Thursday, April 28, 2016

Thumbelina Dance, Thumbelina Sing

In our post, Fairy Tales Through the Needle's Eye, we showed you our fairy tale quilt and shared the story of its creation. We just found out that it has been accepted into the Houston International Quilt Festival in November! Let's just say there was a lot of screaming, dancing, and jumping up and down going on yesterday. We are still in disbelief that we are going to Houston to see our quilt.

Beauty from Beauty and the Beast
While the quilt top was with the quilter, we decided to work on a few other one-block projects using our patterns and different fabric choices. Teri is working on a baby quilt using the Cinderella pattern, and she will share that project soon. I (Kara) decided to tackle the Thumbelina block, but I planned on stitching it in wool. The Thumbelina fairy tale is by Hans Christian Anderson and tells of the travels and travails of a tiny girl, no bigger than your thumb, hence the name. The block incorporates various elements from that story. You can read the tale here.

This past August, Teri and I went to the Four County Quilters Guild Quilt Show in Frederick, MD. There were amazing quilts to be seen, as well as some wonderful vendors. One vendor that kept our attention was Shakerwood Woolens out of Rock Hill, South Carolina. We fell in love with the colors and the texture of Cathi's wools, and I bought enough for a design that I hoped to create based on a friend's coat. While I haven't made the project yet, at least I have the supplies ready.

This pattern is begging to be done in wool

As I began planning the Thumbelina project, I remembered Shakerwood and immediately went to their website. While it can be difficult to pick colors for a project from a website, the wool color from picture to reality was pretty true. Getting these luscious colors was like an extension of Christmas, and they were packaged so nicely!

I had never worked on a wool project quite this large (15"), but as it was winter when I was stitching, it helped to keep me warm.

And the stitching begins!

Once all the pieces were stitched onto the background, I began the fun part: embellishing the block with embroidery. I knew I wanted to use the Hungarian chain stitch for the cattail stems, and I also went back and did an outline stitch around the chain stitch to give it more definition. Just a few French knots in two shades of brown gave the depth I was looking for on the cattails.

I wasn't as sure about what to do for Thumbelina's hair, so I auditioned an upholstery trim-piece but decided it was a little too crazy.

For her hair I used two different colors of Gentle Arts wool thread and was quite pleased with the way it turned out.

I re-worked the stitching on the swallow about six times and finally went back to my original plan of keeping it simple.

The butterfly received a little bling in the form of a beaded body and some metallic silk stitching.

The beautiful shading of the pink wool meant that I really didn't need to do much embellishing on the lilies. Just a little outlining with a matching floss and a few details using a variegated silk thread were all they needed.

Once the embellishing was finished, I needed to decide on a border. When Teri and I were in Lancaster last year, I found these Moda Regent Street charm packs of lawn. Lawn comes in the most beautiful florals, and these were no exception; however, I didn't know when I bought them how perfect they would be for the Thumbelina project.

The colors in these lawn squares matched the wool perfectly

I wanted a delicate border that didn't overwhelm the piece, so I went with a one-inch blue inner border and two rows of one-inch lawn squares for the outer border.

I enjoy working with wool and the change it brings from regular fabric appliqué, and this project was so much fun. It was nice to see how well our patterns transitioned from fabric to wool, and I hope to do more of them. Do you favor wool or cotton appliqué, or both? Let us know your favorite!