Thursday, March 29, 2018

The Texas Quilt Museum

Last week, I (Teri) went on vacation to San Antonio, Texas. As always, when we travel, we stopped in several quilt shops and antique stores during our day trips to visit wineries or eat barbecue. My favorite day trip was definitely our drive to La Grange, where we went to the Texas Quilt Museum. It was everything I could have hoped for, and more! How lucky am I to have a husband who will drive two hours each way during vacation so that I can look at quilts?!



When we arrived at the museum, I was a tiny bit disappointed that pictures were not allowed; however, I was given permission by the manager to take a few photos so that I could share them with you. The current exhibit is only there for a couple more days, but I was thrilled to have been there to see the magnificent quilts they have on display now. The main room was hung with Antique Indigo Quilts from the Poos Collection, by Kay and Lori Lee Triplett. 

The view from the front of the museum was breathtaking!

Since I couldn't take photos of each quilt to study further when I got home, I purchased the book, which includes the quilts hanging in the exhibit. Now I can relive the beauty of those indigo quilts from my easy chair! 

Indigo Quilts, by Kay and Lori Lee Triplett
This was one of my favorites!

After examining each quilt in detail, we entered the next room, which displayed some of the quilts that were on exhibit in Houston last fall, at the International Quilt Festival. As you know, Kara and I love fairy tales and stories, so you can guess how excited I was to see two quite diverse quilts depicting stories. The museum manager, Julie Maffei, offered to take photos of me with the quilts for our blog. Try to zoom in to study the details. The work on both is magnificent!

Marchen (Fairy Tale), by Kayoko Hibino; Japan
There is nothing about this fairy tale quilt that I don't love—
from the stories that are illustrated to the color and fabric choices,
and of course, the spectacular embroidery and quilting. 


Adventures in Wonderland, by Fabia Diniz Mendonca; Brazil
The more I studied this quilt, the more I found. I am in awe of anyone
with a talent for quilting this kind of detail. And there were so many
fabulously quilted elements of Alice's adventures included!


Cheshire cat, detail
The Mad Hatter, detail
The Queen of Hearts, detail
Alice, detail

Many thanks to Julie, who allowed me to take a sampling of photos to share, and who walked me through the displays to be sure I didn't miss anything. 

The third exhibit included quilts by San Antonio artist, Jane Dunnewold, whose innovative quilts are creatively Inspired by the Masters. Each piece includes various types of vintage stitched pieces—including crewel, needlepoint, punch needle, doilies and quilt blocks—stitched together to portray a renowned masterpiece by a notable artist. To see more about this display, you can go to Jane's website to see her work: http://www.janedunnewold.com/inspired-by-the-masters.






Julie then took me to The Pearce Memorial Library, which houses an extensive collection of books and resources about—you guessed it!—quilts. They started with a couple hundred books, but now have more than 6,000 books. This is a room where one could spend a day, getting lost in the pages of the quilt world!

Stumpwork flowers based on Shakespeare works

An exhibit of toile, from Mary and Joe Koval's collection.
Each drawer held a piece of antique toile, and the story told in the fabric is detailed.
In the drawer above is The Story of Joseph, Red and white French toile on linen, c. 1806.


The current exhibit is soon ending, but the upcoming exhibits look just as promising. If only I lived closer! 
Next to the museum is a flower garden, and what quilter does not love a flower garden? This one, indeed, is inspired by a quilt, or quilt blocks; even the name, Grandmother's Flower Garden, is a popular quilt block design. Won't you join me on a pictorial stroll through the garden?

I love irises!



The sundial in the center of the garden

The redbud trees were abloom, while at home, we were getting a foot of spring snow. 





My husband found a cool, comfortable resting spot. He even told me to take my time at the quilt shop next door!

He had a pretty nice view of the garden from his shaded bench.

The left side of the mural...

...and the right side.




What a great day we had in La Grange, Texas, visiting the quilt museum, its garden, and the quilt shop right next door. There were even a few antique shops in the town. If you are ever in that area of Texas—even if it's a two-hour drive—it would be well worth your time to visit! For more information about the Texas Quilt museum, you can visit their website by clicking here.  

What about you? Have you visited a quilt museum that you could recommend to all of us? Please leave a comment below, so we all know what should go on our quilt museum bucket lists. Inquiring minds want to know!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

"In the Garden"—Robin and Forsythia

Spring is on it's way! Teri and I (Kara) saw evidence when we were down in Williamsburg, Virginia, at the Appliqué Academy a couple of weeks ago. The daffodils and forsythia were displaying their brilliant yellow for all to see, and the trees were just starting to have that faint, rosy cast as their buds start to swell. We even saw multiple bluebirds during our visit! With so many signs of spring, how appropriate is this month's In the Garden block, featuring two classic harbingers of spring; the robin and forsythia?

The robin and branch are wool and the forsythia flowers are made of lots of silk ribbon which is included in the pattern—soon available on our website!

The wool pieces went down first and the robin's breast was put down last. Before I stitched it down, I cut out a piece of polyester batting slightly smaller than the breast piece and put it underneath to give a little padding in that area. Then I stitched it down and began the embroidery.

All stitched down and ready for embroidery

I wanted to transform the color of the brown wool used for the body and did so by adding multiple straight stitches in a dark, brown, wool on the head—giving the head a darker look than the rest of the body. The satin-stitched eye is surrounded by two bullion stitches done in white. The white is also used for the throat and a couple of stitches near the eye.








The feather stitches add a subtle shading to the breast.
Once I finished the head, I moved on to the breast. I just wanted to add a little shading to highlight the padding, so I used a thread that is slightly darker than the wool and did about 3 rows of the feather stitch. It's subtle, but I think it works.

You can see the marks I made for the wing design. I used my white, roller ball pen to put those on the wing. A stem stitch was used for all the wing stitching, using a variegated, brown wool.

The tail is stitched with three rows of chain stitches done in the same dark brown wool as the head.




The last bit of embroidery needed was to add the legs. I used Press and Seal™ for the legs, tracing onto it with my white, pen. Pulling out the pieces of plastic can be a pain but it really works for transferring a design and a pair of tweezers helps to get the little bits out safely.

The traced legs
The first set of chain stitches
The finished legs

With the robin embroidery finished, it was time to move on to the forsythia. I went through once putting the yellow, silk, ribbon blooms on with straight stitches.

Round one of the forsythia blooms looked a little sparse.

After putting a few flowers on, I decided I needed to fill it in a bit more. I tried making a couple of forsythia with a lazy daisy stitch, but thought it didn't add to the look and just kept to the straight stitches.

The extra blooms did the trick.
French knots in the center were the final touch.

It was so fun to be back in the states and meet some of the ladies from our In the Garden classes. My extended time in the US, after going to the Academy, allowed me to attend and help teach this robin block. The ladies were awesome, and they did such a great job bringing their robins to life.

Getting ready to stitch some forsythia!
Stitching friends.


What a treat to be able to spend time with these ladies!

The Robin and Forsythia pattern will be available on our website early next week, because Teri is vacationing and unable to mail your orders. She will have it on the website (www.needleseyestories.com) on Monday!

If you have made any of our In the Garden patterns, we would love to see pictures!

Past posts in the BOM series:

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Free Block of the Month 7—Primrose

Ahh, spring!!! One of my (Kara) favorite seasons, because of the beauty spring provides after a long and gloomy winter. Unfortunately, she is somewhat fickle in her actual arrival. Here in Germany, we are seeing signs, in between the rain and snow, that give us hope that Mistress Spring is on her way. One of those signs is that the primroses are springing (pun intended) from the ground—even through the snow. 









We are fortunate to live near a beautiful orchard area full of trails. Within that orchard are divisions of the land that are owned or leased by individuals for garden space. The plots range in size, and some have little cottages or potting sheds. It was at one of these plots that I saw my first primrose of the season.

One of the potting sheds 
This plot is all tilled and ready for planting.

Primroses are one of my favorite flowers. At home, I would buy one at a grocery store as soon as I saw them, and I did the same thing here. For me, it's a little reminder that spring won't be long in coming. That is why I chose a primrose to be this month's block.




Cotton Block

When I was selecting fabrics, I decided to use this green hand-dyed and this bright, fuchsia, tone-on-tone print; however, I later regretted these choices a bit. While they were the perfect color choices, the fabrics did not lend themselves well to appliqué. 




The green was like stitching through iron and the fuchsia was almost like an upholstery fabric so it didn't needle-turn very well. Since the colors worked, I plowed through and got them on the background.


This fabric fought my needle turning efforts.














You can see my struggle with getting those petals round and smooth, but with a little embroidery, that can be fixed.

















I appliquéd the flowers as one piece instead of five individual petals. Then I marked the petal lines on the flowers with my Sewline Trio™


With a stem stitch, I outlined all the petals with two strands of bright, pink floss and then did the yellow centers with a French knot and some straight stitches. For the leaves, I used a #12 perle cotton and ran a stem stitch down the center and feather stitches for the veins. What a difference the embroidery made!

I have nice, rounded, petals now!

Stitches and Threads Used (Cotton Block)

Weeks Dyeworks floss, Strawberry Fields, stem stitch, 2 strands
Weeks Dyeworks floss, Lemon Chiffon, straight stitch and French knots, 3 strands
Valdani perle cotton, O539, stem stitch and feather stitch


Wool Block

As I gathered materials for the wool block, I found a shockingly bright pink that was a good match; however, it was just a bit too bright for my taste; enter a batch of strong tea. I have tea-dyed other things before, but hadn't tried it with wool.

The tea dyed is on the left.
An overnight soak.




Materials gathered, including the now-perfect pink wool.

Once again, I cut out the flowers as one but used a blanket stitch this time to define the petals. A little, yellow, wool star was perfect for the center. The leaves were done in the same way as the cotton block, but I used 2 strands of a variegated, green floss.

French knots and straight stitches hold the centers down.

The feather stitch is perfect for leaf veins.

The finished block.

Stitches and Threads Used (Cotton Block)

Weeks Dyeworks floss, Strawberry Fields, blanket stitch, 2 strands
Weeks Dyeworks floss, Lemon Chiffon, straight stitch and French knots, 3 strands
Weeks Dyeworks floss, Moss, stem stitch and feather stitch, 2 strands


Hopefully, you will enjoy stitching the primrose this month. If you would like to see and stitch our other blocks, click on the links below. Happy spring stitching!

You can download the Primrose HERE.

To see the other blocks in our Stitch-Along:
Snail