Functional Creativity: Shelter

by Admin on 26/04/2013

in Guest Editors 2013, Home+Decor

During most of 2013, will hosting a monthly mini-series, each month edited by different crafters and designers. Enjoy!

Introducing Mary Jo for the month of April :: The theme for this month is functional creativity.

Mary Jo :: Five Green Acres


I like to think of shelter in terms of the things that we put in our houses that transform them into our homes. What are the pieces that convey in a glance a little bit about a home’s inhabitants? Artwork, naturally. Clutter, or lack of. Colors. Linens. Blankets.

That’s where I’d like to zoom in today: blankets. Inside my own home, I find the most profound shelter in my bed. It’s where we pile up if the day gets so beyond the bounds of sanity that we have to ditch the plans and pop in a movie or huddle with books. It’s where I can’t wait to get to by the end of the day; so delicious is that moment where bare toes burrow into the depth of the blankets. And I like my blankets to be weighty, of substance. Forget the rocking chair by the fire; when the kids hit their own pillows I can’t resist the calling of my own, even if sleep is more than an hour away.

On this refuge of a bed, we have a lofty feather comforter and a run-of-the-mill duvet to enclose it, but it is an awkwardly-similar shade of blue as the walls.  And it’s stained — by paws and sticky fingers. So I set about the very practical task of remaking the duvet, expecting to find some new fabric yardage to quickly sew up a new one. There was plenty that would have worked, but, to quote a dear friend’s handy phrase, there was nothing that “sang Bon Jovi to me.” Hee. (I don’t particularly want my bed singing Bon Jovi, but…) So I looked further.


Linen. I will swoon for linen, actual linen from the flax plant. Antique linen? Better. Homespun French Linen from the late 1800s? Best. I found an Ebay store selling that very thing, and I looked through about 37 pages to be sure I found the right one. For my bed. Somewhere on page 12 or so I saw an antique bed sheet that bore an embroidered initial on the bottom corner in red thread. I love the idea of honoring the makers of old, and such a detail would make the linen even better, I thought.

Then I came upon another bed sheet with different initials, which of course obliged me to look through the whole list, trying to find the best match for our own letters. I found one that came close, got excited, and then found this one, which bore both of our initials, prominently displayed on the top, laid out in the order that corresponds to our own sides of the bed. You might have heard me shriek that day, so excited I was. But it wasn’t quite big enough to fit the whole duvet top, so I looked for a complementing piece to add to it. By this time, I was likely through page 20 of the whole store’s listings, so it wasn’t long before I came upon the antique child-size bed sheet that bore not only my own initials, but my favorite magic number. Hot damn. You probably heard me shriek again. Sold.


In keeping with the sparse design of the embroidered initials, I found some fantastic linen embroidery floss in a similar shade of red. (Yes, a sucker for linen I am.) In keeping with the design of my bedroom, I chose to embroider a double wedding ring motif with a simple running stitch. In keeping with the fact that I raise sheep, I chose to add a lofty layer of wool batting between the linen and the duvet top. Though now I worry that it will make the whole blanket sandwich too hot, so I’m considering the option to make it just a quilt, to add or subtract from the feather comforter, or to be used on its own.


I’ve only completed a small portion of it so far but I am floored by how the whole thing has come together as if by divine intervention. The two antique sheets fit the duvet top perfectly when I took them apart at the (lovely handstitched) seams and rearranged the layout. Once finished and put into service on our bed, I imagine it will increase the bed’s magnetic force over me, if that’s even possible. Whatever the case, it will be the most-used of all handmade things in our home, given my requirement for 9 hours of sleep each night. It doesn’t get more functional than that, does it?

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ann April 26, 2013 at 8:28 am

Stunning! I didn’t even know you could get such a thing as linen embroidery thread.


2 Maggie April 26, 2013 at 9:45 am

I’ve only found out in the last couple of years that linen is the BEST for tea towels. It dries those dishes so well, sucks up the water instead of pushing it around the plates. I love linen.


3 Lisa April 26, 2013 at 10:32 am

Love the framed quilt piece!


4 Regina April 27, 2013 at 8:44 am

I agree completely. I scored some fine linen sheets on ebay. Backed my quilts with linen and knitted linen thread into lace for my pillowslips. Linen all the way baby! My bed has never been so comfy.


5 Scarlet April 28, 2013 at 6:23 pm

I love the blanket with the hand-stitched red pattern-so pretty!

I’ve added this page to my StumbleUpon. :)


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