xmlns:fb='http://ogp.me/ns/fb#' OriginalStitch: Tartan it up

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tartan it up

Last time I went down to my mum's she overhauled her scraps stash by thrusting lots of bits of it at me. My mother is a little older than me, and has therefore collected perhaps a little more fabric than me in her time, so in went probably a whole generation's worth of little remnants. Little bits of stuff from dresses she'd made for me, both girl and grown-up(ish), leftover quilting bits, and whole little sections of patchwork, which she held up puzzlingly, saying "Well, I can't remember what I was making this for...but I certainly won't use it for anything, so here..."
Come hither, little remnants, come to daughter!
"There - you can stick that on a tea-cosy; applique this onto a cushion; stick this on a quilt border, and bob's your uncle", she was saying, flinging things at me.
They've been sitting there nagging me, these little half-made things. I look at them, biting my lip and wondering how I can use them (I am not good at this beginning bit of the making process) and so I tackled one the other day. Having made a completely bonkers cushion the day before, (I shall elucidate in another post) and worked out the envelopey foldy cushion backy thing (is that its proper name I do wonder?), I rolled my sleeves up and got stuck into turning a log cabin piece into a cushion cover. There are some lovely old floral fabrics in here - gorgeous, but in these days of bright and gaudy, it looked to me a little too insipid as it was.Now, it's times like this that I stand staring at my fabrics, and feel a bit daunted, because it's not easy, this fabric mixing business - I live forever in fear of things 'not going'. (Don't get me wrong, I don't literally quake in my boots during the night-time, when one oughtn't at all to be wearing boots, shivering with terror as two clashing fabrics soft furnish themselves into my nightmares; what I mean is that I have, as I'm sure do many, a lack of confidence about putting together two patterns you'd think shouldn't go, but which then look great, magically picking each other up and blow me down, who'd have thought it. You know what I mean.) Anyway, I rummaged about and found lots of bits of fabric which sort of went, but didn't cast a magic spell, or bits which just looked tired, or bits which which were plain and dull and frankly boring.
And then I found the tartan.
Which is quite bonkers, but I have decided tartan is the new, um, well, the new Greatest Go-er Ever. It is so bonkers it goes with everything, specially this red one, which is a Stewart tartan, and manages to achieve exactly what I was after - it picks up all the colours and brightens them, whilst simultaneously not actually going with anything at all. And now, rather than being too light pink and too light blue to go in my red and blue scheme, it fits like a kilt.

Of course, pumped up with new-found pride in my fabric matching, I again stood staring at my fabrics, wondering what to make the back from. I have many fabrics picked up from charity shops which don't fall into the Amazing Vintage Fabric category. They are simply jolly good quality lengths of fabric for two quid which were not to be missed. But they ain't gonna win an award for being simply the most gorgeous thing ever. And I was determined to work some magic using them because otherwise, why did I buy them. They're never going to be the centrepiece of a quilt. The backs of things is precisely where these fabrics must come into their own. They're not centre-stage, they've got to stoicly stand in the wings.
Enter my next magic ingredient - ribbon. Somehow, I managed to make these two fabrics look good together, and it's all in the ribbon - imagine the ribbon isn't there and actually those fabrics look weird and un....errm, well just un-great. Ok, maybe you're turning your nose up and squinting and saying, er, hello Catherine, where's your glasses, they still look weird.
But I like 'em.
And I especially like that I didn't use anything new at all - all this is from my stash. Which, if I were to give this as a gift, which I'm not because I seem to have become rather mean, would be a very good thrift gift, and would have involved no new poisoning of cotton growers or chucking of packaging into landfill, which is what this is really all about. My dining room sofa can sit happy in the knowledge that it is not a recipient of an environmentally unfriendly new addition to itself.
So, a big fat round of applause for tartan and ribbon please - go on, find a piece and shove it in something.

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