Thursday, September 29, 2011

Jane Austen Quilt: A work in progress

Many moons in nearly three years ago...I came across this article about a quilt that Jane Austen and her sister Cassandra made.  I fell in love with the quilt instantly.  Seamstress...sewist...costumer...what-have-you....but quilter I am not.  Thankfully, my mother-in-law, Margie, is a quilter, and an amazing one at that.  She lives in California, and I live in Kentucky. So, we don't get the opportunity to see each other very often.  I emailed her one day, and attached the said article, asking her if she might possibly make the quilt for me as a birthday or Christmas gift.  I don't ask for much, now do I.  I had no idea at the time just how hard of a task that request was.  Like I said...I'm not a quilter.  Margie was polite enough, and kind enough, to say she would look into it and see if it was something she could manage.  (Bless you, Margie.) 

About two years ago(I think?), my in-laws came to visit, and Margie and I went shopping for fabric together.  Quilter or seamstress/ doesn't thing we both have in common is a love of fabric.  But, being a lover of historical fashion/fabric, I immediately wanted to replicate the "exact" fabric, color, etc.  Margie brought me out of my imaginary world and gently reminded me that I would probably have to work with what I could find.  She also gave me a lesson in how to "clash" colors and patterns in fabric.  The O.C.D. perfectionist in me wanted to stick with similar sizes of patterns and choose everything in the same hue.  Apparently, this is bad for quilting.  I'm learning.

(for the backing...)

I did end up ordering some fabric on-line, and managed to find several fabric that had the Regency "feel" to them.  So, even though I was a little bummed that I couldn't have my completely historically correct Jane Austen quilt, all in all, I was happy with our fabric choices.  Margie took the fabric home to California with her, and other than a few emails/phone calls clarifying some details about the quilt, I left her alone to do her quilting magic. 

Last Christmas, upon visiting the in-laws, Margie revealed to me what she had accomplished.  Wow...was I blown away.  I knew she was good, but I didn't expect it to look nearly as close to the original as it did.  It's not finished though....because, you see, Margie charged me with finishing the quilt.  *gulp*  She showed me what needed to be done to finish the border, and how to back the quilt...bought me a few basic quilting tools (ruler, cutters, etc) and set me loose to have at it.  (I imagine she was getting tired of the wretched thing!  I don't blame her.)

(Isn't it amazing!!)

It's been sitting in my sewing room, staring at me ominously since then.  Soooo....I've decided to bring my quilting fears out into the open here, in hopes that you will hold me accountable.  How can something so beautiful (a work of art, really) be hidden away like that.  I absolutely HAVE to finish what she began.  I'm sure it will take me at least another year to finish it.  But now that this secret is out in the open, I have to work excuses.  Will you hold me accountable?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Snowshill Quilted Jacket: Construction, Part 1

I thought you might like an update on the Snowshill Jacket.  It SHOULD have been finished by now, but I'm not finding the time to work on it like I thought I would. 

(The front reallly looks a mess right now...sorry.  It is all part of the lining, and since that isn't attached yet to the shell, and since I don't have the front closures decided on, well...)

All of the quilting and trapunto is finished, and the majority of the construction stage is now complete.  The outer shell is done, with the hood attached.  The lining is also sewn together, and I'm sewing the sleeves on today.
(The lined hood.)

What's left then is what I always struggle with on projects...the finishing touches.  I have to attach the lining to the shell (The Snowshill jacket description in Patterns of Fashion says "the lining is made up first and...the quilted jacket is then stitched together and mounted on top of the lining."  I take this to mean it is similar to a bag lining.)  I also have to prick-stitch around the collar/lapel, hem the bottom edge, finish off the sleeve cuffs, and figure out a "modern" closure system for the false front.  Why do I detest finishing things?  Starting a project is exciting and lovely...but...wrapping things up is torture to me.

(My favorite part of the jacket!)

I'm really pleased with the results thus far, and I'm very proud of all of the hand stitching I've done on it.  (Confession:  the major back/side seams are done by machine because I plan on wearing this as an every day, modern jacket, and I wanted the extra strength.)  If only I could stop time for a few hours and finish up this baby...the Autumn chill is already starting to creep in.

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Because I've been an absentee blogger...

Because I have a lot on my brain that I would love to share with you, but no time to sit down and write it all out...

Because the Snowshill jacket is taking much, much longer than it should...

Enjoy this pic of what Jane was REALLY doing when she was supposed to be napping today.


Zimu's new favorite past-time is sleeping with Jane. 
 If only we could get Jane to actually sleep with her.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Snowshill Jacket: Diamond Quilting and Hood Construction

Another Snowshill Jacket update for you.  I've finished about half of the hand quilting on the jacket, and you can see in the picture to the right (which is of the hood) how the diamond design looks.  I decided against the "scale" design for the hood.  It just seemed a bit too snake-like or dragon-like, and I am not in the mood lately to stand out in a crowd.  A little bit of scale motif on the false front will go a long way.  

Also, Sabine asked if I would do a tutorial on how to pleat the hood.  I'm not sure how good I will be at explaining it, but I will do my best.  Putting the hood together will give me a much needed break from all of the hand quilting.  The hood will be lined with silk, and even though I won't show that part, the construction of the lining will be done in the same way. 

A sketch of the trapezoid shape...per Natalie's request...
(updated:  Picture.)
The hood is shaped like a trapezoid, with two short sides, and two long being longer than the other.  The longest side is the top, or front, of the hood.  The next longest side, which appears to be the bottom, is actually the back of the hood.  The two short sides are really the bottom of the hood.  Am I making any sense? 

I will begin with the pleats that form the back of the hood.  I marked where the pleats will go on the bottom edge (which is really the back) of the trapezoid using the scaled pattern from Patterns of Fashion.

Working from the center out on the bottom edge of the trapezoid, fold over the first pleat so that the two solid lines meet.

Continue across, in the same fashion until you have all of the pleats stacked on top of one another.

Baste through all of the pleats, and they will look like the above image. 

Do the same thing across both sides of the bottom edge.

Fold the hood in half, right sides together, matching up all edges.

Pin across the bottom edge of the trapezoid (where you just made your pleats), and then stitch through all layers.  I've marked where I stitched with a blue pen.

It wasn't easy to stitch through two layers of wool, and two layers of cotton batting.  The hardest part though, was going through all layers of pleats.  Just go slowly, and back stitch every time.  It looks a mess, but it didn't turn out too badly.

Here it is, stitched up the back.  Turn it right side out.

It should look like this.  You can see that I've also marked where I will be pleating the bottom (originally the sides of the strange trapezoid shape) edge of the hood.

These pleats aren't so difficult.  Just pleat and pin one at a time, working toward the back center, along both sides of the hood.

Baste all pleats.

Here's a look at the finished hood from the outside.

And from the inside (minus the lining).

And a view of it on someone's head...

...not mine, of course.  Poor fellow.