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Articles & Essays

"Just for bacon lovers"

Published 05/04/14
The News & Observer (Raleigh, NC)
I got an email link from my neighbor, the Queen of Pie, the other day with a note that said, "I couldn't help but think of you - take a peek!"

 Puzzled as to why she would be alerting me to information from a quilting store, I opened it up. There it was, a beautiful thing: A stuffed winged-pig pillow sewn from bacon-strip-printed fabric.

I was excited beyond all reason at the idea of bacon fabric.

 I hopped in the car and drove straight to the store. 

Understand that for me, walking into a quilting shop is like entering the Large Hadron Collider: I have no idea what happens in there.  I know as much about nucleons and gluons as I do of appliques and fat quarters.

 Besides being a fantastic pie maker who succeeded where others had failed in teaching me to make good piecrust, the Queen is a master quilter. They're not really quilts, to me, but works of art. In fact, I didn't know quilts could be art until I saw her work.

She uses a machine that cost as much as a small car, and for which she had to upgrade her home computer's software. 
I do own a sewing machine. It's in a white plastic box in a closet. To use it, I would have to find the directions on how to thread it, spend half an hour actually threading it and replace the needle broken more than a year ago. ("What? You tried to use a regular needle to sew knit fabric?" the Queen gasped when I told her about the mishap.) 

 Then I would have to lie down with a cold compress on my forehead and think about dinner.

I wandered through Cary Quilting Company's rooms of fabric rolls, thread spools and tools as mysterious to me as the contents of a nuclear lab, muttering "bacon fabric, bacon fabric" under my breath. The clerks looked at me as if wondering where my keeper was.

 I found pumpkins (in two colors), green tomatoes and even an endless fabric facsimile of martini glasses. I might have considered the tomatoes if the store had bread, lettuce and mayonnaise fabric as well. But I craved the bacon fabric.

 I finally asked, and the clerks pointed it out to me. It looked even better than I imagined - a modern, graphic design representation of red-and-white bacon strips on a gray background. The fabric was part of a series called Farm to Fork that includes similar prints of steaks, whole pigs, halved hard-boiled eggs and milk bottles. 

But none were like the bacon fabric. 

An apron. Yes. The clerk asked me how many yards I wanted. 

Then I realized I would have to go home and beg the Queen's favor first. I know from past experience that sewing something myself would mean ending up with an apron shaped like Florida. 

Also, curing actual bacon from scratch would take me less time to accomplish.

Come back soon, the clerk advised me. The fabric was going like pork rinds at a NASCAR race.

"Bacon fabric, bacon fabric!" I bubbled to The Hub that evening.

"High fiber, low fat." he said, dryly. "Is it kosher?"

 Fortunately, the Queen is a benevolent monarch. She gladly returned to the store with me. A mere apron? Nothing to her. She says she likes those "small projects" that she can get done fast.

Small. Fast. Rub it in, go ahead.

 But I did begin to feel a little incompetent.

It seemed like such a "small project" that she also offered to make me a tablecloth from some onion-print fabric I spied. 

 "I can sew a straight line," I protested, feeling useless.

She looked down her glasses at me. "Are you sure?"

 When she started talking about putting metal washers in the corners to weigh down the cloth during outdoor book signings, I gave up. 

But, I wonder -  if bacon is the gateway meat, might bacon fabric be the gateway cloth to sewing?

 Not when the Queen is a mere flying pig's throw away.

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