Wednesday, October 24, 2012

where to begin...

It took me some time to start the Beginnings quilt. I selected my first drawings which my Mother had saved for me, my first handwritings and mathematics, but couldn’t think of a way to put these into a quilt.

I thought of sprouts of the cotton plant, peeking just above the ground and maybe I should have sticked to that colourful idea, but somehow I was drawn to the natural undyed fabrics and materials from my childhood, my first steps in the world of fabrics, needles and threads. 

top and batting are quilted, backing needs to be attached
The Nuns in Primary School were my first teachers in sewing and embroidering. It’s a miracle that I developed a love for these crafts, because I was often literally rapped over the knuckles with a wooden ruler when my stitches weren’t straight and equally devided.

I remember the unbleached cotton and cheesecloth we had to work with to make doll’s clothes. I learned to cross stitch with red threads on jute. The red made the stitches really visible and I often had to unpick them and start all over again.

When I was a teenager I learned to sew my own clothes and I remember helping my Grandmother when she was sewing on her Elna Grasshopper sewing machine. She made beautiful damask tablecloths and napkins to decorate the Christmas dinner tables.

The plush reminds me of the softies I made for my little nieces and I worked with silk and satin to make clothes for their little theatre puppets.

where to begin... ? 16" squarish
This little quilt is made from the neutral undyed fabrics of my childhood. Linen, cheesecloth, damask, jute, unbleached cotton, satin, plush, and silk. All fabrics have a neutral beginning, so that’s another beginning added!

The first machine quilting method I learned to use was Quilt-As-You-Go, so I made the top starting with a piece of batting and pieced and quilted fabric after fabric with a neutral coloured thread. Then I added some cross stitches and hand quilted some straight lines in red. The quilt still needed a backing and because the top was all quilted I tied a canvas backing to the top and batting, with... red threads! I’ve never used this technique before, so this was also a beginning.

I still love everything neutrally coloured, but I also developed a strong love for every colour in the rainbow!



  1. This piece is stunning in its simplicity, Nicolette. It draws you in for a closer look and when you do, there is so much to see. I especially love how you related it to all the beginnings in your life. A beautiful "memory" beginning.

  2. Wow, Nicolette, what a wonderful story and treasure to honor those memories. I love its simplicity!

  3. A little quilt with a big story. A soothing color palette.

  4. What a perfect beginnings quilt with such a special story behind it.(but ouch, being wrapped on the knuckles for your stitches) I too love the earthy neutral colors and they work so well in this beautiful quilt!

  5. I am very fond of this soothing "beginning" and the tale you tell of your sewing initiation. This straightforward approach to a complex topic portrays your feelings and experiences in such a meaningful way and the result is perfect for what you are trying to portray.

  6. Beautiful...what a wonderful idea.

  7. Beautiful piece. I just love it (but not hearing that those awful nuns!).

  8. I like the depth of story behind this one, Nicolette. What a pleasure to here your reminiscences!

  9. Lovely story behind the piece, Nicolette. It has a calm simplicity that draws me in to see what I find with a closer look. I wish I could see and feel the various textures of all the fabric you used!

  10. Wow, Nicolette, you have really found your own beginnings with this piece, I love the symbology of the fabrics and the stitches and again the simplicity is full of meaning and depth. Beautiful.

  11. I am so glad you stuck with stitching after that abusive beginning! You learned you lessons well. I love how the perfect red stitching stands out against the neutral fabrics - beautiful piece, Nicolette.