The Empress’s New Umbrella

Happy Beltane, May Day or what you will!

Late Spring/early Summer is my favourite time of year and for many years, I’ve had it in mind to make a sunny May Day quilt bursting with flowers and, of course, a May Pole full of ribbons and dancing children…

But this is not that year!

Today is an Endeavourers’ Reveal Day and our theme this quarter was ‘Raindrops keep falling on my head’. I’m sure I’ll be bowled over, as always, by the innovation and creativity of the other group members’ responses but I found it the hardest theme to do anything interesting with so I settled for a very literal illustration of the theme.

If you don’t like stories, please skip the following section :)

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I’m sure you are familiar with the story of the Emperor’s New clothes.

My quilt shows an Empress, who fell victim to those self-same fraudsters. Once they had spent all the Emperor’s gold on high living, they travelled far over the seas until they reached her kingdom. They arrived during the sunny season, which, as they said, is the best time to acquire an umbrella because once the rains start it’s too late, and they set themselves up as makers of the finest umbrella covers money could buy, so fine indeed, that foolish people couldn’t see them all.

They took a common frame from the market and spent many days weaving and stitching. And, naturally, no one wished to appear foolish so everyone who saw them marvelled at their exquisite workmanship and wondered at the fine detail and the beautiful sheen of the fabric.

And, naturally, when they were done, the Empress presented them with an unseemly quantity of gold and many mules to carry it and the umbrella makers found they had an urgent appointment on the other side of the world and took their leave with more haste than you might expect of such respectable artisans and such laden down beasts.

And at last the winds turned and the rains came and the court and commoners alike gathered on the hill to look at and marvel on the wondrous umbrella. Suddenly, their own umbrellas seemed ugly and cumbersome and the foolish people wished for an umbrella like the Empress’s, which would keep them dry even if, secretly, they couldn’t see the beautiful cover themselves.

So there were, the secretly foolish people, standing in the rain, sad but dry under their shamefully ugly, cumbersome umbrellas and wearing their shamefully ugly, cumbersome rain coats. And there was the Empress under her wondrous umbrella and wearing a wondrous ballgown.

And then a very strange thing happened.

For all the world, it looked as if the raindrops were falling right through the wondrous umbrella frame onto the Empress’s head.

More than one of the foolish people rubbed their eyes in amazement. It really looked, to them, as if the Empress was getting soaked right through.

They began to shuffle and shift about uncomfortably.

And, suddenly, the littlest child called out, “The Empress’s umbrella has no cover!”

Her parents were mortified and tried to hush her but soon a murmur was buzzing among the crowd, “What did the child say?”

“Really?”

Can’t you see it?”

Can you see it?”

“The child’s right!”

“Yes. The child’s right!”

All at once, everyone who had been afraid of looking foolish realised that that very fear had led to them being very foolish indeed.

And the Empress, who saw that she had been the person most afraid of looking foolish and had behaved the most foolishly of all, decreed that the foolishness must end straightaway.

And she hung the umbrella frame over the palace gate as a reminder to everyone in the kingdom that worrying about what other people think is the surest way to make fools of us all.

***

This quilt is not as textured as my last one but I did include felt, which was a first for me and was surprisingly easy to applique. I also used some upcycled needlecord as well as scraps of quilting cotton and I added stitching to vary the texture. The raindrops are detached chain stitch and Empress’s umbrella frame is threaded running stitch. I found it quite a fun piece to make, though I always aspire to making something more arty and abstract one day!

I hope you will visit my fellow Endeavourers and see what they have made for this challenge :)

Janine @ Rainbow Hare

Today We Will Live In Colour

FEBRUARY

Mercifully short of days, February full of greys,

Grey cloud, grey sky, grey land, grey sea,

Grey birds, grey fish, grey you, grey me.

O whatever could be drearier!

How I long for something cheerier…


SO TODAY WE WILL LIVE IN COLOUR


TODAY WE WILL LIVE IN COLOUR!

Today is the Reveal Day for the Endeavourers Art Quilt Group and our theme for this quarter is ‘Texture’. I began with some textured fabrics and a couple of experiments with fabric manipulation (blogged here) and I soon decided that, rather than making an abstract textured piece, I would make a picture incorporating a wider than usual range of textural materials. I also wanted to make something lively and colourful to hang on the wall in the Makery to cheer the place up a bit during this drab time between New Year and Spring.


FABRICS

I began with a background of brown utility fabrics (middle) and a gold acrylic (top) and selected a variety quilting and dressmaking cottons and linens to make the circles/clamshells.

And, at the bottom I used an ochre cotton, upholstery check and some Kona solid for the sea. The grey band is something nylon that comes to put around the bottom of the legs of suit trousers to stop them fraying and I included the not-very-successful twisted pleats just because I’d made them. It was a joy to use so many odds and ends that I’ve kept for years for no good reason!

I also used a piece of embroidered linen and a band of music themed trimming. The dress, I know, is a touch ill-fitting but i was the best I could manage with my trial of honeycomb smocking :)


THREADS

To create surface texture, I used embroidery silks, sewing thread and a metallic gold which I had to couch because it had a tendency for the gold to shred away from an orange centre thread,

And to create a more quilted texture I used a combination of embroidery silks (using different numbers of thread sewn together) and some vintage stranded silk on the gold and three threads of a variegated stranded DMC skein for the sea. On the circles, I used a gold coloured silk, which is nicely luminous when the light catches it. I also did some straight line machine quilting but it is mostly obscured by buttons etc.


OTHER

Apart from that I used padded applique for the people, fish and birds and buttons (which have different textures to each other and create a textured effect en masse) and a knitted hat.


This was a continually evolving project. There was a lot of handwork and as I worked on one thing I thought about what to do next and I added elements just because they involved a ‘new’ texture and happened to come to mind. It was a very enjoyable way of working and, although if I were to remake it I can see design changes that might improve it, I think it’s turned out to be much livelier than pictures I’ve sewn before and it’s certainly converted me to the idea of adding a lot more texture and variety to my quilts.

I’m very grateful to my fellow Endeavourers. Without the encouragement and enthusiasm of this lovely group, let alone the Themes and Deadlines, I should never find the time or inspiration to embark on such adventures and I hope you will visit The Endeavourers blog to see what they have all made for this challenge.

Janine @ Rainbow Hare


I am linking this post with: TGIFF at Devoted Quilter

And, as it comprises virtually all my sewing and photos during January – which was not a great month! – with: Wandering Camera

And Helen’s new linky party:

Archie The Wonder Dog

Just Improv

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Today is the Endeavourers’ fourth quarterly reveal day and I’m very grateful to all my fellow members for their endless inspiration, encouragement and enthusiasm. I love the way this group prompts us to embark on new journeys with fabric that we should never otherwise have contemplated :)

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This quarter’s theme was ‘Improv’ and I resolved to make something just improv – no stories, no pictures…

 

If you are a regular follower of my blog, you may have noticed I don’t really do abstract…

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So this was certainly a very tricky theme for me and you can read more about my challenges this quarter and the process of making this quilt here.

Please visit The Endeavourers blog to see the improv quilts my fellow group members  have made. I’m sure it’s going to be a wonderful and varied collection and I can’t wait to see them all myself.

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Happy Sewing!

Janine @ Rainbow Hare

I’m linking this post with Leanne at Devoted Quilter for TGIFF and CRAZY MOM QUILTS for Finish it up Friday