|A granny garden seat|
I am not sure how vintage or granny this patchwork is - and of course, how old is vintage? (Hen has been discussing the elasticity of the term 'vintage' on her blog.) It seems to me that 'vintage' is beginning to mean anything that is not brand new, but I have also come to the conclusion that I am decidedly vintage as I can remember a not inconsiderable part of the last century.
These hexagons speak 1970s to me - the '70s were definitely a very brown era. I had a brown carpet in my bedroom, cream and brown curtains, stripy duvet cover in shades of brown (except that they were called continental quilts when they arrived on these shores all those years ago); there was also a lot of that sludgy green colour, and the small floral prints have that Laura Ashley look which seems so familiar to me.
First, we have stacks of cut out fabric hexagon pieces, which will have been cut out using a cardboard template.
The next stage is to fold the fabric round a backing paper, and use tacking stitches to fasten it.
In this case the backing pieces are made from old Christmas cards in the best thrifty granny quilting tradition. My sister and I used to use the thick paper from glossy magazines such as Tatler, Vogue, and Harper's and Queen - the covers were particularly good, but even the pages were stiffer than your common or garden women's weeklies. There was one cardboard template for the fabric pieces, and another a quarter inch smaller all round (ie the finished size) for the backing papers.
The hexagons are then stitched together by oversewing - the oversewing is impossibly small in these rosettes, so the maker must either have been quite young, or started sewing at an early age. When I was doing my researches into nineteenth-century, I discovered that if girls had not learned to sew by the age of seven or eight, they could never achieve the really fine stitching required of a professional. (The same applied to knitting - if you didn't start young enough, you could never knit fast enough to make enough money.)
Here the hexagons have then been stitched into rosettes, some of which have been stitched together to make the quilt.
So this quilt has some stitched hexagons, some rosettes, and some of the rosettes have been stitched together to make part of a quilt - some hexagons have also had the backing papers removed. In the past, old letters were used as backing papers, and where they have not been removed they provide a tantalizingly fragmented window through which can be glimpsed a bygone world.
And this quilt in the making has a mystery all of its own. There are also half a dozen oval shapes using some of the same fabrics, although they are more uniform in design, and feature the more muted colours - but the ovals don't fit in with the way that the quilt has been pieced already, and I can't quite work out what the original plan was. Does anyone have any ideas on this one?
Tracey kindly included one or two other little goodies in her package to me - there was some very nice gardeners' soap which is now gracing my scullery sink, and the brown gingham made me feel positively sentimental.
All my children wore brown gingham 'blouses' (pronounced with a French accent) at their very first nursery school, and the sight of it took me right back down memory lane, past the bothy, over the hills and far away.
So if you want a home fit for a vintage granny, you need to dig out your old love letters, cut out a gross of hexie templates, pick some rustic coloured tiny floral prints fit for a milkmaid's frock, and sit on the sofa stitching as you ponder on the past.
And if the thought of all that labour with the scissors is all too much for you, drop by again, as I have a most enticing giveaway coming up, of which you will hear more very shortly.