This photo is a close-up of the broderie anglaise embroidery on the bodice. It is a creamy colour and not stained yellow as in the photo, I think the reflection is from the yellow wall (which will be a lovely colour called “Double White” tomorrow). This whole christening dress was hand-sewn, all the seams, the feather stitching trims and the lace. Once upon a time, it was a gorgeous garment but unfortunately, 100+ years plus some rough play by children dressing dolls resulted in some stains, little tears in the fragile cotton fabric and some stitching around the neck being undone.
Not to worry, I manage to dress this doll plus there is enough fabric and lace left to make another outfit for a smaller doll or teddy so I think I got my value for the couple of pounds that it cost me. I love working with old fabrics and vintage laces, they look and feel so much nicer than the modern ones.
Today was one of those quiet Sundays when everbody was busy doing their own thing around the place. Eddie spent most of the morning taping the door frame, skirting boards and window in the bedroom in preparation for painting the walls tomorrow then in the afternoon he framed a print of his favourite railway engine “Hull City”. Pippa spent the afternoon busy at the computer downloading images of galleons and underwater creatures because she is painting her brother a picture for his birthday next week and needed some reference sketches. I decided to cut up an old, stained, torn, antique christening gown which I bought in England for a song due to the horrible condition of the garment and make an ugly Angel doll to hang on the wall.
It was great to use all the best bits of the christening gown including some wonderful hand-embroidered broderie anglaise and tiny featherstitching on the bodice and also some of the tucked skirt bottom with another hand-embroidered broderie anglaise edging. The embroidery is so fine, even the buttonhole stitched scalloped edge is gorgeous. I cut out the bodice for the doll leaving it attached to the skirt so that I could use the lovely even gathering at the waist and the featherstitched border. I tea-dyed the doll but not the dress and used some ghastly silk thrums for the hair. When I finished the doll, she was hanging around looking a bit lost so I made her a stuffed heart and covered it with very vintage Mother-of-Pearl buttons. Anyway, she is hanging on the wall with her ugly face, her beautiful dress and her button heart. Not a bad effort for a boring old Sunday……
This would have to be the BIGGEST UFO imaginable. I started making the hexagons in 1995 while on a plane between Australia and England and took lots of cut-out paper templates and pre-cut fabric shapes with me to work on while on holidays. I made the mistake of measuring the quilt from the floor on one side of the queen sized bed, over the top and down the other side to get the width, then I measured from the floor at the end of the bed, up the length of the bed and over the pillows (in this photo, a lot of the quilt is tucked down below the camera out of sight), and over the pillows to get the length. Then I stitched enough hexagon flowers separated by calico hexagons to finish the whole of the outside edge, thus committing myself to this HUGE size. One momentous day about four years ago, I finally reached the middle and therefore last flower and my hands shook so much I could hardly sew. Each hexagon flower has a yellow patch in the centre surrounded by two dark, two medium and two light colour co-ordinated ones. Every hexagon was hand tacked to the paper then top-sewed with tiny slip-stitches to it’s neighbours. There will not be one single machine stitch in this quilt but I have to admit that I have been procrastinating about the actual hand-quilting, even though the quilt, wadding and backing is all sandwiched together and held with quilter’s safety pins. It is awkward to manipulate and hand-quilt because of the sheer weight of it all and also because I am using a large hoop to keep the fabric taut. This is my UFO to finsh next year in Sandie’s UFO challenge. I intend to finish it off by sewing a wide border to the backing fabric, bringing it through to the front, tucking it under the last row of flowers and then using the applique method to stitch the flowers down on the border, making a straight edge.
This is another view of the quilt from the side of the bed. This photo shows the small area where I have begun to hand quilt each hexagon. It’s not particularly hard work, just awkward because of the large ring I am using to hold the quilt taut while I quilt. The quilt measures 11 feet x 10 feet in total with each hexagon measuring 2 1/2 inches across.
This was one of the highlights of my holiday – meeting my favourite magazine author, Rick Rutherford. Rick started out writing “Australian Country Collections”, then moved on to writing “Rick Rutherford’s Country”. Now he is busy working on a web site and on-line shop which can be found at www.rickrutherford.com and he stocks all sorts of country items from quilts to wooden angels. Rick took Mary and me to a lovely little French cafe in Leura and treated us to coffee and tiny cakes. What started out as a serious conversation finished up in total hysteria as Rick and Mary both have the same wicked sense of humour. It was like the “Rick and Mary Show” for an audience of one, ie. me. I have to admit the laughter was getting a bit loud for such refined surroundings by the time we left.