Emily Dickinson, Secrets Quilt

I looked at all the linens laid out on my studio floor then at the pieces of paper that I had copied some of Emily Dickinson’s writings onto.

How, I wondered, would I decide which words go with which linens.

Then I thought, “I’ll know”.  Just like I know which two pieces of fabric to sew together when I begin making a quilt.

I read thought the pieces of poem and  the words I chose from the book Gorgeous Nothings.  That’s the book with pictures of the envelopes  and the words that Emily Dickinson wrote on them.  Dickinson used the insides and backs of envelopes to write piece of poems, thoughts, ideas.

I started with the linen and  chose one  I had folded and sewed to look like an open envelope and found the perfect words from my notes to write in it: ” Our little secrets slink away”.

I decided to use a brown sharpie permanent marker to write the words.  My first thought was to stitch them on my sewing machine, but that didn’t feel right.   It was too much like the linens and embroideries that I’d be stitching them onto.

I wanted more the feeling  and look of ink on paper.  I tried fabric paint and a soft tipped marker, but the sharpie worked best on the textured linen.

I’ll soak the linens with the writing on them in cold salt water to help set the marker.  I did a test and washed some writing on linen to see how well it held and it did fade a bit, but I actually liked the look of it.  It was like old ink.

The linens vary in size and will all be sewn into the quilt.  I still have to find the right linen for the “Secrets” poem and maybe one or two more lines from Dickinson’s envelopes.  But I got most of them done today.

When I told my friend Mandy about my idea for this quilt, she recited from memory the Dickinson poem ” I’m Nobody Who Are You?”.  I chose to use just the first part of it.  I knew, immediately, it would be just right for the quilt.

This linen has a repair in it.  Patches like this one speak to how much the linen was used and loved.  And they make the most interesting shapes.

6 thoughts on “Emily Dickinson, Secrets Quilt

  1. Oh my goodness, Maria. I just love your quilt pieces. The writing on them is so real. (Does that make sense?) You are nudging me closer to getting out my old linens and doing something with them.

  2. Oh good Deb, that’s the kind of response I wanted, it does make sense to me. Thank you and I hope you do something with this linens. I don’t think they like to sit around not working.

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