Hand-sewing with Rouenneries Deux
Twitter and Instagram have fitted in better with the bite-sized pieces of time that are currently on offer during the summer holidays, so I've shared several photos of sewing progress there, but I realised that I'd completely forgotten to mention this project here on my blog, which feels odd as it's the sole focus of all my sewing attention at the moment.
When I first saw French General's Rouenneries Deux range my love for it was almost instant and it caused me to make a rare impetuous purchase. I saw it late on one of the last few evenings before the schools broke up and early the next morning I persuaded my husband to skip work for a few hours and come on a jaunt through the countryside with me to my nearest stockist of the range. His presence, as well as being lovely, was essential as I have no sense of direction and consequently can only drive unaccompanied within a five mile radius of our house without ending up lost and weepy in a farmer's field. When we eventually buy a car with SatNav installed it will be a very liberating thing indeed (although I've heard that can mistakenly lead you into farmer's fields too).
In my head this fabric falls within the category of 'old lady' fabric, although recently my eighty-four year old grandmother said to me 'goodness, no, I don't like that skirt at all - it looks like something an old lady might wear', which would suggest that such a term can sometimes be used in a derogatory way, but that's not the way in which I view old ladyism. I think what I actually mean is that the fabric feels traditional* and sober in a way that I adore - it feels as though it has its roots in history and as though its loveliness is timeless. When I think of this old lady I imagine soft, rose-scented powdery cheeks which beg to be kissed; a hand-held looking glass and crystal perfume bottles with puff-spray atomisers laid out on a dresser;grey hair swept up in an elegant bun; and vintage dresses hanging from a picture rail. This is the fabric my archetypal old lady would be drawn to. I have only met her a couple of times in my life. Once at a wedding as an eighteen year old where she sparkled at my dinner table, outshining youth with her beauty, another time as a seven year old, when my sister and I warned her that there was a nest of bees on the grass verge that may sting her and her small dog and she invited us to visit her for tea after school. My sister and I sat in her front room drinking cordial from beautiful glasses, before my mother told us that evening that it wasn't safe to go and visit the homes of strangers.
My husband said that the fabric reminded him of the type of thing you might find on one of the beds at Knole. Lacking our own four poster bed this quilt is intended for the room seen above, where it will increase its redness. This strange corridor of a room in the middle of our house has no name and occasionally when trying to tell someone where they may locate their missing sock/book/marble I refer to it as The Red Room, which both me and my daughter have agreed never feels quite right as we both instantly think of Jane Eyre who was sent to The Red Room by the punitive Mrs Reed for imagined misdemeanours. You can see the fabrics laid out on the chair in the photo above - I love how well they blend in with the colours.
I later supplemented this initial purchase with some further cuts from Hulucrafts as some of the skinny quarters I'd bought didn't allow me to centre the flowers on the medallions that feature at the middle of this quilt.
Because this quilt is being made by hand, I haven't noticed spending any huge lengths of time working on this quilt. It's slowly come together during an hour at the park, a few minutes sat in the car waiting to go in to an appointment, whilst watching a film with my children or during an evening sat in the garden with my husband. I love that a quilt can just grow out of one's everyday life.
I have plans for two more English paper piecing projects: one for my daughter's birthday, the other to be hung in the dining room on the wall. I am finding this hand-sewn piecing oddly refreshing. I have never been able to sit still long enough to easily watch films, but the engagement of hand stitching has opened up a whole new world of relaxation and my husband has signed me up to Netflix where I can watch endless films (while he is out at his endless cycle of evening sporting commitments) instantly through our wireless connection for only a little over £5 a month. My current viewing choices have a distinctly low-brow feel to them and centre around romantic-comedies that leave me feeling dizzily happy! One can safely assume there is a healthy dollop of saccharine American love story sewn into this quilt, as well as the happy reality of my own summer.
* In fact the fabric is indeed traditional. French General's Rouenneries collections are based on red florals that were printed in Rouen in the 18th century.
Ps. The pattern I'm using for this quilt is another from Brigitte Giblin's book, Feathering the Nest.