Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Molly, the Magic Coat and an Ikat

A couple of summer's ago in France, we were digging at a flea market in Caylus, and I came upon an old quilted coat. I wasn't sure if I liked the idea of a quilted coat, but I loved the idea that there were two different fabrics, the liner and the outer fabric. Both fabrics, I thought, I could use for our Moda fabric collection. I took the coat back home to the chateau and showed it off during our show and tell time before dinner. Molly immediately gravitated towards it (or did I make her put it on?) and modelled it for everyone to see the beautiful details and masterful stitchery. We laughed and laughed and then, somehow I put the coat away and almost forgot about it.
Until a week ago, when I was sorting through a pile of old fabric from France, looking for inspiration for our new line, and found the coat. The first thing I did, was put it on and was instantly reminded how much we laughed that summer in France when Molly would wear the coat - just to stay warm at night! We made up fanciful stories about the old, grand chateau owner, who had no heat and resorted to having one of his 18th century quilts made into a robe or smoking jacket...just to stay warm.
Pulling the magic coat out, I realized I had forgotten that inside the lining of the two fabrics, was yet another fabric - one that had been covered up by a 19th century floral. I spent a weekend (yes, a whole weekend!) completing the task of pulling out each and every stitch so I could remove the outer layer of fabric and get to what had been hiding underneath. I had no idea what I would find, but after seeing a small corner - I knew I liked what I saw.

What I found was an 18th century French linen ikat - in perfect shape, not a hole to be found. I think it had probably been covered simply because someone was tired of the design and wanted to update the quilt.
An ikat fabric is woven using a very complicated dyeing technique. The dyes are applied to the yarns prior to weaving which will create designs on the finished fabric. Depending on the pattern, specific areas of the warp and/or weft threads are are protected from dye to prevent them from absorbing color. When the threads are dyed, each thread will have different color pattern along its length. When the threads are ready for weaving, each thread has to be lined up perfectly on the loom. The warp thread is first to be set on to the loom, and then one must keep all threads in position very carefully to achieve the desired pattern in the final weaving of the textile. There is natural movement in these threads, which give an slightly feathered, or blurred look to the final textile.
To say I was blown away - is to put it mildly! Funny how one little textile can create so much excitement and then spur me on to search for as much information as I can get my hands on. The funniest part of the magic coat story is that I would have never known the little gem that was hiding inside had I not been curious...and taken the coat apart. So, I guess the moral of this story is....always look deeper, there may be something beautiful hiding inside!

14 comments:

donna said...

Amazing! I'm looking forward to seeing what you do with that gorgeous Ikat.

Anonymous said...

Love, love, love your stories! This is one of my favorite blogs becasue I learn so much. Thanks for the inspiration, keep writing!

MK in MT

Carole Kurth said...

What a great story! I really enjoyed the surprise of the Ikat. thanks for sharing. ps. your notions are making me drool!

molly said...

OHHHH YEAH!! The magic coat revealed!

Fern and Feather said...

love this... this such a cool coat... I actually have a couple photos of you unwrapping the magic :). too cool.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing greater than the hunt & discovery!
WHAT A FIND! Breathtaking....
Lucky girl, good eye!
XO, Hol

regni7 said...

Can any of the fabrics in the coat be reproduced by you?

Julie said...

Beautiful! And Molly is always such a trooper! I can just see her parading around in her coat. And your title sounds like a fabulous book waiting to be written! You Meng girls have a lot of moxie. Moxie Mengs!!
xx, Juls

p.s. See you tomorrow!

sharon g said...

Oh phooey, I just saw that you had a very cool giveaway that ended recently---the gorgeous jewelry. Do you know if you will be having another one any time in the near future? They are amazing, and just my style.Thanks

sharon g said...

How strange, my comment about the CHA/your book didn't show up. I'll ask again: I bought your notions book for my sister, and was wondering if you will be signing at your CHA class? I was on the waiting list for your class (my #1 choice of classes), and GOT IN!!! I can't wait for your class...

becky up the hill said...

Perfect story with a happy ending. Loved it!

Lori said...

That is awesome!! What an amazing Ikat!! Fun story too that really captures the imagination.

Rose Brier Studio said...

What a great story! What a great coat! And I'm very fond of the photo of Molly. I studied Japanese textile arts one summer in Berkeley and "tried" to learn ikat weaving. You description is perfect. That is one tough weaving technique and I have so much respect for the weavers of your beautiful piece.
~Marilee

Lynda said...

How wonderful that you're the one who decided to buy the coat. With your imagination, curiosity and patience it gave up its secrets and we now have this marvelous story. Thank you, Kaari!