Monday, March 31, 2014

The Last Swallows Of Summer

It looks as though it has been a while since the last communique from Shoestring Cottage – missing in action, there has been a lot going on.  Of course another wonderful art deco weekend in Napier has come and gone, though we were sadly down in numbers this year with some old chums not able to attend.  This time I paid a visit to the wonderful Rose from Decadia Vintage, whose tender ministrations to my coiffure and maquillage left me feeling truly deco and pampered, darlings.  Her skill with hot sticks has to be seen to be believed!  And she can put on your makeup so that it lasts the whole evening instead for half an hour or so before melting off leaving you looking as if it had never been applied, a very useful skill to possess in the scorching hot weather we had this year.  One wonderful (if slightly odd) thing I acquired at Napier that same weekend was a strawberry blonde marcelle waved wig, which came from Charlston Chic, Lee-Anne Freeman’s wonderful shop located under The Masonic Hotel.  It did feel very strange, having gone through all the angst and torture of letting my hair grow out and go a rather dreary grey shade, to be donning my pre-styled coiffure but what an amazing response it got!  Here you can see it peeping out demurely from under a hat, along with the cunning silk collar made from Madame La Poste's kind gift of cream silk - which made an old brown silk dress look 100% deco and received many admiring comments. 

Upon being stopped in the street several times by people asking if I slept in my hairpins to achieve such a successful wave I was gratified that they couldn’t tell it was a wig, but I wasn’t complaining, oh no siree!  Now the wig has been packed up until winter deco and it will be a lot more comfortable to wear in winter time; I have to admit summer in February is a trifle warm for wigs but we must suffer for the sake of our art as The Dancing Queen will willingly attest.  It does look forlorn, wrapped up in its hairnet in the hatbox.  

These fabulous shoes would never look forlorn though, they were another purchase from Charlston Chic and it is hard to resist the urge to wear them for every day wear and forget that art deco weekend doesn't go on all year round.  

This weekend there was in the air at Shoestring Cottage that slightly melancholy feeling that summer had to be finally coming to an end.  Despite the fact that it was very warm and sunny the mornings are cooler and the autumn seasonal changes are starting to be noticeable.  Sitting in the sunshine at The Peaceable Kingdom feasting upon freshly caught fish and scallops though, we were in no hurry to meet the autumn and the delicious cake for pudding topped it all off nicely. 

I think I must have posted a photo of the black/floral tumbling blocks quilt I recently finished and boasted that it was going to be the start of something big, and that all my half completed projects were out of the attic and ready to be finished.  Well, this one nearly did my head in.  Its original reason for being was that I wanted to use up favourite scraps from dresses I made for one of our daughters 20-odd years ago.  In the centre of most of the hexies is a little scrap from this fabric, and around the edges are fussy cut fabrics to “frame” the hexie.  

But what was I thinking when I decided to put miniscule triangles and diamonds in between each block to set them off nicely and prevent them from all merging together?  It was a labour of love and as time went by I made more and more ridiculous errors which meant that every weekend I would vow that this would be the weekend it was finally ready for quilting – only to discover that no such thing was about to happen and that it would need another week of furious stitching to get to that stage.  The whole floor and my current prize possession, the reupholstered sofa, became covered with pieces of cotton, bits of removed template paper and cold cups of tea and instead of this more comfortable scene 

we ended up with this - it looked as though a hurricane had uplifted all the papers, left over hexagons and scruffy old pieces of thread and thrown them all around the room.  

Madame La Poste wisely counseled me that if I really wanted to get it over and done with I should just be satisfied with a smaller sized quilt, but oh no, I was determined to make it big enough to cover the queen sized bed in the gypsy room.  It got to the stage where I would down tools from time to time and go and visit the tumbling blocks one just to reassure myself that completion was a possibility, if only I kept on and didn’t lose heart.  

This was particularly hard on the weekend when I sewed an entire row of blocks on upside down.  But here we are at last, all ready to make the quilt “sandwich” and begin quilting in time for the cooler weather.  I am going to copy Madame La Poste here and try using a variegated crochet cotton and make larger quilting stitches in order to save time (ha, a likely story but it is always good to have a plan) and get the task over with more speedily. When it was finally all put together I had to audition it on the bed to see what the final effect was likely to be.  Sadly, I think I may prefer the floral tumbling blocks but when the quilting is done maybe things will be better.  

I was about to vow and declare never to take up a needle in the quest of quilting again and remembered all the times men have said to me over the years, "So let me get this straight.  You get pieces of material and then you cut them up into tiny bits and sew them all together again, is that right?  What for?" Fortunately I remembered my most recent purchase from the flea market, this golden toned marquetry picture which cost me all of $3 and which I couldn't forego no matter how often I walked away. Surely this would be the "boy" version of patchwork?  Somebody (and I would bet it was a boy or a man and not a girl or a woman) got all their different pieces of wood and chopped them up into minute pieces and then put them back together to make a picture - is that any more sensible than patchwork quilts?  I think not!