What I did on Sunday afternoon

Laura Ashley sample mini quilt 1
Laura Ashley sample mini quilt 1


Hurrah, the marking is over; just the moderation to do, and then I can get back to my research.  This is probably the best time of year for academics.  So, if you know one, now is the time to ask for a favour.

I spent this morning working on some fieldnotes, but this afternoon I felt like making something, so I started to work on an idea that I had by accident on Wednesday evening, which was to make some little quilts with the little tiny scraps of Laura Ashley fabric that I have.  On Wednesday I got together with my Grate Friends Ceri, Alison, Becky and Ruth and we had a show and tell of the Ineke Berlyn pieces, plus other things we had finished and had a look at our new project together of making sketchbooks. I took some books I have which talk about using sketchbooks in textile work and one of them was Gwen Hedley’s lovely book Drawn to Stitch: Line, drawing and mark-making in textile art, published by Batsford, 2010.  I was flicking through this book, which I read from cover to cover when I bought it, but have since neglected, and came upon the pages right at the back by Shelley Rhodes in which she describes making a series of very small pieces based on windows in Cuba.  It struck me that the tiny pieces of fabric would be a good idea for the precious Laura Ashley scraps and so I made some sketches of my own:


Sketchbook pages based on Shelley Rhodes' work
Sketchbook pages based on Shelley Rhodes' work


You can see from this that Shelley Rhodes’ work is linear and consistent.  The finished work is delicate and bleached out; the palette is restrained.  She works in mixed media with paper and rust and what looks like waxed thread.  Her work looks from the photographs in the book like gossamer.  I thought I could replicate this by bleaching some of the Laura Ashley fabric but somehow this got lost.  So I was aiming for this:


Sketchbook page
Sketchbook page


Something controlled, faded, weather beaten and so on, but no.  My old Muse, thankfully, seemed to have returned and the embellishment fairy paid me another visit.  I end up with this:


Laura Ashley mini quilt 1 detail
Laura Ashley mini quilt 1 detail


I was delighted, as I thought that my days of full-on embellishment were over and here I was sewing three enormous gold ‘things’ from broken jewellery onto a very tiny piece.  Liberation.  The hexagons over papers are nice and relaxing and cleansing, but you can’t beat stitching a showgirl.

Some details.  The quilts are made almost entirely from samples and remnants.  They start with a piece of Welsh woollen blanket remnant bought at the factory shop at Melin Tregwynt in Pembrokeshire (http://www.melintregwynt.co.uk/).  Then in this case there is a piece of tiny floral Laura Ashley and a piece of silk from a sample book my mother gave me.  The gold lace and the little ribbon trim were probably bought full price, but the embellishments were bought at a quilt show in a 50p a bag box – I seriously couldn’t believe my luck.  There is a tiny bit of machine stitching to hold it all together and then it is quilted with variegated perle cotton.  I like the idea of all these samples as I am fascinated and delighted by sample books, and have never known why.

Another link to follow.  Shelley Rhodes and Gwen Hedley are both part of the Textile Study Group.  Their website is http://www.textilestudygroup.co.uk/members/srhodes/srhodes.html.  It’s well worth a look.  I went on one of their workshops last year.  It was fantastic.  What a great bunch of women.  Really talented, really welcoming and really good fun.  It’s the only workshop I have ever been to where the stitchers drank red wine while they were working.  Gorgeous.


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