A Pleasant Distraction

When you cut a lot of ten inch squares, you wind up with a lot of tail ends. They are random in width, neatly cut on three sides, but often a bit lopsided on the remaining side. I think they are perfect for a “chinese coin” or “railroad track” application. When my girlfriend asked me to sew curtains to go with a quilt she purchased, I took one look at the quilt, and knew it needed a companion strip pillow.

Coin pillow with quilt and curtains.

Coin pillow with quilt and curtains.

Pillows are nice little distractions from big things, like commissioned quilts, drapes, WIP’s and UFO’s, mending, dishes, pulling weeds, and stash cleaning. Even a fancy one can be done in a short time, giving an instant sense of accomplishment. When stash piles and works-in-progress sit in the room, it feels like they are staring at you, admonishing you for ignoring them. Even when you put in time on them, there is more to be done. But a pillow, you sew, and you enjoy it.

Chain piecing random strip coins.

Chain piecing random strip coins.

I pulled colors from the saved 10″ strip tub (of course I saved them!) Choosing things that blended without getting “matchy,” I assessed my pillow stock and picked a size. I chain-pieced the strips, then assembled the middle section. The white background of the pillow is actually the curtain lining leftovers, making for two lovely “reuse” items in this pillow. The rick rack was a stroke of inspiration.

Hmmm. Rick Rack. Very popular in my childhood, we even gathered the points together and decorated headbands with “rick rack flowers.” OK, we were a bit corny, but I have even seen Martha Stewart play with this idea. Anyway, while sewing it on the pillow, the curious question of who invented rick rack came to mind. Some internet research showed that the term was probably first used in the late 1880’s, when crocheters would do a special series of zig zag rows to decorate an item. Someone shifted to doing the zig zag rows separately, and stitching it on fabric as an embellishment. It has been in and out of favor several times since then, and has evolved to include crotcheted, knitted, braided and woven forms. (1)

So my curiosity had an answer, and my girlfriend now has custom curtains and a nifty pillow to go with the lovely quilt she purchased! All this from one pleasant little distraction, now spending a very nice day in my garden.

(1) see my References and Bibliography pages for citations and links to more information about rick rack.

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About thecuriousquilter

Quilter, sewer, writer, gardener, mother, sister, friend, always learning, always curious.
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8 Responses to A Pleasant Distraction

  1. Donna says:

    Lovely! And lovely garden too! When can all your readers come over for tea?

  2. J. Johnson says:

    Very pretty! Looks like a magazine spread.

  3. Jill Harkins says:

    Very Nice! Beautiful picture!

  4. Martin says:

    Pretty. I like the stripes with the dots. Curtains surprised me, but bet they work well with the quilt.

  5. gladys says:

    Cute pillow and lovely drapes! Would love to know more about the circle quilt and how it is made. What is the size of the circles? Thanks

    • Well thanks , Gladys! I wish I could claim the quilt as my work, but as I said, she purchased it. However I admit to drooling and paying close attention to its construction.

      The circles are each 7.5″ finished, they are hand appliqued in place with edges turned under. There are 8 fabrics used and they are randomly scattered, in this quilt they appear to have come from the same fabric family but this could be a scrappy project as well.

      Each cirle is then very widely buttonhole stiched with what seems to be two strand standard thread. The backing is one of the circle fabrics. After sandwiching, the hand quilting has a free and almost primitive feel to it as well. Simple tuck stitches are used in the cirles, and the background around each circle is quilted 1/4 inch from the circle.

      All of the assembly has a very casual sort of homemade feel, no need to meticulously quilt or applique to replicate the vibe. If you click on the picture it should enlarge significantly.

  6. gladys says:

    Thanks for your speedy response and very thorough description of construction. I really appreciate your taking the time to do this. I am fascinated with circle quilts and just completed one from Aunt Grace 30’s fabric and working on one using Oriental fabrics, each quilt a different design. Again thanks and congratulations on your rapid rise in the blogging world!

  7. Salli W says:

    I actually found what looked like rick rack on a couple 16th century German portraits.

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