When I first saw the Bellissimi Fiori line of quilting cottons, I knew instantly that these were no ordinary quilting cottons. They made me think of porcelain dolls, summer days, clothes lines, and somehow of the simplicity of the past. They felt authentic. And they felt like home.
I believe the Dutch must live surround by colour and nature. Their way of life; from bicycles to fancy dress everyday to deeply valuing honesty and friendship, seems to seep into their designs. It's a rich, bright beauty and it's built to last.
And so I will say it again; these are not ordinary quilting cottons.
At first touch, it's the lightness of the cottons that takes you by surprise. They aren't coarse and heavy like the quilting cottons we are used to. Why is that? Well, as if in answer to my question, the creator of these fabrics came to Calgary and we sat down for a talk. This is what I learned. I warn you, what follows may be disturbing for fabric lovers. :)
These are quilting cottons in their best form. Their fineness is an attribute of their quality, their strength, as well as their versatility.
So what have we been using?! His response was frustrated and simply put, "less...with a huge markup.".
I went to my friend, Mary, who is my go-to girl when it comes to sewing and textiles. She is to sewing what Glenn Gould is to Bach; understanding so thorough it come across as effortless.
I showed her the cottons, watched her happy dance, and readily accepted her offer to make a quilt. I was very curious, albeit a little nervous, what she would think of these quilting cottons.
This was her result.
So how were these fabrics to work with? To quote Mary, "An absolute pleasure.".
Mary knows me so well! When she brought the quilt she also brought a bag of unspun wool ready to tell me why these quilting cottons and so much of the fabric that comes out of Europe, are exceptional and different.
She pulled apart the wool and I could see the long fibers as they pulled away from each other. These long fibers are part of what defines a quality fabric. It's called the staple. If the staple is short, you have pilling as the short fibers unwind. So firstly, these cottons have a long staple.
Next, these long fibers are spun very finely. Using fine threads in fabric construction means more threads are needed per inch of construction. This makes a finer fabric and yet it requires more fiber. This form of construction allows for a more even dying process, deeper colour saturation, far less shrinkage, and fabrics are built solidly without being bulky.
But it is a sort of shift in thinking.
(Coincidentally, this explains the term 'poplin' as well which is defined as a tightly woven fabric. It's a term we use a lot in the store but that isn't very common in North America.)
The girls bury their face in the quilt, "It's so pretty, mama!" but I think how soft it must be for them. This quilt has quickly become a place for cuddles, tea parties, capes for super fairies, forts, quite reading time, and snuggles at bedtime. It occured to me...isn't that really what a quilt is? It soothes, protects, cuddles and loves. It's a part of the family.