Well well, who would have thought that sludge could cause a little disturbance? I had no idea sludge was not a widely known phrase. For those of you wondering what on earth I've been rambling on about, there's a rather grim description of sludge here (read at your peril). I suppose sludge is indeed a muddy, silty type substance which is generally fairly negative in its connotations. I use it to encompass a colour palette which is rather murky in tone. This is how I always viewed these Civil War type fabrics, to be fair I really didn't "get" them but I'm glad to say I've widened my tastes (and my stash!) It was probably a little unfair to dismiss my recent handiwork as sludgey. There is beauty in that there sludge!
I have been indulging in more sludgey quilting on a miniature scale and devouring books on the subject. I asked my sister to lend me this book (scared as I was by the second hand prices on the 'net). Any self-respecting Civil War-style quilt maker knows that you have to have a prairie doll to display with your quilts.
Now I will turn my crafty hands to just about anything but I've never made a doll. I've made soft toys, I've made dolly-like clothes (for Katie Kitty for example) but never a doll. Truth be told, I was a bit scared! I read Prairie People over and over, I've not been seen without that book for the past week and yesterday, I decided it was time to get down to dolly business. I chose my doll, "Purleyetta" (the book has a huge list of rather interesting names suitable for prairie dollies) and began tracing the pattern pieces onto freezer paper. I love this stuff. It has a paper side onto which you draw and the reverse is shiny and when the heat of an iron is applied is turns temporarily sticky so it is great for making pattern pieces and templates, you simply iron the pieces onto your fabric and cut round them.
So far so good. Purleyetta is looking a bit worryingly butch here?
The instructions directed for the doll to be made from osnaburg (duly ordered from The Cotton Patch) which is a very loose weave sacking-type material. Not the easiest to work with, I stay-stitched all pieces as instructed and double stitched all seams using a very small stitch size. Oh, the patience.
So I have sewn like a thing possessed (nothing new there) and I would say about 15 hours later, Purleyetta has been born. Not a bit of butchness in sight, out she goes to enjoy the glorious sunshine.
The sunshine is lovely but not handy for photos, it has to be said. I was most trepidatious about creating the doll's face. My sister has always said "But it's the faces. Getting those right. That's the hard bit". I was thinking going Amish might be preferable. But I set to with some permanent fine liner pens, some acrylic paint and a few brushes and it wasn't actually that bad. A bit of trapunto created the nose (oh my, was that fiddly and the osnaburg actually frayed a bit but never mind).
The attention to detail in the instructions was good. The head and body are one piece, then there are two separate legs which you stitch into the body and two arms to hand stitch to the torso. I loved creating the chubby fingers!
Of course, the body was only the beginning because then Purleyetta had to be dressed, lots more pattern pieces to trace onto tissue paper before sewing them up, including full under garments made from vintage sheeting trimmed with vintage lace.
Working on a small scale is fiddly but satisfying.
The book suggests that Purleyetta is a simple soul, without frills, and a true quilter, happy with her quilts. There are instructions in the book for creating Purleyetta's memory quilt so that's just what I did.
I don't have a lot of plaid fabrics in my stash but I had stockpiled some of the Munchkin and Mr HenHouse's old shirts and in they went! They were lovely to hand quilt being made of super-fine cotton.
And the sashing? None other than a reduced-price lady's top from Sainsbury's supermarket (it was even £3 when it went through the till!) It was a shocker to sew with, made with that rather flimsy cotton supermarkets like to produce cheap clothing with, and being gingham, always tricky to try to keep the lines straight but never more so than here.
The little quilt is backed with a decidedly pretty floral print in a calico style. I enjoyed the simple hand quilting which didn't actually take that long. I didn't hand baste this quilt but used a basting spray (505) to fuse the quilt layers which worked brilliantly. Using the thinnest batting you can find is the best tip for enjoyable hand quilting (Dream Cotton in request weight is good).
So there you have it. I'm pleased with the outcome but I will have to psyche myself up to make another doll. That will take oooh, at least a few days! But that's ok as I've got another quilt on the go. You probably suspected that.