Thursday, October 22, 2020

Hopeful Bluebird Stitching Smalls

Back in April, we introduced our Hopeful Bluebird Stitch-Along during those uncertain times at the beginning of the pandemic—it certainly helped to keep us occupied as we all stayed at home. Our Hopeful Bluebird Facebook group was created and we really enjoyed seeing everyone's version of the wallhanging. Because it was so fun, we wanted to keep that fun going by creating more options to use our pattern so we created some sewing smalls that used our Hopeful Bluebird motifs. And to make it even easier to create, we have put together a kit for all four sewing smalls! 


The limited edition kits are available on our website starting today and will include all the wool needed. The Hopeful Bluebird pattern is available in our store in either digital or printed form if you don't have it already.

Each week, for the next 3 weeks, we will give you the instructions to create the showcased small for that week. This week we are creating our pansy scissor keeper which will be a pretty complement for those special scissors—pair that with our scissor fob that we showed you a couple of weeks ago (HEREand your scissors will be set.



Hopeful Bluebird Scissor Keeper

Cut your wool out using your templates
and staple or fuse and then appliqué.

Stitch the vine onto your scissor keeper 
top. We used #12 pearl cotton.

Blanket stitch the top of your keeper front
with #12 pearl cotton, starting and stopping
an eighth of an inch from the ends.

Assemble your scissor keeper by placing
the keeper top on the top of the back piece, 
then place your front on top of that
aligning the edges.

Pin or staple all your pieces together to keep them in place and then 
blanket stitch around the entire scissor keeper.
Sometimes I lightly draw a line around the edge of the piece I am
working on to help keep my blanket stitches even.

(The first scissor keeper we made had a purple pansy, but we changed that out later to make it purple and orange as those colors looked better with the rest of the projects.)


The leaves are stitched down with an angled blanket stitch.

To add a little pop of color, you can make a
few straight stitches in a contrasting color
on the bottom three petals.

The finished vine.









If you choose to purchase the kit (and we hope you do!) your kit will include all the wool needed to make all the smalls including the scissor fob. The cream background for all of them is a 12" square and we have included a picture here of how we laid our templates out to make sure all your pieces will fit.


These little sewing treats would make lovely gifts for a fellow stitcher or for yourself and let's face it—we can always use some new stitching items! If you don't have the pattern, you can head to the website to purchase it in either digital or printed form. While you are at the website, feel free to pick up a kit while you are there.  Just click on the Hopeful Bluebird link in our shop.


The next step will be to download the instructions for the scissor keeper. You can do that below or better yet, join our Hopeful Bluebird Facebook Group. All the links to the instructions will be there as well and you can share your progress, and maybe make a few new friends. We also have an ongoing giveaway that is running. All you have to do to enter is post a picture in the Facebook Group of any Hopeful Bluebird project you have done or are doing. The giveaway will close on November 23rd and the winner will be revealed on Thanksgiving Day, November 26th.



If you are already a member, please share our group with a friend. The more the merrier and the more inspiration and encouragement we will receive from one another. We can't wait to see everyone's stitching treasures!

Happy Stitching



Friday, October 16, 2020

Maybe I CAN Be a Quilter

This past summer, we—along with eleven other designers—participated in a Mystery Stitch-Along. Our block was the Harvest Basket, which you can read about by clicking here. Kara and I (Teri) each stitched the block, as one was destined to be stitched into the Woolen Oak Mystery Quilt, and we wanted to keep one. I decided to create a small wall hanging with the one I made.

I thought I would just do a small border of one-inch squares, pulling colors from the basket block. Color is my favorite part of the process, so this took me an afternoon of playing with fabrics to be sure I had a balance of colors and value. I always look at my pictures in black and white to be sure that I have light, medium, and dark colors. Once I had stitched the first border, I realized that more than one row of these colorful blocks would distract from the basket, so I planned to pull the neutral into a small outer border.

 

I wanted to appliqué the word Thankful on the top border, so I played around with my fonts to get the right look and size. I chose Snell Roundhouse, which I bolded and sized at 130 points, and added a six-point outline. I printed and glued it to freezer paper, carefully cut it out, ironed it onto my wool, and cut again. It was tedious scissor-work, but worth it. 

I appliquéd the word and embroidered around it using an outline stitch, and then I added the oak leaves and acorns from the block pattern. 

The finished top

Now, the challenge I faced was to quilt it. Years ago, I tried to become a machine quilter, but never felt comfortable with anything but stitching in the ditch, or straight lines. I could never achieve the "perfection" I craved with free-motion quilting, and there wasn't enough wine to relax me into enjoying the process. And the more I fell in love with hand-stitching, the less time I wanted to spend on my machine.

For a long time, I was content to consider myself a top-maker—and as I began to appliqué, even a block-maker—being perfectly happy to let someone more talented in quilting be the quilter. But I have had the desire to make the attempt to master this skill, and have completed a few small projects using big-stitch quilting. This was my first real foray into standard hand-quilting. It is a small project, and I was ready to try and allow myself some imperfections. (In my mind, that is the key!)

I chose to use a hoopless method. As most of my quilting design was planned around outlining motifs and straight lines, I felt that I had a good opportunity to become more comfortable with the skill. My stitches are not tiny, but they are fairly consistent. I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that I really enjoyed the process. It was comforting and relaxing to just sit and stitch.  

Using a finger cot helped to pull the needle through, but the ones that I had were wearing out, so I cut the finger off of a kitchen glove, which alleviated some of the hand discomfort of gripping the needle. It was a cheap and easy solution, and it didn't tear.

The quilting from the back

I chose simple as far as a quilting pattern; I outlined the appliquéd motifs, and echoed the acorn in the background. Within the acorn, I quilted vertical lines to mimic the lines on an acorn, and cross-hatched the cap. My stitches improved as I quilted, and the outer border stitches are consistently smaller and a bit more uniform. It isn't perfect, but I am satisfied that my skills improved, and I'm happy enough with it to hang it on my wall.

When I was choosing my border fabrics, I was seeking a perfect print that incorporated several of the colors to use as my binding. The one piece I found that worked was part of a jelly roll; however, it was one of the few that only had one strip, so I wouldn't have enough. I was pretty much settled on using brown, to pull the color from the basket (and we have a propensity to bind and border a lot of our quilts with brown.) But the other day, I was looking at this quilt hanging on the wall, and I recognized that the colors in the fabric in this quilt would match perfectly. Some people have a photographic memory, but sometimes I wonder if there is such a thing as a "colorgraphic" memory. I instantly knew it would be a perfect match. I just hoped I had enough left in my stash. 

 
To read more about this quilt, read our post entitled Turning to Him.

I was happy with the color match when I pulled the piece from my closet, and I had plenty to bind my small wall hanging.


The quilting makes the design come to life!

It takes a pair of really sharp scissors and good cutting skills,
but I love the way the lettering turned out on the top border.



I had successfully convinced myself that I could never be a quilter, that my skills could never be adequate and I would ruin my appliqué work if I attempted to quilt it myself. Thankfully, I ventured into the quilting arena, allowing myself to be imperfect and to do my best. I know where I could have improved and where I was less than perfect, but perfection isn't everything. I learned that I can improve, and I actually really enjoyed the process. And I don't feel as though I ruined my quilt top. I think sometimes I am my own worst enemy. Maybe I CAN be a quilter, and not just a topmaker! 

P.S. We do still have patterns and kits available for the Harvest Basket center block on our website: needleseyestories.com/shop

 

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Taking a "Wee" Break

Teri and I

We are taking a "wee" break this week as one of us is traipsing through Scotland and the other is snuggling a brand new grand-daughter.

See you next week!

Friday, October 2, 2020

An Into the Woods Runner

No—NOT a jogger! It is a collection of Wooly Block Adventure blocks by our group of Woolen Oak Designers assembled to create a charming winter woods runner: perfect for a table top, or the back of a sofa, or even the bottom of a bed!

The Wooly Block Adventure (WBA) is officially underway! A few weeks ago, we shared our block for the program, Going to Grandma's, in our post Going on a Wooly Block Adventure. Please take a look back if you need a reminder of the charming little details in this sweet homage to grandmas everywhere.

We all had so much fun this past summer with our Woolen Oak Mystery Stitch-A-Long that we twelve Woolen Oak Designers thought it might be fun to continue to combine our talents. So we each designed a Wooly Block Adventure block, created a unifying element within the Into the Woods theme of the WBA, and assembled them to create this runner. Many thanks to Vicki McCarty of Calico Patch Designs for doing the actual assembly and writing up the finishing instructions!

To learn more about how the Wooly Block Adventure works, go to their website by clicking here, where you can also find a list of all participating shops and the blocks they have designed. During Spotlight Shop days, you will be able to download digital patterns for free; each shop is featured for a two-day period between October 1 and November 30. Links to those Spotlight Shops can be found on the WBA site.




Are you ready to start collecting? We do hope you will consider following our snowflake path to collect each of our twelve patterns and perhaps make your own Into the Woods Runner. Each of our patterns include the finishing instructions for making the runner. And, of course, we all have kits available, which include all the wool you need for the blocks, as well as a printed pattern. The kits even include extra wool for the trees, tabs, and pennies, should you choose to collect and create the runner. Here are each of our blocks, with links to the designers' websites. 


My Little Chickadee, by Blueberry Backroads

Mrs Bird E. Feeder, by Calico Patch Designs

Moose on the Loose, by Linen Closet Designs

Into the Woods, by My Red Door Designs

Welcome to the Woods, by Red Button Quilt Company

Winter Ride, by Rusty Crow

Chapel in the Woods, by Sew Cherished

Woods Ahead, by The Cottage Rose

Going to Grandma's, by Through the Needle's Eye

Sweet Snowy Owls, by Traditional Primitives

Fox and Friends, by The Woolen Needle

Fence Line Friends, by Yellow Creek Quilt Designs


Aren't they sweet blocks?! We would love to have you join us on our run Into the Woods. Just click the names of the designers in the captions to go to their websites and check out their kits—and other goodies! Or, for a list of the designers and their websites, you can go to the Wooly Block Adventure page on our website

Time to prepare for some winter wooly stitching!!


Missie Carpenter, of Traditional Primitives, decided to join her blocks horizontally
 for a mantel runner, with the snowflake traveling along the top of the piece.
Another great idea!

What will you do with your blocks?

Into the Woods Runner, by the Woolen Oak Designers