Spending a snowy day sewing tweed and denim projects

Posted Nov. 08, 2010, at 4:14 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 12:54 p.m.

The weather on Sunday, Oct. 31 was sullen. The sky looked like the fur of a scruffy gray cat. Then it snowed — though not for long. I seized the day, set up my sewing machine and got busy stitching for the first time in several weeks.

I had two projects in progress to work on — the Harris tweed jacket and the denim quilt.

The jacket has been in the making for more than a month. It is cut from gorgeous tweed fabric made using wool from the Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. The cloth was a gift from a friend who was downsizing her stash. It has subtle flecks of color — sage, red, a hint of blue, perhaps a touch of pale gold — on an almost black ground. The fabric came with a Harris tweed label I will sew into the jacket when it is finished. The cloth also was stamped in white with the Harris tweed orb logo, inspiring such awe in me that it took weeks to decide on a pattern and months before I dared take the scissors to the fabric.

My jacket needed handwork, such as hemming the bottom edges of the lining. I got that part done, but it still needs buttonholes, buttons and the sleeves hemmed.

The jacket is finished enough to fit nicely on my dress form. Each time I look at it, I knit my brows in a quandary. What buttons will look best on the jacket — silver metal, horn, black glass or covered? I keep hoping the answer will come to me in a dream, but so far it hasn’t. I figure I’m going to have to break down and go to a store to see what’s available since I already have sifted through all the buttons in my considerable stash, to no avail. The problem is that when I find a button I like I don’t have the required number. Oh yes, I toyed with the idea of using six different buttons, but that seemed a bit too playful when I considered the elegance of the tweed.

Sometimes I stare at the jacket and wonder what will look nice with it — the sage green silk scarf, a gold pullover, the sparkly pin with red glass stones?

Not that I need an answer. Part of the fun of fashioning the jacket is thinking about how it all will fit together in some unexpected and thoroughly delightful way.

That afternoon, after the snow had melted, the sky still as gray as a bad mood, I reached for the denim quilt. It has been in progress for months, so long that I was sick of looking at it. But after I sewed on the edge binding, it got interesting again.

The germination of the denim quilt began at least two years ago when I bought several yards of fabric already machine-pieced in small rectangles of denim in three shades of blue — dark, medium and light. What really sold me on the fabric was that some of the rectangles were decorated with gold spangles and sprinkles of green, red and gold glass beads. I had no idea what I’d ever use it for, though I had a vague thought that in might make interesting tote bags. But every time I thought about cutting the fabric, I couldn’t do it. It needed to remain “whole cloth.” It wasn’t until I was hoeing out and found a stash of leftover pieces from previous denim projects that it dawned on me that I could put it all together in a small quilt. The old denim pieces were in dark, medium and light hues that complemented the bead-embellished piece. I cut small rectangles and sewed them into strips to make enough “sashing” to border the perimeter of the beaded denim several times.

I shopped for backing fabric and found what I wanted easily enough, except that its mottled shade of blue was too intense. Then I discovered that if I flipped the backing fabric and used the wrong side, it was the perfect color to set off the quilt top.

I spent quite a few nights doing simple hand quilting in some of the rectangles.

All I have left to do on the denim quilt is to hand-stitch the binding in place.

That may have to wait for another snowy day.

Snippets

The Gifted Hand: Fine Art, Craft and Gift Show will be held 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 12, and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 13, at the Ramada Inn, 215 High St. in Ellsworth. The show will feature work by 60 artisans. A silent auction held in conjunction with the show will benefit Schoodic Arts for All. Admission to the show is $2, a portion of which will be donated to Schoodic Arts for All. Children under 12 will be admitted free of charge.

In addition, the Gifted Hand Holiday Shop featuring 20 artisans will be open seven days a week, Nov. 22-Dec. 30 at Gallery Grand, 169 Main St. in Ellsworth. An Arts in the Afternoon event is planned for 1-4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4.

Coastal Quilters and Georges Valley, two chapters of Pine Tree Quilters Guild, will hold an annual Quilter’s Auction and Sale, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 13, at the Camden Lions Club, Lion’s Lane in Camden. Live and silent auction tables and sales tables will be laden with a wide variety of items. Refreshments will be available. The event is free and open to all. For information, call Karen Martin, 236-8038 or Sarah Smith, 236-6003.

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