Thursday, July 26, 2018

A Few Teasers—Birds and Bees, Flowers and...

Have you ever had one of those weeks where you figured that instead of stitching, you would rather sit at the computer and fight the cyber world gremlins? Me neither, but that's what I (Teri) did for most of the week. Still, I'm happy to say that our website, which was abysmally out-of-date, is now pretty current. Web design is really NOT my thing, but I try to approach it with the mindset of "I'm designing a quilt." Sometimes that works, but not always... I applaud those who choose to do this for a job—it is an integral part of our world today—but I would much prefer to work with people. Or needles and thread.

We would love for you to take a minute or two to check out our humble little site  ( and see what is going on in our needle-world. Our list of class offerings in now updated, with lots of additional options for workshops. But enough about websites. On to some more fun news!

Over in our Facebook world, we celebrated reaching 2000 likes on our page with a little giveaway of some of our favorite things. It was such fun to read about everyone's favorite stitching spots. It appears that many of us stitch better with a little birdsong as background music. It sure works for me! Our Facebook page is a good way to follow our antics, and sometimes get a tip or two. To see what is going on there, you can click here.

My passport's packed and I'm ready to go...well, I guess I should wait until I have my bags packed. Where, you ask? I'm off to meet my partner in crime stitching! First, we will meet in Birmingham, England, to attend the Festival of Quilts Exhibition 2018. We may do a bit of English countryside exploring when we are not eyeing the quilts or visiting the vendors. Then we will have about a week, during which my tour guide, Kara, will take these tired bones everywhere we can pack into one week. Of course, we will be "working" the entire time—everything we see will be a source of inspiration, or at least an opportunity to talk about inspiration for new projects!

Fall is looking busy, with several local workshops and a trip to Long Island, NY. There is little better than meeting new people and sharing our stitching passion. To find out more detail about these classes, you can check our website!

The third block in the series I am teaching for the Baltimore Appliqué Society, based on Mildred Tahara's quilt, In Praise of Jane Austen, is Lyre Wreath in Bloom. Mildred's block is on the left, and my rendering is on the right. There will lots of options for embellishment in stitching this lovely block. (Pattern by Elly Sienkiewicz from Baltimore Elegance.)

I will be teaching this Flower Basket workshop again this fall, this time at Patches Quilting and Sewing, in Mt. Airy, Maryland. (Pattern by Elly Sienkiewicz from Spoken Without a Word.)

I am thrilled to be able to teach this block again. This elegant block is based on one from a quilt in the Lovely Lane Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. (Pattern by Elly Sienkiewicz from Spoken Without a Word.) The workshop will be held on Long Island, New York, with the Evening Star Quilters. I've met several of the guild members in classes at the Academy of Appliqué, and I'm looking forward to what I know will be a fun weekend.

The original block—you can read more about this quilt in our blogpost, Lovely Lane. 
Now, that brings us to our really exciting news—something we have been working on tirelessly for months. A new quilt! But what is most thrilling about this quilt is that we will be teaching it next March at the Academy of Appliqué in Williamsburg, Virginia. It is always such an honor to be invited to teach in this special venue, surrounded by people who love what we love—appliqué and all things needle. The class catalog comes out on August 3: that is next Friday! Be sure to check it out. Registration opens on Labor Day, and classes can sell out pretty quickly, so you'll want to be ready.

We cannot divulge the whole scope of the wonders we will have in store for our students this coming year, but here are a couple of teasers to get you pondering. It would be our honor to meet you in class and stitch with you! 


If you know anything about the work we design, you can probably imagine what some of the other elements of our blocks will be. 😊

Be sure to check out the class catalog for the Academy of Appliqué next Friday,  August 3, to see the entire projects. We are planning a lot of fun!

Well, that's about all for now. The Flora and Fauna block for July may show up the first of August, but it is coming soon—promise. I am ready to close my computer and pick up a needle. Won't you join me?

Thursday, July 19, 2018

"In the Garden"—Monarch and Butterfly Bush

Who doesn't love a monarch butterfly? It reigns over all in its species; well, at least its name implies royalty. But indeed, it is a beauty to behold. This week, we add to our In the Garden series with a monarch and a butterfly bush bloom. That, of course, sent me (Teri) on a quest to search through my photos to see if I had any suitable models for my butterfly. Alas, I had none perched on a butterfly bush, but a couple on lantana blooms—enough to get me started. So we hope you will enjoy the latest flower in our garden, along with its visiting monarch! 

This past weekend, at Primitive Homespuns Wool & Needleworks, we gathered in class and stitched some lovely blossoms to begin our butterfly bush blooms, and made some headway creating butterflies, as well. Here are some highlights of this block. 

First, I appliquéd the stems and leaves with matching thread and then appliquéd a piece of purple wool for the background of the blossoms. I realized after I got started that the wool I had was a bit dark, so I would recommend using a lighter wool, so you can stitch the blossoms a bit less densely if you choose. 

A backstitch creates the center vein, with feather stitches on either side. I didn't use a strongly contrasting green thread, but you might want to create more distinction.

To create the blossoms, I used 7mm silk ribbon, 4mm silk ribbon a shade darker, and floss for the tips. With the ribbon, I made French knots, but after I wrapped the ribbon around the needle, I took a couple of running stitches before taking the needle to the back, as pictured above.

When I do knots, I like to use a pillow. That way I can place the needle into the pillow, freeing both hands to adjust my threads or ribbon and pull them as taut as I want, and in this case, to adjust the petals created by the running stitches. Then, when I pick up my work from the pillow, I can hold it at the base of the needle when pulling it to the back, which creates a smoother knot. It is important to note here that since we are working with ribbon, a chenille needle is needed, so we can't wrap the ribbon too tightly, or it will be difficult to pull that wide eye through to the back. And don't expect every single knot to look the same—each will be as unique as each blossom on a real butterfly bush! Embrace the uniqueness. 

I created these blossoms randomly, with more of the lighter and wider ribbon at the bottom, mixed gradually with the darker and thinner ribbon toward the middle, and finally blending and finishing with regular French knots using all six strands of floss at the tip of the flower. I would caution you to be mindful that if you pack the knots really closely together at first, it's hard to spread them out after you've started. (Ask me how I know.) With the lighter purple wool in the back, it would be fine to spread your blossoms out a bit. You can always fill in gaps with more knots later if you want it to be denser, but you probably won't want to take out your ribbon knots. 

To stitch the butterfly, I cut two pieces of wool in the shape of the butterfly; I set one piece aside for the back and placed the other on a piece of muslin while I embroidered it. My iPad was primed with a photo that I followed as I embroidered. (The pattern gives you the design to stitch, so you don't have to create it as you go.) I used chain stitches to separate the top and bottom wings, and stem and straight stitches for the rest of the design on the wings. 

After all the black lines were embroidered on the wings, I did the body. When I stitched it, I started with the turkey work and then filled in with bullion stitches. The better way is definitely to stitch the bullions first, and fill in with turkey work, which was what we did in class. 


When I trimmed the turkey work, I left the threads around the body longer but trimmed the threads toward the bottom of the section very closely. White French knots on the sides of the bullion knots add detail to the body.

After trimming the muslin to the shape of the butterfly, I backed it with the other butterfly-shaped piece of wool and did a dense blanket stitch in black all the way around. To create the dots, I did a running stitch with white thread through the black blanket stitching around the edge, burying the knot between the layers. A few random straight stitches in pale yellow added the rest of the accents. 

A black flower pistil folded in half and stitched to the back of the head creates the antennae. 

I attached the butterfly to the flower by taking a few stitches with black thread through the center of the body. The wings are left free to "fly." 

 Our wonderful class stitching butterflies!

As I was writing this post, I realized that I had no good photos of a butterfly bush. My neighbor has just planted a beautiful butterfly garden, so I asked her if I could take a picture of her butterfly bush. When I was thanking her for the photo, I told her the only thing that was missing was the monarch.

She responded with a photo that she took of her newly planted garden with a monarch in flight, right next to the butterfly bush! How timely and perfect. Thanks, Joni!!

Photo by Joni Bittner

I cropped it to zoom in on the butterfly—isn't it lovely?!

The pattern for the Monarch and Butterfly Bush is now available on our website, If you haven't joined us In the Garden yet, we'd love for you to pay a visit. Maybe you can stitch your own garden!

All the patterns are available on our website (, 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.

Friday, July 13, 2018

But wait; there's more!! (NE Inspiration)

What would a road trip be without a quilt shop or two? I (Teri) did stop and visit a couple, and then we made a special trip to a quilt shop that might be familiar to you. I knew of it because I've received their catalogs for decades. But we will visit that shop later in the post.
Without further ado, I hope you enjoy the rest of my New England inspiration.

Norton House–A Quilter's Paradise, housed in a building nearly 260 years old, is in Wilmington, Vermont, east of the the Green Mountains. How cool to shop for fabric in such an historic building, filled with centuries of stories.

The New Hampshire Law Enforcement Officers Memorial on the grounds of the Legislative Office Building in Concord, the state capital. It was difficult to capture the entire design without a helicopter; I can only imagine how impressive it is from an aerial view. It is shaped like a star, with the red, white, and blue flowers filling in the spaces between the star points. Stunning.

Lobster is everywhere in Bar Harbor, Maine. Wouldn't this notecard be a wonderful basis for an embroidered design?

Fabricate is a charming quilt shop in Bar Harbor. They also have scrapbooking supplies, and a room of yarn, as well. And it's housed in such a uniquely shaped building!

We saw this door on the side of an old church in Bethlehem, New Hampshire. I love the wood, the handle, the hinges—such character! What is it about old doors? They certainly pull you in... 😉

My wonderful husband drove over an hour to take me to Keepsake Quilting. It was just too close not to go and see this shop in person! The catalogs are jammed with quilt goodness, and the store did not disappoint.

What a greeting as I entered the front door! So bright and cheery.

I found rows and rows and rows of fabric in room after room...

...with notions sprinkled throughout the store, ...

...and patterns and precuts galore.

The spacious, inviting porch has plenty of seating for patiently waiting husbands. Mine found some freshly baked cookies at the neighboring grocery store to tide him over while he waited.

My package was tied with a beautiful bow—of fabric, of course!

I thought it was special that they tied my bag with a fabric bow, but look how nicely they folded my fabric to put it in the bag. Such presentation! If you ever are driving through New Hampshire, Keepsake Quilting is a must-stop. Everyone there was friendly and helpful, and the shop is oh, so inviting! It certainly lives up to its catalog.

One of our lunch stops had tables painted with lovely, quilt-like designs. I could easily visualize them appliquéd and/or embroidered.

This is just screaming to be stitched! Can you hear it, too?

But then there was this lovely sign, hanging on the wall right next to the table where we ate dinner one night. What? Really?! THAT is hardly inspiring. Well, maybe it inspires me to cook some lighter meals now that we're home! No more lobster rolls and blueberry pie.

By the way, have you checked out the rest of our vacation inspiration? Kara's Spain trip, Inspirational Quest (Vacation), and part one of my NE trip, New England Inspiration, are chock full of color and beauty. And don't forget to leave a comment on yesterday's post with your six-word story of the bees and fuchsia! I just happened to finish this busy little bee the day before we left for our vacation, but more about him to come in the very near future. 
I got a tiny bit of stitching accomplished on this trip, but I found so many things to spark my creativity. I'm home and ready to stitch!

How about you? Have you found inspiring sights during any of your summer travels? Please share!