Saturday, November 20, 2010

Quilts and Hats and a White Dress

Today's DAR meeting included a program on American Heritage in quilts. A true artist in quilting brought a collection of quilts, quilted vests and quilted wall hangings she had made to illustrate the craft. She had the members oohing and ahing and clapping their approval as she unveiled each of her masterpieces.

I was one of two members elected to help hold up the quilts for display (I think because I was one of the youngest and one of the tallest members at today's meeting). It gave me an opportunity to really examine each of the quilts front and back and they were fantastic specimans. Many had won awards in quilting competitions and one had traveled to Washington D.C. to be included in a national DAR exhibit.

The quilt she used as the focal point throughout the presentation was a pinwheel quilt made with a Texas wildflower fabric.

One of the mini-quilts/wall hangings caught my attention. It spoke directly to the miniaturist in me. Nine miniature vests on "wire" hangers, each opening to reveal a contrasting lining with a watch pocket and a charm that could be tucked into the pocket.

I could almost wish that I had learned to quilt somewhere in my past, but I hate sewing with machine or by hand, so it is a craft that I will never be tempted to add to my resume. But I can sure appreciate good work when I see it and this was an opportunity to see some really fine work. It also has made me ponder how to display some of the quilts in my possession that were made by my grandmother Hodge. I would love to rotate them as coverlets on my bed, but I don't know that they could hold up to the pesky cat problem that persists in my house.

The meeting actually broke up a little early today, so I wandered down the street to check out a couple of my favorite shops in downtown Smithville before heading home. I knew I was in trouble as soon as I stepped inside the door of Feathering Your Nest.

This little store is unique. There is shabby chic combined with Victorian combined with kitschy to be found in the little nooks and crannies. I have frequently picked up items there that I really did not need but just could not resist. One time it was an ostrich feather fan. Another time it was a Battenburg lace parasol that I purchased on a whim and took with me to a grave marker dedication a few months back to use as a sun screen. I figured it would get me some odd looks, but I was really surprised how many of the women attending came up and asked me where they could get one for themselves.

My idea today was to look at hats. There is a "Hats and Bonnets" function of the DRT in the not too distant future and I have been on the lookout for a jaunty chapeau to wear to the event. I was poking my way to the back of the store when I glanced up and saw a beautiful cream suit with lace sleeves and gorgeous rhinestone buttons hanging in one of the bedroom displays. I admired it, looked and did not find a size or price tag, and wandered off, only to return to touch and admire it again. It appeared to be raw silk, or maybe rayon, and it was in beautiful condition if it was a vintage piece.

I knew I did not need this beautiful suit, but I had to know more about it, so I hauled it to the front and quizzed the clerk. Was it vintage? Yes, it belonged to the grandmother of a friend of hers and had just been brought in the previous day. The original owner had been a lawyer's wife, quite well-to-do, and had many of her clothes custom made (which would explain the lack of tags). Did she know what size it was? She thought she had been told it was a 14, but since sizes have changed over time it might be a 12. Could I take it off the hanger and hold it up to see if it might fit? She generously offered to let me try it on in the small restroom at the rear of the store.

I slipped into the blouse and it snuggled against me like it had been made for me. I really did not expect the skirt to fit, but I shucked my jeans and went ahead with the fitting. The skirt fit perfectly. I told myself I had absolutely nothing coming up that would call for such a fancy outfit, but I knew I was sunk. The price was ridiculously low and I figured eventually I would encounter a need to dress up a little. So now I own a cream, possibly silk, suit. Somebody invite me to a fancy dinner.

Having talked myself into an outfit I did not need, I should have known it was one of those days. In the same store I stumbled across a suitcase full of vintage hats (I got the black velvet hat with black net accent) and a new hat of white crochet with purple flowers and feathers. At least I have a need for one of these soon. The bad thing is, once I got home and tried them on, I decided I like the look. One more thing to start paying attention to while out antiquing. I have a feeling that I will be well equipped for Hats and Bonnets luncheons for years to come.

My little spurt of shopping done, I picked up take out Mexican food and headed home. A good day got better with a long nap on the couch. I sure wasn't going to risk another back injury with any old housework.

Tomorrow I have an outing to the Elgin library to attend another author talk and book signing. And maybe a stop at the Antique Mall.


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