Thursday, March 31, 2016

Pincushion Potential Realized

This past September, I (Kara) wrote a post about my growing pincushion collection and some of my "future" pincushions (you can read about it here). Recently, I decided that I needed to put my money where my mouth was and actually fulfill the potential in my found pincushion items. The piece that spoke to me the most was a sugar bowl that I picked up at an antique store in Salisbury, MD.

The sugar bowl on the left will be used for this project 

The plan, as I had mentioned in the previous post, was to turn the top into a pincushion while still using the bottom for storage. I decided to go forward with that and see how it would turn out. The first thing I did was to pick a fabric for the pincushion. Pulling from the colors on the sugar bowl, I decided on a beautiful, plum-colored, raw silk. The silk was re-purposed from a thrift store blouse. Since this project was a "make-it-up-as-I-go-along" process, I cut my circle out much larger than I thought I would need using my technical measuring device—a salad plate measuring around 8.5 inches in diameter. I cut the circle out and then serged the edge since it was silk (a zig-zag stitch around the edge would work as well).

I used a chalk marker to trace around my salad plate

The plum silk picks up the sugar bowl rose

The diameter of the sugar bowl top was a little less than 2.25 inches, so I made sure my design would fit into that space. I created a small floral design based on the front of the bowl, and you can download that here

Originally, I chose silk ribbon for the embroidery, but I realized that it wouldn't really be durable enough for practical use as a pincushion, so I chose some lovely perle cotton that Teri and I had recently purchased. The hand-dyed perle is from House of Embroidery, a South African dye house; since I had bought a rather large kit, I had all the colors I needed.

The bouillons are finished

I transferred my design onto the silk and stitched away. Once the main design was finished, I decided to add seed stitches throughout the entire top. (Note: this took longer than the rest of the embroidery combined.)

So many seed stitches!

Once I finished the stitching, I ran a line of gathering stitches about 2 inches in from the edge of the circle. I learned the hard way to use quilting thread for these stitches because it is stronger.

Gathering stitches

I pulled the gathering stitches a bit and added fiber-fill until I felt it had the right amount, checking the fit of the pincushion with the top of my sugar bowl.

Then I tightened those stitches and arranged the gathers until I was pleased with it, and then I added a few little stitches all the way around until it was secure. As you can see, the size of my circle was more than enough, but I was glad I had extra to trim rather than not enough. I trimmed the circle leaving about an inch.

I added E-6000 around the inside of the lid and placed my pincushion inside. I let the glue set up for about an hour. E-6000 holds things very well, but just be sure to use it in a ventilated space.

Voila! A secret pincushion and caddy is born. I love how it still looks like a sugar bowl, but it now has a whole new purpose.

I tested the caddy part by putting my perle, my thimble, and my needle case in it, and they all fit perfectly.

At some point, I will get to the rest of my pincushion creations, but for now I will enjoy this one. Also, check out our "Pins and Needles" Pinterest page for more pincushion inspiration.

Monday, March 28, 2016

And the Spring Stitching Set Goes to...

Many thanks to all of you who took the time to respond last week and enter our giveaway! The kind words and encouragement we received were certainly heartwarming. We are so appreciative of our readers, and we're so glad that you're here.

It would seem that we are in good company in our love of stories, both fairy tales and stories about quilts. And evidently, we are not the only ones who are crazy for crazy quilts. It is such a joy to share the same passions with so many other stitchers across the globe. 

Several people favored the fairy tale quilt.

Colonial ladies, both quilted...

...and living (in costume) got a 'shout out.'

Wool, ornaments, and Little Red Riding Hood were all mentioned. 

The winner of our Anniversary Giveaway was:

KathyAnne Whittemore

She wrote: Hello! I have 2 favorite posts: the first one, that somehow "linked" me to you originally, is the "Crazy Quilting: Start to Finish, Session One" -- as I am so getting into using various embroidery stitches in numerous ways. And the 2nd one is "Crazy Quilting, Session Two" that uses men's ties, as my son has sent me a box full of ones he no longer wears and I keep pondering what to do with them. Both posts are SO beautiful! and inspiring!

And some are crazy about crazy quilts!

Please email us with your mailing address, KathyAnne, and we will get your prize off to you!

If you have a story to tell about a quilt you have made or own, we'd love to hear from you! Perhaps we could share your quilt story on our blog. You may inspire someone to try something new...or just to share a story of their own. Don't be shy! Let's share the love in our stitches!! 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

A First Anniversary Giveaway!

My, how fast a year can fly! Kara and I (Teri) have just passed a milestone: one year of blogging! We have been amazed by this journey, and we are so grateful for the many readers that have joined as we have begun our stitching and storytelling adventure.

Over the past year, we have shared many quilts, both old and new. We've told stories about our great-grandmothers and their quilts, and about our grandmothers, too. There have been baby quilts, wedding quilts, anniversary quilts, reunion quilts, classroom quiltsalbum quilts, story quilts, inherited quilts, and just because quilts. We have visited antique malls, museums, gardensquilt shows, and classes—both as students and teachers. We've stitched cotton, wool, silk, ribbon, and beads with patchwork, appliqué, embroidery, and crazy quilting

Our humble blog has been viewed over 22,000 times by readers in just shy of 100 countries, statistics that astound us. Our highest month was in November, when we started a wool ornament pattern series with fairy tale designs. The free patterns certainly drew an increased number of readers, but about halfway through the series, Mary Corbet included a link to our blog on her page, Needle 'N Thread, and we had thousands (like 4 or 5!) of views in the next few weeks. (Thanks, Mary!)

One the most exciting posts for us was Fairy Tales Through the Needle's Eye, when we revealed our new fairy tale album quilt. We had been working on it for a couple of years, from early designs to final stitches, and we were thrilled to be able to share our love for fairy tales and quilts together. The feedback we received from our social media channels was encouraging and inspiring. We are already planning our next story block!

To thank you all for your part in making this blogging experience so much fun for us, we thought we'd celebrate with a giveaway. It is springtime, and flowers are beginning to bloom—such natural beauty to inspire our stitching. So we've put together a little "Spring Stitching Set" for you to enjoy. Perhaps you could create a few flowers or butterflies. To win, just leave a comment below and tell us which of our quilt stories from this past year you have enjoyed the most. And we'd love to know why, if you care to tell us that as well.

Giveaway "Spring Stitching Set" includes an assortment of:
fabric, DMC floss, French wired ombré ribbon, ultrasuede, milliners and chenille needles
(flowers not included)
To enter for a chance to win this Spring Stitching Set:
  1. Leave a comment on the blog. (If you are reading this in email, just click on the title to head to the blog site.)
  2. In your comment, tell us your favorite post from this past year.
  3. Like us on Facebook, or follow us on Instagram, Pinterest, or Google+ for another chance to win. (Please indicate that you have done so in your comment.)
  4. To be entered in the drawing, your comment must be in by Monday, March 28, at 12 noon, EDT. 

We will be choosing a name from the entries at random and announce the winner next week. Please be sure that we have enough information about you to identify you. For instance, if you don't want to include your last name, tell where you are from so we know which "Mary" likes Post X, such as Mary from Timbuktu.

We have lots of fun planned for the months to come. We hope you'll come along for the ride!

Happy Spring!!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

A Perfect Combination

What do a tearoom, an antique shop, and a quilt store have in common? In my (Kara's) mind it would be that they are three of my favorite places, and on a corner in Gulfport, Florida, those three places happen to be right next to each other.

On a recent trip to visit my in-laws, my mother-in-law treated my son's girlfriend and me to lunch at Sweet-tea Celebrations. I do enjoy tearooms, and this one did not disappoint. 

Some of the beautiful giftware available for purchase

A sweet crocheted teapot

It was tastefully decorated without being overdone, and the food was delicious. We chose to eat lunch instead of having the high tea, but we saw one go by and it looked spectacular!

Such a beautifully presented plate!

Lovely company for tea

The Boulevard Shoppe and Garden (antique store) was connected to the tearoom by a courtyard, so after our lunch, we meandered over to see if we could find any treasures. I have been on a quest for an antique chatelaine, so that was my first question to the salesperson. She didn't think that there were any to be found but directed me to a specific case and encouraged me to dig around.

A case of treasures

But alas, as is usually the case, there were none there, and my search continues. All was not lost though, as I found a beautifully embroidered goldenrod panel stitched in what appears to be silk.

So many French knots!

I love the contrast with the black background

I also found a set of lovely, hand-etched, mother-of-pearl buttons. These will look lovely worked into my next crazy quilt project.

Mother-of-pearl has so many color variations

This red really stands out
The next room contained quite a few beautiful, vintage linens. I was tempted to add to my embroidered pillow case and tea-towel collection, but I exercised some restraint.

A selection of linens

This flowerpot quilt was in great condition and had a wide variety of flowers. 

Pretty Pansies

In one of the rooms I found this exquisite cross-stitch sampler dated 1810. It was in excellent condition, and I might have snatched it up if the budget had allowed.

A sampler to be proud of

The Boulevard Shoppe and Garden had a nice variety of items, and I didn't even make it out to the courtyard to check out the garden items they had. This will definitely be a "must-stop" the next time I am in the area.

To complete the perfect shopping afternoon, Ruthie and I walked across the street to a lovely little quilt shop called Fabric Smart. Karen Donnelly had been selling fabric online for some time when circumstances changed and she decided to open a storefront.
Karen and her shop

While she still has her online store, her shop has a broad and beautiful selection of fabrics, as well as some rare and hard-to-find fabrics. Supporting our local quilt shops is important, and I was happy to hear from Karen that business is good and growing.

If you are in the area, it is worth a stop, and if you'd like to know more about Karen's class offerings just email her at

What a fun afternoon we had in all three places! Finding this perfect combination of some of my favorite interests, at an all-in-one walkable location, made me feel like I had hit the jackpot. Do you have special places like these where you live? Tell us all about it, so others who might be in your area may enjoy them as well.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Our Quilting Road Trip Continues

Last week, we invited you to join us on our quilting road trip to Virginia. We met new quilting friends at the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival, visited a great antique mall, and tasted some great wine. The remainder of our trip was spent at the Academy of Appliqué at Kingsmill Resorts in Williamsburg.

Colonial Lady, by Cori Blunt
First thing on Monday morning, Kara and I (Teri) headed to the resort to check in and go to our classroom. We took a class by Cori Blunt, of Chitter Chatter Designs. We loved this colonial lady and thought she would be charming to make. She reminded me a bit of the colonial ladies in the quilt that my mother-in-law gave me. (See What a Lady!) Also, because Kara and I both love adding embroidery to our appliqué, this clearly offered opportunities for us to add some embellishing stitches. Cori was a delight; she had a personal and engaging method of teaching, circulating the room and connecting with each of us in the classroom. She taught a freezer paper method for appliqué, which was different for us, as we typically use a back-basting method. But taking classes is all about broadening our skills, so we jumped in to give it a try.

The morning was spent stitching leaves. Note the handkerchief in the foreground; more about that later.

Breakfast and lunch were included with our tuition—a perfect opportunity to meet new friends and get to know the teachers. Here, Cori is sharing some of her work with us, as well as her desire to "keep handwork alive" by sharing her passion for it.

After lunch, leaves are stitched, and we are ready to create roses.

I stitched all the leaves with Cori's freezer paper method, but I must confess that I reverted to back-basting for the rose.

Kara's roses

After class, several friends from the Baltimore Appliqué Society got together and went to dinner. The restaurant was wonderful, and we all had an enjoyable time sharing stories of our classes that day. What could be better than to be surrounded by friends who share your love of needle and thread? 

Colonial Lady,  by Cori Blunt
On Tuesday morning, we were ready to start stitching the lady. In the morning, we worked on her arms, neck and head. Cori showed us how to embroider the lips, using one strand of floss and a fine needle. She takes just a thread or two of the background fabric at first and gradually increases just by a thread or so to create her mouth. She has perfected this and makes lovely faces. Kara and I embroidered  our ladies' lips. Kara thought hers looked like they'd had a Botox shot, while my lady looked more like she'd put on her lipstick while driving and hit a bump.  

When it was time to work on the skirt, Cori helped me to redesign a little. I had an old handkerchief that belonged to my great-aunt that I wanted to use for her skirt, but the design was such that I would have to do some fussy-cutting to maximize the floral print. There wasn't enough to do the six sections as designed, so I planned to alternate with a coordinating silk fabric that I had. Cori adjusted the pattern so that it would work, making a five-sections skirt. Here, I did use her freezer paper method in conjunction with the back basting. The freezer paper templates helped me to choose the parts of the handkerchief that would work best for her skirt.


At lunch, we had further opportunities to "talk to friends we hadn't met yet," as well as hearing a couple of other teachers share and show some of their work. Barbara Blanton, the owner of the Academy of Appliqué was gracious enough to allow us to share our fairy tale quilt, since we were not going to be able to stay for the rest of the event, when the regular Show and Tell was to be held. We were so grateful for her kindness.

Barbara Blanton, owner of Academy
Barbara Burnham, teacher
Barbara Burnham's Baltimore Garden Quilt
in background

After lunch, we took a tour of several of the classrooms. Alas, we had no time to reach them all before returning to our "ladies," but here are a couple of this year's Academy classes.

Some of the stunning blocks made by Rita Verroca . . .

. . . and some of the colorful work of Nancy Chong.

Cori's basket with embroidery
These eyes . . . two methods
During the afternoon, Cori showed us how to embroider leaves with the fishbone stitch and lovely bullion-stitched roses. Kara prepared and began a bit of embroidery, but I wanted to continue with my appliqué before moving on to the embroidery. We were intrigued by the quaint faces, especially the eyes, that Cori embroiders on her Paper Ladies blocks. At the end of the class, she gave Kara and me a special demo of how she embroiders her eyes, even though this pattern had the eyes hidden by the hat. We were so impressed with her fine, detailed work—and those lovely eyes that seemed to come alive on the fabric! 

Sadly, we had to leave the Academy early, as many people were just arriving for the main conference. Before our departure on Wednesday, we stopped by to shop in Barbara Blanton's new show, Huzzah! We did some visiting and shopping, and we may have purchased a pile of beautiful reproduction fabrics that may not yet have a plan for usage. On our way out, we ran into a dear friend from Canada who had just arrived, so we got the opportunity to briefly catch up with each other. Hopefully next year, we will be able to stay longer and enjoy the full Academy.

Chatting with Mimi Dietrich while buying fabric

These lovely daffodils were an indication of the gorgeous spring weather we had during our stay. They seemed to be saying goodbye as we got in the van to return to Maryland. The road trip home included a stop at a Steak and Shake, because I had been coughing a lot and thought my poor throat should have a milk shake. And of course, there is never a time that one can avoid traffic around DC; every hour is rush hour, it seems.

All in all, it was one wonderful quilting road trip. Time to start planning the next one! Thanks for riding along with us.

Colonial lady progress report:
Kara is further along than I am, as she spent two full days stitching on it when we got home. I spent those two days sleeping off a bout of bronchitis. I did finish appliquéing the lady though. We are both looking forward to the embroidery part. Stay tuned for final photos. Isn't it nice that they can look so different because of the fabric choices, and yet all look so beautiful? Many thanks to Cori Blunt, for sharing her talents with us and provided these charming Colonial Lady patterns.

Kara's Lady

Kara's block progress thus far

My Lady

My progress thus far. I love the way the handkerchief worked. What a lovely tribute to my great-aunt!