Pansies are one of my favorite flowers. They are very colorful and versatile. Last century they were one of favorites to be embroidered by Lithuanian women. I remember seeing them on pillow shams, table runners, placemats almost in every of my friends’ house. Myself also embroidered them when I was much younger than I am now.
I’ve always looking for old textile crafts that I could upcycle and give them a new life. My friend Lolita brought a bag of her Mom’s embroideries and her grandma’s hand woven linen fabrics, and some crochet items used to embelish pillow cases.
Weaving used to be the main Lithuanian craft for women. Every woman in my Mom’s generation and before that new how to weave. Linen used to be the most used fiber. Lithuanians have milenias long relationship with flax and linen. I was very happy to see few pieces of hand woven linen cloth in Lolita’s bag. More about our relationship with flax and linen you can read on my blog post Vytis.
Embroideries with pansies. The background fabric is also hand woven:
Hand woven linen fabrics that Lolita’s grandma weaved almost one hindred years ago:
Design as you go
Initially I had no idea what I was going to make. I know from my experience that when I start working, the ideas emerge. I call my creative process design as I go. It consists of moving pieces around until I make the final decision so I started doing exactly that:
I abandoned the idea of using crocheted pilow case ends but chose one hand wowen linen fabric to go with embroidered pansies. I also added white (bleached) and grayish (unbleached) commercial linen fabrics to fill the background.
After cutting embroidered pieces to make them match in size, I had few loose pansy pieces and I wanted them to be used somehow. Making cathedral window blocks sounded like a good idea. It wasn’t so easy though. I made three attempts to get them the right type, the right color and the right size. Later I added single pansies to the centers of these blocks:
The hand wowen linen piece got cut into triangles and paired with white linen:
Five cathedral window blocks easily found their place in the quilt and unbleached linen fabric filled the gaps and served as the border:
Quilting and hand stitching is always the most fun of all the process, and used both in this quilt. It added just enough texture to highlight the beauty of embroideries and the gentle contrast between linen fabrics.
I love how this quilt turned out and Lolita said it exceeded her expectations! I have the other hand wowen fabrics left and look forvard to making another quilt with completely different design. It is going to be another song of linen!