Thursday, November 29, 2018

Block of the Month 15—Acorns

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.

This post was almost called "Throwback Thursday" as the acorn is such an autumnal symbol, but technically it is still fall. The weather here in Germany has certainly become winter-like, but there are still a few days until the official start of winter, therefore the acorn is still in season. (That's my story and I'm sticking to it.)

This acorn picture was taken early in the season, as you can tell from the green leaves. I (Kara) loved the yellow-orange color of acorn that was just beginning to change colors. I pass a couple of beautiful oak trees on our walks, and I was able to snap pictures of them at different times during the season. I also was brought to my knees (literally) by the acorns, as there were so many; it was a little dangerous walking on them, thus the mighty acorn had to be included in our block of the month.

Early Fall

Mid Fall

 Cotton Block

Once the block was traced onto the back using transfer paper, I was able to get started on the appliqué.

Transfer paper (shiny side up), background, and pattern.
The order from the bottom up.
Traced image on the back of the background.

I began by appliquéing the leaf, then the branch, and then the acorn bottoms. Once those were finished, I could start on the acorn caps. These are a bit small to appliqué, but by turning under just a little bit at a time, they were manageable. When appliquéing small pieces, I like to switch to a smaller needle—usually a size 10 or 11 between.

Just one acorn cap left to do
My basting stitches are smaller because of the little piece.

Starting on the straightest side.
The curve of my nail helps guide me
as I turn under the curve.

Once all the appliqué was finished, I decided to test out my brand new Inktense Pencils by Derwent. I had heard about these pencils that allow you to get a watercolor-type finish and could be used on fabric. After watching a few videos on the internet about them (this one was very helpful), I thought I would give them a go. There will be a post in the future that goes more in-depth about these tools, but this acorn was the first time I tried them. Once I had practiced a bit, I used a light tan to do some shading on the bottoms of the acorns. It's very subtle, but I really liked the effect. The only embroidery on this block is some stem stitched veins on the leaf, some woven straight stitches for the acorn cap and a few chain stitches for the stems.

Stem stitched veins with pearl cotton

A little shading at the bottom and a woven acorn cap.

The finished block

Stitches and Threads Used (Cotton Block)

Leaf—Valdani #12 pearl, O539, stem stitch
Acorn caps—Green linen embroidery thread, woven straight stitches
Little stems—Valdani #12 pearl, P12, chain stitch

Wool Block

One of the things I love about wool is how quickly a project can go together—especially after needle turning the cotton block. Also, the look of wool is so completely different from that of cotton but Teri and I love both! I was able to find all the colors I needed in my scrap drawer. Do you save your wool scraps? They sure come in handy. I whip stitched all the pieces down except the branch and for that I used an angled blanket stitch, creating a V shape down the center of the branch.

Pieces stapled and ready to stitch.
I am starting an angled blanket stitch on the branch.

The finished branch.

Once the pieces were all stitched down, I used the same stitches for the leaf and the acorn cap as I did for the cotton block. The leaf was done in a #12 pearl cotton, as was the acorn cap, but by two different manufacturers—the leaf by Valdani and the cap by House of Embroidery. They may be the same size, but they definitely have a different look from each other. All the more reason to collect ALL the threads!

Valdani thread and stem stitch.

Beginning to weave the stitches.
A finished acorn cap

The finished block

Stitches and Threads Used (Cotton Block)

Leaf—Valdani #12 pearl, H201, stem stitch
Acorn caps—House of Embroidery, pearl #12, woven straight stitches
Branch—Valdani #12 pearl, P12
Little stems—Valdani #12 pearl, H202, chain stitch

There we have it! A last, little remembrance of fall before winter settles in. Hopefully you will enjoy stitching these acorns, in addition to the other blocks in this series. All the links for the past blocks are below. Next month will be the last block before we put it all together. If you have made any of the blocks, we would love to see them. You can share them on our Facebook page!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

More Beauty from the Houston Quilt Exhibit

If you were really with me (Teri) for this little tour of beauty found at the International Quilt Market and Festival exhibit in Houston, you would be running back and forth throughout the exhibit. Today, I have chosen a few things that especially caught my eye. We will actually be looking at a number of separate displays. Enjoy the eye candy!

You probably know that I love appliqué album quilts, but how wonderful is one that tells the story of one's life. I fell in love with this quilt, and felt almost as though I had met Barbara. What a tribute to her family!

Maybe because we like to mix media in our work and do a lot of embroidered embellishments—or perhaps because I have four young grandchildren—this bright, colorful quilt made me happy. I think my kiddos would love the dimensional ears and the different textures, as well as the colorful elephants.

There are no words to describe the intricate detail of this stunning quilt. We always enjoy learning the story of a quilt, and I appreciated the explanation of the quilt's symbols. 

Can you see the birds?

What a cool design! I didn't notice birds at all until I read her description.

I have had a doll collection since I was seven years old, and my dad brought me a Geisha Girl doll home for me from a business trip in Japan. While I have never attempted to make a doll, I find it fascinating to see the work in this particular exhibit.

Anyone who loves fairy tales as much as we do couldn't help but admire this fabulous dragon sitting atop a storybook. Sadly, the maker's name was not displayed while I was there, but whoever made this masterpiece did a spectacular job. He is beautifully terrifying!

Probably all of us can identify with this sweet doll.

Another story reference

There is nothing like a good pun—"A Head of Her Time" is just perfect for Marie Antoinette!

We love to stitch gardens, as I'm sure you've recognized if you have read many of our posts. Here are just a few of the "gardens" from that exhibit.

The blocks are amazing, but wow—that border is exquisite!

Christine's drawings come to life in this elegant quilt. The variety of techniques she uses add to the quilt's ethereal beauty.

What a lot of elaborate appliqué!

 A sampling of the quilts in this Red & White exhibit


Finally, a few colorful gems from this display.


Have you feasted your eyes on enough inspiring stimulation for one day? There is more, but we should pace ourselves. There was so much to see, and I am filled with ideas for new projects. 

How about you? Have you been inspired to try something new? What is it? Please share in the comments below! You might just spur someone else on to trying it, too! If you are reading this in email, you can click here to post your comment directly on the blog. We'd love to hear from you!

Stay tuned: more appliqué, French, and antique quilts are yet to come!