Retrospective: 2002 Scrap Baskets

Welcome to the seventh in my more-or-less monthly series of quilt retrospectives.

2002 Scrap Baskets
2002 Scrap Baskets

Size: 235 x 280 cm (93″ x 110″)
Design: traditional basket block
Batting: low-loft polyester (I think)
Pieced: by machine (Janome MemoryCraft 8000) 1998-2000 (blocks) August 2002 (top)
Quilted: by machine (Janome MemoryCraft 8000) September-October 2002
Completed: November 2002

In my early years of quiltmaking (the late 80s, early 90s) I purchased various packs of fat quarters and fat eighths in order to build my stash. Many of these were “ditsy” prints (small floral sprigs) which I found I didn’t care for very much, so they languished in the cupboard.

In 1998 I decided to use up as many of these fabrics as I could by making a scrap quilt. In order to have as little waste as possible I chose a very simple basket pattern (basically a half-square triangle with a bias-curve handle). Over the next two years I made hundreds of blocks … literally, hundreds of them. I had so many blocks I had no idea what to do with them.

In 2002 I was posted to Sydney. I was living in a furnished apartment close to work during the week and commuting back to Canberra at the weekends. I wanted a quilt to use as a bedspread (it being too warm there for a doona) so I picked out around 260 of the basket blocks to assemble into what I hoped would be a colourful and cheery quilt. I quilted it in the ditch by machine (which took a fair amount of effort and a lot of rolling and clipping to get it through the small harp space) and bound it in a yellow print similar to those in the top.

When I put it on the bed, I discovered that while it was, indeed, colourful and cheery, I just didn’t like it. The fabrics were not to my taste and in all honesty I hadn’t arranged them as carefully as I might have done with a little more effort. Still, it did the job intended and saw me through another two years in a city I dislike. The silver lining is that I wasn’t terribly upset when I spilled a cup of tea on it (some of the stain remains to this day).

Apart from two baby quilts I made for my mother’s church fête, I never did anything with the rest of the blocks (approximately 500) which remain in a bag in the cupboard. From time to time I play around with ideas on sashing and embellishments, but I suspect that they’ll probably end up as a charity donation one day.

Lessons learned:
1. If you don’t like the fabric, you won’t like the quilt.
2. It’s hard to quilt in a small harp space.
3. An ugly quilt is still a useful quilt.
4. Tea stains add character.

2019 Finish-A-Long Q4 Nomination

Well, after having failed miserably on my Q3 project (I still haven’t finished the FMQ) my only hope of achieving anything in Q4 is to choose a small project. I’m branching out from quilting and trying my hand at doll dressmaking. I’ve already done one Regency-style dress from a Carpatina pattern (more on that in another post) so now I’m being a little more adventurous and I’m nominating this 1770s sacque gown from Thimbles and Acorns (disregard the mistake on the cover – it’s actually “pet en l’air”):

Doll sacque pattern
Doll sacque pattern

I’ve always loved the look of the sacque-back gown (and its jacket equivalent, the caraco) but I could never work out how to put it together. Luckily this pattern is fairly detailed.

Simplicity 8578 - Sacque gown pattern
Simplicity 8578 – Sacque gown pattern

Even better, after buying the doll pattern I found that American Duchess has a a sacque pattern available through Simplicity (8758 for the dress and 8759 for the relevant corset and panniers) which also has very clear instructions. After having read both patterns carefully I’m now much more confident in how to achieve the final dress.

On the downside, I am constitutionally incapable of following any pattern to the letter, whether it be quilting or dressmaking. I don’t know why, but I have to alter something — the colour scheme or the size or the setting or the fabrics or the trimmings, or some other small detail. Usually it works out all right but there have been one or two mishaps along the way.

In this case, I’m ditching the fabric ruffles — I know they were wildly popular at the time, but I’ve never been a fan of this particular detail and there are several examples (in both paintings and surviving costumes) where the dress is decorated by lace or embroidery instead. I’ll use lace this time and see how it turns out. I may try machine embroidery (or even hand embroidery) in the future. I’m also thinking about the sleeves and cuffs — the pattern wants me to line the sleeves and use doubled-over fabric for the cuff which will be very stiff so I may cut that back to single layers.

The pattern really needs silk but for this first effort I’m going to use cotton. It won’t look as authentic, perhaps, but it will still look better than these horrific examples (which I’m sure have only survived because no one on Earth has the complexion to wear them successfully):

Brown sacque from the Musée des Tissus de Lyon, photo by Pierre Verrier
Brown sacque from the Musée des Tissus de Lyon, photo by Pierre Verrier
Mustard sacque from the Fashion Museum, Bath, photo by Ludi Ling
Mustard sacque from the Fashion Museum, Bath, photo by Ludi Ling

When selecting the cotton for this gown, I first thought of using this very pretty small-scale chintz:

Pastel chintz
Pastel chintz

But then I realised that it’s too nice to be used as a first run, given the likelihood of mistakes. My next though was one of these two:

Brown cotton floral
Brown cotton floral
Mustard cotton floral
Mustard cotton floral

But that would be hypocritical given my comments on the two museum gowns I showed above *snort*.

Pale green cotton
Pale green cotton

Eventually I chose this one — there is a design there but it’s subtle enough that it won’t interfere with the shape of the gown, and it was a cheap purchase from Spotlight a couple of years ago (I think it was $6/m) so I won’t cry if I have to scrap the gown and start again. (And yes, I know I could use muslin or a solid, but where’s the fun in that?)

Oh, and as usual I’m linking up through Sandra of Sew Of Course.

September Achievements and October goals

September Goals:

I’ve been slacking off and reading rather than sewing the last couple of weeks so goals have not been met. However, the NHL season has started and my teams’ first games are tomorrow morning (or tonight, if you’re in North America) so I’ll be sewing at least three hours a day from now until April.

AHQ: Three generic bags for RAAF Butterworth. Partly done. I’ve finished one bag and two more are half-done so they’ll be ready in a day or two.

2019-10-03 Bag
Laundry Bag

Personal: the last two Hawaiian blocks done. Not done. Not even partly done.

FAL: Finish Blue Christmas. Almost done. All the walking foot quilting has been done and I only need to add a little FMQ and then I can bind it. As you can see, Vanima loves to help.

Vanima helping me to quilt
Vanima helping me to quilt

Other work:

Flame rose: I am still working on the “leaves” portion of the design. I had started some rosettes in a lighter shade of olive but hadn’t got very far when I decided that although it was the right hue its value was too light in comparison with the other two greens, so I popped into Hobbysew and found a batik that was much closer in value and blends very well.

I probably won’t finish this section until the end of the year, since my wrists are still having issues with more than 90 minutes hand sewing at a time. I’ve decided on colours for the two final sections, though, so it’s simply a matter of “slow and steady” until the piecing is completed.

October Goals:

AHQ: I may do a couple more laundry bags unless I see something jump out at me from the request list.

Personal: I give up. If I do something for myself I’ll add it in the next monthly summary, otherwise I’m not going to waste time on goals that are never met.

FAL: finish the binding on Blue Christmas and choose a project for Q4. At this stage I’m toying with the idea of a non-quilting project, possibly a doll’s outfit (more on that later in the month).