Thursday, July 28, 2016

Ella's Cinderella

I (Teri) have written several posts about my grandchildren's quilts. Both of my grandsons, who are about six weeks apart, got Cat in the Hat quilts. [See Thing 1 and Thing 2 and The Cat in the Hat Comes Back.] Unfortunately, my boys didn't get their quilts until their first and second birthdays. I was determined that my granddaughter, Ella, would actually get a baby quilt. I was planning even before she was born and looked to many sources for inspiration. [See Inspiration for a Baby Quilt.] Finally, having completed our Fairy Tale Album, I thought that there could be not a better quilt for Ella than Cinderella

A baby blanket should be soft and cuddly, so I decided to use flannel for the appliqué. Off to the quilt shop I went to do my favorite part of the quilt process: choosing my fabrics. Although I was a bit more limited in my choices, since there is not nearly the selection of flannels as cottons, I was able to find everything I needed in one stop. It probably helped that I shopped in the fall, and I was stitching a pumpkin. That, and I love the whole autumnal palette, so it worked out perfectly.

Kara's Cinderella block from
our Fairy Tale Album
When Kara and I made our Fairy Tale Album, we divided up the blocks and each stitched different ones. Somehow, although Cinderella has always been one of my favorite fairy tales, Kara ended up stitching that one. I knew that block would be in my future, so this was the perfect opportunity for me to appliqué our design. I went to the copy shop and had the 12.5-inch block design enlarged to a 20-inch design area.

To do the vine, Kara used bias strips of the greens and wove them as she stitched. Because my design area was so large, I would have needed more than a yard of each of my vine fabrics to use bias strips. So to save money—flannel being more costly than cotton—I decided to do one section at a time. That ended up being quite the challenge, as I had to determine just what overlapped where to figure out which sections to stitch in what order. Good thing I've always liked to solve puzzles and brain teasers! I would definitely just buy the extra fabric and weave bias strips if I ever stitch this again.

Ella's Cinderella block in flannel, a 20" design centered on a 32"x38" baby blanket.

Stitching this was great fun, and quite a different kind of appliqué experience. Such large units were both easier and more challenging at the same time: gentler curves and more straight lines to stitch, yet there was so much more bulk to handle, especially when appliquéing the center of the block. But flannel is a dream to appliqué! If you've never tried it, I encourage you to do so. I expected the fabric to fray, but it didn't at all, and it turned under so nicely. 

Technically, this is not really a quilt, because while it does have three layers—a piece of flannel in the middle for the "batting"—I chose not to quilt it, because my experience is that the flannel stays together nicely, even through washings. (I've made quite a few flannel baby blankets.) I toyed with the idea of using a sashiko-style quilting around the appliqué, but ultimately, I was afraid it might detract from the design. I am planning to stitch her name beneath the design before I officially give it to her, however.

Here are a few details of her blanket.

Pumpkin turned carriage

Cinderella's glass slipper
I had to pad the light blue so that the leaves and flowers would not show.
It gave the slipper a bit of dimension as well.

The magic wand

A wee mouse, before transforming to a horse

The bow on the slipper: carefully and securely stitched with beads;
and the center of the pumpkin flower: knots surrounded by bullion stitches 


Ella loved exploring her new baby blanket! She especially loved the shoe and the flowers.

And she got it before her birthday!!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

A Little Preview!

As we announced last week, we are going to be teaching at the Academy of Appliqué in Williamsburg, VA, February 27–March 4, 2017. We are currently finishing up our blocks, so our needles are flying furiously! The class list will be posted on August 8th and you can see the full blocks then, but this week, we thought we would give you a little preview of the blocks we will be teaching.

Clematis with appliqué
 Clematis with ribbon

It's amazing how embroidery can transform a simple ribbon rose!

The magic of the bullion stitch

A different type of ribbon rose

Silk ribbon, perle cotton, floss, and wool are combined in this garden.

Wisteria in progress

Can you guess what was used for the trunk?

More ribbon!

A rosebud embellished
with silk thread
If you saw the fabric used for this lily, you might be surprised!
The bullion works perfectly for recreating the lily center.

We are so excited about these blocks—and the fact that we will be teaching them in Williamsburg. Appliqué, ribbon work, and embroidery will all come together in our classes there. It is a dream come true for us, and we hope that many of you can attend. As soon as the details are available, we will share them with you, our readers. Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Flowers—The Appliqué, Ribbon, and Embroidery Way

Last winter, we invited you to join us on our quilting road trip to Virginia, where we went to the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Show in Hampton, and then we took a class at the Academy of Appliqué in Williamsburg.  (To read about that road trip, read A Quilting Road Trip and Our Quilting Road Trip Continues.) Well, Kara and I (Teri) are already planning next year's trip. But there will be an exciting difference: next year, we will be teaching at the Academy of Appliqué.

It would difficult to express how thrilled we were when Barbara Blanton, the owner of The Academy of Appliqué, contacted us about teaching next year. Our creative juices immediately started to flow, and naturally, we turned to our two favorite sources of inspiration: literature and our gardens.

We love appliqué, but we really enjoy the embellishment of the appliqué with embroidery. There is so much detail that you can add using an assortment of threads and ribbons. The first book we looked at for inspiration was an old edition of a poetry book, which includes poems about many different flowers. In our minds' eyes, we were already stitching these flowers as we read the verses. I love to take photos of flowers; sometimes I see the detail in a close-up shot of a bloom that I don't seem to notice when I look at the beauty of the flower from afar. So I began searching my photo files for blossoms to stitch.

We don't want to give away too much too soon, but here is a sampling of the flora we will be stitching at the Academy in February/March 2017.

Every garden needs some lilies.

And roses, of course!

Nothing says spring like the cheerful face of a pansy.

The aroma of jasmine sweetens the air.

One of my personal favorites: wisteria.

Part of the charm of a clematis is the variety of the blooms with that interesting center.

Getting started on stitching clematis petals. Embroidering that center will be fun!

The fun has just begun!

With our love for telling stories, we turned to a childhood favorite: a classic story that we both loved as young girls. Perhaps you can guess what story we will be stitching. Any ideas? Stay tuned, and watch for the class listings for the Academy of Appliqué in August. We hope we will see you in Williamsburg!

Can you guess which story we'll be stitching?

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Story of an Inspiring Jacket

Inspiration can be found in many places: nature, architecture, museums, and sometimes even clothing. About a year and a half ago, I (Kara) was at a Baltimore Appliqué Society meeting when a lady walked by wearing a gorgeous linen jacket. I loved the way the colors and design worked together, and my first thought when I saw it was, "Those flowers would be amazing done in wool appliqué!" Mind you, I had never met this woman before, but I really needed to get a picture of her jacket. Do I try to take a picture on the sly and look like a stalker, or do I find the courage to ask if I could take a picture of her jacket and endure what would probably be a very strange look? Oh, and did I mention she was the president of the BAS at the time? I decided to go with the courageous option and meekly tapped her on the shoulder. I complimented her lovely coat and mentioned that I would love to recreate the design in wool someday. 

Marcia's beautiful coat!

She graciously allowed me to take a picture and didn't look at me too oddly. I even went so far as to buy wool from Shakerwood Woolens specifically for this future project. Fairy tale quilts and teaching got in the way of going forward, so the wool sat in my closet awaiting its future purpose.

During the almost two years since that awkward moment, I've gotten to know Marcia—the owner of the jacket—through various BAS activities and was able to spend time with her at the Academy of Appliqué in Williamsburg, VA, this past February. Marcia just recently completed her two-year tenure as president of the BAS, and I thought I would make good on the wool inspiration of her coat in honor of her last meeting as president.

One can never have too many needle books, so I thought I would use one of the flowers on the jacket for the cover. Using EQ7, I was able to put together a simple flower and leaf pattern, and at last, my wool came out of the closet. I transferred the pattern pieces to my wool and got ready to stitch the pieces down.

Ready for Stitching

Wool appliqué lends itself to endless embroidery opportunities, so the embellishment is my favorite part. 

Lazy daisies for the leaf veins and a braided
chain for the stems

The blanket stitch was a good edge stitch
for this leaf

"M" for Marcia

The cast-on stitch was perfect for the scalloped edges on these petals

Once the cover was finished, I chose to use the bright turquoise color for the inside of the needle-book. I put the lining and the cover right sides together and sewed around the edge, leaving an opening to turn it right side out in the middle of the back cover edge. Before I sewed the opening closed, I inserted a small hair elastic halfway into the opening, and then stitched all around the book making sure to catch the hair tie in my stitching. I then attached a piece of wool, cut slightly smaller than the size of the book, and sewed it down the middle.

The hair tie does the job as a closure

A wool center for the needles

The final step was to stitch a button on for the closure, and my jacket inspired needle book was finished! 

Our June BAS meeting was Marcia's last meeting as acting president, so I thought it fitting to give her the needle book then. While she didn't wear the jacket to the meeting, we were still able to get a picture together. Marcia's jacket was an inspiration to me, but so was Marcia, as she brought some wonderful new ideas to the BAS. Her gracious leadership was inspirational as well.