Monday, 28 March 2016

The Goodbye Cushion

The neighbours that live across the road from us are selling their family house and downsizing by moving into a smaller and more easily maintainable unit.  Consequently for the past few months they have had the arduous task of cleaning out 30 years worth of 'stuff' that is no longer needed with some items going to Lifeline, some being sold at a garage sale and a lot just thrown in the rubbish bin.  I was fortunate to be given some fiction and non-fiction books and fabric lengths but best of all a tangled mess of stranded and perle threads, ribbon embroidery threads and lace which I happily sorted one Friday night and spooled onto cards whilst watching a favourite movie on TV (mmm...that's how exciting my Friday nights are these days).  Anyhow, amongst the fabrics were cut out pieces (shown below) - some already partially embroidered and beaded - that apparently were initially meant to be made into a stuffed teddy bear for her three daughters when they were young.  With time constraints, lack of motivation and inclination over time, they were all but forgotten about until the big clean out and my neighbour (knowing that I was crafty inclined) thought I might be able to use them.  Well...was she right about that!!

However, it wasn't until I took a closer look at them that I realised the huge amount of work that had already gone into these pieces and felt that I shouldn't really be accepting this when she had done so much herself and it was then that I decided to create a goodbye gift for her.  My first thoughts when studying it was what a beautiful crazy quilted piece they would make and so I set myself the task of making them into a cushion.  

First I carefully washed the pieces individually to eliminate the musty smell of sitting in the back of a cupboard for so long before grouping the colours to work out how many pieces could be used according to their shape and embroidery keeping in mind to distribute the colours evenly for both sides.  Two pieces of calico were cut to a pre-determined size and both sides of the cushion were worked at the same time ensuring there would be an even amount of fabric pieces to cover both sides.  I was really surprised how after trimming to straighten the edges of each piece that the overall size needed to be decreased so it turned out to be a wise decision.  Where the off-cuts had beads, I kept these for use later on.

These photos show the almost completed patchwork for both sides and highlights the use of the embroidered and beaded pieces. 

Once all the patchwork was done, time was then devoted to embellishing the seams and/or any bare sections with either embroidery, beading or any other interesting form of embellishment.  My two main criteria right from the very beginning were to use as much of my neighbour's threads, beads, ribbons and lace and to also enhance her work by copying the stitches she had already used as much as possible so there wasn't a definite and obvious distinction between her work and mine.   Her use of basic stitches - herringbone, lazy daisy, feather, etc. - set a good starting point for me and these were incorporated as well as using some of my own.

After completing an intense 6-7 weeks of constantly working on the project at every possible opportunity, the cushion was bound with fabric (a piece that was given to me by her) and the insert sewn into the cushion before being slip-stitched by hand.  

One completed side of the cushion...

... and the other.

... and just a couple of close-ups.

I took the cushion to my neighbour last Wednesday and the emotional tears and impromptu grateful hug told me her true feelings of this gift.  

I will miss her and her family when they move on as she has been a wonderful friend over the almost 28 years that we have lived here.  We've had fun conversations, shared happy occasions like weddings and births of grandchildren (hers not mine), supported each other during sad times and given friendly waves to each other when in the yard watering our gardens.  I wish her and her husband much happiness and good health in the next phase of their lives.


'Friendship and support from friends is something which is a source of tremendous inspiration always and to everyone' - Nelson Mandela

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