|My stash of silk scraps, Turkmen jewelry parts and Darn Good Yarn.|
My uncle went to visit her, and brought back exotic gifts for us: perfume and a green silk scarf for my mother, and a yard of yellow linen embroidered fabric (that I made into a fabulous mini-dress) and a hot pink linen embroidered sash for me. The gifts made a huge impression on me--a young "country mouse" who had hardly traveled out of upstate New York.
Fondly remembering the sash from India, I decided to make a belt. First, I put out all the silks to make my color selection.
|These were some of the final sari silk selections used for the belt.|
Next, I cut them into 2" squares. I had decided that 2" was the perfect width so I would be able to wear the finished belt with my favorite jeans.
|I measured the space of the belt loop on my favorite jeans so that the belt would fit through them just right.|
I found some fusible felt interfacing and cut it into long strips, 2" wide.
|One side of the fusible interfacing had glue dots that would melt and stick to the silk squares.|
|A cutting mat, rotary cutter, scissors and a metal ruler were used for precise cutting.|
|The silk squares were carefully arranged and ironed on to the long, 2" wide strip of interfacing.|
|A view on my ironing board of one side of the fused squares.|
|The fused side was flipped over, and thin fusible webbing used to adhere the rest of the silk pieces.|
|Unfinished belt, with both sides fused.|
|Detail of stitching.|
|Unfinished belt, fused and stitched.|
|Detail shot of small patched and embroidered strips of silk.|
I tried the unfinished belt on to see how it was looking. So far, so good.
|Testing the unfinished belt to see how it fit.|
- I could leave it raggedy and call the design "rustic"
- I could trim it off, but then the stitching might come undone
- I could bind it with fabric, but I didn't have enough commercial double-fold binding on hand that would cover both sides and the ends
- I could make my own binding out of fabric...an ambitious undertaking...and I was afraid it would overpower the patchwork design
- I could use some kind of sealant to keep the frayed edges from unraveling
First, I used a machine blanket stitch along all the edges. Next, I applied the gesso. To keep the line straight and neat, I used a thin, heavy brass bar to block off the center parts. I carefully painted the gesso on with a small round sponge brush, lifted away the bar, cleaned the bar, and continued the process until all edges on both sides were painted black.
|The heavy brass bar was positioned so that only a small part of the edge could be painted.|
|After the bar was carefully removed, the neatly painted black edge was visible.|
|Black gesso was carefully and slowly applied to the edges on both sides.|
I "auditioned" the various pieces to see if I wanted to have one on every square, alternate squares, and whether I wanted all round, or additional heart and rectangular shapes.
|This "audition" had assorted Turkmen pieces on each silk square.|
|This "audition" had a round Turkmen piece on every other square.|
I also tried on the belt again so that I would know where to sew the Turkmen pieces. I needed to be sure that, on the reverse side, some of the Turkmen parts would show when the belt was closed and the inside of the belt came through the end of the D-ring. I took care to use very small pieces that might fall near the closure.
The finished belt is colorful, fun, unique, and eye-catching! It can look elegant and festive on a "little black dress" or casual and Boho-chic with a pair of jeans or peasant skirt. I am sure I will get a lot of wear out of it. Although my new belt is really is not at all like the belt my uncle brought back from India in the 1970s (it was wider, hot pink, and had little mirrors embroidered on), it is every bit as pretty and whimsical, and evokes happy memories of my teenage years.