Apr 14, 2013

Getting in Touch with Textiles


Hello!

I am hoping that this beautiful spring day is finding you all well, happy, and out doing something fun in the weather - should it be as nice where you are, as is here.

It is no great secret that I have a love affair for fabrics. My barber husband has accepted our "open marriage material" when he got stuck  married me.  He accepted my love affair so much, he bought me a mini-me for Christmas... but just a whole lot smarter than the bigger me.

Never mind that I haven't touched a sewing machine in 30 years...geesh, when I added up the years, I just could not believe that it really had been that long! But I had been wanting a "simple little machine" for quite some time now, just to hem something up, to fix a little thing here or there....but my sweet barber husband went with my seamstress friend, Maureen, and together, they selected the baby lock "Elizabeth" sewing machine. I think the name had something to do with it. Due to my recovery time and so on, it wasn't until only two weeks ago, did I even take it out of its plastic and go to the free classes that come with this computerized wonder.




I feel like Ripvanwinkle...because the last time I sewed on a machine...it was black, had zero buttons, and I had to turn the wheel to line up the needle - a big no-no apparently with this prissy, I mean, perfectly-lined machine. The ladies in the class laughed as I leaned forward, adjusting my glasses as the teacher showed me how it could thread itself, and I would exclaim, "Well, look at that!" Or when I learned how I no longer need to yank five inches of thread from the needle AND the bobbin out (like in the old days) and the teacher could really tell I was old school.




But the most impressive of all, even with all the stitches it can make, is the button for the automatic scissors. When I was showed that button, I just sat and stared at it and the women thought it was funny that I found that feature the most amazing. Back in the day, I used to make my mother clothes. She was very tall, and I would make her blouses and customize the pattern with my own touches to fit her; and myself skirts and pants. Hard to believe I ever did that. And boy, have the prices of patterns ever gone up!!




It wasn't until I downloaded the above photo did I realize how funny it looked. This brand new computerized machine surrounded by all the very old things...and yet, it is the old things that I feel so very at home with and the modern machine is so very foreign to me. So I made the photo all aged and old looking for fun. As you can see, I even had my old tape measure and folded wooden ruler out, as at the time, I didn't even have a current tape measure. (I do now.)




So the first think I grab to try out is a pair of antique pillow cases that I have and I stitched on a decorative stitch and also my name and my barber husband's name....yes, I was tempted to stitch out "barber husband" but I wasn't confident enough to get all the stitches right yet...but I see it coming in the future. 

Then I go find a stash of vintage linen and old table runners that I can cut up - I know, I know, it is just like my old books. People used to freak that I would rip up old books to use in design work. I also tear up (rather cut up) old fabrics, linens, runners, table cloths, clothes, you name it, when I design bedding, pillows, you name it. So having designed professionally for about 15 years now, I don't think twice about cutting up something I found at a market in Europe. Just like that very old table cloth that I used for my skirt for my wedding gown - "zip" went the scissors that my used seamstress to cut the lace as I told her how I designed it. She is used to me by now. Now, I have the scissors in my hand...and ZIP, go the scissors, as I am dying to make some REAL pillow cases, as I hate, hate, hate store bought ones.



Here is my stash (above and below) that I found in one of many places around our house...love this linen. One is a table runner from France, another an old cheap table cloth that I will practice on and another an old Belgium linen sheet that I will cut up for the pillow cases...






Now they are in pieces...can't turn back...gotta figure it out.



The top is the vintage case with the name that I practiced stitched. Below it is one king-size pillow case (I made two) with the real old linen Belgium sheet and the French runner for the cuff. I love sleeping on it. I used the center of the runner for my own German "feder decke" which literally means "feather cover." We don't have the beautiful bedding that I have designed for so many over the years....nope. That is something most of you don't know about us. I LOVE to design bedding, but first, I can't afford my own designs, and secondly, it is too much work for me to make the bed every morning, even though it is really pretty! We sleep German style. There is no such thing over here in the states, and don't be fooled into thinking there is by some company who claims they sell "German linen bed sets." There is no such thing. Germans don't have actual bed "sets." At best, maybe matching colored pillow case with matching colored decke cover. The higher quality items tend to be white, linen, or heavy, soft cotton, that feel like heaven.





The bottom item is my custom version of my feder decke with antique buttons and French linen cuff. The very top pillow is my "practice pillow" with the old table cloth and linen cuff. It turned out so well, that I made two. Germans sleep the best way that I know of. They don't use a top sheet. They sleep with their own....well, what we could call a "duvet" over here. It is not a feather bed, it is not a comforter, it is not a blanket. It is a very, very fluffy feather blanket (very fluffy duvet) with a very soft, hight quality cover. 

Each person gets their own and it is fabulous. There aren't tons of pillows, usually a huge pillow for each - bigger than what we call a Euro pillow and a smaller one and maybe a single third. To make the bed, the Germans usually hang the decke out the window for some time to air it out and to let the mattress air out as well. A VERY healthy thing to do. Think about it...if you had a hot, yucky night, and then get up, and immediately make your bed, you are trapping all that "yuck" in with a top sheet, a blanket, a heavy bedspread, tons of pillows and it gets gross. When making the bed, each decke is folded simply, fluffed up, aired out, and your done. My pillow cases and decke cover are washable, those "lace" things are sturdy (it is more handiwork, than lace, not delicate)...just wash on delicate cycle and line dry. There is nothing I can do to it that hasn't been done to it already. Linen is tougher than you think. And if or when it wears down, I will just make more cases from my stash. 

Now you that you all have been in my bedroom....I will take you back out again and share that I am learning a new skill that I always wanted to learn that my good friend, Bet, has taught me while I was in recovery....how to knit! I am not very good, but I am addicted. I am currently knitting squares for a blanket and someday, it will be done, but here are a few pics of my other "getting in touch with textiles":











I hoped you enjoyed learning about the new "mini-me" and all that she is doing for me at the moment. I am enjoying my textiles and am loving the time I am spending cutting, sewing, and really, just playing with my toys. 

I think of you all often, and please know that your emails, well wishes, and lovely comments mean so much to me. May you find time to play and find time to enjoy whatever it is that brings you joy.

from my house to your house,

Signature


9 comments:

Rita C. said...

Oh my good golly molly! I love, love, love linens!!! Those pillowcases are so divine!!! And the monogram - makes me want to go and buy one those new-fangled machines (I still have the one my mother surprised with for Christmas, my jr. yr of high school, 1973!).
Two of my sisters & I sell linens in our antique mall, and we literally hoard vintage & antique linens, esp. ones like you've pictured - exquisite crocheted & tatted laces, heavy monograms on linen sheets, etc. What wonderful and fearless ways you're using them - bravo! I just wish I had the nerve....getting closer, I can tell, as I look at the cost of today's linen sheets.
Hope this finds you recovering fully.....
Best,
Rita

Cathy Penton said...

Hey my beautiful friend it has been far too long....This post just touched my heart so much...I still have my sewing machine that my mum bought me for an engagement present 21 years ago and it is the only one I use....I have been so wanting to get back to hand stitching,sewing and knitting was on my list for this winter so this post especially made me smile...Love to you and I am going to post these gorgeous images to my pinterest page that I have set up in your honour...from your friend across the pond xo c

Linda@Coastal Charm said...

What beautiful linens...luv those pillowcases.

Blessings,
Linda

amy of four corners design said...

beautiful pillowcases...you've inspired me...I'll make my own.
and you are right about the German way of sleeping...spent some time over there...I love their beds!

Rene Foust said...

Stunning!!!! Someday I hope to be able to do some of those wonderful things. Your work is beautiful art.

Ronda said...




So glad you're back to creating, sewing and knitting. You're awesome. So are you saying Germans don't make their beds? I don't usually make mine. My next sewing project is making a 12 ft teepee. Sewing brings me so much joy. Beautiful pics, beautiful pillows!

Jacqueline~Cabin and Cottage said...

I love all your gorgeous remakes with that luscious linen. Fabulous photo of your machine with the old things. What a treat!

Kate Gillery said...

Absolutely Beautiful, your photography is amazing! I realize the work involved and I'm grateful for your time. Wonderful blog.

Keep blogging,
Kate

Burlap Luxe said...

Elizabeth i am so jealous in a friendship way that I do not live next door to you so I can sneak one of those cases home with me without you noticing he, he ,he !

I wish you had and etsy with these creations, I would even take the Elizabeth one :)
You have me on the look out for old thread laces and linens, I thought my mind would be able to take a rest this weekend? Not !!

Come visit me, I took a simple spool and ball of string and created a two line of inspirational words, I know it's words you hold onto.

Lots of love and blessings to the beauty you are.

Xox
Doré

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