This is the latest of my Mandy Pattullo/Laura Ashley pieces. The background is pieced paper (English method) hexagon patchwork with an overlay of Laura Ashley fabric applique. I had thought that I would do a fairly minimalist piece with just the dark flowers at the top like Mandy Pattullo sometimes does:
but I thought mine looked a bit bare:
I wanted to use these big plastic rose buttons that came as a free gift with a magazine as the centres of some somerset puff roses, and I think that worked quite well. I wish I had taken a photo before I put the roses on, because the hexagon looked like a cartoon cactus sticking out of the pot. Anyway, I decided this needed more, and for some reason, I suddenly thought of the Baltimore originals I had in mind when making the pieces: the rick rack braid rose.
I don’t particularly like rick rack braid apart from the really tiny stuff which looks lovely on borders if you have the patience to stitch it on, so this was something that I didn’t have in my stash. I went to Flo-Jo in Bristol which is a great shop selling fabric and haberdashery and running workshops and dressmaking classes. It is run by really lovely enthusiastic people and stocks particularly gorgeous ranges of unusual fabric. Of course, they had a range of rick rack and I bought some red, pink and orange. Old Baltimore quilts seem to me to delight in virtuoso effects and experimenting with the latest thing, and they often have 3D elements like these roses. They are really simple to make. You take two pieces of rick rack, twist them together like plaiting and then roll them up. The final stage is to pull back the outer rounds to make unfolding petals. There are lots and lots of demonstrations of this on You Tube in particular, and they are mostly stuck together (opinion varies on the merits of a hot glue gun), but I stitched mine for authenticity (although I expect the ladies of Baltimore would have used a glue gun if they had had one available). As an aside, there was a wonderful video of a woman making daisies rather than roses out of rick rack which she then fills with pearls and sticks on lace and which are really not to my taste. At the end of one of the videos she makes leaves out of synthetic ribbon. ‘You need to burnish [i.e. singe] the ends together,’ she trills gaily and proceeds to take what looks like one of those things used to light gas rings on cookers and to waft it in front of her ribbon, slightly singeing her fingers. ‘It doesn’t hurt,’ she says, ‘well not really.’ I am not sure that I really want to scorch my finger ends for ribbon leaves but it doesn’t seem to do her a lot of harm. Pyrotechnics aside, there are some very clear tutorials available, and, of course, fans of Baltimores will know that Elly Sienkiewicz’s books contain explicit and well-illustrated instructions, particularly her book on dimensional applique.
I am not sure if you can tell from the photograph at the top but I made a big central rose of red and pink twisted together, and four large red roses and four small pink ones. They are really good fun and quick to make, and the best bit is at the end when you pull back the outer rounds and the rose almost leaps forward. The You Tube demonstrators tend to stick them on rings or brooches or hair slides. I would just recommend going easy on the lace.
I finished off with some big mint green leaves with the veins done this time in fly stitch. In the end, I rather liked the naive charm of the piece, and I think it is an interesting example of something I have written about before: your relationship with your work. You might think that you have finished, but your work will whisper, or shout very loudly as it did here, that it is not finished. And you have to finish it because otherwise it will go on shouting until you do.