Thursday, June 17, 2021

In the Garden Again—Hydrangea

It has been a long time coming, but I (Kara) am finally stateside! We still don't have all our belongings yet, but all in due time. Since coming back, one of my favorite things has been wandering around my garden to see how it has fared in the last four years. One big surprise was one of my hydrangeas—it is huge! It is just starting to bloom and since it is right outside of our bedroom window, it is the first thing I see when I wake up. 

This week's In the Garden block uses a bounty of wool in two colors to give depth and color to this dimensional block. This week you can purchase the Hydrangea pattern with a 10% discount using the code HYDRANGEA10.


Thursday, June 14, 2018

"In the Garden"—Hydrangea

The gardens are bursting forth with blooms as the first day of summer rapidly approaches. This month's block in our In the Garden BOM series is the Hydrangea. I (Teri) have always loved the bountiful blooms of a hydrangea, and I am particularly partial to the blue/purple ones. I was excited to create these flowers, capturing their dimensional beauty.

We will be creating the mophead or French variety of hydrangea, the most common type. It has a large, rounded flower head that is composed of many single blossoms. I cut my purple wool into a pile of one-inch squares, each of which became a single flower.

I folded each square in half and cut a small triangle, curving a bit, from the fold toward the top, as pictured above, and then repeated on the bottom of the fold. 

I opened the square and folded it in the opposite direction, and repeated to create the shape pictured on the left, making a pile of petals. You may choose to use a variety of purples or blues and mix them together; I chose two colors. The petals were set aside. (I did not worry about keeping the colors separate; I just made a randomly mixed pile.)

After cutting out the leaves, I placed them on the background and attached them by embroidering the veins.  Since they were not fused or appliquéd, it helped to give a bit of puff or dimension to the leaves.

Now, I was ready to create the blooms. My first thought was to give the flower heads a lot of dimension, so I basted concentric circles of batting to the area where the flowers would be stitched. This way, the center of the flower would be higher than the outer edges. In theory, this was a great idea. And it worked to achieve that end, but in hindsight, white batting was not the best choice.

I gathered my pile of petals, a matching thread, and the beads I had chosen for the center, and I started to stitch them onto the batting base, randomly picking petals of different colors, not planning it out too carefully. To be sure that the white batting didn't shine through, I had to stitch them pretty densely. It really did give them dimension; in fact, they almost appeared to be spherical in shape.

The shadow indicates the dimension of the finished flower.

The finished block...first time around

I loved the block, and the roundness of the hydrangea blooms were pretty realistic, but as I looked at it beside the other blocks, I thought I might just have a bit TOO much dimension. It didn't seem to balance the other blocks, appearing a bit too heavy. So while this method would be a viable option for making the block as a stand-alone project, like a framed block or a pillow, it needed a bit less density for the quilt we are planning for our In the Garden blocks. So I made another one.

This time, I just used one circle of purple wool as a base for the flowers, so that I didn't have to worry about the color shining through. This meant that I didn't have to pack those blossoms as tightly together, which also meant the beads could be seen better.

The finished block, the second time around.

This time, the hydrangea didn't outshine the other blocks, balancing the overall dimension nicely. 

This past weekend, I taught the Hydrangea class at Primitive Homespuns Wool & Needleworks, in Frederick, Maryland. As always, I learn as much as I teach in these classes—sometimes more! We were discussing what we might do with the pile of little wool snippets left over from snipping our squares into petal units. One lady, Deborah, thought she would like to add the extra dimension and stuffed some of those wool scraps behind her purple base before basting in down. What a brilliant idea! It worked rather well, we all agreed.

There is nothing better than enjoying the company of sister-stitchers and getting to know new people while doing something you love. We shared many stories and laughs through the afternoon.

An almost-finished flower. Another happy "mistake" on my part: I had used size 6 beads, but I was unable to find them in that size for the class, so I provided size 8 beads. It turns out that it was a far better size to use, because they are a bit more visible. Yay!

Nancy, proudly showing her first flower, all finished!!

It's never too late to join us In the Garden! All the patterns are available on our website (, and the hard copies of the patterns include any ribbon needed to complete the block. To read more about our other blocks in the series, click on the links below.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

"In the Garden" Again: Hummingbird and Fuchsia

Spring is waning and summer is near. Porches are bedecked with hanging flower pots brimming with blooms, and among my (Teri's) favorites is the fuchsia. Its colors are so vibrant and the design is magnificently detailed—a perfect companion to our little feathered friend, the hummingbird. You won't believe how fun it is to create these ribbon fuchsias, and they aren't as hard as they look like they'd be—promise! It feels a bit magical when you are gathering these petals. 

As before, the printed pattern includes all the ribbon you need to create this block, as well as the pistils and metallic braid for the hummingbird, and this week, you can save 10% with the coupon code HUMMINGBIRD10. Are you ready for some flower fun?!


Thursday, May 10, 2018

"In the Garden"—Hummingbird and Fuchsia

We are back In the Garden this week with the latest block of the month in our series. What better time than spring—at least here in the northern hemisphere—to think about what to plant to attract those cheerful, bright hummingbirds? Fuchsia seemed the obvious choice, with their vibrant colors . . . and they are fun to create, as well! We had a fabulous time blooming fuchsia in our class this past Sunday. You, too, can join in the fun; the pattern, complete with ribbon, pistils, and a metallic twist, is available on our website!

Here is how this block came together.

I (Teri) first stitched the branch and leaves in place. I used a matching green wool for the leaves, as my wool had a herringbone design and didn't really need veins. You could, however, embroider some veins if your wool is a solid.

The hummingbird's ruby throat is stitched down using Painter's Threads Metallic Twist, by Threadnuts, with a chain stitch. Ribbon stitches in 7mm silk ribbon are stitched below for his white breast. Green feather-stitched feathers are stitched on his body. The wings and beak are embroidered with a dark floss. His French-knotted eye is topped with a white bullion.

The Fuschia

I used two pistils, folded them in half, and tacked the pistils to the center of my purple satin ribbon.

Then, I folded the purple ribbon around the pistils at 45-degree angles, above left, and did a running/gathering stitch across the ribbon, above right.

To secure the gathers and shape the center of the fuchsia, I often take another stitch through the gathers on the back, left, and then knot the thread. You can trim the fuzzy edges above the gathering stitch, right, but not too close to your gathering stitches.

Three centers, waiting for the outer petals

Using 1 1/2-inch wide wired ribbon, fold the ribbon in half to find the center, and fold each edge toward that center fold, as above.

Tack the purple flower center to the center of the folded ombré ribbon, using a strong or doubled thread. (Pretend that the white center above is purple, please!) Note that the raw edges of the ribbon is the side where you tack your center. I leave my thread in place.

You will do a running stitch in the shape of a diamond as indicated by the arrows above, going through both layers of the ombré ribbon, but NOT stitching the flower center. Be sure that when you come to the points, your thread wraps around the edge of the ribbon, from front to back, or vice versa.

Note that I even need to wrap that thread from one side to the other at the bottom, beneath the flower center, to create the gathers needed to make my petals. Do not knot off your thread yet.

Hold your finger on the flower center and gently pull your thread to gather the top petals. Pull from the thread near the flower, rather than with the needle, to prevent breaking the thread. As you gather, the stitches begin to line up horizontally, and you can gently pull to the side. Gather fairly tightly, and knot it off on the back. Turn the flower over and shape it, using the wired edges.

To make the bud, remove the wire from the light edge and fold the ribbon in half so that the wired edges are together. Take a running stitch in a U shape, from the wired edge down one raw edge, along the folded edge, and up the other raw edge. Gather tightly and knot. Shape it, creating a point on the side opposite the gathers.

Use matching thread and stitch the flowers in place with tack stitches in the gathers, so the stitches don't show. Continue to shape the flowers and use the stitches to keep the flower in shape. Embroider the stems, and you are finished!

So many lovely blooms were created in our class at Primitive Homespuns Wool and Needleworks on Sunday. I can't wait to see some of their finished blocks next month!

Hummingbird and Fuchsia

To read about the other blocks in our In the Garden Block of the Month series, click on the links below. All patterns are available on our website (, both in digital and hard copy format. The hard copies come with any ribbon needed to complete the blocks, as well as a detailed list of the threads we used. Won't you join us In the Garden?!

Thursday, June 3, 2021

"In the Garden" Again: Dragonfly and Fern

I (Kara) had always assumed that dragonflies were mostly found near water, until I was walking in the forest in Germany. There I saw them frequently as I was walking our two furry children, and those glimpses inspired this block. Though this block has only five wool pieces, the embroidery, embellishment, and threads take it from simple to elegant with just a few stitches. We hope you have fun stitching this block and this week only use the coupon code FERN10 for 10% off the printed pattern!


Thursday, April 12, 2018

"In the Garden"—Dragonfly and Fern

As far off as it seems now, summer will be upon us before we know it, along with the warmer temperatures. Our gardens will be green (hopefully), and the insect life will be buzzing. Dragonflies are nice because they don't bite, like some of the other summer insects, and they come in all different sizes and colors. They are beautiful when the sun hits them just right, and that's what we were going for with our most recent pattern—the Dragonfly and Fern.

We've used a variegated, shimmer, ribbon-floss from  Painter's Threads for the body, and a little bit of organza for the wings to simulate that little bit of shimmer that dragonflies have. A few little beads to give him some bling, and he is ready to fly!

Here are some tips and pictures to help you make your summertime dragonfly and fern.

First I glued my entire pattern onto freezer paper and then cut out the fern as one piece. Then I ironed it onto the green wool that had been backed with fusible. I don't often use fusible, but because the fern was one big piece with lots of leaves, everything stayed in place better this way. Cut out the wing pieces and the body piece. You will iron the wings onto two different colors of wool, but the body piece will just be used as a guide for your embroidery.

Freezer paper fern ready to be ironed onto wool

Once the fern was ironed onto the background, I whipstitched all the way around the fern. Then I used an angled blanket stitch for the leaves in a lighter shade of green floss with two strands.

I use Weeks Dye Works "Bullfrog" floss as it had some great color variations in it.

With the fern stitched down, I positioned the wings in place. I pinned a piece of organza ribbon over one wing and blanket stitched it down with one strand of floss. Then I carefully trimmed around the excess organza around the wing, being careful not to snip my blanket stitches. It will be easier if you do one wing at a time

Two down and two to go!

The wings trimmed.

Now to the dragonfly body! The tail is made by making chain stitches with the shimmer ribbon-floss. I used the body pattern as a guide for how long the tail should be. My tail was made up of 9 chain stitches at about an eighth of an inch each. After the chain stitches were finished, I added a 7-8 wrap bullion knot—made up of 3 strands of dark teal floss—in each chain stitch.

The effect of the bullions in the tail is subtle, but they add depth.

The rest of the body is made up of French knots using the ribbon-floss. Three bullion knots make the head. 

Use one strand of floss and a straight stitch for the legs.

The final touch was to add some tiny beads to the wings using a feather stitch. Add the bead to your needle as you make each feather.

This block went together rather quickly, and hopefully it will for you too! The ladies in our class enjoyed working with the ribbon-floss and the organza—both of which are included in the pattern when you purchase it.

Lots of happy stitching!

Until the warm days of summer grace us with their presence, we hope you will enjoy stitching this block—and all the other blocks in our In the Garden series. To order your pattern, click here: