she would not be adverse to “a bit of bling” and was happy with the suggestion of one silver and one gold tree, both made from lame (with an umlaut). She also asked for a moon and for birds, and that was how the idea of a night tree and a day tree came about.
The request came during the time of strict lockdown when the local fabric shop was closed and we were not allowed to travel. (I live 120 km from a city where there are some larger fabric shops and a speciality quilting shop.) So I delved into my store cupboard. I always knew there was a reason why we quilters like to stash away fabrics and sewing accessories. Here is a snap of the off-white, grey, duck egg green and silver and gold fabrics I pulled from my stash. Quite a motley collection, I thought. But it was what was to hand, and so I started to stitch.
First I stitched the backgrounds for the trees. They were pieced in units of nine-patch and four-patch blocks (I used 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 inch strips to make the respective blocks). A half-square-triangle was added to some of the four-patch blocks. Then I machine quilted, using my walking foot and matchstick quilting, and finally squared off and bound the quilted backgrounds. It was a relief that I managed to make them exactly the same size.
Then the fun of constructing the trees began. I did find that hand quilting the trees onto an already machine quilted background was hard on the fingers. To make the leaves I sandwiched two layers of fabric with fusible web and then cut out the leaf shapes. The birds were cut from specially made thread fabric (where the threads are sandwiched between two layers of wash-away web and secured with a grid of close machine stitching).
Luckily I also have a large stash of sequins and shiny threads and so could create a very bright moon (which someone thought was the sun!) Instead of stars I added a few small mirrors to the night tree.
I thoroughly enjoyed making these quilts. It was good to use a palette I would otherwise not have experimented with. And it was fun to dip into my box of shiny bits and pieces.