Friday, June 24, 2011


Years ago I was rummaging around through my grandma's sewing room. It never ceased to amaze me that after two decades of exploring her house I could always find new treasures. Of course, as I grew older, different items gained new meaning. Old football programs from when my grandfather played at KU were that much cooler when I became a tuition-paying Jayhawk myself. (The average size of players in those days was 5'8", 180 lbs. So almost exactly me size!) One of the neatest finds of all time happened in her sewing room. I pulled open a drawer and found a small, white, drawstring cotton bag. A tiny post-it note was pinned to it that said "WWII parachute silk" in my grandma's pretty, tiny handwriting. Inside was a bundle of ripped and cut up pieces of beautiful old silk. I think I must have asked her where it came from and what she did with it, but for the life of me I can't remember her explanation. She was a nurse stationed in North Africa and then Italy during the war, so I'd say it's a pretty safe guess that she got the material from the source. Maybe she picked it up off a battlefield. Maybe a young soldier kept it with him after a jump and was brought into the Red Cross tent and while she treated him he gave it to her because he fell in love with the kind nurse. Maybe he was a farm boy from Minnesota and he felt at home talking to her. Maybe it was a gift from a date. Maybe she got it at a garage sale when she got back Stateside and moved to Wichita to marry my grandfather. Who knows, but it's special to me and for years I've tried to imagine ways to incorporate it into something I can use and keep near me.

A year or so ago I started seeing cute little cloth braided bracelets around, but making one seems daunting when considering the clasp. There's a reason people buy most of their jewelry. I love the way this leather is sewn at the ends of the braid and I think it could be a nice contract to the delicate, white silk.
Juicy Couture
braided cloth bracelet

This one is a little closer to what I've imagined. I have various bits of other material that I collected from Grandma's house after she moved the nursing home that might be fun to include with the parachute silk. Again, contrasting lighter materials by including leather or a chain into the braid would be a nice touch.

tie the knot sash

Then just today I found this next silk braid, which immediately made me remember the silk and which inspired me to write this post. It's from Ivy and Aster , a New York bridal shop. How precious is this belt? I would love to find a strand of rhinestones or "diamonds" and make something like this. If it were long it could almost work as a necklace or hairpiece or big bracelet.

Bailey and the parachute silk

Whatever I end up doing with it, I'll love having a little piece of my grandma that much closer to me.

1 comment:

  1. thanks for the note love bug. i didn't know your grandfather played for ku? your a true kansas darling! i like the way your wrote about your grandmother as a nurse, it's an interesting history, i bet it's hard to take the plunge and do something with the silk. right ? it seems so special, even though it would be great as a bracelet- it would still require you to cut it up....

    love you buttercup!