Kim of Persimon Dreams has another Project Quilting theme this week which is well dressed men. This theme has to be interpreted in a quilt form. I always check out the theme to see whether it sparks anything and then if it does think ahead whether I have got the time to actually make something within the allotted week. Well this week when I was mulling over the theme and thinking of well dressed men I was reminded that in the loft there was a box of my late husband’s ties. Not all of them by any means. He had a typical working wardrobe of dark charcoal suits and smart ties to meet UK corporate expectations and that combined with a bit of a tendency to hoard there were dozens and dozens of ties. But I kept the ones that I liked the most and were silk thinking that one day they might come in useful. It became very clear that as our two sons weren’t going to want to wear them (I have offered them up on the rare occasion they have to wear suits but they look appalled) so I felt it okay to dismember some of them and see what fabric I’d got.
To be frank I am a bit ambivalent about using clothes from family members that have died. On one hand I think it can be very touching, literally, as a momento of that individual but on the other hand is it mawkish? I have kept a lot of Nigel’s old shirts, not his work shirts that were uniformly white, he wouldn’t wear anything else, but his casual shirts and I have attempted to make a quilt with them but for a variety of reasons it hasn’t been completed. That ambivalence again. But with this challenge I thought it would be something small, given the time constraints, and it would not use too much of the material if it didn’t work out or I just didn’t like what I made so why not?
Then looking at the ties in more detail I noticed that they were all very similar. No one could ever say that Nigel was cutting edge when it came to fashion! Nor me for that matter. And if I’m honest many of those ties would have been bought by me so that rather consistent dark red with the occasional blue was very much the norm. So I tried to select the ones that had the most contrast.
You can see from this picture of Nigel taken at our nanny’s wedding in 2006, the year before he died, he’s still sticking to his favourite deep red!
Then to choose the design. I decided that sewing silk together would be quite difficult. I’m so used to sewing with cotton which sticks nicely to each other that slippery fabrics are a bit of a nightmare. So I thought the best way forward was a paper-based foundation block.
Going through the patterns I came across one by flying parrot quilting.com called the kite block. It’s a free craftsy pattern. I liked the fact that it was quite minimal in design, that it would show off the fabrics but not too gaudily. I chose a plainish background fabric. I’d normally go for a patterned one but I wanted it to be quite minimal looking and crisp.
This is what disembowelled ties look like and the amount of material you have left is quite substantial.
I pieced the blocks in batches and pre cut the individual pieces for speed and accuracy. For once I was very organised and the 18 pieced blocks came together quite quickly. The silk was a bit tricky but being foundation pieced made a big difference oh that and glue! When a seam was being particularly difficult I used a glue stick to secure it. Not text book I grant you but it worked!!
With the quilting I wanted it to have simple texture to go with the stark design. I did a fake trupunto effect by putting behind each piece of silk an extra piece of wadding in that skewed L shape then just quilted the outline.
I couldn’t resist some ghost shapes… I love how the silk shines in the sun.
Well there is plenty more material – as I say ties generate a fair bit. And I’ve had the satisfaction of another box being emptied from the loft even if most of it has found its way to my sewing room!