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


  1. Beautiful quilts. I ordered one of Rita's patterns a few days ago.

    1. We agree, Karen! You will surely love the pattern. Happy stitching!

  2. Interesting post. I have not tried needle turned applique yet, but it's definitely on my to do list. Thanks for the info and a link to the book. Happy Thanksgiving.

    1. You are welcome and we hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving.

  3. Stunning colors and designs - thank you for sharing and the wonderful close up photos. Fascinating tip about fraying the point area...who knew??? Points are my constant challenge in applique.