Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Quilter Walks into a Thrift Shop....(Or: How to Make a Gift Pillow with Fabric that's Trouble)

A quilter walked into a thrift shop. Have you heard this one? The ending is always different.

In this particular case, in early summer, I walked into a thrift shop and found a bunch of fabric rolls, one of which unrolled to become this:
The moment I looked at it, I knew three things: This fabric was fabulous. This fabric was trouble. And the fabric was for Maya.

Who is Maya? Maya is a  New Jersey 13-year-old who I only know well through Facebook, alas, because she lives across the country. She celebrated her bat mitzvah in March, and I was unable to attend. Does she deserve trouble? No, she does not. And the fabric was obviously trouble because it's a light organza, something I don't have a lot of experience stitching. But that's not the worst part. The worst part is that it immediately became obvious that the glitter sheds.

I mean it seriously sheds. It's like a Husky in a heat wave. Everywhere this fabric goes, glitter flies. It needs a personal roomba.

And yet. And yet. Butterflies  Maya had sent me a bat mitzvah invitation with this on it.

 Maya lost her dad on 9/11, when she was an infant. I know he is with them in spirit, symbolized by the butterfly. When I set eyes on that fabric, there was a small insistent voice - probably mine, who knows? -  saying loudly "This is PERFECT for Maya's Bat Mitzvah pillow."

So I brought the fabric home to my sewing room - bedazzling it for a long time.

Of course, I did not want to burden Maya, or her beautiful mother Karen, with excessive vacuuming. So I decided that, for the pillow's central panel, I would sew  two pieces right sides together. You can still see the butterflies from the outside though not so much in the photo.
I scanned the bat mitzvah invitation and downloaded two gorgeous photos from the event (lifted from Facebook). I printed them onto photo sheets - my favorite is EQ Printables Cotton Satin, It comes on a backing, and you simply feed it through the printer, peel it off, rinse it, and it's good to go. The quality is beautiful, and the ink becomes permanent. I stitched those photos to my inside-out organza butterfly square. Taking my cue from the bat mitzvah girl and her mother's outfits, I surrounded the panel by light and then dark blue dupioni silk. The top is 24" square.
For the bow, I made a long tube of the organza fabric, again stitching it right sides together, again, to avoid shedding. I then tied it into a bow and attached it with a discreet safety pin, in case Maya wants to remove it. 

 I decided to create the pillow back from blue quilters cotton.  using images and colors suggested by the photos. There are rocks and waters, inspired by the waterfall photo, 
Hebrew letters, gold keys on blue (another thrift shop find!),  3-D stars printed on fabric...
...and fun abstract shapes, especially on a Klimt-like fabric. The top flap panel is about 22" long, and underneath it is another underlapped blue panel flap on the bottom, about 8" high. There's fireworks fabric toward the top, and just below it, I appliqued a scan of the silver butterfly. 
I went to the fabric store and bought a pillow form to the correct size (use the 50% off coupon from JoAnn - pillowforms are pricey!); then I went to the box store and bought a 24" x 24" x 6" box. Shipped the whole thing off,,,and was gratified a few days later to get a phone call from Maya! She loved it! Yay!!!!

I still have about 3 yards of this sparkly butterfly fabric left. It's stuffed into my shelves, tied up safely in a plastic grocery bag (newly illegal in my city/state.) 
(The bag is therefore now a rare collectible and not for sale.) Can you see the 62-odd bits of glitter on my arm after I packed up that bag? Not that I'm complaining. I'll just sit here in the dark as these little metal squares dig their way into my veins and eyeballs. Has anyone ever died from a glitter overdose?
I no longer have any butterfly-related bar or bat mitzvahs on my event horizon. So if you're interested in owning some of this unique fabric, shoot me an email. If you pay postage, it's yours. With the money you save, I suggest you buy a quality vacuum cleaner. You're going to need it. 

1 comment:

  1. Dear Cathy,
    "Glitter is the herpes of the craft world." Words to live by.

    Keep up the great work!
    Linda Laird


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