Monday, February 27, 2012

Pride and Prejudice story book quilt

My first semester at Temple University I took a course on literary criticism. The professor told the class we should be sure to take three courses. Each was an honors course: John Milton, James Joyce's Ulysses, and a year-long, two semester course on Jane Austen. I took them all before my graduation in 1978. 

Joyce was not my favorite course. I was the only female in the class. The guys all liked to puzzle out Joyce. The professor was a Freudian. Still, I managed to get an A based on my 50 page paper on Bloom in Nighttown, with a Jungian interpretation. 

I came to really enjoy John Milton. I think I bored many a person with my yammering on about him. 

But Jane Austen I loved. I have read all of her books, complete or not, many times since then. And it is great that she has become so well known thanks to the many movies and television mini-series on her books.

                                                          Little Women quilt

After I made Marian Cheever Newton Whiteside's 1952 Storybook pattern of Little Women I was inspired to try my own Storybook quilt. I chose Pride and Prejudice. I researched images for inspiration: art, fashion plates, dance instruction books, and 19th c book illustrations. I turned the images into line drawings to base my patterns on. 

Each block shows an important scene from the novel. The sisters Jane and Lizzie; Darcy telling Bingly that 'she's tolerable enough' as Lizzie overhears; Rev Collins brashly introducing himself to Darcy; Lizzie visiting Charlotte Collins; Darcy's cousin telling Lizzie how Darcy saved Bingly from an unhappy marriage; Darcy rushing off to intervene between Willoughby and Lydia; Darcy handing Lizzie his letter of explanation that reveals how Willoughby seduced his sister Gerogiana; Lizzie realizing she loved Darcy and would never see him again; a triumphant married Lydia returns home; Darcy's aunt confronting Lizzie about being engaged to Darcy; and Darcy proposing to Lizzie.

I was uncertain if I liked the pink background and blue border on this quilt. So I did another version, all in Redwork!

Here is Lydia with Willoughby and another soldier.

And here is Darcy flanked by Bingly and Bingly's sister.

Some day I hope to make another Storybook quilt. I have Pinocchio and two other Whiteside patterns. Or I may make my own favorite book again!

Update: Patterns for the Pride and Prejudice quilts are now available at my etsy store Rosemont Needle Arts found here.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Road Goes Ever On

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien was my husbands favorite book when I met him, and remains so to this day over 40 years later. I read it for him in our early marriage, but I found all the battles and male bonding rather dull. When I read War and Peace back then, I skipped all the war scenes, so you can see I was more into personal relationships than old-fashioned swashbuckling romance. When the movie series came out, I reread and saw all the movies with my husband and son... several times...

My favorite character is Sam, Frodo's stalwart friend who stays by his side and becomes the true hero. I love it when simple people like the Hobbits turn out to be the sort of heroes that are needed, not the military or political leaders! The impact of world wars on England is very evident in the series. The people of England were surely true heroes during those embattled days.

My husband's favorite poem from Tolkien is The Road Goes On and he asked me to make a quilt with it. I turned a Tolkien color painting into an embroidery pattern. The completed embroidery sat around for years because I did not know how to finish the quilt. Finally, I just did the simple thing and added a Jenny Beyer border print. I machine quilted the background following the horizontal lines in the fabric. So the quilt is finally finished!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentines Quilting!

This week I made another quilt based on a vintage greeting card design and embellished with hankys and buttons. I did something new with the binding: I used a wide lace! I really like how it turned out.

I scan the greeting card into my computer and use Adobe Photoshop to crop the image and turn it into black and white, turning up the contrast to get something close to line art. I size it to what I want and print. I then trace the image onto my fabric and embroider it. For this quilt, I added several border in 1930s reproduction prints. This is when I hand quilt. Then I used sheer handkerchief corners to embellish the borders, hand tacking them down. I bound the edges with the wide lace, the same way as traditional binding.