Wednesday, August 5, 2015

a diaper bag...

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

sigh indeed!

 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


Createology said...

I adore how you are able to take something fabric...and make it into the most interesting learning lesson and experiment that results in amazing beauty and practicality. I shall look forward to your progress of this wonderful "diaper bag" you are creating. True Creative Bliss My Friend...

Deb~Paxton Valley Folk Art said...

What a precious gift Jillayne and you are doing those lovely fabrics proud, gorgeous patchwork with such reverence for the history and culture of these fabrics,that is going to be the most beautiful diaper bag ever!

oldgreymareprimitives said...

the journey is the adventure not always the destination :D

Rachel said...

What a lovely story - and lovely fabrics, too!

FlowerLady Lorraine said...

What a wonderful post, with a beautiful story and photos of you latest creation. Once again you inspire me dear Jillayne.

Happy Stitching ~ FlowerLady

Marj Talbot said...

Very nice - can't wait to see your embroidery on this bag. It would be great if the Japanese lady could see the bag after all these years. Thanks for sharing such a lovely story.

deanna7trees said...

i saw this post the other day but didn't have time to give it a proper reading so i'm back today. a wonderful never knows what one kindness will bring forth. love what you are doing with all these silk pieces. i have quite a few of those as well and use them here and there. i just love how the pieces look with all the white pins on the edges. i would be tempted to put french knots all over the edges....maybe in corresponding colors to the cloth. really enjoyed this post. can't wait to see it finished.

Michelle May-The Raspberry Rabbits said...

Wow! What a wonderful post. Those fabrics are incredible and I do adore the kantha embroidery. Simple cloth, simple beauty indeed!

Magpie's Mumblings said...

Fascinating colours together. Can't wait to see what you do next - I'm sure it's going to be good!

Dorthe said...

A wonderful story of friends , helping friends, and being beautifully rewarded, dear Jillayne . I know your stitchery for the Japanese woman was perfect, and what she returned to you, so very perfect ,too.
Your tote will be a little piece of wonderful memories, so amazing fabrics put together to a whole of lovely beauty.
Hugs, Dorthe

FredaB said...

Jillayne your stories always pull me in and I enjoy them so much. This will be such a great piece to watch what you do with it. Something gorgeous I am sure.

Your faithful follower -


Marguerite (Tina) Smith Hart said...

Just beautiful Jillayne and how true it is that in the simplicity of the design lies the sublime beauty of the finished piece! Really a glorious work!
Oh and thank you so much for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment, I was so happy to have your visit! By the way both pieces of art sold last week...yay!
Tina xo

karen said...

25 years of caring for these...sigh. They are stunning. I buy muslin baby squares husband also had a mini panic attack the first

Christine B said...

Wonderful story Jillayne and such precious cloth. You already know I am a kantha fan. I'm looking forward to witnessing the progression on this bag. Re: the muslin....I happened across a saddlery shop when out with my husband. The smell of the interior drew me in and I lost myself in memories of dandy brushes, saddle soap and all things horsey from my younger days. They had a bargain corner...I spotted a large bag of muslin horse bandages that had escaped from their packaging and were being sold off for peanuts. Of course it goes without saying they are now safely stowed away in the depths of my husband didn't batt an eyelid...well, maybe a wry smile....he knows me well enough :)

Anonymous said...

Long overdue blog catch-up... love the colors here! A lot of the women's clothing coming in for next Spring is Indigo (just you watch, it will be THE color!) so your "diaper bag" will be right on trend!! I can't believe how long you've hung on to the fabric... and moved it what, 5 times? Haha.