Sunday, June 12, 2016

Molly, The Magic Coat and an Ikat

This post was originally published on January 24th, 2012

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!

7 comments:

molly said...


What a fascinating story! I love rummaging around in thrift shops and flea markets --- you never know what treasure you'll find!

Marlynne said...

How exciting!

Unknown said...

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Unknown said...

Thank you for posting the great content…I was looking for something like this…I found it quiet interesting, hopefully you will keep posting such blogs….Keep sharingikat fabric by the yard 

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