Friday, February 15, 2013

Valentine update: Channeling my inner Northwest coast native person

You know how sometimes you create something and have a strong idea about a design decision, and then minutes/hours/days/weeks/years/decades later you realize where your idea came from?

So, in our last installment, I made a heart-and-arrow flannel and felt 3-D Valentine for my husband, which, when I gave it to him yesterday morning, looked something like this:

He loved it. Yay! In the evening, slightly stoned on excessive amounts of chocolate, I took it back to add a hanging loop.

As I stitched on a yellow ribbon, I was suddenly overwhelmed by a desire to sew tiny, mostly mother-of-pearl white buttons, onto the heart. At first I just sewed just one row within the red heart outline. But then I added more...and more...

The white on the red flannel and felt background just felt so RIGHT.
As I was finishing, I recognized from whence my compulsion had come: The button blankets of the Northwestern coast native tribes, of course! I'd seen them at museums in the Pacific Northwest during a visit to that area 21 years ago, and had been utterly entranced. (This was even before I became a quilter). The coastal people make spectacular red, black (or dark blue), and pearl button as capes and gifts. (They are rarely hung from walls, and never used as bedding, according to Wikipedia). Here's a modern button blanket made by Joshua Sherucij.
Here's an older one by deceased Haida artist Florence Davidson
(Learn more about her here.)
 Here's a family wearing their button capes.
So now I'm thinking....what ELSE can I make from red and black flannel or felt that involves lots of white buttons? (Because my button boxes spilleth over....)
Have you ever made anything like a button blanket?


  1. You're so right, Cathy - the buttons really make the valentine complete! It's lovely! And thanks so much for the info about button blankets - I'd never heard of them.

  2. If you ever get to museums in Vancouver and/or Washington State, you'll be amazed! Thanks for stopping by, Andy!

  3. Loved this! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Marit!

  5. Hi, Where did you find the vintage photo of the family with the button blankets?
    Thanks Kathleen


    It's described as "public domain." I hope that's so!


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