Thursday, February 22, 2018

Block of the Month 6: Snail

Thank you for your interest in our Flora and Fauna blocks! They are no longer free but will be part of a future quilt pattern.

February has flown by, and I can't believe that we are already on Block 6! This month's block is the common garden snail, or Schnecke, here in Germany. While I wouldn't want these critters in my garden, they are interesting to look at while hiking in the woods. I saw the two below while walking with the dogs this past summer.

At a restaurant in France this past weekend, I was tempted to order the Escargot on the menu, but I wasn't brave enough. In the German bakeries, you can usually find a "Schnecke" pastry, which is definitely more my speed. Stitching a snail is less calories than eating one, so today we offer a calorie-free Schnecke just for you.

Cotton Block

This block goes together quickly, and you can do as much or as little embroidery as you want. I started by gathering my fabrics, which included a piece of gold shot cotton, and a brown hand-dyed cotton, along with a few threads I thought I might use. You might notice that the brown isn't pictured. Apparently, while I was in France last weekend, the gremlin that lives in my sewing room hid that piece of fabric. I'm sure I will find it someday, but after searching for 20 minutes, its presence eluded me.

The body was back-basted and appliquéd first, followed by the shell. Before I finished appliquéing the shell, I left about an inch gap and carefully inserted a small circle of batting and a little stuffing. This gave the shell a little dimension.

Once I was pleased with the stuffing, I appliquéd the shell closed. The next step was to stitch the shell swirl. I marked my embroidery lines and used a stem stitch, making sure I brought my needle through the background to help shape the shell swirls. For his antennae, I made two chain-stitched lines and added two French knots at the top. (Only two French knots this month!)

I used my Sewline Trio to mark my embroidery line.
All stitched, but I felt he needed something more.

I thought he looked fine just with the stem stitch, but then I came across some brown straw silk that I thought would add a nice texture on the shell.

The finished cotton block

Stitches and Threads Used (Cotton Block)

Weeks Dyeworks floss, Rust: stem stitch and French knots
The Gentle Art floss, Chamomile: chain stitch
Silk Road Fibers, straw silk, Whiskey: straight stitch

Wool Block

The wool block went together quickly as well, and I kept to the same color scheme with a brown and tan wool. With the hand-dyed brown, I tried to find a spot that had a good variety of brown shades.

When I cut out my templates for wool appliqué, I print out my pattern, and with a glue stick, I glue the pattern to a piece of freezer paper. Then I cut out the pieces I need, and they are ready to be ironed on to the wool. If you have 8.5" x 11" freezer paper that you can run through the printer, that would save a step. (Make sure you use an ink jet printer if you choose to print the pattern directly onto the freezer paper.) Once my pieces are stitched on to the background, I traced the shell swirl onto a piece of Press and Seal with a white roller ball pen. I then put the Press and Seal onto the shell and used a #12 pearl cotton thread to blanket stitch the swirl.

Ready to stitch

The seed stitch is one of my favorite stitches to add texture to a flat piece, so I used it on the snail's body with two strands of floss. The antennae are done with a chain stitch, and then topped with two French knots.

The finished wool block!

Stitches and Threads Used (Wool Block)

The Gentle Art floss, Chamomile: chain stitch and seed stitch
Weeks Dyeworks #12 pearl cotton, Tiger's Eye: blanket stitch
Weeks Dyeworks floss, Rust: stem stitch and French knots

As this is posted, I will be in the air, on my way to the states to teach with Teri at the Academy of Appliqué in Williamsburg, Virginia. We wanted to make sure that you had this month's block, so Teri has posted it on my behalf. Hopefully, you will enjoy stitching this simple snail to add to your collection of blocks in this series. Better to stitch him than to find him in your garden! 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

"In the Garden"—Rose

Happy Valentine's Day! In the spirit of the holiday, we stitched a rose for our garden this month. Whether the red rose signifies love or warm, summer days for you, who doesn't enjoy the beauty of this perennial floral favorite?

While the rose is made with wool, the buds are created using wired ribbon, adding a different texture, and of course, a bit of fun! We also added beads around the bloom for a bit of sparkle—a hint of early morning sun shining of dew drops, perhaps. 

This new block in our In the Garden Block of the Month series is now available on our website, and it comes with the ribbon needed to stitch the buds and calyxes. Here are a few highlights of the rose.

The leaves are placed and appliquéd, and then the rose petals. Each petal is surrounded by a chain stitch. A feather stitch creates the leaf veins, and a blanket stitch with the spokes going outward toward the tip form the serration of the leaves.

The folded rosebud used a 2-inch piece of wired ribbon. From the center point, each half is folded down at a 45-degree angle, so that the edges meet. 


Using the wired edge on the back, fold down again to shape the ribbon bud so that it will fit neatly behind the sepal pieces. 

For the smaller bud, use a 3/4-inch piece of ribbon. Fold raw edges under as pictured below, and then angled, so that it will be covered by the wool piece.


When the buds are the desired shape and size, place them on the background and tack them so they are secure, but the stitches will not be seen. Appliqué the wool sepal pieces on top of the ribbon buds with matching thread. 

Using hand-dyed 4mm-wide silk ribbon, twist your ribbon and do a
long straight stitch to create the small stems between the rose and the buds. 

Create the small leaves at the base of the buds using a ribbon stitch with that same ribbon.
Using wool thread, do small feather stitches randomly around the buds.

Two bullion stitches top the smaller bud, but you could also use the twisted ribbon, if you choose. Finally, attach size 15 red seed beads randomly within the chain stitches around the rose petals.

We had a great time making our roses bloom in our class at
Primitive Homespuns Wool & Needleworks...

...and we were excited to see what next month will bring to our gardens!

And the winner is...

We were thrilled by the number of people who responded to our Facebook giveaway last week. There were so many fabulous suggestions of flora and fauna for garden stitching that our heads are absolutely spinning with ideas! Our congratulations go to our lucky winner, chosen randomly by our random name picker:

Delores Wall

Please contact us with your mailing address, Delores, and we will send you your patterns. Congrats! We hope you enjoy stitching them!!

If you would like to join us In the Garden, all the patterns for the first five months are now available on our website: Any ribbon needed to complete the patterns is included with the pattern. Our newest addition is, of course, the Rose.


Past posts in the BOM series:

Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Great Garden Giveaway!

Kara and I have been having such a wonderful time on our journey together with you, telling stories through our needles' eyes. We are amazed by the number of subscribers to our blog, as well as those who follow us on social media. What a community we quilters are! There is no better way to learn than to share, and we have heard many inspiring ideas from you over these past few years. Almost three, already! Wow.

We thought it might be fun to do a bit of celebrating over on our Facebook page. Just click the link and hop on over to our page to leave a comment for a chance to win the first four patterns of our In the Garden BOM series. Yes—all four patterns, with ribbon needed to make the flowers—will be given to one random winner!

The four patterns thus far are Cornflowers, Oak Leaves and Acorns, Violets, and Cardinals and Holly. All are pictured with a detail below.

Cornflowers detail 


Acorn detail

Oak Leaves and Acorns 

Violets detail


Cardinals and Holly detail

Cardinals and Holly

Our In the Garden patterns are wool appliqué patterns, embellished with embroidery, ribbon, and beads. What could be more fun? We are just a week or so away from our fifth block, which will be a perfect garden block for Valentine's Day! I'm sure you can guess...

So help us celebrate by joining the party over on Facebook. Like our page (if you haven't yet), and leave a comment telling us what garden flower or critter you might like to see stitched, and you'll be entered for our giveaway package. Tag a friend or share our page, and you'll get an extra entry! Easy peasy!!

We will announce the winner next week on Facebook...and right here. See you over on our page! (Click here to get to our Facebook page, Through the Needle's Eye.) We are having a garden party!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Museum Inspiration

Museums have always been a source of inspiration for Teri and me. We have been to many together; like our trip to the Lovely Lane Museum and the road trip we took to the Virginia Quilt Museum. Other times we have gone to them separately, such as the time Teri attended the crazy quilt exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Art, or when I visited the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum just outside of Denver. Together or separately, both of us seek out inspiration in any museum we visit. Here in Europe, there are so many museums to choose from, and I know it will be hard to fit them all in; however, in the past two months, I have been able to visit two of the biggies: The Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Louvre in Paris. 

For this week's post, I thought I would share a photo log of the inspirational things in both museums that captured my attention. Hopefully you will find some inspiration as well!

The Victoria and Albert Museum

The detail of the flowers is stunning!
I fell in love with this coat!

Cotton or wool appliqué? Either would be beautiful.

Put a bird on it!
This cotton coverlet had so much in the way of
botanical inspiration.

This twill-weave bedcover in cotton and linen was made in India
for the European market, circa 1725-1750.

The vase was based on European engravings from the early 18th century.

The colors are still so vivid!
I can almost guarantee you will see this flower
in one of our future designs.

These chintz bonnets were so charming!

This Mughal rug from the mid 17th century has an inspiring floral design.

This Indian floorspread from the 1700s was made of cotton and was embroidered
with silk and metal-wrapped threads. I see some lovely appliqué flowers in this one.

Wouldn't this tile make a lovely medallion center?

English paper piecing anyone?

The vine is a lovely, curved, complement to the angles in the flowers.

Can you believe this gorgeous, appliqué wall hanging dates from the 1500s?
It is made of felted wool with silk appliqué.

I would have dearly loved to have seen a quilt exhibit at the Victoria and Albert museum, but alas, there was none. While we were not able to see the entire museum, my husband and I searched for at least one quilt. Can you guess who finally found it? My husband—the force is strong in this one! I was thrilled to say the least that he found the mother of all whole cloth quilts!

It was hard to get a good picture because, as you can see, the quilt is huge!
The quilt was made in Florence, Italy, between 1360 and 1400.

This quilt tells the story of King Tristan—a popular story in medieval, romance, literature.

In the quilt, there are 14 different stories of King Tristan's adventures.

I love this floral detail!
Such tiny stitching!

As we wrapped up our tour of the museum, we came across this appliquéd wall hanging.
Once again, Tristan makes an appearance with the story of his ill-fated love for Isolde.

The happy—or not so happy—couple

While this hanging looks to be quite worn, consider that it was likely created in the late 1300s.

The Louvre

Our trip to Paris and the Louvre was timed well, because if we had gone a week later, we would not have been able to visit the museum, due to widespread flooding in downtown Paris. This museum, by far, is my absolute favorite. Half a day was not nearly enough time to see everything, but that just means we will have to go again. We didn't see much in the way of textiles, but what we did see was inspirational nonetheless.

This Roman mosaic border would certainly make a lovely quilt border.

It boggles the mind that a sculptor could so stunningly create the look
of draped fabric out of stone.

I can already imagine recreating this ancient owl in wool and stitches.

Mere words can't describe the beauty of this ceiling!

The Winged Victory of Samothrace or the Winged Nike was one of my favorite sculptures.
It was amazing how the sculptor captured the look of a sheer garment out of stone. 

The artist captured a sweetness in the woman and
a slightly mischievous look in the child. 

The colors in this painting are still so vibrant, which is why it caught my eye.

What would this post be without pictures of two of the most famous, ladies in the Louvre—Venus and Mona. Many people said to lower our expectations in anticipation of seeing the Mona Lisa, so we were pleasantly surprised at how much we enjoyed viewing this painting.

The Venus de Milo
This lady needs no introduction.

I hope you have enjoyed this very small tour of two of the most famous museums in the world and the inspiration I found in each.  Whether it is a painting, sculpture, or ancient textile, all can inspire our stitching. Have you been to a museum that inspires you? We would love to hear about it!