Saturday, August 15, 2015

My life as a bag of fabric scraps

My life has been a tapestry........

One of my favourite Carole King songs, describes our life as the weaving of a tapestry. You may have heard similar analogies. Even the back of the tapestry or weaving gets a mention.

Whilst the part we look at is a beautiful picture, the back can be a chaotic mess of threads and knots, which symbolises those things that happen in our lives to create the picture of who we are and who we are becoming.

The back of my cross stitch
The Front of my cross stitch
Except if you are my friend Clare. Once I showed her the back of a cross stitch I had done.
Evidence - left

I am not a great needle worker - maybe to do with my left handedness and the fact that I rush everything - I'm self taught and no one has shown me how to do things the "correct" way.

She commented about the back of mine and then showed me hers.

I'd never seen anything like it.

It was as neat as the front and there were no lumpy knots in site. Her stitches all went the same way. Maybe the weaving of her life was all ordered and un-eventful.

I guess analogies can only be taken so far.

Recently I was playing around with a pile of fabric strips I'd been holding onto. It had taken a while for the creative juices to flow and I was inspired when I saw a similar project in a fabric shop. After a weekend away, inspiration came. I think just getting out of the normal routine and outdoors into nature was water to my soul.

A pile of unrelated strips of fabric

So I pulled out my bag of fabric scraps and played around with combinations.  This process took a while as I wanted the random pieces to make sense when they were sewn together. Sometimes I like things to match and sometimes I love the juxtaposition of things that don't really go together.
Planning where they should go

And then I cut and played around with the strips until I was happy with the layout.

Now here is where I tell you about my amazing sewing sisters. These friends have fabric collections to die for and when they sew they make it look easy. A couple of times I've been on sewing camp and I'm amazed at what they pump out......4 or so quilt tops in a weekend. I chat, make cups of tea, cut out a square of fabric and might even get a single quilt block sewn. I'm still working on a quilt I started 10 or so years ago. These girls start and finish a quilt in a day!

I tell you my tale of sewing woe so you understand that I tend to dabble in arty pursuits but never really stick with one thing. And get frustrated with how things turn out. I think I'm cutting a straight line, even with a rotary cutter and cutting board and it looks straight to me. But then I sew it together and try as I might, my straight lines always seem to go awry.

A bit like life; my sewing skills. So I cut and sewed my teeny strips of fabric and came up with this. And then I started to see things in the fabric.
I went away for the weekend  with 15 other women. One I knew really well, a couple I had known of over the years and the rest were all new friends to be made. We ranged in age from 25 to 55 and the thread that wove us together was that we were or had been home schooling our children. I went along as one of the older gals who had finished her home school journey.

It was such an amazing time even though I was a bit apprehensive. But after a weekend of living together laughing, crying, sharing our ups and downs, we all felt connected in some way to each other. While I had gone to encourage some of the younger mums/daughters, they encouraged me. It was fun to hear their perspective and to see that they had become well adjusted young women who didn't completely despise their mum for teaching them at home.

So as I sewed this little picture together I started to see my new friends in the colourful strips of fabric. Before, we were just separate strips of fabric with no purpose or great connection but as we were sewn together we became a stronger piece of fabric able to support each other.

This little project has come to represent many groups of friends in my life, and also my family. While most of my family lives over east or overseas we are still woven together by threads of family ties and love. It also represents a group of women I am in a fb group with. Some live here in WA and some over east but many overseas. We encourage each other every few days. So while we don't live side by side we are also sewn together by threads of common interests and issues.
I see different people in the strips of fabric.There's the neat floral who lives an ordered life, and the crazy random colourful one who wears her hair wild and her clothes even wilder. Some are more mellow and others more outgoing and lively. There's the sun-shiny yellow friend who always has a smile and encouraging word.

We are different, each of us, but stitches of love, acceptance, understanding, empathy hold us  together.

Sometimes we are unpicked and we unravel and we feel like a remnant on the cutting room floor. But oh how sweet it is when someone you weren't expecting to invites you to be sewn back in or some one else just walks besides you until you feel that you feel whole again.
There are many more stories this little piece of sewing can tell and I've been madly playing with strips of fabric to create art pieces for my walls.
I'm enjoying playing with the pieces and letting them speak to me.


  1. Beautiful! A perfect reminder of our fabulous weekend, you may have even inspired me. :)

  2. thank you for sharing this, Julie. What a beautiful description of our weekend away! Dinah x