Thursday 20 March 2014

A More Respectable Expression of Utter Madness, the "Lake of Zug Quilt," Quiltivate, Great British Sewing Bee Season 2 Episode 5 is UP!

About once a year, I go through the closets and sort out the stuff no one is wearing any longer. Now that the kids have gone, that's not as much as I used to have. After I've given away usable clothing to the local charity collection, I cut off and save all the buttons and zips on the rags that are left and shove them into shopping bags for recycling. I use them up in quilted duvet covers, which are far from perfectly pieced or sewn, but hey, sue me.

Here's a double bed duvet cover I made to illustrate the Lake of Zug where we holiday with the Swiss relatives. One thing to understand about this place is that it is funky, unglamorous and rather private, just a bunch of family cottages and sheds for a day's swimming or windsurfing. No disco here. The stretch of lake frontage that you see below was once the Walchwil town garbage dump, but was recovered and reclaimed for the clan by my father-in-law and his siblings after WWII.

Talk about recycling!

The two little heads in the water are my husband and myself.

So the quilt fits in rather well.

(The half circles are the waves in the water, then come the ducks and swans that beg for food underneath the boat house and then the polka-dot "rain," which you can't see in the photo.)  Pretty hokey, but it looks quite at home when I slip it over the duvet in the small bedroom at the lakehouse up there.

By the way, the duck and swan squares came from a great resource book, 1000 Great Quilt Blocks by Maggi McCormick Gordon, a warm Tennessean who has come to tea at my house with her husband and mutual friends.

I'm now stitching together the second of the patchwork single bed duvet covers made from more genuine scraps, using a pattern found in Susan Briscoe's book, Japanese Quilt Blocks. "Second Sock Syndrome" is nothing to "Second Patchwork Quilt" Syndrome, right? But it's got to be done. After our last sleepover ski party given by the (adult) kids over Christmas, middle child reported to me that our duvet covers were an embarrassment of shabbiness.
Well, after twenty years of washing, they would be.
So here are two new duvet covers from old scraps. Still embarrassing—but in a totally original way, right kids?
While the original pattern produces a lovely basketweave when you use only two colors, as in my pillow here and an internet sample below:

I was stuck with bushels of various cotton remannts, used napkins and ripped shirts in purples, whites, blues, grays and green.  So I ended up with this rather psychedelic 'stepladder' project which doesn't seem too conducive to sleepytime tranquility. But then, nobody sleeps at those ski parties anyway.

Here's how far I've got while watching the Great British Sewing Bee. You can see the second cover on the floor where I haven't yet staggered the piece directions, so you can get an idea of how a quilt would look if I'd left the white stripes running unbroken across. If you want to preview a quilt idea, I can heartily recommend this incredibly fun interactive quilt-planner; Quiltivate

(I used it and the result is turning out to be remarkably similar to my online test. I can't say Quiltivate didn't warn me. But just bought Quiltivate since I posted this, and the site is down for a couple of weeks. Let's hope it stays as accessible and useful as before without a lot of registering/fee rigarmarole.)

When entering our bedroom and seeing this new production, my husband reeled back, and then said only, 'Well, I've seen less respectable expressions of utter madness."

As for the Great British Sewing Bee, how did you like Episode Five? Here's a link for those of you who are outside the UK. (I wouldn't advise downloading, just click on the arrow on the lower bar to watch directly on your screen. Some of these could be dicey sites, considering their popup ads for war games and babelicious "friends.")

What courage! I have often wondered how many of us tackle those wonderful Burda variations on anoraks, so much trendier than the commonplace ones they sell in Switzerland sports shops, BUT I'm still not persuaded that I could handle the technical sports fabric, even after seeing the contestants do their best with great equipment and Patrick's guidance. Don't you love his Comments of Doom, e.g. "You're going to want to ask yourself whether you want to use steam with that," as somebody goes up in clouds of humid steam trying to apply a dry sealing tape to the nylon seams.

Great British Sewing Bee, Episode 5

This one was a bit terrifying, using all the materials that are the most difficult, even for seasoned sewers. I've done a suede dress from a Burda pattern which was a fantastic experience, but I hardly ever wear it for fear of spillage. I love sewing with velvet so I could have survived that segment, just.


  1. I don't know how I could've held up under those challenges, either. I've sewn with nylon-ish fabric once...a mock up that was made using something grabbed from the $1/yard table at Wal-Mart. Awful, awful stuff it was. I'm afraid I would've had a mess. And I can't even come up with a decent idea to restyle that top even now.

    And velvet pants...oy...maybe with practice??? ;-)

    Loving this series...nearly cried when they all held hands against the news of who was to leave...

  2. Yes, yes, Lisa Laree, the weird white top combined with leather? Who thought up that Frankenchallenge? Of all the episodes, this one came up with the least appetizing garments of the series, IMHO. From now on, let's hope they stick to natural wovens or quality knits and leave the tent canvas, tire rubber and saran wrap outside the door!