Thursday, April 30, 2020

Updated: Hopeful Bluebird Stitch Along— Week 2




Updated: We have enjoyed our Hopeful Bluebird Stitch Along! While the pattern for this lovely wall hanging is no longer available for free, it is available in our web store. It's never too late to join our Facebook group where we have been inspired by all the beautiful work that has been shared.

No deadlines...just jump right in! 


Hello everyone, and welcome to Week 2! We are thrilled that so many of you have decided to join our little stitch along Hopefully everyone has made some progress—even if it is jut to pick out your wool and fabrics. While we may be on Week 2, it is not too late to start.
So off we go!

This week we will start out by adding the blue star flowers, the rest of the poppy and pansy petals, and the banner. 

Align the smaller banner pieces under the larger one as shown.

The rest of the petals are ready to stitch down.

Once all the wool pieces are attached, it's embroidery time. The leaves are embellished with a #8 green pearl cotton using a fly stitch, and the blue flowers get five pistil stitches and three French knots (not hens 😉).  For the pansies, use a #5 pearl cotton to make three French knots in the center.

Pistil stitches and French knots
Three French knots and fly stitches for the leaves.






















In order to give the banner the effect of being a folded ribbon, we have used a light tan floss and a stem stitch with one strand, to highlight the folds. The directions for this week show where exactly to stitch.

Use one strand of light tan floss as indicated above and on the pattern.

And that is it for this week! The PDF for this week is below, along with a link to the Hopeful Bluebird Facebook Group. We love seeing how everyone's project is going, and it is also fun to see the variety of colors used. Again, it is not too late to start, so feel free to share this project with friends or in other stitching groups.

                  Until next week...


Hopeful Bluebird Stitch Along Week 2
Hopeful Bluebird Facebook Group


Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Updated: A Hopeful Bluebird Stitch Along

Updated: We have enjoyed our Hopeful Bluebird Stitch Along! While the pattern for this lovely wall hanging is no longer available for free, it is available in our web store. It's never too late to join our Facebook group where we have been inspired by all the beautiful work that has been shared.
No deadlines...just jump right in! 

In spite of the current pandemic, Spring in this part of the world is showing off her beauty in some spectacular ways. The fruit trees in our local orchards are covered in blossoms, the fields are full of buttercups, and the birds are singing some lovely tunes. Even though we have to stay home, it has been nice to witness the changing of the seasons and to welcome some warmer weather. 

Staying at home for us, both Teri and I (Kara), has meant that we get to do a lot of stitching and we have seen from social media that many of you have been stitching as well. Since there is so much needlework going on, we thought it might be fun to offer a free pattern and a stitch along! So without further ado we introduce our Hopeful Bluebird appliqué pattern and Stitch Along!








The design is inspired by a vintage postcard and we thought it would be fun to stitch a little welcome sign that we can display for that day when we can welcome people back into our homes. Over the next three weeks, we will post all the instructions, patterns, and templates that you will need to complete your own little bluebird wall hanging. At the end of each post you will find the PDF links for all that you will need for that particular week.

So lets get started!

The first order of business will be to gather your supplies, starting with your background. We used a cotton background because we enjoy the look of the two different textures, cotton and wool, together, but you can certainly use a wool background if you prefer. The supply list gives each piece of appliquĂ© wool needed and the colors we used along with a list of threads you will need. 



Once you have gathered your supplies, print out the template page. There are many ways to cut out and use templates for wool appliquĂ© and you may already have a tried and true method. If so, that's great and feel free to use what works for you. I don't enjoy tracing my templates on freezer paper and I like to limit my prep time wherever possible, so I glue my templates onto freezer paper with a glue stick.

Apply glue to back of template page, making sure to cover the template area.

Template page is now glued to freezer paper ready to be cut out.

Some people really don't like to cut their patterns and would prefer to keep them intact. The nice thing about a PDF pattern is that you can print as many copies as you need. Once I have finished cutting out my templates and using them, I store them in a plastic baggie and keep them with the pattern. That way I will be able to reuse them if I decide to make the project again.

Templates all cut out and ready to be ironed onto the wools

I like to use fusible in my wool projects, whereas Teri does not—either method works just fine and it is a matter of personal preference. On this project, I used fusible but you can choose to do what method you prefer. Once you have cut out your templates, fuse or staple them onto the appropriate color wool as listed in the template page and cut out.

For Week 1, we have kept it simple and there are just a few pieces to appliqué and a little bit of embroidery. Find the center of your background and use the X's on the pattern to help you place your wool pieces, then fuse or staple your pieces in place.

Week 1 pieces fused and ready to appliqué.

Use matching thread and an appliqué stitch to secure wool pieces to background. Sewing thread or one strand of floss is what we use. Once your pieces are appliquéd, mark a faint line on your background for the little stems. Use your pattern as a guide for placement. Follow the directions for the embroidery and your Week 1 is finished.


Week 1 stitched down and embroidered.

Hopefully this won't be too much for one week and that you have fun doing it! We are looking forward to hearing from you and seeing your progress. We have created a Facebook group called Hopeful Bluebird Stitch Along so you can share your progress and ask questions. 

It is our hope that you enjoy creating this little project and that while stitching, you can feel hopeful about someday welcoming back some of the things that we are currently missing. 




Hopeful Bluebird Supply List
Hopeful Bluebird Pattern
Hopeful Bluebird Templates
Hopeful Bluebird Week 1 Directions
Hopeful Bluebird Facebook Group


Thursday, April 16, 2020

Quaranstitching: West of the Atlantic (With a Mask Tutorial!)

Last week, Kara shared what she's been working on east of the Atlantic during our Stay at Home time, both stitching and otherwise. Today, it is my turn to share the "quaranstitching" projects under my needles. At this point, I have several things going at once, so depending on how energetic I'm feeling, I can choose to be creative, or just stitch without much thought—enjoying the sheer process of the needle, thread, and fabric coming together.

My first project (after I did some organizing in my sewing studio) was to work on another block from our Woodland Reverie quilt. Before leaving for the Academy, I had stitched the blue frames and the stems; I was just beginning the process of fussy cutting the leaves while I was in Williamsburg. Color selection is always the most enjoyable—albeit occasionally daunting—part of the process. This block experienced many possible iterations before I settled on this palette. The whole personality of a block can change with different color choices, which makes this project so much fun, especially with the light and dark backgrounds.

My final block, with a limited number of colors

Kara's more colorful version: I love the way each flower has a subtle reference to the colors of another bloom, pulling out the orange and purples.


Next on my list of stitching to-dos was to prepare my Baltimore Fraktur quilt top for hand quilting. The center block of this wall hanging is one of our classes at Baltimore on the Prairie in September. Wool is a challenge to quilt, so I planned to use big stitches with pearl cotton. 

 

I used a wool batt and pin-basted the layers together. In the center, I used a neutral thread (Valdani pearl #12) and quilted around the appliquéd elements. For the pinwheel blocks, I am using a Painters Threads hand-dyed pearl #12 to echo the seam lines. I wasn't sure if I would like it, so it was a chance to take, but it I am enjoying the process. As I make more progress, I think I even like the result. A good thing, as I'm not sure with the thicker thread that I could turn back now!



Progress



Mask-making had been on my mind, as our local hospital requested that the local chapter of the Embroiderers' Guild of America make cotton masks for donation. They gave us a specific pattern to follow, which looked pretty simple to make. Click here for the pattern I used. I found a couple packages of elastic, so I spent a day going through my batik stash (a finely woven cotton) and making a bunch of masks. By the end of the day, my family members had claimed most of the ones I made, with special requests for the grandchildren, as well. A few Star Wars masks may have made the pile...

Not bad for a day's work!

 If you haven't found a pattern yet, here is a quick visual of my process:

Cut two pieces at 6"x9".

Sew around the edge, inserting elastic (per instructions),
leaving an opening for turning.

Turn and press. 


Make three pleats; pin.

Lock stitch, needle down. I started on a side and stitched 1/4-inch from the edge.

Stitch around the piece. On the top and bottom, I stitched about 1/8-inch from the edge to be sure I caught and closed the opening for turning the mask.

Stitch a second time around, reinforcing the 1/4" on the sides to be sure elastic is secure, . . .

. . . and continuing at 1/4-inch on the top and bottom.

Lock stitch and trim. 

Use different fabrics so there is an inside and outside, a revelation I had after I made the first 20 masks. These can be laundered, preferably in hot water. 



When I was in Williamsburg, I passed off my fairy tale redwork quilt top to longarm quilter Beth Filko. She worked some amazing magic on it! I received it this week and have already put on the hanging sleeve and binding. It is just waiting for me to hand stitch it down, and then you will see the big reveal. Can't wait!

 


And when I feel creatively energetic, I tackle this new wool appliquĂ© project, which mixes a variety of fun textures. Inspiration? An old cupboard from Alsace! One advantage to our tiny company of two being separated by an ocean is the abundance of influences for our designs. 



I can honestly say that we have cooked more meals and washed more dishes this past month than we have in years. My husband typically is the cook in our household, but I have even had to step in and give him a break. We do miss being served our food, but I'm not going to lie: we have had few pizzas as good as this one my hubby made on the grill. When he gets creative in the kitchen, it is not a bad thing!



And it is springtime, so there's the garden!

What about you? What are you spending your quaranstitching time doing? New projects? Finishing old ones? Or project hopping, like I am? Please share in the comments on the blog!



Postscript: I may have just received an order of 600 yards of elastic cording which I am hoping will work for more masks. My son tells me his friends are coveting his Star Wars mask, so I suppose there will be a few more of those under my needle. I have thus far made 30 masks, which have all been claimed by family members and neighbors. I think I'll be making masks for a couple of days, so some can be passed on to the hospital. What a great way to help others and bust a bit of my stash.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Quaran"stitching" and other Stay at Home Activities

No matter where we are in the world, "Stay at Home" has become the new normal. Six months ago, we had no idea that this pandemic would change our lives so dramatically. Many of us are making the best of it, with activities that we might not have had time for before. Teri and I (Kara) thought we would share some of the things we are doing to stay at home and out of trouble.

My quilt guild, The Black Forest Quilters, began a mystery quilt a few months ago. I decided that I would take a break from hand-stitching and make friends with my machine again. I was a few clues behind, but was determined to finish. Mystery quilts are a little bit of a risk when you begin, because it is a lot of work for something you may not like but I trusted the organizer to pick a good pattern. I was very happy with the quilt, and it used up a lot of brights that I had languishing in my stash. Mysteries can be fun!

Charm Shuffle, by Gudrun Erla
Stripology Mixology

The finished quilt top

After vacationing at my machine, it was time to get to work on some upcoming deadlines. One of those deadlines was to get started on a new set of blocks for our Village Wanderings Series

Picking ribbon colors

It's always fun to create, and these blocks were no exception. I even decided to play around with some miniature elements for a few of them.

Prepped to be stitched down.
Ready to be appliquéd.























Another miniature for one of the blocks.

While we are working on new projects, we are continuing to make progress on our Woodland Reverie quilt. Teri and I each pick a block, finish it, and then the other person makes that block in her colorway. It is fun to see how the same block looks different with another background and appliqué palette.

My version

Teri's version

When I made it home from the US about three weeks ago, I had no idea that things would escalate as quickly as they did. I went to the grocery store, stocked up on some things, and began stitching. Who knew that my next stitching project would be masks to wear in public places here in Germany.

When this is over maybe these will work as a bikini top!
The first ones cut out and ready to stitch.

The internet is full of wonderful free patterns right now, and I found this one and fell in love with it. It is called Plaid-ish, by Kitchen Table Quilting. I have been wanting to organize and use my scraps, and this seemed like a good project to motivate me to do so.

Yikes!

Organized by color and value. Next step is to trim them into manageable pieces.

This quilt takes a lot of time to cut, but the sewing is simple.

That has been the stitching done over here on this side of the pond, but as much as I would like to stitch all day, other things must be done–like grocery shopping. My wonderful husband did most of the shopping while I was quarantined. I gave him a list but was not as specific as I should have been, so when I wrote "smoked sausage", this is what came home:

We  are now well-stocked with smoked sausage.
It was a great choice because the sausage is quite tasty!

My wonderful daughter-in-law inspired me to try my hand at sourdough bread. I have never been successful at creating a perfect loaf, so that was my quest. Two days after starting, I achieved sourdough nirvana (slight over-exaggeration).

It's not perfect, but I'll take it.

That has been what has going on over here. Teri will share her "quaranstitching" adventures with you next week. In the meantime, we are working on a special mystery project that we will be offering to you all in the coming weeks. 

Stay healthy, stay home, and stay stitching!

Thursday, April 2, 2020

A Winner and a Sale

We hope the title got your attention! We would like to thank all of you who shared your stitching projects with us, and for all the kind birthday wishes, as well. With such a strong community of stitching friends, it is easier to feel surrounded than to feel alone, though we may be miles apart. May we continue to create beauty during this time of isolation, being calmed by the needle and thread, and to feel the companionship of our fellow stitchers. And for your friends and family who aren't acquainted with the calming effects of hand stitching, call them and say hello! We do not need to be alone while we are in isolation.


Without further ado, we would like to announce the winner of our birthday giveaway. She shared what she is stitching during her "Stay Home" time:


Happy Anniversary! Similar to a previous comment, I find it difficult to stay focused on a chosen project each time I go to my craft room! My BOM quilt is ready to be trimmed, stitched & quilted but I dare not proceed without my BOM friends so I am working on some UFOs alternating between cross stitch, knitting, crewel and wool applique. What a fabulous collection of items in your giveaway! 
And the winner is...

Darlene Laboeuf

Congratulations, Darlene! Please email us to let us know if you would like the spring or autumn Woodland Reverie pattern. And I (Teri) would like to share that the BOM quilt she is referring to is our own In the Garden Block of the Month quilt, so I was pretty excited to see her response. I know that she and her "BOM friends" will find a way to stitch together, even if it is through a computer screen! And Kara and I can't wait to see their finished quilts!


Speaking of computer screens, I have spent a fair amount of hours looking at mine this past week. Our website (needleseyestories.com) got a much-needed update. Scheduling is pretty much on hold right now, but several new items have been listed in our online store! We have added several patterns and kits from classes we have previously taught at the Academy of AppliquĂ©. All kits include any ribbon or special materials needed to complete the blocks. Availability is limited and they will not be restocked, so if you think you might want to create these blocks or quilts, don't ponder for too long!


 
Woodland Reverie Spring block

 
Woodland Reverie Autumn block

Botanical Beauties includes patterns for four small blocks, which can be combined as a four-block wall hanging or used as cornerstones in our Lovely Botanicals quilt design. 


The Lovely Vase block would be beautiful framed, or could be part of a larger quilt. We used it as the center medallion of our Lovely Botanicals quilt.


Lovely Botanicals complete quilt set includes patterns and kits for the entire quilt, with assembly instructions.

We have a few Secret Garden block kits left. A pattern for a complete quilt is coming in the future, so keep watching.


We have only a couple of our popular Zierblumen kits still available.

 To continue our birthday celebration:
...we decided to have a sale!

All of our digital downloaded patterns are on sale for 30% off for the next week. While our In the Garden blocks and quilt sets are available in hard copy which include ribbon, you can also download just the pattern with the convenience of hitting a button on your computer. Just use the code STAYHOME30 when you check out. Pictured below are the digital patterns that are available. 

 Complete In the Garden quilt pattern set, as well as each individual block.

Individual block patterns for the Cardinals and Holly, Acorns and Oak Leaves, Monarch and Butterfly Bush, and Hydrangeas, . . . 


 . . . Hummingbird and Fuchsia, Cornflowers, Rose, Robin and Forsythia, . . . 

. . .  Dragonfly and Fern, Violets, . . .


. . . Garden Gate, . . .


. . . and Wheelbarrow of Flowers.



Our Christmas Cottage Stocking and Crazy Mittens patterns will help you prepare for our next holiday season.


Our first pattern, Marcia's Flowers, and our newest, a Ribbon and Embroidery Sampler Booklet for your stitching practice work, round out our digital offerings.

So, if you think you might need to bolster your pattern supply to get you through your quarantine time, this is the week to order your digital patterns to receive a 30% discount. Remember to use the code STAYHOME30 at checkout. Enjoy!

On our end, Kara and I are busy writing patterns for our Houses, which have garnered a lot of interest. You will be seeing more about these fun abodes soon! In fact, they have been so popular that we are working on a second series. More fun to come!






What about you? Have you moved onto other projects? We would still love to hear about your creative endeavors. What are you stitching?

Stay home, if you can, and thank you to those who have to venture out to work. Stay safe, everyone! 💝