Monday, 24 October 2016

19th Century compared to 21 Century Traditional English Hexagon Patchwork.

19th Century compared to 21st Century Traditional English Hexagon Patchwork. 

 In this fast world of technology and advancement I think it is rather special the basic tools used to create traditional hexagon patchwork in the 19th century are still the same the 21st century.   Fabric, scissors, thread and paper templates were tools used then, just as they are now.   

Thoughts reflect to the scarcity of paper, the precious commodity of fabric and the availability of thread.  Another essential requirement for the sewers of the 19 century was light and eyesight. Electricity was not used until the late 1880's.  I guess to create beautiful stitches sunlight would have been the only option.   It is easy in this age to take for granted night time rooms filled with false light supplied by electricity and to purchase spectacles as eyesight changes as we get older.

The image above on the left shows a sample piece of hexagon patchwork sample dated 1857.

Fast forward to 2016, the tools and method are still exactly the same. Using modern gadgets like rotary cutters, seam rippers, freezer paper and technology to aid accuracy of preparing paper templates.

Back in the 1970's I used isometric paper to accurate create hexagon paper templates and is still my preferred choice. In the 19th century hexagons and other master shapes were made of wood or metal to draw around.  It was a family occupation, often the men taking care of the design process as the women sewed.

The choice of extensive fabric only a click away.  For me there cannot be a finer pleasure than sifting through my fabric stash to find the exact remnant for a chosen project as can be seen in the images below.  Vintage on left and Victorian on right.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Anonymous Chintz Patchwork Waistcoat by Jackie Wills

Anonymous Patchwork Waistcoat 

Last Saturday the postman delivered a large padded jiffy bag parcel with my name written in large felt pen, clearly not an online purchase!   I struggled to prise open the staples and peeped in side.  I could see a patchwork of strong chintz colours and embroidered thread, baffling but also a tad familiar.

The garment slipped onto the polished walnut table as I stared in silence and disbelief.   Yes, it was definitely a waistcoat  I created more than 20 years ago, inspired by the windows at Buckfast Abbey.

A beautifully typed letter slipped from  the garments folds.  Some of the words are reproduced below:

"Dear Miss Wills

We brought this waistcoat from you at an Exeter Cathedral Summer Fayre many years ago.  We couldn't bear to just give this to a charity shop.  It's a beautiful into which you clearly put a huge amount of time, effort, skill and devotion.  It's still in excellent condition so we are sending it back to where it will be still loved and appreciated.

With sincere thanks for this waistcoat and for the time it belonged to us.

Very best wishes


Anon, if you read this I am sincerely touched and hugely overwhelmed by your gesture,  I will keep it and wear it myself as it fits a treat!  A happy reminder of past stitches, time and creativity.

Thank you.