Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mrs. March

Mrs. March? Like the mother, Marmee,  in Little Women? No, not exactly . .  .

But, changing the subject--Here's a question for you. What's the best batting to use for little quilts? This is a question I get asked at almost EVERY single workshop or lecture I give. What kind of batting do I use to make my quilts look so soft and have that antique look, like they've been played with often? There are so many battings to choose from it gets downright confusing. Thick or thin, cotton or polyester? Silk or bamboo? Batting comes in a variety of thicknesses (thickness = loft).  For my small quilts, I prefer a flat look, the kind you see in antique quilts. They've been washed and worn so much it almost looks as if they contain no batting at all.

So I like to use a thin cotton batting (low-loft) and think it's particularly great for small quilts because of the way the quilts drape (or hang). Thin batting is also very light and easy to hand quilt. I hate it when I choose a batting for my small quilt and it turns out puffy--some of my early quilts were like that because I was inexperienced at the batting thing. I didn't know that's how a quilt turned out if you used polyester batting. So I tried a lot of different cotton battings instead, and found that some were so thick that I couldn't get a needle through when I tried to hand quilt my quilts. And the quilt didn't drape well when I placed it on a doll bed, just stuck straight out. After a little bit of trial and error, I eventually found a batting I liked--Fairfield's 100% natural, all cotton batting. PERFECT for my doll quilts! I use it all the time and tell others about it when they ask what I use.

Bonus:  If you go to the Fairfield website home page (below), you'll notice that yours truly is the Fairfield Designer of the Month for MARCH! (Mrs. March, you could say, get it?) All this month, because I love their batting and want everyone to know about it, there will be a free pattern on their website for a doll quilt I made for them, using their batting of course. You can see it there all month, to download and print out.

Here's the link to the free doll quilt pattern  on their website.

So, sorry to disappoint--No, I will not be playing Marmee (Mrs. March) in a new Broadway version of Little Women or anything like that.

Although I have loved the book since childhood (and own a very old copy a friend gave to me years and years ago), have seen both movies many times, plus the live musical, and once dragged my husband and kids to visit Louisa May Alcott's house in Concord, MA when we vacationed out east, that's about as far as it goes.

Although, now that I think about it, I have to say that maybe there ARE some similarities between me and the author or her characters.

I must thank for the following info on Louisa and her book to help me realize the similarities:

"In Little Women, Marmee offers moral guidance and unconditional love to her girls: Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy."

(Me:  I have one girl and one girl dog--my girls--I give moral guidance and uncondtional love to them on a daily basis. I give guidance to one of them to make sure she doesn't pee in the house. But I still give her unconditional love if she does. And paper towels to the other one to clean up the mess.)

"Louisa May Alcott drew from her own childhood experiences to dramatize the joys and sorrows of the March family."

(Me: I draw from my childhood experiences and my children's experiences ALL THE TIME  in making my quilts and writing my books, remember?)

 "In the novel, the sisters come of age, with the Civil War in the background."

(Me: I have 4 sisters who are aging and I like reading about the Civil War and collecting Civil War reproduction fabrics. Just kidding, if any of them are reading this . . . )

"Louisa May Alcott was friends with Ralph Waldo Emerson and took walks with Thoreau."

(Me: I was an English major and I love Emerson and Thoreau too! Quote them often. Visited Walden Pond  twice! Even bought a t-shirt that says: "Member of the Thoreau Sauntering Society." Sadly, the t-shirt no longer fits, probably because I sauntered a little too much for my own good when I should have  been jogging . . . . )

"Marmee is always there for the girls--to oversee their antics, allay their fears, and heal their troubled hearts."

(Me: I work at home so I am ALWAYS there, ALWAYS watching over my kids' antics and ALWAYS asking about their troubled hearts, so much that they wish I'd just give it a rest sometimes. And throw the camera away while I'm at it . . . )


"Louisa May Alcott's own mother, Abigail May (Abba) Alcott, was the basis for Marmee in her novel, Little Women. Alcott once wrote of her mother: 'A great heart that was home for all.' Like Marmee, Abba was passionate and caring, with special attention to women's rights, temperance, and abolition. She also wrote in her journal:  'All the philosophy in our house is not in the study; a good deal is in the kitchen, where a fine old lady thinks high thoughts and does kind deeds while she cooks and scrubs.' "

(Me: I'm just like Marmee, a great mom, always in the kitchen, cooking and scrubbing, thinking higher thoughts, forever doing kind deeds, taking in strays. Sure. Whatever.)

So there you have it. More like Mrs. March than I thought. Enjoy the pattern.


Beth said...

Great post. I have to go check out the website and see what Ms. March has done.

Karen said...

What a fun post to read. I love your stories. Your blog is so entertaining and informative.
I just printed off the little quilt from Fairfield. It is so cute and will be fun to make. Thank you so much

Daniëlle said...

Hihihihi, can't help it, still smiling!!! Thanks so much for the pattern!! Love the colours! I do hope I can find the Fairfield batting here in Holland! take care, hugs, Daniëlle

Kathleen Tracy said...

Informative but also very silly sometimes. Try to find the batting--I know you'll love it.

Lori said...

I'm not sure I've ever used that batting. Thanks for the review, Louisa, er, I mean Kathleen:)
Cute quilt pattern too!!

jennifer said...


so i'm sitting in a cafe, vacantly staring out the window, thinking 'what would be the perfect film to watch today, while i quilt up my Signature Quilt from Kathy's book?' why, Little Women of course, the 1949 version with Liz Taylor. i pick it up, and bike on home...

only to log on, check your blog, and find this fantastic post! what terrific synchronicity! i love it!

isn't Louise May Alcott the best? sigh.

and thank you, again, for a lovely read. :-)

Kathleen Tracy said...

Jennifer, that's very cool . . . enjoy the movie. I watched it recently too. Did you know she was a nurse during the Civil War and contracted typhoid fever? She wrote a book about her experiences.

jennifer said...

hi kathy!

no, i didn't know that about her - i'll have to ferret the book out. i just read "The World of Louisa May Alcott: a First Time Glimpse into the Life & Times" by William Anderson... and really recommend it - its very pictorial, with lots of primary sources, photos, references to the Concord thinkers.

(Anderson also did Laura Ingalls Wilder's biography - he seems to gravitate to that era and creative women!)

wonder what kind of quilts the Marches made, thrifty as they were? ;-)

carine said...

I love the Book Little Women, Family March, i'm surching for it for a long time, because It remember me of my youth, I always cried myself in sleep when I saw the picture! And your work is also beautiful . Greetings from Bruges - Carine


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