LS: Art of Quilting Column January 04, 2009

Old drapery samples make curtain call

I suppose comedienne Carol Burnett’s spoof of the classic movie “Gone With the Wind” remains the most creative re-use of draperies ever. She rips down the drapes, hanging rod and all, and fashions an evening gown of them.              (Her character’s line when asked where she got such an unusual design is classic as well ... “Oh, it’s just something I saw in the window.”)

My topic today centers on another creative adaptation of a drapery product.

Dozens of outdated drapery sample books line a shelving unit in my garage. They were given to me by a reader who retired from the drapery business, but didn’t want to throw out her samples.

It was a chore to lug them up from her basement and haul them home, yet I’m grateful she offered them to me rather than toss them.

I love to flip through the fabrics and admire their pretty designs from florals to faux silks to toiles to shiny taffeta plaids.

I’ve shared some with quilting friends, and I’ve managed to use quite a few of these fabrics in my own sewing projects.

Most recently, I turned them into decorative journal covers and gave them as gifts for Christmas and birthdays.

When choosing the fabrics, I opted for large flower, leaf and geometric patterns that are easy to outline in thread and embellish with beads and fuzzy yarn-like fibers. Most of the design work was already done for me.

Of course, journal covers can be made of regular fabrics, perhaps pieced crazy quilt style or in other patchwork designs, even string-pieced. The possibilities are endless.

I’ve used variegated threads in decorative stitches on my sewing machine as well as specialty threads for free-motion quilting over the surface. Either way, it’s lots of fun.

You can find plenty of other ideas for making your own journal covers on the Web.

If you watch “Fons and Porter’s Love of Quilting” on PBS, you may have seen their nifty version on the morning of Dec. 20.

I tape their TV shows, so I can refresh my memory on their techniques whenever I want.

This show was titled “Wrap It To Go” and featured a more complex journal cover than mine, primarily because it required bias binding.

But I like the added pocket for pens and pencils and the curved flap that closed easily with Velcro.

By the way, instructions for Fons and Porter’s journal cover also were published in the fall 2007 issue of Easy Quilts magazine.

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