Fashion, design & sustainability // teacher / researcher / designer

Quilting and the slide into endlessness

Sewing

Since 2003, a half-finished quilt top had been sitting around my house. The design is called ‘double wedding ring’ and I hand pieced it using the English technique of paper templates. To make it was in fact very laborious – there was some twenty individual paper templates required, and they all had to be stitched in the right order to form the shapes. I had to be very careful with measuring and plotting the templates with a compass – but the paper templates inevitably grew and shrunk in the tracing process. I bought pink linen for the background shapes, and some rayon velvet for texture in the circles. The rest of the fabric was from offcuts and scraps I found – some in my fabric stash, some from op-shops and some old clothes too, and failed craft projects.

Looking back, it seems unlikely that a traditional double-wedding ring design is made this way – I saw the design somewhere and figured out how to do it (probably, in retrospect, English piecing was a bad idea). Somehow, in a process involving lots of small bags of numbered paper templates, I managed to assemble it all. I tacked fabric onto each paper template (a heap of the tacking was done during a road trip from Sydney to Cairns and back again in 2004), and then stitched the pieces together in order.

Then I forgot about it. In 2008, I found it again. I finished the hand-piecing so that the whole thing was rectangular. And I accepted that it was unlikely to ever be big enough for a queen-sized bed, not at the rate I was working. And I would still have to quilt it. So then I forgot about it again.

Then, in 2011, I pulled it out of the back shed, laid it out and in an uncharacteristic burst of energy, added wadding, backing, hand-quilted it and bound it – all in the space of three days. I had some wadding lying around (a good-quality organic cotton wadding which sits flat), I had some pink woolen suiting someone had given me, and I had a pink sateen dressing gown (our neighbour was throwing it out) which I used for the binding.

So it’s taken eight years from start to finish, and it is not at the masterpiece I imagined, but it feels good to see it complete and in daily use.

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