Clothing · Sewing

The Sublime and the Mundane

The Mundane

That is, if making a Wild Geese quilt block can be considered mundane, which makes me think back to the Days of the Babies, when the only time I could find to sew was about a 45-minute block once they went down for naps (and only if I weren’t taking one, too). But those minutes might be considered sublime, don’t you think?

You can read my Instagram post to find out why I was trying to beat the blahs, but in a nutshell…it’s January. Need I say more?

73 years ago. Nice to know I’m not the only one — thanks for all your nice comments on IG.

Because I was inspired by this beautiful quilt made of half-square triangles, and because I’d promised a grown grandson a quilt long ago in blue and white, I drew this one up in EQ8 and thought “Gosh, I could do a block a day and have it finished by the end of January.”

Yes, that goal is a far cry from barely being able to drag yourself out of bed, but it’s that thing about small steps, about sticking with a task, about creating. I listen to most episodes of the Ezra Klein podcast and found that a recent one, on “Sabbath and the Art of Rest” contained so much great advice for me personally. I learned a lot about the idea of the Sabbath, of taking a rest, of leaving space, of joyfully getting together. The guest, Judith Shulevitz, was fascinating, the conversation sublime and at one point she said this nugget:

“[I]t’s like anything else. It’s like writing, for example. You sit down, you don’t want to write, but you got to write. And there will be three hours when it’s a slog and that one hour when your mind opens up, and you’re in the flow, and you get it. You get why you’ve created the schedule where you have to sit at your desk from 9 to 1, or whatever it is, as unpleasant as that may be, as many conflicts as there may be. And nothing good is easy….You have to work to get to the experience of flow, to get the experience to the experience of God, to get to that what Émile Durkheim…called effervescence, which is that collective joy.”

I made the 5″ finished triangles from my stash, using the 8-at-a-time method, then made one more HST to get nine. This quilt will finish as a large lap size. The first two large squares (white and blue) were cut at 12″ square, then marked as shown. I sewed on either side of the diagonal lines, cut on all drawn lines, then pressed and trimmed to 5 1/2″ square. It went very fast. Just what I needed for January. Was I in the flow? Did I experience effervescence? Not really, but it was a mood lifter, for sure, to see my progress pinned up on the design wall.

The Sublime

My husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday, and after we crossed off the yacht, the furs, and the jewels from the list, I said I wanted to go the Bowers Museum in Orange County and see Guo Pei’s exhibit of her couture clothing. So who is she? If you remember back to the Met Gala in 2015, when Rhianna wore that gorgeous yellow dress…that was Guo Pei.

Many of these dresses took thousands of hours to make, and are heavily embellished. The shoes can be outrageous, too. This is not the clothes you wear for schlepping around to the grocery store, but they are the clothes that are admired, that ideas come from, maybe even a bit of effervescence. Enjoy. {Click on an image to enlarge it.}

So many of the clothes were made from man-made materials, a huge departure from our quilting world insistence on natural fibers. I loved this fringed dress.

My sister Susan came down for my birthday weekend, and she, my husband Dave, and I all liked this grouping the best. This was from a collection she titled Chinese Bride 2012. These were made of silk, with gold and colored threads used for the embroidery of “standard and shaded satin stitches.”

I’ll put some video up on Instagram and link it in a couple of days.

A movie was made about her (here’s the trailer):

Thank you, Guo Pei, for your beautiful clothes.

Look what we found when we came out: a very fancy quinceañera dress!

P. S. This was fun to see. It’s all my Instagram monthly markers for 2022.

17 thoughts on “The Sublime and the Mundane

  1. Happy birthday 🎂 Elizabeth!!!!! Hope it was a great one! Your grandson will love the triangles quilt. Sorry about that rascal sciatica 😡! Hang in there 🥰

  2. You made me look up sciatica. And though I didn’t know what it is, I’m sure sorry you have it. Painful then? I can imagine that’s it’s tough to roll out of bed, or raise/lower yourself into a chair. Definitely not conducive to leaning over to rotary cut or sit at a machine. Does anything relieve the pain? In any case, you’ve made a lovely start on your grandson’s quilt! I love, love, love your design… and as much as I love it, piecing it would be precisely why I would never make it! I’ve never been good about making tiny points meet-up. Good for you to obviously have that ability. The blocks you’ve pieced are just great! Keep up the good work… but feel better as you do.

  3. Oh I forgot one thing that helps my mom, one of those memory foam cushions!

    Today has dawned bright and beautiful and the sewing room is clean so perhaps some sewing is on my horizon as well. I do love a blue and white quilt!


  4. Thank you for sharing this exhibit! I enjoyed your photos and will watch for the video. I love fashion, especially couture. It’s amazing to see what designers can dream up.

    Your blue and white quilt is going to be stunning! Hope you are better soon, too.

  5. Those dresses are really incredible works of art. The blue and white quilt is going to be so pretty. Love your fabric choices. I hope the sciatica is giving you fewer problems. That is not fun! Happy birthday month to you!

  6. Wow, just WOW, the work and hours and hours in those beautiful dresses! Thanks for sharing such beauty.
    I hope you are continuing to feel better and I bet your grandsons quilt is looking fabulous!

  7. Take some advice from me or maybe you gave it to me. One foot in front of the other or in this case one sewing hour at a time. You can do it! Pretty soon it will be February and the month of love. A beautiful month for all of us I hope.

  8. Happy belated birthday. The blue and white quilt speaks directly to my heart, and I hope it’s fun to work on a block at a time. And wow, the Guo Pei couture clothing exhibit was amazing to see, even through your blog.

  9. These creations are unbelievable! I wish Kim Kardashian had chosen something along these rather than pouring herself into Marilyn’s dress!!!
    Belated birthday greetings.

  10. Wonderful post! I occasionally listen to Klein’s podcasts, but missed this one – will have to find it as I loved the quote from it. Your blue and white quilt seems like just the ticket to get you out of the quilting doldrums – sometimes simple is best. I am totally in awe of the Guo Pie dresses. Normally I’m not a big fan of couture, but these pieces are out of this world creative and beautiful! Truly wish I could see them in person! Thank you so much for sharing your photos!!

  11. What a wonderful exhibit! And I’m in favor of Sabbath observation. Whenever one of the many medical studies of Seventh Day Adventists suggests they live longer because they’re vegetarian, I think, “AND they belong to a strong faith community AND they strictly observe the Sabbath”. Not that I think vegetarian diet isn’t a factor, but really, there are confounding factors!

  12. I was attracted by your title. Life is such a mixture of opposites. Those dresses truly are sublime, and I’m glad you were elevated above the mundane!

  13. I’m there with you and the sciatica. So painful and nights are so bad…Your blue and white quilt is lovely–there’s just something classic about blue and white combined with HSTs. And that clothing exhibit!

  14. Thanks for sharing all those beautiful gowns. I don’t pay any attention to fashion and am guilty of thinking about high fashion as snobby and ridiculous. These pieces are pure art. Like you, I especially love the yellow group.

  15. Thank you for sharing the exhibit at the Bower Museum. The clothing is very interesting and beautiful. I won’t be be going to the Bower Museum, but I was able to visit the Skirball Cultural Center for the first time and saw the “Fabric of a Nation: American Quilt Stories” as well as the Noah’s Ark exhibit. Both were wonderful to see. It’s not far from me, so I look forward to visiting again to see other exhibits in the future.

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