Recently, I was at La Ruche des Quilteuses reading a post regarding the flax plant. The original post is in French – thank you Google Translate – and it was there that I saw the photograph. To say that my jaw dropped would be a very poor description. Smitten? Certainly, but it was more, I was amazed, thunderstruck, gobsmacked, and yes, beguiled, by the watery greens in a field of flax in bloom.
I found myself drawn back to that photo repeatedly. I decided that I wanted to celebrate the color the best way I knew how, with textiles, in a quilt. I confess that I am a green lover, and you won’t find a shortage of greens in my fabric stash, but I was looking for a very particular color of green.
I spent hours burrowing through every bin, box and bag of fabric that I own, and then I found it. A length of vintage fabric that I’d picked up for a song a few years ago. It was one of those fabrics purchased without even the foggiest idea of what it was going to be used in.
Seen up close, the fabric is a particularly virulent poison green overlaid with a grass green on white, but when you stand back it all blends into a gentle watery green.
Once I had my treasure at home, I kept trying to use it in a variety of scrappy style quilts, without success. It looked wretched with everything. The last time that I had it out attempting to make it play nice with all the other fabrics, I folded it up and with a sigh I put it away.
I was fairly certain that I wouldn’t be seeing that fabric surface again for a while.
But here it was on the cutting table – unfolded and seemingly compliant – what if I just kept it simple (stupid) and paired it with white? For a pattern, I could use a two-block combination, Snowball and Nine-Patch. The pairing is a little old fashioned, but when used together it makes a dandy flower pattern, plus, I’d have all of that lovely negative space to work with when the time came to quilt it.
And now, on with the opera. Let joy be unconfined. Let there be dancing in the streets, drinking in the saloons, and necking in the parlor. — Groucho Marx: A Night At The Opera (1935)
We don’t have a season that most folks would call Autumn here in SW Oklahoma. No glorious show of color to bring down the curtain on a growing season. We do have Fall, if by that definition you mean that all the leaves turn brown and fall on the ground (it usually happens overnight accompanied by a crash). And of course the wind was up when I wanted a morning shot to play up the soft color in the quilt top. No surprises here, the wind always blows in SW Oklahoma. The only place outside that I could find where the top would hang and not flap, was the lee side of the donkey’s loafing shed.
While it’s not a perfect replica of flax green, ‘I done my best’ with what I had, and I was able to use up every last scrap of that lovely poison green. No more frustrating moments trying to force this fabric to be a member of the chorus when all it truly ever wanted was to be a diva.
Sibyl Sanderson 1864 – 1903 American opera soprano