Art Quilt “Beyond The Veil”

“Beyond The Veil”

In loving memory of

Walter Edward Bryant

2/2/1930 – 8/13/2015

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By

Lynn Vera Bryant

12/15/2015

Today I Bought Roses

 

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I have been reminiscing today, going back over old papers and endless writings.  So while this is not quilting art it is writing, which is part of my creative spirit.

This piece is titled “Today I Bought Roses” and I wrote it many years ago.  I hope that it will give you pause and a thought for the day.

 

                                                “Today I Bought Roses”

                                                                by

                                                     Lynn Bryant

 

 

I feel as if I have been ill a very long time so long, in fact, that it was thought I would surely die.  Maybe I did for, my limbs are so heavy I can barely lift them and the house is deadly quiet. Yet here I still remain, curled up in my overstuffed chair in my bedroom.

 

How did I get here?   I intake a deep shuddering breath and the pain cuts swiftly and deep reminding me with crystal clarity that I am indeed among the living.  I squeeze my eyes tightly shut and wrap my arms around my knees.

 

Then through the haze, my ears hear the sounds of life outside my window.  “Who opened those”, I wonder? Not realizing I speak aloud I am shocked at how vulnerable and broken my voice is.  I try to focus on the very normal sounds of a January day in Texas.  The chimes sing to me softly as the breeze rushes past them to some unknown destination.  The birds call to me down the chimney, seemingly unaware of how very loud they can be in their exuberance, and I actually smile.  It feels funny on my face, but good.

 

I get up and take a shower, standing there letting the water rush over and down my curves like a lover’s caress. A soft moan escapes my lips as I wonder how long has it been sense I felt anything, really felt anything other than this mind-altering numbness?

When was the last time someone put his hand to my cheek in adoration, whispering “Hello Gorgeous” as he swept back a rebellious lock of my auburn hair with his other hand?

 

When was the last time someone beckoned me back to bed instead of out it?

 

When was the last time someone promised to always love me and then did it unconditionally and without reservation?

 

As my anguished tears mix with the warm water my mind answers. Never. My breath stops as a deep soul gripping sob racks through my body.  Never.

 

When my body is purged, I dry off with a soft towel and dress, trying to ignore the fact that half of the closet is now empty with but a few bare hangers and a sock missing its mate.  I smile sadly, pushing down what is trying to come up in my throat. Instead, I calculate how many boxes I need to make this my space my room, with no emptiness.

 

I grab the keys and my purse and step out into the bright light of day.  How it is the world looks different today?  Colors, sounds, people, smells, why do I feel in this moment of clarity as if right now is when I am awakening to the world I have shut out for years?

 

I enter the local store and my eye is caught by the simple beauty of fresh cut roses and I pause.  A warmth blows inside my heart. I feel it and gasp as streams of glowing energy flow in tiny glittering particles inside me.   It’s as if I had been holding my breath and, at the moment my nose pressed down into the bouquet air once again filled my lungs.  Like I had been trapped underwater and finally emerged from the watery depths my head and body arching back, air rushing in, and every cell screaming in ecstasy at the reunion.

 

My breath quickens and a true smile crosses my face as I place the roses in my cart.  “So self-indulgent,” I whisper to myself and yet without hesitation I take them home and place them lovingly in a vase in my bedroom.  As I begin to walk out I glance back over my shoulder and say to myself, “Today I bought roses.”

 

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The Oracles of Time new quilt series #1 Hourglass

“The Oracles of Time”

This is #1 in The Oracle of Time series of art quilts.

This will be an ongoing series until it has reached a creative end.

This art quilt titled “Hourglass”  measures approximately 16” x 18”.   It is made with top grade quilting fabric and batting.  Three crystals lay in the sand of the hourglass where the woman kneels, two are teardrops and one is a heart.  It is available in my Etsy craft shop HERE along with all current available items.

 

“Women hold within themselves the historical footprints of all time and dance to the rhythm of the future only they can see.  We are the Oracles of the Universe.”

*Lynn Bryant

 

 

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Quilt Series: “The Art of Femininity”

This is a series of art quilts that I am calling The “Art” of Femininity.  All are available to purchase here in my Etsy Craft shop.

The “Art” of Femininity quilt series takes women in classic art and transforms them into quilts.  This will be an ongoing series, until I get a sense of completion about it.  All of these quilts have special added embellishments.

When a woman embodies her feminine essence, her whole life is transformed.  She becomes attractive, grounded, and sensual.  When she walks into a room, everyone appreciates the glow of her feminine radiance.

She does not need to project a powerful persona to attract the respect she wants.  A forced sense of masculine power is nothing compared to the ecstasy, empowerment, and effortless magnetism that are released when a woman activates her feminine essence.

Tiffany Brooks:

“The meaning of being a woman is not confined to the one who is opposite to males genetically. It is much more than that. A woman is a moving form of feminine energy. Although, energy has many types but one form is really crucial to understand. It is the feminine energy which is by nature soft, serene and seductive – and entirely different from the masculine energy.”

 

Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee a Sufi teacher:

“The feminine can give us an understanding of how all the diverse parts of life relate together, their patterns of relationship, the interconnections that nourish life.  She can help us to see consciously what she knows instinctively, that all is part of a living, organic whole, in which all the parts of creation communicate together, and how each cell of creation expresses the whole in a unique way.  An understanding of the organic wholeness of life belongs to the instinctual knowing of the feminine, but combined with masculine consciousness this can be communicated in words, not just feelings.  We can combine the science of the mind and the senses with inner knowing.  We can be given a blueprint of the planet that will enable us to live in creative harmony with all of life.”

The Art of Femininity #1

The Art of Femininity 1

 

 

The Art of Femininity #2

The Art of Feminity 2

 

 

The Art of Femininity #3

The Art of Feminity 3

 

The Art of Femininity #4

The Art of Feminity 4

 

 

The Art of Femininity #5

The Art of Feminity 5

 

The Art of Femininity #6

The Art of Feminity 6

 

The Art of Femininity #7

The Art of Feminity 7

 

The Art of Femininity #8

The Art of Feminity 8

 

The Art of Femininity #9

The Art of Femininity 9

 

 

The Art of Femininity #10

The Art of Femininity 10

 

Part 1 of choosing a sewing pattern and reading and understanding a pattern

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In the next few blog posts I am going to break down buying a pattern, choosing fabric and understanding your pattern. There are so many options now for choosing a pattern and buying fabric it can be so exciting and a bit overwhelming. I will be giving examples of places I purchase patterns and fabric. Locally and online.

Commercial patterns are, in most areas, readily available in retail stores that sell fabric for clothing and crafts an example being Joann’s Fabric & Craft stores. On many days Joann’s sells their patterns for 50% off the regular price.

Another option is downloading from a pattern maker online. The difference is you must print out everything yourself. This involves printing your pattern out on 8½” x 11” paper and then taping the sections together. I know many people shy away from doing this but it really is a viable option and you don’t have to drive anywhere and hope they have the pattern! You can download it instantly after purchase. We will go through that process in a later blog post, today it’s about buying patterns from retail brick and mortar stores.

These stores have huge catalogs of patterns from companies such as McCall’s, Simplicity, New Look, Burda, Vogue, Butterick. That is not even almost a complete list and they are from beginner sewing level to advanced. Also, patterns rotate in and out with the seasons and sell out and change frequently. Browse through the catalogs and find something you like that is in your size. Patterns are printed in sizes so if you are unfamiliar with grading (altering to fit) then make sure you are getting the correct size for you. When you have chosen one, write down the pattern number. For example I have a McCall’s dress pattern M6696. Use this number to find your pattern in the cabinets filled with patterns. It’s by manufacturer (in my case McCall’s) and then by sequential number.

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Pattern-Drawers

When you pull out the pattern envelope from the file drawer, on the front will be the different options for the garment (sleeves, no sleeves, straps etc.) On the flap will be specific measurements for each size the pattern comes in. Recheck yourself to make sure you have the right size. Just under the flap my McCall’s pattern has a description of what each “view” entails. Example: my pattern says there is a collar, collar band, self-lined yoke back, close fitting bodice, pleated skirt, and side pockets. Reading this area will give you an idea of the complexity of the garment and whether or not you have the skills required to complete it.

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Measurements

Back of Pattern Envelope

On the back of the envelope is where you find all the information you will need in regards to materials to complete the garment. First choose the “view” you will be sewing (sleeves, no sleeves, straps etc.) In this pattern I am going to sew view B. Now I look under sizes and find view B. Notice the area that says 45”*** and another option 60”*** this is the width of the fabric in inches (in the U.S.) on the bolt (Fabric is cut to order off the bolt and the amount you need to purchase will differ with each width.)

The stars following the width measurement are in regards to the nap of the fabric. When fabric has nap this means it has a texture you can feel, and with that texture there is a direction. An example is velvet. If you have felt velvet before you know brushing it with your hand in one direction is smooth and brushing it up is rough and bumpy. Kind of like petting a cat! Fabric with nap requires more fabric to complete the garment because you must match the direction of the nap. Nap not only feels different in each direction, light also hits it different.

Meaning of stars:
*With Nap
**Without Nap
***With or without Nap

Then look across the column to find the yardage needed for the size. Below the size area is a section that will give you suggestions of fabric type in relation to pattern/ garment. The next section down has a list of “notions” or items needed to complete the project (buttons, lace, elastic etc.)

Look at a bolt of fabric, this can be 1 yard to 100 yards of fabric. On the end of the bolt (cardboard roll or flat piece depending on where you are) is a lot of information to guide you in purchasing fabric. (If you will be prewashing add ¼ to ½ yard to the amount of fabric you are purchasing to make up for any shrinkage. Trust me on this one. I have spent more than once searching all over for more fabric when I did not get enough the first time. Fabric too has seasons and styles that drift in and out almost like the wind blows.

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Well, now you have your pattern, fabric, notions what’s the next step? First off, if this is a piece of clothing you are sewing I suggest prewashing the fabric unless its meant to be drycleaned. Wash it in the same way you will after the garment is completed and wash it by itself and throw in a “Color Catcher” sheet (or similar laundry product). That way if there are any colors that are not completely set in the fabric it will just adhere to this laundry sheet.

Next blog post we will pull out what is inside the pattern envelope.

Please always feel free to ask me any questions that you may have regarding my blog posts.

A Brief History of Cotton

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Robe à la française, France, block-printed cotton, c. 1770. Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

Next in our history series is cotton. The history of cotton is the history of trade and industry with a lot of politics and economics thrown in. Now the most prevalent fabric in the world, it’s humble beginnings trace back to nearly 4000 BCE in India. Cotton fabrics were traded throughout the Mediterranean in ancient times and all over Europe in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. At one point in time, the economy of the American South was fueled by “King Cotton”. Today, cottons come in all shapes and sizes from underwear to evening gowns and everything in between.

Types of Cotton

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Cotton was first domesticated from wild plants in India around 4000 B.C.E. and around the same time in Mexico. The cotton plant is a shrub that prefers tropical and sub-tropical climates. The spinning fibers come from the boll or seed pods that are surrounded by fluffy fibers. The bolls are picked and the seeds extracted to leave the usable fibers. Until the invention of the cotton gin in the later 1700s, all cotton processing was done by hand.

There are many species of cotton grown throughout the Americas, Africa, Asia, and even Australia. Today, China is the leader in cotton production, though most of it is used domestically within China. The United States leads the world in cotton exports. Other leading cotton producing countries include Uzbekistan, India, Turkey, Pakistan, and Brazil.

There are over 50 species of cotton but the species that are grown for production break down into 2 main types – old world cotton of Indian, Pakistan, and Asia and new world cotton of the Americas. The United States mainly grows varieties of Upland cotton, which accounts for 95% of the cotton market. Old world cotton is 5% of the global cotton market. Traditionally, cotton came in many colors from tans and browns to blues, greens, and pinks. Now white is the only color that is mass produced for commercial use and it is strictly controlled so that it is not contaminated by colored cottons.

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Like wool, cotton is graded on staple length and fiber diameter. The longer the staple length and the smaller the fiber diameter, the stronger and softer the fabrics will be. Egyptian cotton and Pima cotton are two varieties of Upland cotton that are known for the staple length and softness. Egyptian cotton is often used in fine bedding and Pima cotton is popular for t-shirts.

Another label, “mercerized cotton” means thread that has been treated with an acid bath after it has been spun to singe off the stray fuzz and random ends. This makes a strong, smooth, thread and less likely to create lint, snag while sewing, and resistant to shrinkage.

History of the Cotton Trade

India had at least a thousand years of cotton textile production before Alexander the Great invaded in 327. As a result, Greek merchants started trading cotton with India. The Romans followed afterwards along with Arab traders by the 1st century CE. Cotton was favored in the Arab world as it made it easier to comply with Islamic sumptuary laws. Being an easily adaptable fabric for many types of climates, the Islamic world transformed cotton from a luxury fabric into an every day one. For example, some of the earliest forms of true knitting are cotton socks from Egypt with stranded blue and white patterns.

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The Italians started their own cotton industry from trade with Arab countries in the early Medieval ages. Centers of cotton growing, spinning, and weaving sprang up especially in the North from 1000-1300 CE. The Italians combined the warps of other materials such as wool and flax to create a wide variety of fabrics. Most notable of these was fustian, a blend of linen warp and cotton weft. This created a sturdy, versatile cloth that was extremely affordable. Cotton production spread throughout Europe from 1300 onwards. Italy had competition as new centers of cotton production were started in other countries, the German fustian industry proving to be especially tough competition.

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Samples of fustian from 1771, Metropolitan Museum of Art

In 1615, the British East India company was established and started importing printed fabrics into Britain. Cotton competed with the British wool industry so a ban was put on wearing printed calicoes until the later 1700s. Meanwhile. other nations started their own trade companies with India including the French East India company and the Dutch East India company. Cheap printed cottons imported from India were soon on the market in Europe. Ironically, these are what the commoners in Persia and Turkey were wearing at the time. These printed fabrics were very popular to the Europeans, being far more colorful and colorfast than anything produced domestically.

Soon printed cottons, known as chintz, of all levels of quality were on the market in Europe by the late 1600s. They were ecstatically embraced by all levels of society. The most expensive patterns were made from a complex multi-step resist dye process and hand-painting, which created elaborate floral designs.

These were made into fashionable dressing gowns for men and day dresses for women. More modest prints were printed with roller blocks that created a simple, repeating pattern.

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Bed Cover (Palampore), early 18th century, Metropolitan Museum of ArtThere was a race to create the same types of printed fabrics in Europe as were imported from India

Into the 1700s, Europeans looked for ways to duplicate the vivid printed cottons from India. India, in turn, churned out more elaborate, hand-painted and resist dyed cottons. Britain gave in on its ban on printed calicoes in 1774 and started its own industry, churning out cheap, printed cottons that were suitable for infants and the poor. The wealthiest in Europe continued to wear imported prints from India. By the 1790s, Britain was boasting cotton fabrics that were as fine as any imported from India.

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Salesman sample book from 1784

Cotton in America

Cotton came to the Southern colonies in the mid-1700s. Ideal conditions in the South along with an ample supply of slave labor saw the American cotton industry grow between 1750 and 1790. In 1789, British Engineer Samuel Slater came to the newly formed United States, having memorized the designs of the highly guarded English textile mills. He began work in Massachusetts to create the first water-powered textile mill in the United States.

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An early cotton gin

It wasn’t until the invention of the cotton gin by Ely Whitney in 1793 that made it into a truly profitable crop. The cotton gin allowed one man to process 1000 pounds of cotton for market instead of 5 or 6 pounds by hand. The combination of Slater’s textile mills and Whitney’s cotton gin, jump-started America’s textile industry. By the 1860s, America was producing 2/3rd of the world’s supply of cotton.

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Appliqued Quilt, Made by Mary Malvina Cook Taft, Mid Atlantic, New York, ca. 1835-40

During the American Civil War, the Confederate states, made up of all the cotton producing slave states, bet that the economic power of “King Cotton” would convince Britain to join their cause and ruin the New England textile industry. This ultimately backfired on them as Britain had already stockpiled cotton and all the blockade did was increase the value of their stockpile. Furthermore, Union troops eventually marched into Southern states and sent the supply of cotton to the textile mills in the North. King Cotton was a failure.

The South would further be plagued by the boll weevil, a pest from Mexico that devastated cotton crops starting in the late 1890s. This crashed the already damaged Southern economy even further by effectively eliminating their one cash crop. The boll weevil would eventually turn out to be a blessing in disguise as farmers were forced to turn to other crops such as peanuts to avoid the weevil. This revitalized Southern farms and saved the Southern economy. In 1917, Coffee County, AL produced more peanuts than anywhere else in the United States. As a tribute to the lessons learned and a testimony to man’s ability to adapt and adjust in the face of adversity, the residents of Coffee County erected a monument to the boll weevil in the county seat of Enterprise to remind everyone of the lessons of the boll weevil. It is the only monument ever created to honor a pest.

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Boll Weevil Monument, Enterprise, AL
The 20th Century and the Cotton Industry

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Gandhi spinning cotton

In 1920, Gandhi realized that cotton was essential to India’s independence. He led the khadi movement and encouraged Indians to boycott British cottons and use homemade goods, or khadi. WWII created a demand for khadi. Afterwards, India was able to mechanize its cotton industry create large-scale production again. Industry moved to Asia after WWII as well. British textile manufacturing couldn’t keep up with cheaper labor outside the country and many of its textile mills closed. The same happened in the US and around Europe as well. US Cotton production did recover after 1950 and the US started to dominate the world market again on production of raw cotton.

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Women’s American Cotton Fashion Samples, early 1900s

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Cotton Print Designs by Rockwell Kent, Manufacturer Bloomcraft Inc, New York, USA, 1950

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Seersucker suit

Today, cotton is an international industry worth over $425 billion dollars. Cotton fabrics are used in everything from underwear to evening gowns to surgical dressings. There is also a thriving market for organic cotton grown without pesticides and processed in an environmentally friendly manner. Men’s seersucker suits are even regaining popularity. Whatever you style, you can find it in cotton.

Sewing for “Under a Blood Red Sky” a U2 Tribute Band

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Billy Bono of the Denver U2 Tribute Band “Under a Blood Red Sky” contacted me to do a jacket for him that would resemble an original jacket of the band U2. He sent me many pictures of a couple of the originals worn by Bono of U2, to go by as I created one similar for him.
The website for the band is here.

Billy of “Under a Blood Red Sky” reminds me of the old Rock & Rollers of the 60’s & 70’s. Laid back and sweetly boyish while charismatically oozing the old time rocker. He speaks of growing up loving the band U2 here

He was fantastic to work with and made me reminisce of the early days of rock and roll. I am an introvert so attending concerts has never been my thing. Way too many people and too much noise, however I was and will continue to be fascinated and enamored by music of all types. It’s an art and a lifestyle that is thrilling to watch and more thrilling to just close my eyes and allow the musical notes to reverberate through me. Music speaks even when there are no lyrics and Billy Bono of “Under a Blood Red Sky” makes it impossible to resist getting up to sing and dance and forget everything but the moment.

The experience has definitely been something I will always remember. Life certainly does work in mysterious ways. I hope there are many more opportunities to work with him and the band.

Included here are also some pictures of Billy “Bono” in concert Jacket on Saturday April 11, 2015 with the jacket I made for him.

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A Brief History of Linen

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It will come as no surprise that I have a fascination with textiles, fabrics, fibers and the history of them. This will be the first in a series of blog posts where I will take a closer look at natural fabrics such as linen, cotton, and wool, and their journey through the ages. Today, natural fabrics can be found in all shapes, styles, and forms from basic undergarments to high end fashion. In decades past, fabrics were valuable commodities due to the time it took to process the raw materials and weave cloth. People were limited by what fabrics could be sourced locally unless they were very wealthy. For example, today, cotton is considered an “everyday” fabric ranging from cheap t-shirts to designer jeans. Centuries ago, it was a prized import fabric from places like India and China and made into fancy day dresses and house robes for wealthy men and women. Exploring the history of fabrics gives us a glimpse into the daily lives of people in times past as well as the economic and social forces that shaped fashion.

First up is linen, one of the oldest textiles developed, dating back nearly 10,000 years. Most people associate linen fabric with more expensive clothing, fancy tablecloths and napkins. Historically, it was a staple of everyday clothing, especially undergarments, until the invention of cotton gin in the late 1700s made cotton production more cost efficient. Let’s take a moment and explore the rich history of linen.

Bast Fibers

Linen is made from the cellulose fibers of the inner bark the flax plant. These fibers are called bast fibers and flax is one of several types of plants including hemp, jute, and raime, which produce them. Materials made from bast fibers all have similar properties such as drying faster than either cotton or wool and being stronger when wet. This is probably a key reason why items such as rope and ship’s sails were made from bast fibers before modern synthetic materials were used.

Turning bast fibers into cloth is a long process. Unlike wool where raw fleece can simply be washed and then either carded or combed into a preparation for spinning, bast fibers need to be separated from their woody stems and prepared for spinning in a multi-step process.

After the flax is harvested, the seed pods are collected for planting next season. The flax must be soaked to soften the woody outer stems, called retting. Retting can be done through one of two methods. The first is by soaking the flax in a stream or a tub. The second is by dew retting, where it is laid out on a field in the fall where it is soaked by the dew. Careful attention must be paid to the flax as if it is left out too long, it rots and spoils the inner fibers. Stream or tub retting can take several days while dew retting can take a few weeks.

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Flax laid out in a field for dew retting

The retted flax is then dried and ready for processing. First the dried flax is passed through the jaws of the flax breaker to loosen the strands of flax from the inner core, called the boon. Then the flax is scraped with a scrunching knife to remove the roots and blossom ends. Lastly, the flax is drawn through a set of spikes called a hackle. This separates the boon from the flax. Continued hackling separates the long strands of flax from the short bits called tow. Tow was used for coarse cloth such as sacking, packing materials like ancient packing peanuts, or caulk for seams. The resultant long fibers are bundled together as flax strick and stored until they are needed to be spun into linen. When the entire process is completed, over 85% of the flax plant has been stripped away to make strick for spinning.

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A woman demonstrates flax processing at a festival in Finland

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A Russian peasant woman processing flax around 1910s

It wasn’t until the 1830s when a mechanical means for hackling was first invented. Until then, flax production and preparation was done entirely by hand.

Linen in History

Flax was one of the first crops to be cultivated in the fertile crescent as far back as 7000 BCE. Linen artifacts have been dated to the Dead Sea as far back as 6000 BCE. The earliest linen artifacts in Europe date back to around 4000 BCE in Swiss lake finds. It was the Babylonians who first started weaving flax and are credited with starting the linen trade. But it was the Egyptians who are known for linen in the ancient world.

Because of the extremely dry climate of the Egyptian desert, textile finds in Egyptian tombs have been remarkably well-preserved. In addition to the miles of linen wrapping the mummies, bolts of linen cloth have been found in pharaoh’s tombs as well as fine linen dresses, tunics, and linen housewares.

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Line drawing of an Egyptian tomb painting showing textile production

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Kerchief from Tutankhamun’s Embalming Cache ca. 1336–1327 B.C.

After the Ancient Egyptians, linen continued to be a staple of clothing in the Western world for many centuries. It was commonly used for undergarments and sleepwear for all classes of people in Europe in all climates and seasons. Linen was also woven into bedsheets, napkins, and other household fabrics. It’s no wonder that during the Middle Ages the term “linens” became to be synonymous for household items such as bedding, tablecloths, and towels. The term survives to this day even though linens are made from a range of fabrics.

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Medieval women hackling flax, spinning flax, and weaving

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Work Bag, Linen worked with wool thread; double running and herringbone stitches, Great Britain 1669

In the American colonies, linen production was common in farm households. A family would have their own plot of flax, which they would harvest, process, spin, and weave each year. Homespun cloth would be combined with commercial cloth in the household to make clothing and linens. Self-sufficiency was a source of great pride for the American colonists and textile production was one way of showing it.

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Mid-18th century, American, Linen Wool Girl’s Dress

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Phebe Warner Coverlet, Probably Sarah Furman Warner Williams, ca. 1803

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Leading up to the Revolutionary War, the boycott of British goods was in full swing. Women, such as the Daughters of Liberty, routinely held spinning bees in town squares to show off their self-sufficiency and spinning excellence. This was an especially harsh smack in the face to the British textile industry, which dominated all of Europe at the time.

Homespun linen production continued through the early 1800s but waned as textile production became more industrialized. The invention of the cotton gin in 1793 made cotton production more economical than linen production. Cotton production in the United States doubled each decade from 1800 because the cotton gin meant that fewer slaves were needed to process cotton thus they could be sent to the fields to plant and harvest it instead. Mechanization in the spinning and weaving of cotton further fueled the cotton industry so that it quickly overtook linen as a cheap, everyday working fabric. For example, spinning mills for cotton in Lowell, MA were in operation in the late 1790s whereas mechanization of linen spinning did not come about until the 1830s. Even with the mechanization of flax processing, spinning, and weaving finally starting in the 1830s and 1840s, flax would never catch up to cotton production.

By the mid-1800s, most small farms in the United States no longer grew or processed their own flax and there was plenty of commercially available cloth. Home textile production saw a small revival during the American Civil War but died down again when the textile mills went back to producing civilian goods and supply routes were reopened to the South. Linen was still used for specific-use fabrics such as buckram, bedding, and canvas as well as work clothing and underclothes. Production became more specialized focusing on fine linens for tablecloths, drapery, and napkins as seen with the famous Irish linen. Linen was also used for finer clothing as it was perfect for starched uniforms and crisp cuffs or nice summer clothes. Towards the late 19th century, one of the trademarks of men in the upper classes was a warm-weather suit made of light colored linen. Women also had summer or warm weather linen suits, dresses, and riding habits, especially in the Southern United States and warmer climates such as the Caribbean and Mediterranean.

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A woman in a linen chemise or shift (underwear) from the Bath of the Nymphs by Francesco Hayez, 1831

Linen Today

Today linen is being rediscovered as an everyday fabric as well as a luxury fabric. Improvements in linen production have made linen more affordable and it is seeing a return as an everyday fabric. Clothing made of linen and linen blends are now found in popular box stores like H&M and Old Navy. The linen suits for men are also making a come back for the summer months, especially since vintage-inspired styles of The Great Gatsby and Boardwalk Empire are popular on the runways.

In recent years, linen has made its way back into high fashion. Stella McCartney’s 2011 collection included a silk-linen blend blazer and Valentino had a cotton/linen dress. For the discriminating bride, Lanvin offered a $6000 cotton and linen wedding dress. Linen is going strong for the 2015 spring season as major designers like Michael Kors, Donna Karan, and Lanvin, all have linen pieces in stores. Linen is currently only grown in few regions in Europe so fashion designers often advertise their linen from where it is produced such as “Belgian linen” or a specific region in France to increase its appeal.

Independent designers have also embraced linen. Out in California, designer Jessie Kamm’s Spring 2015 collection is full of easy wearing, airy linen pieces that will fit into any wardrobe. The company Flax specializes in linen clothing for women and puts out several collections each year in a range of fabric weights. Their annual barn sale attracts devoted fans of the clothing line from all over the United States. Vivid Linen is another modern clothing company that uses only linen. They carry a wide range of selections for both men and women from casual resort wear to men’s suits. Faircloth and Supply are another favourite, based in Los Angeles they are a women’s season-less charitable company who make the most stylish, comfortable and gorgeous linen only collections. Apart from soft and timeless clothes, every purchase helps a Nepalese girl out to get through education. “With every purchase you give one Nepali girl a school uniform, school supplies and a scholarship to attend school for one year to empower herself through education.”

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Faircloth & Supply

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Jesse Kamm Linen Trench

Linen has certainly come a long way from being wrapped on mummies to everyday underwear to fine tablecloths and summer suits and now back to every day wear again.

The Quilt Show: Admit One

Quilt Show Ticket

I was given the opportunity, through my local quilt guild, to be a part of a live studio audience for “The Quilt Show” on March 24, 2015.

Description from the website. “Alex Anderson & Ricky Tims bring you The Quilt Show.com – the world’s first full service interactive online video/web magazine and worldwide online community for quilters.”

I have never had a prior experience like this before so I was thrilled to be able to get the behind the scenes view of the taping of a show.

I arrived at the WESTWORKS STUDIOS just outside of Denver, Colorado. Westworks is just one studio within the larger Comcast Media Center facility. It’s a huge place. There were approximately 30 of us waiting in the lobby, checking in, signing wavers, and getting arm bands so we could easily be identified by security.

After a short introduction on the facility we walked down a long hallway to the Westworks Studio. Some things were just as I imagined they might be. A big red light set outside the door, blinking “On Air”. The set itself reminded me of a theatrical stage, different areas were set up for different scenes yet all within the same stage/set. A million lights were hanging from above and each could be positioned individually, and the stage crew spent a lot of time making sure all of them were pointing just where they should. 4 huge cameras covered every angle. And then one more that seemed to be hanging from the rafters and swinging down like a spider to catch the overhead shot.

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The audience had a dedicated crew member to answer questions and to let us know when to clap, laugh, and make ohhhh ahhh noises. It was at times hysterically funny as they attempted to educate the “live audience” on how best to be the “live audience”

An interesting tidbit that gives a lot of feeling and spontaneity to The Quilt Show is that they do not use q cards for show. You will never see the hosts or guests reading any cards from offset. Alex and Ricky, the hosts are given background information on the guest and given instruction on what will be demonstrated. Other than that the conversations are in the moment. The promo takes are completely different. Alex and Ricky are told what to say and then they repeat it. These were the more humorous moments as they made mistakes or omitted things and the promo had to be redone until they got it right.

The guest for the show was Jamie Wallen.. His quilts are breathtaking. Here are some pictures of just a couple of them that were at the studio. His technique for thread painting with a longarm quilting machine, is the most beautiful I have ever seen.

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Some things I learned that day that I had not heard of before:

FriXion pen: It’s a pen quilters are using that claims it disappears with heat and or washing. So it could be a great way to mark your quilt for sewing. Please try it on a scrap piece before marking your quilt. When I goggled for more information it seemed some people were having issues with the marks.

Fusible quilt batting: This is quilt batting that contains a fusible web. The fusible on the batting allows you to press all three layers of your quilt at one time! Quilter’s Fusible Batting eliminates the need for quilt basting sprays, pins or tacks. You can fuse your quilt in a fraction of the time with beautiful, professional looking results. And it stays soft and flexible.

Red Snappers:
Red Snappers are a system to load quilt tops and backs on machine quilting frames without using pins, zippers or Velcro!

Which brings me to my favorite item of the day! The Innova longarm quilting machine.

It was a fantastic day. I learned a lot and had a great time. Alex Anderson & Ricky Tims and all of the crew and staff of The Quilt Show were fantastic, personable and made the whole experience full of memories I will never forget.

The Joy of the Infinite List is in the Letting Go

letgo

I am a list maker. It’s how I try to make sense of where I am going and where I have been, how I remember ideas and plan for the future. If I don’t make lists I would not be able to rest at night for fear I might be forgetting something I really wanted to remember. I have on many occasions woken up in the middle of the night with a terrific artistic idea. If I don’t get it down on paper then sleep will evade my most ardent attempts to sink within its depths of restful release and regeneration. I know, I am a bit OCD but I think many creative people tend to have that option as a standard install.

The reason I am even bringing this up is because I have found a fantastic new online magazine called SeamWork The articles are well thought out and meaningful and the patterns are made for anyone to sew. I believe the magazines premier issue was just this past December 2014. Past issues are a free download. The patterns from those past issues are not included, but are available for a nominal charge.

Within the January 2015 issue is a great article called “The Art of The Infinite List” Coming to terms with the fact that you can’t do it all. By Tasha Miller Griffith of Stale Bread into French Toast

That article spoke to me and my valiant attempts to really try and do it all. So little time and so many things I want to do! It’s really not possible, just as some fantasies are better off remaining fantasies many creative ideas only have the purpose of inspiring me to dream further and keep creating with passion. And that really is okay.

The final line says it all. “The joy of the infinite list is in the letting go. Just take a deep breath, appreciate the moment, and make something you’ll treasure.”

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