Thursday, August 17, 2017

Flora, Fauna, and Free Patterns to Come!

A couple of weeks ago, I (Kara) wrote about the inspiration of nature that I see on my daily walks with the dogs here in Germany. (You can read about that here). What inspires me most is the abundance of wildflowers and insects present along the trails. As I see each one, my mind begins to think, "How could this be stitched?" 

 I have been itching to actually stitch some of what I've seen, and now that my fabric is here, I can! But what we think would be fun is to stitch these images from nature together! Would you like to stitch along with us?

The vision for this project is to re-create all this natural beauty in a series of small, relatively simple designs, that can be finished easily without a lot of fuss and offer them free to our readers for a limited time. Each month a new, small design will come out for you to stitch—suitable for appliqué, wool appliqué, or embroidery—whatever you choose! I will show you what I have done and what materials and stitches were used for that particular block, and any tips or tricks I encountered as it was stitched. Since these will be small, scraps of fabric or wool can easily be used, and if you have some threads that you have been wanting to use, this might be just the project for them. I've laid out some of the possible choices for the first block just to give you a hint as to which block will be first!

Some of the potential fabric and thread choicesfor the first block.
What could it be?

Each design will be done as a 6" finished block, but what will the end result be you might ask? That will remain a mystery for a time, but rest assured, there is a delightful finish planned! If you have a different vision for the blocks, that would be great, too—and we would love to see it. This project is all about flexibility, simplicity, and stitching fun. Our hope is that you will join us in this stitching adventure and share your blocks with everyone as you stitch along. 

Come back next week to get your first free pattern and see the first finished block!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Fleurs & Blumen: 2018 Academy Classes

Do you have a passion for appliqué, or perhaps embroidery? Do you enjoy creating lovely pieces of handwork with fibers and fabric? Have you wished there were a place where you could sit and stitch with others who share your love of hand-stitching, forming a bond with "sisters" from around the world? (Indeed, there are a number of attendants each year from around the U.S., Canada, Ireland, even Australia!) And finally, when you get to the end of a long winter, don't you feel like you could really benefit from a bit of "me" time? Well, this is your opportunity! 

Kara and I (Teri) were delighted when Barbara Blanton, proprietress of the Academy of Appliqué in Williamsburg, Virginia, invited us to return in 2018 to teach. Our creative sides kicked in immediately to determine what we would be stitching in our classes. We both were inspired by vintage/antique pieces, and flowers are always part of the mix. Take a closer look and see what we will be creating. We'd love to meet you!

Oiseau et Panier (Bird and Basket)

Class: February 26-28, 2018

Some time ago, Kara purchased this panel from someone on eBay. She wasn't sure of the age of the block, but the seller indicated that she had sourced it from France, and it clearly had some age to it. We are hoping to dig up some more information about the history of the piece, but that will be a future blog post. Kara began to design a block pattern based on the birds and basket, and we searched for just the right materials. That is always one of the most enjoyable parts of the process for us. Kara always loves to put on bird on things, so you can see why she'd be drawn to this design; she opted for one bird, however, rather than two.

Let's explore some of the details.

L'Oiseau (The Bird)

The sweet bird has a rather coy look, don't you think?
The embroidered accents add much to the bird's body,... well as some frilly tail feathers! 

Le Panier (The Basket)

The basket has a bit of woven dimension.

Lace and pearl blooms at the basket's base

Les Fleurs (The Flowers)

Hand-dyed silk creates this lovely bloom,... well as this elegant rose.

Gathered velvet posies

A fussy-cut fabric flower

A wired-ribbon rose

Some dainty blossoms


This class will be held from Monday through Wednesday, February 26–28, 2018. Registration opens on Labor Day.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Cross-Country Quilt Shops

What a summer! It has been a month since I (Teri) have shared on our blog. Kara has been exploring Germany, and I have ventured into the West, particularly Yellowstone National Park. We spent three months in our rental home in Historic Downtown Frederick, the last of which was spent traveling back and forth to our new home, readying it for our final move. I have been thankful that Kara was willing to give me a writing hiatus, so that I could focus any non-traveling, non-box-unpacking time on finishing up our blocks for the Williamsburg Academy of Appliqué blocks. But more on that in a bit.

Frederick, Maryland

Just before we left for Yellowstone, one of our favorite quilt shops, Charlotte's Cottage, relocated to Shab Row in Frederick. Its opening day just happened to fall on my birthday; I can think of few better ways to spend a birthday than to explore a freshly opened quilt shop—especially one filled with lovely reproduction fabrics! I encourage you to read the story of the shop, written by the shop owner, by clicking here.

Here are some highlights of the shop.
The stairway is inviting, with more fabric and classroom space on the next floor.

Fabric cutting time! 

A raffle was held for everyone who attended the grand opening: lots of Aurifil thread!

Owner, Susan, right, helps customer, Kristy, with her purchase.

Looking out the window past the thread display, you can see the charm of these restored 19-century buildings.
Note that the building you see across the parking lot to the left is our favorite wool shop,
Primitive Homespuns Wool and Needleworks., which we wrote about last year. (Click here to read.)

Precuts and patterns

Look at those brights! 


If you are ever in the Frederick, Maryland area, this shop should be a must! There is something for everyone!! And the area is reminiscent of historic times of the past.

Yellowstone National Park, Montana & Wyoming

A few days after the Grand Opening of Charlotte's Cottage, my family ventured west to see some amazing views in the nation's first National Park—Yellowstone. I knew we would see beautiful scenery, but I was unprepared for the vastness of the landscape, and the incredible color in these fabulous landforms! 

Water really was this color, only even more stunning in person!

The bottom of a pool; yes, you are looking through crystal clear water here.

Even the wine bottle labels were inspiring; can't you just imagine these embroidered or appliquéd?

One day, we decided to take a break and shop instead of going into the park; it was supposed to be a rainy day—fine for the younger members of the family, but we older wiser ones needed a break. We took our grandson and walked through West Yellowstone, a town in Montana, just west of the park entrance. A friend had told me there was a quilt shop there, so my radar was working. My mom and I took a detour into the quilt shop, leaving the 3-year-old with the rest of the group. This Yarn and Quilt Shop is called Send It Home and has a shipping section in the back—you know, so you can buy plenty of fabric without worrying about your luggage being too heavy on the flight home! 😉

A happy greeting by the owner of the shop

The shop's Row by Row on the wall, above right

Fat quarters, thread, landscape fabrics, and a bison 

Lots of local animal-themed fabrics...

...and lots more!

So many yummy yarns!

A complete shipping section 

They even have jewelry!

If you're Yellowstone-bound, put this lovely little shop on your list of stops!
The sun even came out while we were inside shopping. 🌞

Coming in 2018: Williamsburg, Virginia

Within days of arriving home from our trip, we settled on our new home, and the moving and unpacking commenced. I had to take a few days to just stay put in the rental and stitch my heart out, so that we would be able to get our supply lists and photos off for the catalog of the Academy of Appliqué. This year, we decided to celebrate "going global" by creating blocks with European inspiration: one from an antique French fabric panel, and the other from a vintage German botanical print. Here are a few teases below. To see the whole blocks and the catalog of the Academy—held in Williamsburg, February 26–March 3, 2018—go to; the entire catalog should be posted on Saturday, August 5. 

Or come back here next week, and we'll share more about these exciting blocks! 


Thursday, July 27, 2017

An Adventure With Atarashii

At a recent Black Forest Quilt Guild meeting, I (Kara) was fascinated with one of the show and tell quilts. It was made using Atarashii, or Japanese folded patchwork. (You can see pictures of the quilt here.) The method creates a block or part of the block, complete with patchwork, if desired, and batting; similar to a quilt-as-you-go process. I had a hard time finding information about it when I initially looked into it, but I have found some resources that I will share later in the post. 

Since I was so intrigued by this method, I thought I'd give it a try. Then I realized I didn't have any fabric or batting handy (my stash is apparently still on the boat). Luckily, my friend Birgit's shop is only a block away, and she had a book I could borrow on Atarashii. Off I went to pick up the book and a few fat quarters.

Birgit's Book about Atarashii.

As this was an experiment to see if I liked this method, this post isn't necessarily a tutorial. For a detailed tutorial, you can check here. This is a great tutorial from Jill at the Quilt Rat, and I liked the way she offered many different variations of a classic cathedral window, which is closely related to Atarashii. One of the variations reminded me of a flower, so that was what I chose to do. I used the book to trace my patterns, as I wanted to make sure I had the proportions correct. The book is written in Japanese, but the patterns were easy to trace and there were quite a few pictures to help with the process. I had to be a bit resourceful, making do with what I had—notebook paper to trace with and an Ikea box for the cardboard—but I was determined to make it work. I assembled all my parts and got started. 

All my parts ready to go

I started by piecing my circle.

Drawing my 1/4" seam allowance helped me stitch accurately

My finished 3 1/4" circle

Once I was finished with the circle, it was time to put gathering stitches, near the edge. 

Ready to gather.

I had cut a cardboard circle, 2 5/8" to use as a gathering template and then proceeded to pull on my gathering stitches so that the edges wrapped around the cardboard. Once it was gathered to my liking, I pressed it to hold the edge and then removed the cardboard.

My pressed circle before removing the cardboard.

In order for my "leaves" to align correctly, I folded the circle in half, matching the green edges. I then finger pressed the fold.

Matching the green.
Finger pressing the center fold.

I then opened up the fold and marked, with a small mark on the top and bottom.

Note the small marks at the top and bottom of the circle.

The marks allowed me to align my 1 3/4-inch square cardboard template.

Aligned and ready to press

I then pressed the edges of the circle over the cardboard.

Pressed edges with cardboard removed.

I prepared my center insert by stitching a 1 3/4" square, consisting of one 1" x 1 1/4" rectangle and one 1" x 1 3/4" rectangle of white, and one 1 1/4" square of coral. I put a few French knots on the coral and stitched a green stem using a chain stitch from the coral to the point.

Adding details.

Now the fun part as the flower appears! I put a 1 1/4" square of batting, and then my patchwork square in the center of my folded circle.

Please just pretend that patchwork square has the embroidery on it.

Then I folded my edges over and pinned them.

Ready to stitch!

I worked my way around the edges with a small appliqué stitch, starting at one corner.

A finished block

Just one in this size would be a cute little ornament, but I wanted to see what patterns I could create if I had four of them. So I made 3 more.

One version

A different placement

And one more

I settled on the first version and proceeded to attach the four parts in the same way I would if I were English paper piecing.

Stitching them together

My finished piece!

This is just one variation of many that can be done with this basic method. The variety comes from varying the pieced colors of the circle and the square. You can see a lot of different variations here. I will say that I think this method would be easier using larger pieces—I will admit to having to press a couple of pieces into square submission! However, I do think this would be a fun method to pre-prep and take on the go. Let us know if you've tried Atarashii or Japanese folded patchwork and how you liked it. As always, we'd love to hear from you!