Thursday, August 25, 2016

Rose of Sharon

In October, Kara and I (Teri) will be teaching this lovely Rose of Sharon block at our local quilt shop, Patches Quilting and Sewing, in Mt. Airy, Maryland. The class will run for three weeks, on Thursday evenings. 

Spoken Without a Word,
30th Anniversary Revised Edition
The pattern for this block is found in the book, Spoken Without a Word, by Elly Sienkiewicz, who designed this particular rendering, stitched primarily with ribbon. When Elly stitched the block, she changed the orientation, omitted the four center buds, and inked a picture of the Maryland State House within the wreath. We chose to create the block with the buds in the center, and we loved Elly's ribbon choices, so we attempted to match her selections as closely as possible. 

Elly's Rose of Sharon

Both Kara and I love this block, and evidently, many other quilters have loved it as well. I thought it might be fun to explore some of the different antique iterations I have come across and share them with you. 

About a year and a half ago, I visited the DAR Museum's exhibit, Eye on Elegance. (To see more about that visit, click here.) There were several Baltimore Album Quilts in their collection that had variations of the Rose of Sharon block. 

I love the colorful fabric choices in this one.
Made for Betsey Hobbs Harper and William Harper; Baltimore, 1848

The fussy-cut fabric in these flowers add such charm!
Made for Betsey Hobbs Harper and William Harper; Baltimore, 1848

Note the block in the center of the top row. 
I didn't get a photo of just the block, but it is quite similar to our pattern design.
Made for Betsey Hobbs Harper and William Harper; Baltimore, 1848

While this wreath has six flowers rather than four, it still appears to be related to the Rose of Sharon.
Made by Ruth Pettit Penn; Baltimore, about 1850

The four vases in the middle of the quilt are surrounded by Rose of Sharon wreaths.
Three of them have four flowers, like our pattern. Can you find them?

Made by Ruth Pettit Penn; Baltimore, about 1850

You may remember that I noted a number of Rose of Sharon blocks in the quilts that we saw at Lovely Lane this past spring. (To see the full quilts from that visit, click here.) Note how many variations there are. Isn't it interesting that these quilts were all made in Baltimore at about the same time? I'm sure neighboring quilters shared inspiration and patterns—just as we do today!

Reverend Lipscomb Quilt, 1846-47

The following five Rose of Sharon blocks are all in the Baltimore Album Quilt made for Reverend Best in 1847-48. While similar, none are identical.


Shared with permission from Sharon's Antiques.
While surfing the web, I found this Rose of Sharon quilt on a vintage fabric and quilt site, Sharon's Antiques. The block is recognizable, but rather than being part of an album quilt, the entire quilt is composed of twelve of these blocks. The vine border is made up of elements of the wreath, with alternating flowers and buds. The quilt is from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and is dated mid-1800s. 

Permission was kindly granted to allow me to share this quilt with you. Please take a moment to go to their web site (click here) and take a closer look. The quilting is stunning, as is the appliqué workmanship. Who knows, you may even be tempted—as I was—to purchase this beauty!

If you turn this block a quarter-turn, there is a striking resemblance to the pattern we will be teaching.
This block is very much like the pattern in Spoken Without a Word.
Shared with permission from Sharon's Antiques.

We are excited to share this block in our upcoming class. Ribbon definitely gives this block a unique and elegant look. If you're in the area, we hope you can join us for the fun!

French wired, ombré ribbon is gathered for the blooms.

The buds are padded ribbon with ultrasuede calyxes.
Leaves are created with hand-dyed silk ribbon.

Ribbon-worked Rose of Sharon

And we'll close with a few Rose of Sharon from my garden. Happy stitching!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

A Quilt That Found Its Way Back Home

Since we began this blog a year and a half ago, we have shared many of the stories that quilts tell. Now we'd like to share the story of an old quilt that began in one place, traveled to another, and eventually found its way home.

Some time ago, our friend, Carol, mentioned that her mother had a good friend from her Garden Club, who had a beautiful old quilt; she asked if we would like to see it. This friend, Peg, also ran a bed and breakfast in an old log cabin that was built in 1700s. Teri and I (Kara) love old quilts and old buildings, so we jumped at the chance to see both. 

While it took a little time to arrange, we finally were able to travel to Boyds, Maryland, to see the quilt and its home. Pleasant Springs Farm is a bed and breakfast run by Peg Coleman; it is a delightful 18th century log cabin set in an idyllic pastoral setting.

A lovely place to stay

All one needs is a glass of iced tea and this front porch!

The cabin was lovingly restored by Peg and her husband back in the 80s; it is surrounded by 30 acres of gardens, woodlands, and pastures. While it is only 28 miles from the hustle and bustle of Washington, DC, one would never know it when rocking in one of the rocking chairs on the front porch.

A lovely arbor
We met Peg at her lovely home, and she led us on a tour of her farm. First we walked around her extensive gardens and enjoyed the beautiful June flowers.

A view of the gardens from the cabin front door

Peg's collection of hand-dyed and spun wool

We also found out that at one time, Peg had a dye garden, so she could dye the wool from the 100 sheep she raised. Now she only has a few sheep, but she still has much of the wool yarn that she dyed and spun herself. She no longer sells her yarn, but it is beautifully displayed on the wall as you enter the cabin.

A few of the sheep left

Our next stop was the cabin. Peg shared with us that the cabin was built in 1768 by Thomas Drury, and was then sold to the Austin family in 1804. Generations of Austins lived in the tiny cabin that at one time housed as many as 13 children! The Austin family put on the additions (for good reason). The cabin was sold in 1951, and it then was vacant until 1980, when Peg and her husband bought the property.

The cabin in 1980

As Peg led us into the cabin we were finally able to see the quilt. It was a beautiful triple Irish chain made from feed sacks from the feed mill that was just down the street from the cabin. And though the quilt was wonderful, the story as to how it got there was even better. 

A stunning triple Irish Chain

This sign hangs next to the quilt in the cabin
A Frederick, Maryland, newspaper wrote a story about the bed and breakfast and log cabin restoration project, and a former local resident, Sarah Wade, read the story. Not too long after the story was published, Mrs. Wade contacted Peg and said that she had a quilt that she would like to bring back to where it belonged. In the 1940s, the quilt was commissioned to be made by the three Austin sisters that resided in the log cabin. (They were three of the 13 children.) Mrs. Wade had no one to leave the quilt to, so she thought that it should go back to its first home.

There was no electricity or plumbing in the cabin when the quilt was made, so they had no Ott lights to help with the long hours of piecing and quilting. The quilt is made of feed sacks that were purchased from the local feed mill down the road and is hand-pieced out of 1" blocks. Although the quilt is not signed, Peg has a picture of the three sisters, as well as their names. 

The quilt-making sisters in 1900

So many little pieces!

We had a delightful lunch with Peg, her friend Jane, and our friends, Carol and Bonnie. After lunch we looked at a few old quilts that Jane had brought. We also learned more about the farm and were able to enjoy a special day with new friends.

A fantastic lunch!

Good friends catching up

Another Irish Chain quilt

Teri and I are going to be sending Peg a written description of the quilt, along with its story. This way she can have it as a written record, so that others years from now will know more about this special quilt and how it found its way back home. We were so happy that we had the opportunity to meet Peg Coleman and to hear the story of her quilt, as well as to see her splendid homestead.

Do you have a quilt that has a special story? Contact us and maybe we can share it here!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

A Floral Wreath, The Secret Garden, and a new website!

Click here for the catalog!
This has been an exciting week! On Monday, the 2017 Class Catalog for the Academy of Appliqué in Williamsburg, Virginia, run by Barbara Blanton, was posted. Kara and I (Teri) can't begin to express how humbled and honored we feel to be a part of this amazing group of teachers. Please check out the catalog to see the opportunities offered in this wonderful week of appliqué! It is such a fabulous experience to gather together with others who share the same passion; an immediate kinship is felt with your fellow stitchers. Having been a hostess at the previous Academy, and then a student last year, I can attest to the fact that it is a warm and comfortable feeling to be surrounded by so many stitching sisters. (Even for an introvert, like me!) The Academy offers something for everyone: beginners to veterans; basic appliqué, wool, crazy quilting, ribbonwork, embroidery—you're sure to find something to tickle your needle fancy!

The Academy is located at the lovely Kingsmill Resort. Kara had to stop to take a picture of the daffodils,
which opened the week we were there this past year.What a great way to welcome spring!

We have taunted you a bit over the past few weeks with a few detail shots of the blocks we will be teaching, but today, we thought it only fair to share the full blocks.

Floral Wreath class with be held on Tuesday and Wednesday, February 28 - March 1, 2017.

Our first class is a Floral Wreath, based on a poem called "The Use of Flowers," by Mary Howitt, from the book Floral Poetry and the Language of Flowers, published in 1877. The last verse of the poem is inked in the center of the wreath; if you'd like to read the poem in its entirety, click here.

Each bloom in the wreath began with a photograph of a flower that I took. (See Flowers—The Appliqué, Ribbon, and Embroidery Way.) This is a mulit-media wreath: cotton and silk fabrics, various threads, and lots of ribbon. The class kit includes everything you need to create these lilies, clematis, pansies, roses, and jasmine. You'll be amazed how a couple of pieces of silk ribbon becomes such a realistic pansy! So much easier than it looks.

Our main conference class is based on a children's classic: The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, published in 1911. Kara and I wanted to create a block that reflected two of our loves: stories and flowers. The Secret Garden was the perfect inspiration for this block.

The Secret Garden is our main conference class, held Thursday-Saturday, March 2-4, 2017.

The garden walls are appliquéd with cotton fabric, sari silk transforms into a gnarled wisteria tree, and embroidered flowers fill the garden. Silk flower swags frame the garden, with an inked quote from the book. We will be using lots of silk ribbon and threads to create this beauty! Everything you'll need to stitch this block (except your background) will be included in your class kit. That makes packing easy! 

To add to the excitement of the week, Kara and I were invited to present our lecture, The Stories in Our Quilts, to a local quilt guild. What was especially fun about this lecture is that we both were members of the Four County Quilters Guild when we first started quilting. Life got busy, and our memberships lapsed, but it was wonderful to be back visiting a lovely group of ladies, many of whom taught me a lot about taking risks to learn new skills.

Now, since we couldn't share our Fairy Tale Album during our lecture—because it's in Houston!—and most of the pieces we have created using those motifs are rather small, we thought that perhaps instead of just sharing our Academy blocks, we should try to border them, so that they would look a bit more finished. Bordering the blocks is not part of the class, but you can see some possibilities for turning your block into a wall-hanging. Kara chose a scalloped frame with a scrappy pieced border for The Secret Garden, which really pulls the colors from the garden.

Won't this be lovely when it is quilted?!

The wreath seemed to call for a simpler frame, so I thought I would create a flange with the dupioni silk that was used to make the jasmine leaves, and use the rose leaf green for the border. Of course, I knew it would look better mitered, but I wasn't sure how to succeed in mitering the flanged border. I don't suggest using the method I used, if I could even articulate what I did. I had a close relationship with my seam ripper for a couple of days. It turned out pretty well, I suppose, but I will recommend NOT choosing to make a flange with dupioni. It's just too wobbly, and it unravels way too easily. It was amazingly easier to appliqué!

To round out the excitement of the week, we launched our new website. I won't bore you with the details of how I knew nothing about web design or how to do anything more than a blog, but I will tell you that they make it easy enough even for a novice like me. I'm sure that many changes will be made as we learn more about the whole process, but I surprised myself by even enjoying the experience. I'd have to say that it was easier than mitering a silk dupioni flanged border!
The website will give us the opportunity to offer patterns and kits as we have them available. So . . . we hope you'll stop by and explore a bit, and let us know what you think. At this point, it mirrors the blog, but we hope there will be shopping opportunities in the near future. (Please be patient with us, though!) I have a few kinks to work out yet, but—we have a website!!

Thanks so much for stopping by and reading my ramblings about our week! We do hope that we might meet you at the Academy of Appliqué next winter. Enrollment opens on Labor Day, and classes can fill quickly, so take a look now.

How about you? What exciting things have you been working on? We'd love to hear about it!