Thursday, January 16, 2020

Travels and Tiles

It is hard to believe that it is 2020! I (Kara) am not sure where the last year has gone, let alone the last decade. Our past year has been busy with travel through 9 different, inspiring countries and 3 family weddings—two of which were our own children. Our most recent offspring to tie the knot wanted to have a small, intimate, destination wedding in Spain. Given our location in Germany, we decided to drive down to Barcelona for the wedding, stopping along the way in France to break up the trip. This of course gave me plenty of opportunities to snap pics of all sorts of inspiration. Even with all the variety of things we saw, the tiles were the most inspiring. We saw a few in Spain but our oldest daughter traveled on to Portugal and knowing her mother, took tile pictures there too!

So many of the tiles contain ideas for appliqué and are very reminiscent of the paper cuts in Baltimore Album quilts. Our current project, Woodland Reverie (which we will be teaching this year at the Academy of Appliqué), has at least 3 blocks that were influenced by tiles. Here are some of the Portuguese and Spanish tiles and maybe you will be inspired by them!

Portuguese Tiles from Lisbon

What a gorgeous center medallion this would be!

Lots of bias strips anyone?

This one would make a great paper cut.

Can you see a 9-patch in this one?

Maybe a combination of English paper-piecing, embroidery, and appliqué

Appliquéd wreaths.

This might be fun for piecing!

Possibly some border inspiration here.

Another medallion potential.

Not necessarily inspiring for quilts...but my daughter knows me well!

Spanish Tiles from Barcelona and Valencia

Ribbon flowers would be amazing with this design.

This one is reminiscent of a Pennsylvania Dutch fraktur

Tile seen at the Torres winery, Barcelona
So many ideas and an old favorite—a pinwheel

What a great border design this would be!

Not just one tile, but a beautiful mosaic.

Another great border idea.

Not all the inspiration came from tiles. Just walking the streets of Valencia, Spain and Avignon, France yielded some ideas.

Beautiful tile work on a building in Valencia.

Not tiles, but painted and etched.

Inspiration abounds in this amazing church in Valencia!

That window!
A great medallion.

Embroidery and Ribbon ideas.

Love this doorway in Avignon, France

Hopefully you have been as inspired as I was by the tiles and sights from these European places. I'm looking forward to incorporating some of that inspiration into future designs. I am grateful that our daughter chose such a magical place for her wedding. Not only did it give me inspiration, but I can't wait to go back and see what other influences Spain might have on our designs!

I had to post the reason we were there 😍!
Photo courtesy of Aneta Lehotska photography

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Examining Crazy Stitches

In November, I (Teri) wrote about a lot of three crazy quilts that Kara and I won in an online auction. (See Still Crazy...) I described two of them, but the third was—is—going to be the inspiration for a new project, so I decided to share that one on its own. There are so many lovely stitch combinations to study; it deserves its own post. After writing about my 2020 goals last week, I realized that this new project might be put on a back burner for awhile, so I thought I'd share the quilt with you now. 

At first glance, it is a pretty simple quilt, but oh, the stitching does draw some attention! We know none of the provenance of this quilt, but my imagination pictures its maker as a seamstress, who lovingly made dresses with beautiful hand-embroidered embellishments. That would have given her access to samples of silks and satins. Each piece in the quilt is unique, with only one or two repeats. She arranged them in rows of color families, placing the darker rows in the corners. The rectangular patches are set in black velvet, which serves as both sashing and border, and the diagonal rows are set in the style of subway tiles. And then, I think, our dressmaker decided to play, experimenting with various stitch combinations, showing off her skill set. Each patch is outlined with unique rows of decorative stitches on both of the longer sides, and each diagonal row is stitched with a different set of combination stitches. The rows of stitching are varied and creative, and many are quite intricate.

Here are just a few close-up shots to enjoy and glean inspiration:

Flowers are created with simple stitches—straight stitches, lazy daisies, knots—with very different looks.

The variegated thread gives the chain stitch at the top an interesting look, and those orange buttonhole wheels are fun.

Does anyone else see a row of moths in those cream stitches?!

What fun little dragonflies!

Sometimes simple stitches can create an elegant effect.

 So many fun combinations to study!

By far, my favorite part is the border of stitching around the entire quilt.

You can see by these corner shots how intricate the border is.

Did she plan the border, or just go from flower to flower, varying the color as she stitched? How I wish I knew her thoughts as she stitched this gem!

Thursday, January 2, 2020

A Clear View of 2020 Goals

It's not that I (Teri) have too much time on my hands, because I don't. But I do have a propensity to procrastinate and run down unnecessary rabbit holes—which explains this slightly creepy meme of me and Kara. But the sentiment holds true: we do wish you a happy 2020, and we hope that you will be able to fit some fun stitching projects into your year.

For my part, I have decided to look at my list of goals and make them public. Many of them are new projects; at least one is years in the making. Did I mention that I procrastinate? Kara is a much better "finisher" than I—oftentimes, I am ready to put a block aside when I complete the last stitch. I guess I'm more of a "blockmaker." Kara is not satisfied until it becomes a project. I wish that would rub off on me a bit. So to that end, I am hoping that you all may help to hold me accountable to complete my goals for this new year. 

Here goes!

We have a new series in the works—a set of seasonal cottages, which we hope to be ready to release and teach by springtime, or sooner. All the models are appliquéd, and they are ready for the embroidery of wreaths and flower boxes. And then they need to become more than just blocks. Watch for more about these soon!

The first two blocks from our new quilt, Woodland Reverie, are complete and will be the focus of our class in Williamsburg at the Academy of Appliquè this March. We are plugging away at some of the other blocks, hoping to have more to share soon. Or at least by March! Kara is doing the blocks on a black background, which offers quite a different look; it is fun to see the variety that the different colorways offer. (See A Woodland Walk to the Academy and It's Almost Time!)

Our Floral Elegance vase, wool appliqué with ribbon flowers and embellishment, needs to become more than just a pretty block. We have the perfect fabric to frame it for a wall-hanging. And of course, it needs to be quilted—not really my forté, but it's a small project that should give me some good practice. We are teaching this in Nebraska at Baltimore on the Prairie in September, so it would be nice to have a complete project to share. 

The other class we are teaching in Nebraska is our Baltimore Fraktur. Kara and I are both working on completing small quilts with this block as the center medallion. Our two designs are similar, but vary a bit. Suffice it to say, we will be "putting a bird on it." Beyond that, you will have to wait and see our final outcomes. Kara, of course, has a huge head start on me with this project! (See We Are Heading to the Prairie!)

Remember our Fairy Tale Album? Think waaayyy back. At the time, I thought it would be fun to make a redwork quilt using some of the motifs from that quilt. I did all the embroidery. Twelve blocks. I picked fabrics for a simple patchwork block to make as a setting for those embroidered blocks. I made the first block and put them in a pile, which then got moved to a bag. Three years ago. In my defense, I packed a house I'd lived in for 25 years, moved to a rental, moved to my new home, and....need I say more?! Excuses, excuses. It's time to make a quilt! (See Fairy Tales Through the Needle's Eye and A Magical Year.)

My mess. You see evidence of at least seven or eight projects here, either in piles, baskets, or tote bags. If I were a "finisher," I could put everything away when the project is complete. But I move from one block to another, keeping things organized and grouped for when I get back to it. I'd like to think that my brain isn't as messy as my space, but one couldn't convince my ever-tolerant husband of that. I have always been a juggler of many things. Since we have an empty nest, now I just juggle my stitching endeavors. It seems I always choose stitching over organizing and cleaning, but I am feeling the need to step back and create a clean slate may be in my near future. (See From Chaos to Order to see what this space CAN look like.)

And in my spare time—copious amounts, to be sure—I would like to continue to work on my Baltimore Album quilt with the blocks I have made for my class models. Five blocks do not make a quilt, so I'll need to keep stitching! Who knows what year this goal will be achieved, but that doesn't mean I can't be thinking about what block I might stitch next.

So there is my list. If you are a regular reader of our blog, then you will hopefully see updates as I check goals off my list. Or partial goals. 😊

What about you? Do you have some stitching goals that you hope to accomplish in 2020? We would love to hear about them! Please feel free to share in the comments below.

May your new year be filled with stitches!

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Happy Holidays!

We hope you are all enjoying a wonderful holiday,
 filled with love, joy, peace, and kindness—
and time for a bit of stitching!

Enjoy the season!!
With love from our homes to yours,
Teri and Kara