Sunday, June 30, 2013

Loving Linen, Zoning Out on Zakka

My LQS (local quilt shop) has a few linen bolts, which called to me for a long time. A couple of years ago, I finally broke down, bought myself a quarter-yard of a delightful off-white, and decided to use it for small quilted cuffs (which I call quiltlets, and can be used as bracelets, wall art, bookmarks, and more).

I fell deeply in love with the linen's selvage, which featured an inexplicable navy-blue line of stitching. (Can one of you selvage gurus explain that?) So I displayed it prominently in the first wrist cuff below. That's a vintage mother-of-pearl buckle, along with vintage m-o-p carved buttons.

That one's not quilted, but the next one is. It has a pillowcase finish, low-loft cotton batting inside, and is machine quilted. It turns out that linen takes machine quilting beautifully! 
 The khaki rick-rack is extra-fat (also new from my LQS), and I found an old belt-buckle to stitch to one end.. The metal iron-on triangular embellishments came new from my LQS. 
It has a bit of a steampunk feel. The polka dot yo-yo is green vintage satin, and the brown  tortoise-shell-plastic-and-metal button on top is vintage. 

Finally, I used the linen as a base for a quiltlet that includes a neutral-colored new polka-dot cotton fabric, a large grey m-o-p button, and grey grosgrain ribbons (along the bottom). There are two horizontal lines of quilting along the top.
None of these things look even remotely like what I usually make - too little color, too clean lines!

I made them because I was having a zakka moment. Zakka is a Japanese aesthetic, which, in turn was influenced by modern Scandinavian design. It's all about simplicity and muted (if any) colors. It's one of those things that, when I first saw it, struck me as incredibly boring...but about three minutes later, once it had sunk in, I needed to make some RIGHT NOW. Zakka projects are often precious little objects for the home. Although I now love it, I couldn't take a steady diet of it.

Want to try it but not sure what to make? Do an Amazon search for "zakka sewing" and you'll turn up a half-dozen project books. I own Rashida Coleman-Hales "I Love Patchwork; 21 Irresistible Zakka Projects to Sew;' you can browse inside that book as well as the others on Amazon to find a project that inspires you.

My friend Karen, who alas, is not a quilter, is the queen of linen. She buys linen garments at thrift shops, dyes them, and the results are earthily, mutedly, magnificent. Do a search for "upcycling linen" on Pinterest to see many different ideas for using linen from former garments, or from the LQS.

What have you made from linen?

18 comments:

  1. I LOVE these. I also am a big fan of linen. If it were in my budget, I would have a lot more. One thing about line though is it 'wiggle-ness'. I bought a few yards of bright yellow decorator linen, but am having a hard time taming it.

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  2. At one stage a blue line in the selvage denoted a fabric made in England. You see it on a lot of wool and linen.

    Jenny

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    1. Ooooooo, now I'm excited!!! I hope my linen is from England!!! Thanks for the tip, Jenny!

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  3. That's very interesting, Ann. My linen wasn't very wiggly, but I could imagine that a slightly looser weave would be! And where could you find interfacing that matched the linen color? Let me know if you figure out how to tame it, and thanks for stopping by!

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  4. Just lovely. I haven't attempted a linen quilt, yet, but I'm thinking about some of that new Kaufman "quilter's linen" and may be making one soon. I have linen sheets and would love to have a lightweight linen coverlet for the bed.

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  5. I didn't know Kaufman has a quilter's linen - I'll check that out, I didn't even know there was such a thing as linen sheets! I wonder if my friend (who dyes used linen) knows about them. They must be softer than regular linen?!
    Thanks for your input, Leslie!

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  6. my relatives give me linen dish towels from thrift stores and garage sales--seems to me people are intimidated by linen and think it is difficult to care for --NOT! I just fold them right off the clothesline and they sort of press themselves. would be fun to make them into a quilt--they do skooch around somewhat--I'd say starch them lightly to get them manageable (and iron them), then wash the starch out later

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    1. That's true, vintage linens are very unstable to stitch. This particular linen that I used for my quiltlets, new from the bolt, was not unstable at all. It handled just like cotton. I wonder why different linens handle so differently! Thanks for the comment!

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    2. I always think of linen for clothing, but these are intriguing. The non color is calming. thanks,
      LeeAnna Paylor

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  7. LeeAnna, linen is really a calming fabric, and not just in grey - the dyeing that my friend does with it, blues and greens and oranges, all come out as calming earthtones. It has a wonderful vibe. Thanks for the comment!

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    1. Thank you, Leigh-Anne, I'm glad you like them!

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  9. I've done several large linen quilts, three of them were white linen mono printed with black textile paint, and I'm now doing a daily stitching project that is on a striped linen.

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  10. I've made several, my current one is a daily stitching project that is on a striped linen. The others were mono prints on white linen.

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    1. Linda, I just(re)found your stitching blog with the striped linen projects. (Readers, they're at http://notesfromstudiob.blogspot.com/ ). How wonderful! I'd admired them before, and still do. The hand embroidery makes them even more amazing. Thanks so much for stopping by. Your daily photographs are also inspirational!

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  12. I love them all! You're right about linen selvage. I just bought some linen last month but haven't decided what to do with it yet...

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  13. Have fun with it, Laura!!! Thanks for the nice comment!

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