Tuesday, December 17, 2013

From Russia with Love (& Tractors)

Hey everyone!

I'm very excited to share with y'all a quilt I've been working on for the past few months.
I chose a design from a wonderful book I purchased earlier in the year, Making Quilts by Kathy Doughty.
The book is visually spectacular but also provides easy to follow instructions for a variety of quilt designs. And I really do mean variety! There are some very modern quilt designs like the Wagga and then some modern takes on tradition designs such as slave quilt Antebellum Bling and Doves in the Window. Every quilt has an explanation of what inspired it's creation, whether that was a childhood home, middle eastern ceramics or quilting mentors dear to Kathy.
My absolute favourites from the book have to be Uzbek Patches and Turkish Crush for their exotic "made someone far from here" feel. As soon as I saw Turkish Crush, I knew it would be the perfect quilt design to use for my new fabric collection From Russia with Love (& Tractors).

The collection started developing in my mind after I borrowed a wonderful book from my local library called Russian Textiles - Printed Cloth for the Bazaars of Central Asia by Susan Meller (textile historian extraordinaire!). After borrowing the book 5 times I shelled out for my own copy!

As the title suggests, the book is an exploration of the history of textiles traded between "Western" Russia and the marketplaces of Russian Turkestan (a geographical area including Uzbekistan & Kazakhstan amongst others). The styles and colours of these fabrics were driven by the Central Asian love of bright tones and floral motifs which were very often used as linings on ikat woven silk robes worn by both men and women.
Two wonderfully inspiring books by two equally inspiring women

Some of the more unusual designs included in the book were propaganda pieces designed to promote Communist ideologies. Unsurprisingly, these particular designs were never very successful with a subjugated population but their corniness is quite appealing to those like myself in the modern western world who have never lived with the horrors of a communist dictatorship.

My designs for From Russia with Love (& Tractors) are a celebration of the seemingly absurd combination of pretty textile and industrial might. I steered away from any overtly communist symbolism as I know it can still cause great distress to some people including some of my family members.

So, I've just finished the quilt top (see above) using my From Russia with Love (& Tractors) fabric collection and some co-ordinating solids and a hand dyed indigo cloth I made myself.

For a backing I used a wonderful new print from the incredible Anna Maria Horner, Postage Due in the Toast colour way from her new collection Dowry. I'm sending it off the the delightful Ms J to be quilted in an allover pattern. And when that baby gets back to me I will be hand finishing the binding (my favourite part - best more enjoyably accomplished with chocolate and a glass of wine!) in front of some terrible Christmas reruns.

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