Thursday, August 9, 2018

Lovely Botanicals—The Academy of Appliqué 2019 Class Offerings

Some of us are fortunate enough to live near friends who share our stitching passion, and we can regularly gather to stitch and share needle stories. Others of us have to work a bit harder to create those opportunities. One perfect place to gather with others who love to appliqué is the annually held Academy of Appliqué, in Williamsburg, Virginia. We are honored to be on the teaching faculty at the Academy; March of 2019 will be our third year as teachers, and we are bubbling with excitement about our classes this year. We hope you will be, too!

The class catalog is now posted, so you can study the class offerings and select your spots. Here are a few photos of what we will be teaching.

Botanical Beauties
Monday–Wednesday, March 4–6, 2019

In our first class, we will stitch zinnias, a lily, sweet peas, and tulips. If you look closely, you can see that the flowers are joined by a butterfly and ladybug. These four blocks were inspired by vintage botanical prints and were created using a variety of materials—wired ribbon, sari silk, bias silk ribbon, ultrasuede and more.  The blocks could be put together in a small quilt or each block could be given to friend who loves that particular flower. Or maybe you add these blocks to an album quilt. There are so many options for these four floral beauties!


Details of block: zinnia and lady bug


Detail: lily bloom

Sweet peas

Detail: Sweet pea blooms


Detail of tulip

Lovely Vase
Thursday–Saturday, March 7–9, 2019

Our second class is inspired by a block in an antique Baltimore Album Quilt in the Lovely Lane Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. 

When we first saw this block, we both knew that someday we would re-create it. There was something about it that tugged on both of our hearts. We also knew, however, that it would have our own stamp on it. So we set out to explore different techniques and textures to replicate this lovely vase from Lovely Lane. To read more about the antique quilt, click here to read Lovely Lane.)

Textures include cotton, silk dupioni, wired ribbon, silk ribbon, velvet ribbon, ultrasuede, pearl cotton, wool, floss, gimp, metallic thread, and silk threads, as well as some padded elements.

Detail of rosebuds and aster

Detail of violet and aster

Detail of sunflower

Detail of stumpwork bee

Detail of white rosebuds

Detail of honeysuckle

Detail of vase

We stitched our vase on point, and appliquéd a frame around it. The vase became the center medallion of a quilt, and we used the four small blocks from our first class as corner blocks for the quilt. Appliquéd vines and flowers added the finishing touches to our quilt top, and it is ready to be quilted!

There are so many options here for how you could put your blocks together. It is always fun for us to see how our students finish their blocks. One of our greatest joys is to receive pictures of projects from one of our classes!

Let us show you how much fun we can have manipulating ribbon into beautiful blooms. You, too, can create such lifelike blossoms—and insects, too! While we will teach you a lot of skills, we strive to provide a stress-free and enjoyable learning environment. Our classes have been known to be heard laughing by passers-by down the halls, wondering what fun we are having! 

Registration for the 2019 Academy of Appliqué opens on Labor Day. You won't want to wait—classes fill fast! Last year, our class filled in an hour. So check out the class catalog, choose the perfect class(es) for you, and be poised at your computer at noon on Labor Day, September 3, 2018. And get ready for one of the best weeks of your life—well, one of the best stitching weeks, for sure!

See you next March!

Lovely Botanicals 
©2018 Through the Needle's Eye

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Free Block of the Month 11—Bellflower

A field of wildflowers just for the bees!
We are coming up on almost a year of stitching the flora and fauna that I (Kara) see over here in Germany! It has been so interesting to see what new wildflowers pop up along the way; or what insect or bird emerges as the landscape changes through the seasons. I am learning new things every day as I walk through the countryside. Something I recently discovered was that some local farmers wait to cut the hay until the wildflowers have finished blooming in the orchard fields. Why? Because it gives the bees more time to collect what they need from the flowers. In more than one location, I have noticed entire fields of intentionally-planted wildflowers. This careful consideration of the bee population is wonderful—and certainly needed.

As spring and summer have rolled along, the stitching choices have been plentiful. It is hard to pick what to stitch each month! This month I chose the bellflower, as it has been on display in a variety of forms. Some varieties are quite large, while others are delicate but hardy.

Along the forest path
A close-up 

A different variety, found bravely growing on a mountaintop castle

Cotton Block

This month's block is simple in its design and will focus on a couple of new stitches for the stems. It will also give you a chance to work on those pesky inner and outer points. Gathering the supplies for this block was not too difficult, as I only used one piece of fabric—a piece of hand-dyed, marbled fabric was perfect. Some silk ribbon, hand-dyed wool, and perle cotton, and I was ready to get started.


The flowers are appliquéd and my embroidery lines are drawn.

For the calyxes of the flowers, I used a 4mm silk ribbon and made 5 ribbon stitches on the flower and two straight stitches, horizontally at the top of each flower. 

To keep my ribbon straight stitches straight, I put my finger or a pencil
in the loop to keep it smooth before pulling it all the way through.

The two straight stitches at the top are on top of each other.

Using a #5 perle cotton, I created the main stem with the Palestrina stitch. (Click here for a great tutorial by Mary Corbet.) I placed my knots close together to get a nice thick line.

The Palestrina stitch

Use a stem stitch to attach the flowers to the main stem.

The finished block

Stitches and Threads Used (Cotton Block)

Stems—Palestrina stitch and stem stitch; Oliver Twist Fibres, blue/green, hand-dyed, #5 perle cotton
Calyxes—Ribbon stitch and straight stitch; Thread Art, 4mm silk ribbon #629
Petal Lines—Stem stitch; Painters Threads wool, Kirchener

Wool Block

For the wool version of this block, I used a light purple scrap piece that I had laying around. The ribbon for the calyxes was a beautiful hand-dye from Thread Gatherers. Since I was going to use an interlaced chain stitch for the stem (tutorial here), I needed two different thread colors—a light green, #12 perle and two strands of dark green floss.

I began by stitching down the wool flowers, and then I marked my stem lines. The interlaced chain is done by making the stem with a chain stitch in one color and then interlacing the chain stitches with a second color—first going down one side and then the other.

Interlacing the right side

The effect here is subtle but it adds a nice dimension.

Once the stems were finished, I added the petal lines with two strands of floss in a stem stitch. After that, I made the calyxes in the same way as the cotton block, and just like that, the block was finished.

The finished wool block


Stitches and Threads Used (Wool Block)

Stems—Interlaced chain stitch, chain stitch, stem stitch; Weeks Dyeworks, Juniper, 2 strands, Painters Threads #12 perle, Turner
Calyxes—Ribbon stitch and straight stitch; Thread Gatherer, 4mm silk ribbon, SR4 O25
Petal Lines—Stem stitch; The Gentle Art, Blueberry, 2 strands

As you can see from the previous photos, this flower comes in all shapes and sizes and is a lovely pop of blue/purple in the landscape. Hopefully, you will enjoy stitching this simple little block, and you will give the new stitches for stems a try!

You can download the Bellflower block HERE.