I’ve been seeing jackets made from old quilts all over my fashion radar for the last year or so. (The NY Times even did a story about them in November, so you know it’s officially A Thing.) I have a queen size quilt I made 12-ish years ago sitting in the linen closet but there’s no way I would ever cut that apart, since it took so much work. I wasn’t about to cut up a vintage quilt for that same reason, so why not go to exactly the same amount of work and make a quilt coat from scratch?
I’ve been working on this since early December, when I pulled out scraps and looked at quilting block patterns and decided on half-square triangles with a black background as the least involved (ha! read on):
To get some scraps, I cut up a couple old makes that didn’t fit but I’d saved for the fabric (Toby and pink mousie helped).
Then I cut all the prints into 5 inch squares:
Then I sewed the print squares to solid black squares (bought pre-cut, thank god, although it felt a little weird to buy brand-new fabric that was already in pieces) and cut those up to get the half square triangles:
And then I had to press them all and square up all the edges and sew two squares together to get a half block, press gain, then join 2 half blocks into a full block.
Reader, making a quilt with small pieces takes FOREVER. Three months into this, I’m only now ready to machine quilt the jacket parts and then finally sew them all up. (Granted, I also made three big coat projects at the same time I had this going, but still. Making the actual fabric really adds a step.)
I’ve never truly pieced before–the two quilts I’ve made just used big pieces, not really blocks–and wow is it boring. I do enjoy seeing all the prints as I work but I don’t think I’ll be making anything like these anytime soon.
1. This was absolutely fascinating, via my friend: “The ancient fabric that no one knows how to make.” I knew “muslin” was in great demand in Europe from about 1800 on but I just assumed it was, like, fancy Liberty-style lawn or voile. No, it was Dhaka muslin, so fine you could pull yards and yards of it through the center of a ring, woven from one species of cotton that grew along the banks of the Meghna river in Bangladesh (then Bengal). Like most things in the countries they colonized, the British ruined it and both the cotton and the skilled labor pool were destroyed–but there’s an effort underway to re-create it. Like I said, just fascinating.
3. Very important info: How to track the big stuck boat
I hate that there are poems about mass murderers using guns (much like “violence against women,” the term “gun violence” takes the agency away and I’m not using it). I hate that my nephew is going to have active shooter drills in school. I hate that we refuse to fix this as a country. I am telling my senators all of this; you can too.
Do it for “everyone on campus and at the mall, and all the people/ waiting at the hospital.”
The Opposites Game
for Patricia Maisch
This day my students and I play the Opposites Game
with a line from Emily Dickinson. My life had stood
a loaded gun, it goes and I write it on the board,
pausing so they can call out the antonyms –
Had stood ? Will sit
For a moment, very much like the one between
lightning and it’s sound, the children just stare at me,
and then it comes, a flurry, a hail storm of answers –
Flower, says one. No, Book, says another. That’s stupid,
cries a third, the opposite of a gun is a pillow. Or maybe
a hug, but not a book, no way is it a book. With this,
the others gather their thoughts
and suddenly it’s a shouting match. No one can agree,
for every student there’s a final answer. It’s a song,
a prayer, I mean a promise, like a wedding ring, and
later a baby. Or what’s that person who delivers babies?
A midwife? Yes, a midwife. No, that’s wrong. You’re so
wrong you’ll never be right again. It’s a whisper, a star,
it’s saying I love you into your hand and then touching
someone’s ear. Are you crazy? Are you the president
of Stupid-land? You should be, When’s the election?
It’s a teddy bear, a sword, a perfect, perfect peach.
Go back to the first one, it’s a flower, a white rose.
When the bell rings, I reach for an eraser but a girl
snatches it from my hand. Nothing’s decided, she says,
We’re not done here. I leave all the answers
on the board. The next day some of them have
stopped talking to each other, they’ve taken sides.
There’s a Flower club. And a Kitten club. And two boys
calling themselves The Snowballs. The rest have stuck
with the original game, which was to try to write
something like poetry.
It’s a diamond, it’s a dance,
the opposite of a gun is a museum in France.
It’s the moon, it’s a mirror,
it’s the sound of a bell and the hearer.
The arguing starts again, more shouting, and finally
a new club. For the first time I dare to push them.
Maybe all of you are right, I say.
Well, maybe. Maybe it’s everything we said. Maybe it’s
everything we didn’t say. It’s words and the spaces for words.
They’re looking at each other now. It’s everything in this room
and outside this room and down the street and in the sky.
It’s everyone on campus and at the mall, and all the people
waiting at the hospital. And at the post office. And, yeah,
it’s a flower, too. All the flowers. The whole garden.
The opposite of a gun is wherever you point it.
Don’t write that on the board, they say. Just say poem.
Your death will sit through many empty poems.
I finally got some pictures of my parka! Please enjoy Doc’s photography skills in a fresh mountain snow and then buckle up for an essay about making it:
This was a project that would have been simple but was really complicated by my fabric choice. I wanted an insulated jacket that was breathable but also warm and water repellent; this Polartec Stretch Wind Pro Hardface seemed ideal….but I somehow ignored the “stretch” part of the name. Which means I had a thick, spongy outer layer with maybe 40-50% stretch getting layered over non-stretch Thinsulate and nylon taffeta. Thick wool coating layers were nothing compared with trying to get that combo under my machine, but she did it. I used the cover stitch machine to topsticth all the outer shell seams and she also did great.
I had originally picked a vintage pattern for this and ordered fancy brass zippers for it from Zipper and Thread. Then I realized I didn’t want a metal zipper right up against my chin in the cold. I went looking for a pattern with a zipper guard and found the Jalie “Maxime Three-Season Jacket.” I had to lengthen it about 4 inches to accommodate the length of zipper I ordered for the other pattern (I wasn’t up to trying to shorten a metal zipper). I also left out the elastic at the bottom hem and didn’t even attempt the patch pockets in a stretch fabric; I did inset zipper pockets instead.
The pattern was drafted with a lining but no insulation, so I just basted the Thinsulate to my taffeta layer and treated it like an underlining:
Despite the challenges, this turned out looking pretty fancy–more fashion than technical. I love the color and the high collar and the pattern itself had some really professional construction techniques (bagging the lining through the sleeve, basting the collar seam allowances together before you turn the lining [genius], using the elastic casing of the sleeve as a facing).
The zipper guard is a really nice detail, even if my collar topstitching isn’t all that precise (I was really ready to be done by that step, if you couldn’t tell).
Is it my absolute best work? No. Is it fancy and orange yet also functional? Yes! Is it warm and does it seem breathable? I think so! (I forgot our traction chains and pack so I still haven’t actually hiked in it but the temp control from car to outside seemed really good?) And I was able to get all the materials with a gift card to The Rain Shed from my brother and sister-in-law.
Sunday was the seventh anniversary of meeting Doc at a taco restaurant and having him make a joke about the special…and reader, I FORGOT about it. He, of course, had a box of candy and a Joann gift card waiting for me, and I had nothing. I am a worm. A lucky worm.
I think it’s healthy to realize that just one person can’t be someone’s everything, but he’s as much as one person can possibly be: an extremely handsome man who wears clothes so well, the wittiest guy who can break out an Airplane quote at the perfect moment, a friend who wants to know all about my day, and a rock that I’ve learned it’s OK to need,
Everything I’ve learned about healthy relationships, fairness, and openness I’ve learned from him, and I feel like the luckiest of worms that I get to spend my days with him. I’ll take you out for our eighth, honey. I love you.
1. From vocabulary Twitter:
FRONDESCENCE is the gentle unfurling or unfolding of leaves and buds, or the time of year when this takes place. pic.twitter.com/l7HtMv2ql8
— Haggard Hawks 🦅 (@HaggardHawks) March 17, 2021
2. This is more like Friday Instagram, but pls enjoy things from the mental health ‘gram:
3. And the meme ‘gram:
4. And the social-change art ‘gram:
On the heels of a man murdering 8 people–6 of them Asian American women–to eliminate his “temptation” for a “sexual addiction,” can we stop and read this?
There’s more to the Atlanta shooting than misogyny–there’s racism, the fetishization of Asian women, a growing wave of hate crimes, but I just need to say: Women are not the problem. Asian Americans are not the problem. The problem is white male domestic terrorists, and I hope we can treat this guy as such.