Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Walking Quilt, A Mattress and A Fashion Show

I'm reading a book entitled, "The Quilt That Walked to Golden." It's a true story about a family that moved from the east to Colorado in search of a better life. Because the wagon was so full of "necessary" things, the husband told his wife that she could only take the clothes that were on her back. As the story goes, she just couldn't part with her precious garments and proceeded to layer on as many of her things as possible. After they arrived in Golden, Colorado, she made a quilt out of her dresses. This is a woman after my own heart. I don't know that I would have the fortitude to walk all those miles with layer upon layer on my body, but I guess that when there's a will, there's a way.

My great-great grandmother walked from Florida to Texas. She was born in Texas, married and then followed her husband to Florida. In Florida she had four children. When my great grandmother was about twelve, her father died. It's very hard to believe, but a woman could not own land in the state of Florida at that time. So my great-great grandmother packed her wagon, tied her cow to the back and set out on the journey back to Texas with her four children. At that time a woman could own land in Texas as long as she was not married. Once she married, the land would then belong to her husband. Kind of a rotten deal. Thankfully, at least from a woman's perspective, things have changed. I am amazed by her courage, setting out on a trip like that, alone with four children.

Now my great grandmother had all the fortitude and courage of her mother. At seventeen, she married my great grandfather who already had five children. His first wife had died. The oldest child was twelve, so not a vast age difference between my great grandmother and the oldest of her now stepchildren. She went on to have eight children of her own. She was truly incredible. She was a wonderful cook, she made the quilts for her family, made clothes for her daughters, kept her home, never missed a Sunday church service, and after my great grandfather died, she ran the farm. Not only did she make the quilts, she made the mattresses as well. They were incredible, big fluffy feather mattresses that were made from the feathers of her geese. I can remember going for a visit and sleeping on those wonderful beds. Getting into bed was a bit of a shock as there was no heat in the bedrooms, so the sheets were icy cold, but by morning I was as warm as I could be nestled in the feathers with heaps of quilts over me. The only thing that could pull me from that bed was the smell of breakfast poking at my nose.

As I worked on the shirt pictured below, I couldn't help but think of my great grandmother and those incredible feather mattresses. The fabric (pictured above) looks so much like the ticking fabric she would use. I made the shirt to go with a jacket that I made for our upcoming fashion show. Linda Lee of The Sewing Workshop gave the Haute Couture Club fifty patterns of her San Diego jacket. A few years ago we started doing a type of group project. We choose a pattern and then everyone makes it up however they wish. The audience loves this as it's fun for them to see so many versions of the same pattern. This year is extremely special as Linda Lee will be attending our show.

For my shirt, I used an older Isabel Toledo pattern. I really love this shirt. It's crisp and clean, but yet has a wonderful flair with the structured peplum.

Linda Lee said that we could do anything with the pattern that we chose to do.

The jacket was originally done in the 80's so it has a tremendous amount of ease in it. I did the extra small. Rather than do a shirt version, I decided to make mine into a jacket. I lengthened it a good bit, added a yoke to the back and then redrafted the back to give it a swing.

I made openings in the side seams to put my belt through. The fabric is who knows what. I think it is probably rayon with lycra as it does have a stretch. For the show we are calling it a stretch denim tweed.

The lining is rather fun. I found this fabric on Ebay. There's a woman in Montana that gets some of the most interesting fabric. I'll look up her store and give you the link in another post. The fabric has women walking in great little outfits.

The pants are just skinny, straight leg pants.This is one of eight garments that I will have in the show. Thankfully, I'll have someone to help me change. Stay tuned, I'll try to post all of the garments this week.

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  1. Wow, everything you do is extraordinary. Can't wait to see all you've come up with.

  2. Lovely adaptation of the TNT San Diego pattern and the Isabel Toledo shirt is perfect with it. I'm looking forward to your posts and photos of your weekend in Chicago.

  3. Hi Rhonda, I really enjoyed meeting you on Sunday. Gorgeous outfit, as was the pretty red spring dress you had on beforehand!

  4. Erica wants just about every piece you modeled in the fashion show. Any idea where to look for the Vogue blouse pattern? I checked Ebay and 1 vintage pattern site but it was not available. She also wants your plaid jacket. Is that your design or is it a commercial pattern?

  5. Hi Rhonda,

    I would love to steal, er adapt, your gorgeous San Diego jacket idea :). I think I can figure out the yolk, but I'm wondering if you could tell me how you made the back into a swing. I'm thinking you gradually added to the back side seam. Is that correct? I love, love, love it!