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.