Thursday, June 14, 2018

"In the Garden"—Hydrangea

The gardens are bursting forth with blooms as the first day of summer rapidly approaches. This month's block in our In the Garden BOM series is the Hydrangea. I (Teri) have always loved the bountiful blooms of a hydrangea, and I am particularly partial to the blue/purple ones. I was excited to create these flowers, capturing their dimensional beauty.

We will be creating the mophead or French variety of hydrangea, the most common type. It has a large, rounded flower head that is composed of many single blossoms. I cut my purple wool into a pile of one-inch squares, each of which became a single flower.


I folded each square in half and cut a small triangle, curving a bit, from the fold toward the top, as pictured above, and then repeated on the bottom of the fold. 

I opened the square and folded it in the opposite direction, and repeated to create the shape pictured on the left, making a pile of petals. You may choose to use a variety of purples or blues and mix them together; I chose two colors. The petals were set aside. (I did not worry about keeping the colors separate; I just made a randomly mixed pile.)


After cutting out the leaves, I placed them on the background and attached them by embroidering the veins.  Since they were not fused or appliquéd, it helped to give a bit of puff or dimension to the leaves.



Now, I was ready to create the blooms. My first thought was to give the flower heads a lot of dimension, so I basted concentric circles of batting to the area where the flowers would be stitched. This way, the center of the flower would be higher than the outer edges. In theory, this was a great idea. And it worked to achieve that end, but in hindsight, white batting was not the best choice.




I gathered my pile of petals, a matching thread, and the beads I had chosen for the center, and I started to stitch them onto the batting base, randomly picking petals of different colors, not planning it out too carefully. To be sure that the white batting didn't shine through, I had to stitch them pretty densely. It really did give them dimension; in fact, they almost appeared to be spherical in shape.




The shadow indicates the dimension of the finished flower.

The finished block...first time around

I loved the block, and the roundness of the hydrangea blooms were pretty realistic, but as I looked at it beside the other blocks, I thought I might just have a bit TOO much dimension. It didn't seem to balance the other blocks, appearing a bit too heavy. So while this method would be a viable option for making the block as a stand-alone project, like a framed block or a pillow, it needed a bit less density for the quilt we are planning for our In the Garden blocks. So I made another one.

This time, I just used one circle of purple wool as a base for the flowers, so that I didn't have to worry about the color shining through. This meant that I didn't have to pack those blossoms as tightly together, which also meant the beads could be seen better.

The finished block, the second time around.

This time, the hydrangea didn't outshine the other blocks, balancing the overall dimension nicely. 



This past weekend, I taught the Hydrangea class at Primitive Homespuns Wool & Needleworks, in Frederick, Maryland. As always, I learn as much as I teach in these classes—sometimes more! We were discussing what we might do with the pile of little wool snippets left over from snipping our squares into petal units. One lady, Deborah, thought she would like to add the extra dimension and stuffed some of those wool scraps behind her purple base before basting in down. What a brilliant idea! It worked rather well, we all agreed.

There is nothing better than enjoying the company of sister-stitchers and getting to know new people while doing something you love. We shared many stories and laughs through the afternoon.

An almost-finished flower. Another happy "mistake" on my part: I had used size 6 beads, but I was unable to find them in that size for the class, so I provided size 8 beads. It turns out that it was a far better size to use, because they are a bit more visible. Yay!

Nancy, proudly showing her first flower, all finished!!

It's never too late to join us In the Garden! All the patterns are available on our website (www.needleseyestories.com), and the hard copies of the patterns include any ribbon needed to complete the block. To read more about our other blocks in the series, click on the links below.



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