Thursday, November 24, 2016

We are Thankful

We want to take a moment on this Thanksgiving Day to express how grateful we are for each of you who read our blog, follow us on social media, and take our classes. We hope to someday meet each of you in person. We count you all among our bountiful blessings. Happy Thanksgiving!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Rita's Roses

Roses by Rita Verroca
About five years ago, I (Kara), was working at the Elly Sienkiewicz Appliqué Academy in Williamsburg. It was my first time helping there, and administrator Bette Augustine had me run a note down to one of the classrooms. As I approached the door, I heard peals of laughter coming from inside, and when I went into the classroom, the hilarity continued. The laughter caught my attention, but it was the amazing quilts that caught my eye. That was my first experience meeting Rita Verroca and seeing her exquisite work. Since that time, I have continually been inspired not only by Rita's passion for quilting, but also her surprising love of American history considering she is originally from Dusseldorf, Germany.

Teri and I have long admired Rita's eye for color and detail, so when the Baltimore Appliqué Society offered one of her workshops, we jumped at the chance and signed up. Prior to the workshop, we had the opportunity to listen to Rita speak at our monthly BAS (Baltimore Appliqué Society) meeting. Rita shared six of her award-winning quilts and told delightful stories about each. You can view all of the quilts on her website, here

Prairie Trail, by Rita Verroca

Sundance, by Rita Verroca

Roses of Shenandoah, by Rita Verroca

Lady of the Lake, by Rita Verroca

Rita sharing how the medallion of this quilt was constructed

The use of color in these quilts is absolutely amazing, and it was such a treat to be able to look at them closely and marvel at the detail and life that Rita brought out in them. Here are some detail shots for you to study.

Two days later, Teri and I fought the morning traffic to get to the workshop. When we arrived, we pulled out the lovely kits that we had picked up at the meeting and began to work. The kits came complete with an enlarged pattern to lay out the pieces, laminated templates to cut out, paper templates for reference, and of course, the best part—a selection of fabrics in Rita's signature bright colors.

What great fabric choices for this kit!
Rita showed us her method of choosing a section to work on, and then cutting the templates and fabrics for that area. Both Teri and I prefer the back-basting method of appliqué, but we were intrigued by Rita's method of having all the fabric parts cut out ahead of time. This allows for some flexibility in changing a color or fabric if you don't like the way it is working with the rest of the design. I decided to give it a try and really liked it! It's always good to learn new methods and see how they work for you. In my case, I morphed what I do with what I learned, and I look forward to putting it into practice as I work on this block. 

There were so many great tips that Rita gave us, but one stood out from the rest—fraying the seam allowance on sharp points. It sounds a bit counter productive for needle-turn, but it works so well.

Stitch to the point.
Trim underneath and use the needle
to fray the end a bit.

Ready to be turned under
A perfect sharp point

Rita's floral designs include many split leaves, and she showed us how she makes them, with an added bonus of teaching her special trick for making a sharp point at the tip of the leaf with two fabrics. 

Pinning the second fabric in place
Ready to turn under and stitch
My first leaf ready to be appliquéd
To learn how to do all the things we learned in the workshop, you can purchase Rita's book, Baltimore Album of Roses, here. You will love the gorgeous pictures of Rita's work and the many detailed directions telling how to re-create these amazing works or art.

We had a great time at the workshop with many of our BAS friends. A big thank you to Springwater Designs Quilting for providing such a lovely, well-lit, workshop space.

If you have a chance to take a class from Rita, you will not be disappointed. She is a wonderful teacher, historian, and artist. As a self-taught quilter, she is an inspiration to appliqué lovers everywhere.

Rita Verroca

Thursday, November 17, 2016

A Grateful Giveaway!

If you have been reading our posts lately, you will know that we had a great time in Houston for Quilt Market and Festival. We had so much fun and saw so many awesome fabrics and products that we thought we would share a little bit more about what we saw and what we bought.

During market we wandered around looking at all the eye candy available. We saw new lines of fabric, helpful new tools, beautiful silk ribbons, and threads galore. It was a bit overwhelming at first, but we hit our stride and began working through the list of exhibitors we wanted to see.

We have both wanted to try combining embroidery and English paper piecing, so we headed over to the Paper Pieces booth to see what we could find. We were warmly welcomed by the owner, Joanne, and given some sample products to try; however, we had no fabric, so that became our next quest: find fabric to use for our English paper piecing samples.

We didn't have to travel far when we happened upon the Blend Fabric's booth and were instantly captured by some of their whimsical designs. Little Red Riding Hood, for obvious reason, caught our eye, as well as many of their other fabric lines.

As we searched for more fabric—because who doesn't need more fabric—we stopped at Villa Rosa Designs. We loved the combinations of fabrics they put together to go with their pattern cards, so of course, we had to buy some of their half-yard sets.

Since threads are an important part of what we do, the Wonderfil booth was on our list of places to stop. We purchased a few sets of the Sue Spargo Eleganza thread and completed our collection of the Invisafil threads for our appliqué. While we were having fun chatting with the gals in the booth, we received a few a samples of some new threads to try.

Toward the end of our week, we stopped at the EdMar booth and tried not to drool over the amazing Brazilian embroidery threads and kits. We purchased a variety of threads and an adorable kit complete with all we would need to finish it.


As Thanksgiving draws near, we thought we would thank our readers with a Facebook giveaway! We are getting close to a 1000 likes on our Facebook page, and we thought it would be fun to celebrate reaching that milestone.

Our giveaway includes some of the great things we saw at Market along with some other goodies:

  • A handy Through the Needle's Eye tote bag to carry your projects
  • A Blend Fabrics fat quarter
  • A Wonderfil 2017 calendar
  • Two packages of Colonial needles
  • A spool of Mettler thread
  • Twelve project/pattern cards from Villa Rosa Designs
  • A Moda charm pack
  • One skein of Brazilian embroidery thread
  • A small English paper piecing project
  • Three DMC skeins of floss
  • AND a handmade, wool, crazy quilt, needle book!

All you have to do to enter our giveaway is:
  1. Go to our Facebook page and let us know that you have liked our page by commenting on the post about our giveaway.
  2. For extra entries, you can tag friend(s) that you think might enjoy following our page.
  3. Leave a comment on the blog below telling us what product in the giveaway appeals to you the most.
When we have reached 1000 Facebook followers on our page, we will randomly select a winner from all the entries. Check back often to see when the drawing will be . . . and to see if you've won!

To be eligible, remember to comment on Facebook, tag friend(s) for extra entries, and comment below on the blog. That's just two comments, and a bonus for tagging someone who likes our page.

We are so grateful for our readers and we hope that you will share our blog with your friends as we continue to share the stories that come from our needles!

NOTE: As December 8, 2016, the drawing has come to a close.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

International Quilt Festival, Houston—Part Two

We absolutely loved the variety of art we found in Houston at the Festival, both in the exhibits and among the vendors. A perfect example was this exhibit, In Celebration of the Doll. The dolls to the left—The Reunion, by Marlene Slobin—really made us laugh, as we met up with three sisters and spent the weekend with them, "adopting" us as sisters. At lunch one day, we even identified which one of us was which doll! 

There were a number of story-related dolls in the exhibit, and being the storytellers that we are, we enjoyed the creative depiction of the tales. Here are just a few.

The Storyteller, by Sondra Dunn Mahoney

Happily Whatever After, by Tere Perry

Humpty, by Pamela Contreras

Caterpillar with Mushroom, by Ute Vasina

They Are Passed Down, by Mandie Lucas

Another unique exhibit was Swiss/European Children's Wear Through the Years. The clothing varied from simple to intricate, such as the lacy or crocheted bibs.

Cynthia Needham curated For the Love of Linens. She demonstrated how she transforms vintage linens to current works of quilted art, below.

The dress below was part of the Tattered Splendor exhibit, by Marty Ornish. She describes the dress:

"Small bits of a badly damaged Wedding Ring quilt were salvaged and painstakingly reconstructed to make enough material to create the bodice. The skirts were constructed from the interlining of men's ties, and provide the peek-a-boo texture seen when the garment is worn. The final layers of the skirt were constructed from hundreds of strips made from several irreparably damaged antique quilts, permitting the ruined vintage fabric to have a second life, and giving the skirt a 'Roaring Twenties' look."

All Tied Up, by Marty Ornish; California, USA

Marty discussing dress construction with Kara

Another exhibit, Twisted, included pieces that used vintage fabrics to create contemporary artworks. The following quilt, below, used star blocks from the 1930s that were fused and stitched to the background, and accentuated with intricate quilting involving a clock. The quilt "represents the joining of an unknown quilter from the past to quilters in the present."

A Moment in Time, by Mary Kerr and quilted by Deb Levy; Virginia, USA

Detail: star block from A Moment in Time
Detail: quilted center of A Moment in Time

While shopping, we continued to see things that inspired us to try different things. Everywhere we looked, we saw something fun, often with a new twist. 

We loved this idea of punch needle on patchwork.

These adorable pumpkins were a fun way to display and practice embroidery stitches.

You may remember our friend Bette, who we wrote about in February, telling the story of the album quilt we made for her. (See the post Here's the Story of a Lovely Lady... by clicking here.) Well, we were thrilled to be able to meet up with her to visit and shop for a couple of days at Festival. She had been searching for some toile fabrics, with no luck. The last day there, we were able to locate the one booth that had toile—three patterns, in fact! We had a lovely conversation with Sandy McCay, owner of Cotton in the Cabin, and her husband, pictured above. She had a beautiful selection of reproduction fabrics, and many antique sewing supplies. We hit a toile home run!

We will close with a few more of our favorite quilts from the special exhibits. Enjoy!

Wool Crazy, by Susy Boyer; California, USA
Hand-pieced, appliquéd, quilted, embroidered, and embellished

Detail: Wool Crazy

Autumn Sharon, by Jo Timko and quilted by Jo Kuchera; New Jersey, USA
Hand-appliquéd, embroidered, and embellished, machine pieced and quilted

My Emily Munroe Quilt, by Susan Calhoun and quilted by Terry Kramzar; Georgia, USA
Hand-appliquéd, embroidered, and embellished, machine pieced and quilted

Rhapsody Over Ancient Days, by Masako Sanada; Japan
Hand piecing, hand appliqué, machine piecing, beading

Red and White, by Yoko Okamoto; Japan
Hand-pieced, appliquéd, and quilted; machine pieced

Thanks for stopping by our blog! We hope you are enjoying all this inspirational beauty as much as we did. 

 Can you match the sisters with the dolls?!