Sunday, August 11, 2013

My Dream (Pantyhose) Quilt

If the internet had corporeal substance, I would kiss its feet.

Here's why.  Back in the 1970s, when I was deep inside the jaws of my earth mother fantasy, I used to borrow The Mother Earth News from the library.  Some of the articles led me down perilous paths, such as the one that advocated feeding poison ivy to goats and then drinking the milk in order to become immune to the plant's itch-producing substance, or the one that inspired me to carve wooden spoons.

But the most fascinating to me was entitled "Use Old Pantyhose As Quilt Stuffing."  The author showed you how to make little square bags from leftover fabric, stuff them with old pantyhose--first cutting off the waistband and saving it for staking tomatoes--and sew them together into a cozy comforter.

In those days I used to order pantyhose by the gross, in black, taupe, navy and ecru.   And what with running out to milk the goats on my way to the college where I taught, and doing a spot of weeding when I got back from class without bothering to change, I was always getting runs and snags.

Although I had loads of old hose, I didn't have much time.  I never made the quilt, but the fantasy of it stayed with me, as compelling as when I had first read about it.  That quilt seemed like the perfect combination of art and frugality--you put to use an item that would otherwise sit in a landfill for eons, and ended up with an object that was both useful and full of rustic charm.

The years passed, and every once in a while I would think about the pantyhose quilt.  Did every square require an entire pantyhose?  How exactly did you assemble the squares?

Then recently in an idle moment I googled "stuffed quilts."  There were many sites with instructions, but none used discarded pantyhose, and the little bags had tucks in them to make room for extra  stuffing, so that the quilts ended up looking like bubble wrap.

I decided to try my luck on The Mother Earth News site.  I typed in "Pantyhose Quilt,"  pressed "search," and the article came winging out of my past, as fresh and exciting as when I first read it in 1979:  http://www.motherearthnews.com/diy/old-pantyhose-quilt-stuffing-zmaz79mazraw.aspx?PageId=1#ArticleContent

Isn't the internet a wonder?

So, you ask, have I started on my quilt yet?  Alas, no.  For one thing, it's been over a decade since I threw away my last pair of pantyhose.  And, for another, I am not a quilter, although I would love to be one, to sit for hours peacefully cutting and stitching and stuffing, fully immersed in my task, without a pressing thought in my head.  But that last bit always gets me into trouble, and seven minutes into an ostensibly calming, mindless task I'm running through the house looking for my Kindle.

No, I'll never make my pantyhose quilt.  I will read the article once more, figuring out measurements and wondering if old towels would work in lieu of hose.  Then I will hit "Delete" and consign the pantyhose quilt to my attic of unfulfilled fantasies, where it will pop up every couple of years and tempt me with its vision of both hominess and sustainability.

13 comments :

  1. man it's been years since i wore pantyhose. years and years. i did make a few quilts back in the day, in the early 1980s, when friends were starting to have babies. i didn't have a sewing machine, so i hand-stitched them and stuffed them with batting from the quilt shop. so much work. never again.

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  2. I can't imagine that much hand-stitching. I think my eyes would fall out, or my hands.

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  3. Do they still have all those fabrics shops for home quilters where you can buy all the material and all the other supplies? It seemed that in order to be grounded well enough, you needed to be able to make a quilt. I think this was only an American activity. I once made a very unimaginative, small quilt, and when faced with all the rectangles, quickly got the sewing machine out.

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    1. I think that the quilting movement is alive and well in the USA. But, unlike you, I never joined.

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  4. This is one of those postings which results in limited readership.

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  5. When I first "retired" and tried to think what to do with my time, I tried quilting - actually made one - and found new friends Quilters make great friends; they are so patient with those of us who are so impatient. Like you, I could never sustain the attention to mindless sewing no matter how much I wanted to. A book always beckoned.

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  6. Rosemary, I think that quilting and sewing--especially by hand, the way Laurie made her quilt--probably served as a kind of meditation practice for women in past centuries.

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  7. I remember that article -- and the quilt! I was in college at the time, and a couple of girlfriends and I were sewers. One friend was enthralled with the idea of making a "pantyhose quilt" and decided to make one. In the end, she wasn't happy with the stuffing of it. The nylon moved around a lot inside the little packages, so she sewed together the few squares she finished and gave it to her little sister for a doll bed. Live with the fantasy, Lali -- it's much more satisfying than this particular reality! Thanks for the memory :)

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    1. So here's another wonder of the internet: connecting with the ONLY other person on the planet who remembers that article. You're so right about fantasy being better than reality, and not just in this case.

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  8. I am a quilter, and I know of pantyhose quilts. You are probably better off wishing than actually spending the time, alas. Those puff quilts, when made with cotton wadding or similar breathable stuffing, are cute and kitschy. Made with pantyhose, they clump together with time and turn into little hard wads inside their puffs.

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  9. Sounds like the universe was trying to protect me from disappointment. Little hard wads...ugh!

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  10. I was a newly wed right out of college then. I saved the article as I did with many of personal interest from my subscription to Mother Earth News. I sewed and quilted, canned
    and gardened as I still do. About thirty years ago I did start a panty hose stuffed quilt but the project also coincided with the beginning of a career as a public schoolteacher and a new family. Recent retirement has given me the freedom and time to pick it up and continue working on it! I am almost finished! I do sit and handstitch each night and I am enjoying this expression of creativity and recycling of the weirdest kind. Can't wait to finish. It looks amazing!!

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  11. Weird recycling is right! How amazing that you're making this now, after so long. May it keep you warm for many years.

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