About the Red Librarian

The 'red librarian' started out as a joke between Jacob and me. There's such a stereotype surrounding librarians: buttoned-up, prim, proper women. You know the type: butter wouldn't melt in their pursed mouths, nor would a sheet of paper wedge between their knees. But there's also the stereotype of the "lipstick librarian" -- the flamboyant, reactionary woman who rebels from that stereotype and creates her own look.

We've joked that I have three sides: the white librarian, the red librarian, and the red librarian masquerading as a white librarian. The first one is proper, the second one decadent, and the third one pretending to be proper so as to get away with her true nature.

Fun, comfortable, work-appropriate dress?  White librarian.
Add in a pair of outrageous Fluevog heels and a French scarf? Red librarian.
Stockings, garters, and killer underwear? Red librarian masquerading as a white librarian.

That's the first line. Now let's draw a second line, starting from off in the distance, which will eventually intersect: Jacob's gift of fabric. He's been sending me fabric for well over six months now, and I've been carefully stashing it away, intending to make quilts just out of that fabric. He was emphatic from the start: "Make something for yourself for a change."

Most of the fabrics were innocent. Themes I liked -- stars, batiks, certain color sets. But some came with notes that I couldn't share widely:

  • "You like funny, splashy-colored underwear like this."
  • "Doesn't this look like a certain toy?"
  • "See? I'm giving you flowers."

We'd joked that I should make a single quilt, with a white-librarian side and a red-librarian side. I considered it for a while, and then looked at my fabric stash. Jacob had given me a lot of fabric, and I had two sets of backing fabric, both bought in Hawaii, that I'd never put into quilts because I just couldn't bear to give the fabric away.

Point of intersection: I thought, why not make two quilts?

So, to entertain me while I'm working on Adam's complex quilt, I'm making this one. It's simple squares and rectangles. The fun is in the fabric.

The 'brassiere' fabric is obviously cheeky. The rest, less obvious, but they all have stories for why they belong in this quilt.Red Librarian fabrics

['Red librarian fabrics']

Clockwise from top left: bras, sex toys, bribing me with flowers, funky underwear, and endpapers for books.

Every fabric in this quilt has a story. Most of these stories can't be told in public.Red Librarian fabrics, 2

['Red librarian fabrics, 2']

Clockwise from top left: care to tie someone up?, some women are spicier than others, my penchant for red shoes, an old pair of Jacob's shorts, an old pair of my shorts, little red love letters, and a blatant 'screw' metaphor.

Then there's the third photo...

It looks so sweet ... from a distance. The fabulously funny and wrong blue fabric I got from seller 'obviousart' on etsy, who did the illustrations originally for a condom company and retained the rights. 

Yes, it's cartoon depictions of sexual positions, and it's going in my quilt. You know, in case I need inspiration.Red Librarian fabrics, 3

['Red librarian fabrics, 3']

Clockwise: the best in-joke from the pirate fabric in Brian and Suzan's quilt ("Serendipity"), penguins!, and ... yes, those are cartoon drawings of sexual positions. When I was hunting for amusing, racy, or titillating fabric to use in this quilt, I ran across the etsy seller 'obviousart,' an illustrator. She'd done a series of illustrations for a condom company, and retained the rights to her drawings. End result? A fabric called "It's Only Sex."

Laughed. My. Ass. Off.

Ordered it, too.

So the red librarian shall have a quilt that could serve as both warmth and ... inspiration. It seems strangely fitting.


The thing that's amazing about quilting fabric is just how much variety there is. Anyone who knows about the toy knows just how well that one fabric fits (well, apart from the color scheme, but still), for example. Who would have thought something like that existed?

The fact that the letters are sealed with wax is also remarkable. Who does that nowadays? I give you two guesses, and both of them count.

Amy says I can be pretty open here; even so, I just want to say that the fabric which has red shoes and black bows on it was remarkably timely when we found it. Or did I find it? Damn, I lose track of these things. It's like sending several letters in a week...you don't recall what all you've said.

There is one I do wish to expand on, and probably not one any would suspect:

The hot peppers.

During her first, prolonged visit, she had some caramels from the west coast. There were various flavors and such -- these are a gourmet item. Celtic sea salt, for instance? (Very tasty, actually.) But one had a chili pepper addition. You didn't taste it at first, but there was this burn afterwards.

To this, add the fact that the one flavor off Jay's potato chips I most frequently purchased when growing up in Chicago was Hot Stuff...well, you can see where this is going.

Let me just say that you, Amy, are not a one-dimensional experience. All these fabrics I've found for you, and not just the ones illustrated here, certainly support that conclusion. So remembering things that are salty, sweet, chewy, and spicy? Very apropos.

I look forward to seeing how this quilt develops...and what she'll come up with in a few more years!

I love, love LOVE the concept of the red/white librarians. So. Perfect. May have to steal that idea to some purpose. ;)

Ha! Do!