Thursday, December 13, 2018

Christmas Markets and a Free Pattern

It's been a busy holiday season here in Germany! Christmas markets, cookie decorating, and of course, stitching. Today's post will share a little bit of what's been going on over here, and we have a free ornament pattern as a bonus! 

Christmas markets are quintessentially German, and around here they are in full swing. Last week I did a marathon of four Christmas markets—three in the Black Forest and one locally. Every market is a little different as each town puts their own spin on it. Some are small with a few vendors and others are large with rows and rows of stalls, but each has a special charm unique to the town. The way to find the Christmas market (if you don't use Google maps on your phone) is to look for the church steeple, as the market is usually around the church. The bonus is you get to see some lovely, old churches as well as many beautiful and very old buildings. 

Church in Freiburg, Germany

Colorful building in Freiburg, Germany

Rathaus in Gegenbach, Germany.
Every day of Advent, a new piece of art is displayed in one of the windows.

Beautiful hand-carved Nativity.

Appliqué center medallion?
Always on the lookout for inspiration.

A friend of mine told me about a cookie decorating class that she had taken. The cookies she decorated for Thanksgiving were stunning, so I looked into taking a class for Christmas. When I went to the Facebook page for Sugar Art Creations by Gulnaz my jaw dropped! Her cookies and sugar art work are mind-blowing and I began to really look forward to the class. I loved the similarities of Gulnaz' sugar art to embroidery. Here are a few pictures of her work and our class:

Our class.
Love this little house.

Look at that lace detail!

I would love to see these designs stitched or in ribbon.

This ranunculus is made of sugar!

Again, every part of this rose and hydrangea bloom is made of sugar.

I think my calling is stitching not sugar but I was still happy with my cookies.

As usual, for me, the month of December flies by and I am left in the middle of it trying to get last minute things done. I really wanted to make some ornaments for various people here, but it needed to be something relatively simple and quick. Tiny wool Christmas trees seemed the ticket, so I pulled out a few wool scraps and got started. I fused my wool but that is optional. Cut out a 3.5 background, backing, and batting. Set the backing and batting aside and assemble your tree on your background as shown.

Step 1—Stitch down the tree trunk

Step 2—Add the first set of branches

Step 3—Add the second layer

Step 4—Add the third layer. At this point, whip stitch just the sides of the branches down, leaving the bottoms un-stitched.

Step 5—Embroider chain stitched swags and French knot ornaments. If desired you could add a bead at the top or glue a crystal there.

To assemble, place your batting piece under your finished background and then lay your backing on top of the tree, right side down. At this point, insert a two inch piece of ribbon, folded in half, between your background and backing at the top corner. Make sure the folded end is inside and the cut ends are in the seam allowance. Pin and then sew around the square, leaving a small opening to turn, Turn your ornament, poking out the corners and then slip stitch the opening closed. Your ornament is finished!

This ornament went together so quickly—I made 8 in the space of two days—and is a good last-minute gift. To download the pattern and templates click HERE. 

Hopefully all your stitching for Christmas is going well and that you have been able to finish a few things. Thankfully, there is still a little time to get things done. We hope you have a chance to enjoy the season in the midst of the to-do lists, shopping and general busyness.

Have fun stitching!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Two Special Exhibits from France and the British Isles

Quilts de Légende

Last fall, Kara posted about the Quilts de Légende exhibit at the European Patchwork Meeting in France. As their exhibit was a favorite when we visited Houston in 2016, I (Teri) tried to keep my jealousy to a minimum. I was thrilled, then, to see that this exhibit would be at Houston again this year. So while Kara and I didn't get to see the quilts together, there was something special about the fact that we both were able to view the same quilts—an ocean and a year apart! 

Quilts de Légende is a biennial exhibit of contemporary quilts inspired by antiques from the 1800s to early 1900s. The purpose of the exhibit is "to spotlight beautiful works that respect the techniques of the past and achieve a balance in color choices." 
Their mission appears to be accomplished! As before, this was one of my favorites of the quilt exhibits. Here are the photos that I took; to see the rest of the exhibit, click on the link above to see Kara's post from France last year. Enjoy!


So many skill sets were used to create these quilts: intricate piecework, appliqué, outstanding hand-quilting, broderie perse, and perhaps even some paper piecing. A treat for the eyes!

Antique Quilts of the British Isles

This collection of antique beauties was an awe-inspiring exhibit. The mixture of techniques used here as well was fascinating to study. Again, we have examples of so many different skills. It is hard to look at these and not want to sit down with needle and thread and start to stitch!


Bet you can't guess how many tiny hexagons there are in this lovely quilt top. Go ahead and give it a go—make a guess!
Zooming in for a closer look...
Each hexie was about 1/4-inch, and the papers were mostly still attached. If you look closely, you can see the thread knots used to keep the papers in place as it was pieced.  How many hexies did you guess?
Was your number close?

The combination of the silks and velvets had a stunning effect.

You can see the green transitioning to the tan.

The chintz is perfect for the center medallion!

I just love the birds in the center of this intricately pieced quilt.

Excellent embroidery!

This sampler worked into a quilt was intriguing. It appears that at least the center was embroidered by Hannah Langdale at age 12 in 1814, judging from the stitching. We could surmise that she made the whole quilt, but it is evidently not a certainty.
Charming embroidery, and such a nice finishing touch with the crocheted edge

I stopped by the Paper Pieces booth during Market and told them that I thought this quilt would be a paper piecer's dream!

The papers are still in place in the hexagons in this quilt top.

Another stunning combination of silk and velvet. The velvet border is striking.

So many lovely pieces of stitched art were to behold in these two exhibits. Be sure to stop by Kara's post from last year to see the rest of the Quilts de Légende exhibit. Hopefully, you have felt as inspired by these needle artists as I. Do you feel the connection with those stitchers from the past when you view their work, as I do?

I have one more batch of quilts to share. I will keep you wondering what kind of quilts they are. It shouldn't be too difficult to guess, but I'll keep you in suspense until my next post. Until then ~ 

Happy Stitching!!