this story actually begins a long time ago... as most good stories do
once upon a time a young lady that loved all sorts of different types of needlework was reluctantly introduced (coerced) into joining a quilting group by a very lovely much older lady who knew she knew better
you can read all about that here:
one year the lovely older lady's annual quilting adventure took her on a quilter's bus trip to amish country
whereupon she met a kindly fellow quilter from japan
the lady from japan fell in love with a beautiful cross-stitch kit depicting two little amish children sitting on a bench, but alas, she had no idea how to cross-stitch
"don't you fret, i know just the person to do it for you" said the lovely much older lady from the yukon...
and so, when colleen arrived home she presented with me said kit
"i know it's easy for you to do this, and she's going to send you fabric"
was the explanation
happy to help a friend help a friend, i took it on and in a few weeks' time, the stitchery was sent off over to the sea
and in a few more weeks, a packet of fabric arrived back
image my surprise when a bundle of vintage japanese indigo textiles poured forth
along with some choice silk kimono pieces
above are the indigo - one you can see is very old, and very faded - and i love it best
how does that work???
all this happened almost twenty-five years ago, and these fabrics have been carefully stored all that time, waiting...
waiting for me to understand just how rare and precious they are
waiting for the right idea
waiting for the right skills to be learned
when i formally studied needlework, one of my favourite parts was the history of a particular embroidery style or technique
you had to understand the social, political and economic state of a region and it's people at the time the embroidery was either developed, or flourished - i missed that kind of learning
so a while back i began investigating kantha and boro
i loved the history - the precious nature of the cloth, the treasured way it was handled, preserved and saved
i wanted to create something like that but had so little of the japanese indigo... and so i decided to meld the two together... japan and bhutan
kind of a plate-tectonic type of thing, one colliding into the other
boro-style piecing with indigo and silk combined with kantha-style stitching
might be interesting...
scraps of silk, tiny precious bits
i'm making a tote bag, simply patched together, and then stitched and embroidered... this little bit of already embroidered silk will be perfect for the pocket
i love how they look together
both precious in their own rights - a contrast-in-love
looking for balance and distribution here - i have very little of some fabrics and two bag pieces and a handle to figure out
valdani hand-dyed perle cotton is perfect for the embroidery work i want to do, emulating the thread that would have been saved from the borders of the saris to be stitched with, re-use, recycle at it's best i think
folding and pinning... but why is it i'm calling it a diaper bag????
when we were in england a few years back, one of the things on my list to buy was fine english muslin - it's like gauze compared to what we have here
i bought the last meter they had at john lewis in london
and the last metre and a half at duttons for buttons in york
i was being foiled at every turn it seemed
until we were in dover on a wet sunday afternoon and ducked in to a drug store in search of q-tips
the young lady looked at us in great puzzlement until i said "ear swabs"
ah... baby section she said
and while we searched for those, i stumbled on a package of diapers made with 100% muslin
lovely fine gauzy things they were
i didn't hesitate for a second although i thought the mr. was going to faint
"it's for fabric" i said
really, he should know by now
i washed and dried them to pre-shrink and the weave squished up a bit but it ironed right out and is now the perfect base for sewing my fabric patches to
and if that's not enough, i'm using diaper flannel for the batting - lightweight and easy to needle for hand-quilting
and so, i'm calling it the diaper bag, at least for now
appliqueing down the edges
i didn't turn all of them under - some of the selvage edges were left as they are - i like the look of it, and this way the cloth isn't wasted - kind of in keeping with the sensibility of the styles of quilting i'm trying to emulate
i've found some wonderful videos online showing how to do the kantha embroidery - it's amazing what you can do with a simple running stitch
simple cloth, simple beauty