Thursday, April 25, 2019

"Guess what, Mommy? I sewed!"

There is nothing quite like a sleepover with a grandchild, especially on a beautiful spring day. We enjoyed a perfect day this week with our oldest grandson—a day packed with fun. And to top it all (for me, Teri, at least), he asked me what every needlework-loving grandmother wants to hear: "Grandma, could we sew something?" Need I tell you my response?! 

Sew we did! (Forgive my lame attempt at punny Yoda-speak.)

We started our adventure at a local creamery, where we enjoyed ice cream and play time on their playground. We had such fun, we almost forgot to notice the aromatic ambience that the cattle created. 


When we got to our house, we played for awhile, drew Disney World on our driveway with chalk, and then came that heart-stopping question. I have a big bag of scrap felt, buttons, and trimmings that I've accumulated for grandchildren-crafting, but you can well imagine my delight when he actually asked to sew. Not glue, not cut, but SEW. He found a piece of pink, which is his sister's favorite color, so he thought we should make her a butterfly. He picked a button that was her first initial, and that was where we started. I held the felt and helped him push the needle through the first buttonhole, and then he was set.  

After the button was attached, he wanted to put more stitches on the butterfly for decoration. It was a bit difficult for me to let him sew without giving him any "rules"—like making the stitches smaller than an inch or placing them close together to save thread. I didn't want to squelch his enthusiasm at all, so I just held the butterfly taut and encouraged him as he jumped from one wing to the other. After all, what does it matter if the stitches buckle a bit, or we use a little more thread? It really only mattered that he enjoyed the process. And when he was finished, he wanted more! "This is fun, Grandma. I could do this all day and all night!"

When he asked if he could make a pillow for Mommy, we dug through the bag for a piece of felt large enough, and while he was sorting through the buttons, I gathered more materials. I hooped the felt this time, because I knew it would be easier for him to hold and stitch on his own. And I doubled the thread and knotted it, so he wouldn't have to worry about unthreading his needle. He sat and stitched for longer than you would expect a 5-year-old attention span to last! 

The only stitching I did was to machine-stitch the sides and whip stitch the opening after he had stuffed the pillow. I think he would have loved to try his hand on the machine, but we may save that for next time. He worked hard to use just enough stuffing, because "everyone knows a fat pillow is better than a flat pillow."

"Perfect. Done!"

A butterfly for his sister

A pillow for his mom

His first original design!

He is so proud! (As is Grandma!!)

"I have an early Mother's Day present for you, Mommy!
I sewed!!"

Mommy loved her pillow and his sister loved her butterfly. Next time, he wants to make something bigger.

When my second-born grandson (by about six weeks) was last visiting, he was looking through one of my quilt books and asked if I could teach him how to make a quilt. My mind is already racing and planning. Won't that be an amazing experience—the cousins spending a day or two with Grandma learning how to make a quilt?! 

I can hardly contain my joy!

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Tea for Two

Ahh a cup of tea! Tea has been an important part of many cultures throughout history. Maybe it's a bracing cuppa in England, or solemn Japanese tea ceremony, or even a special time with friends in one's home. Regardless of where you are, drinking hot tea can look different depending on where you are in the world, but when drinking hot tea, a teapot of some sort is common amongst all cultures. Keeping that tea warm is important as well which brings us to today's post!

When Teri and I (Kara) were in Birmingham, England, this past summer for the Festival of Quilts, I had not brought anything to stitch. With all the vendors and beautiful quilts, my fingers were getting itchy, so I of course went shopping. At a vintage linens booth, I found a beautiful piece of fabric that was just asking for some embroidery embellishment, so I bought it. Then I needed some threads for said embellishment, and where could I possibly find fun threads in a giant quilt show? Stef Francis of course! 

My cast of thread characters
Stef Francis is a wonderful supplier of hand-dyed fibers and fabrics out of the UK. I was able to find almost everything I would need to embellish my little piece of vintage cotton. I picked up two skeins of hand-dyed ribbon from another vendor, and I was set. The rayon tape (viscose chainette is another name) and chenille thread would be perfect for the rose, and the hand-dyed #5 perle would make lovely variegated leaves.

Straight stitches with the chenille and rayon threads mimicked the rose, and a fishbone stitch for the leaves really showed the variation in the perle cotton. I was able to finish the rose, yellow flowers, and leaves in Birmingham but had to set the piece aside for a while because—life. 

This is what I had finished when it was put away.

So how does an old piece of fabric and tea fit together? It finally came to me one day that I should use my embroidered vintage bouquet on a tea cozy! I found the perfect piece of fabric to match the colors of flowers, leaves, and bow, so that motivated me to finish the project and get my tea cozy started.

My cozy fabric, lining and batting.

I finished the vintage piece by adding a few beads in the yellow flowers and a piece of silk ribbon to mimic the bow.

Beads for the little yellow flowers.

The silk ribbon bow for a 3D look

Trimmed and ready to attach.

Searching the internet, I found this tutorial and used the directions to find the size pattern I would need. Once I had my pattern, I cut out 2 each of my cozy fabric, lining and batting.

Pinned pattern

I am a big fan of 505 spray and used it to put together my batting and cozy fabric. Then I centered my embellished piece on one side of the cozy and pinned it.

I thought maybe I would just appliqué the piece, but then I dug through my stash of vintage trims and found a perfect one to stitch around—and I had just enough!

Now it was time to quilt the two pieces. I used 1" painter's tape as a guide for the quilting and machine quilted a diagonal, cross-hatch pattern in red thread.

I just re-positioned the tape each time I stitched a new line.

One side finished

Quilted and ready to put together

Before I sewed the two pieces together, I pinned a 3-inch piece of folded velvet ribbon inside the two quilted parts for a little handle. To assemble the tea cozy, I sewed the cozy pieces, right sides together. I did the same with the lining pieces, but left a section open for turning. Once that was finished, I tucked the lining inside the cozy, right sides together, matched the edges, and sewed all the way around.

Bottom edges sewn together

Ready to be turned

Already turned

After turning the whole thing, I stitched the opening closed and tucked the lining in–and my cozy was finished!

The finished tea cozy!

I love re-purposing vintage pieces of fabric and trim, and this little project really came together. What was once just a scrap of printed cotton from the past, now has a new life keeping a teapot warm. 

Now to sit down to a nice, cup of tea! 

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Baltimore Appliqué Showstoppers

Last month, when Kara was here to teach at the Academy of Appliqué, we spent a day at the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival in Hampton, Virginia. That has been our routine for the past few years, but we were especially eager to go this year to see the special exhibit by the Baltimore Appliqué Society (BAS). And not just because our Fairy Tale Album was part of the exhibit; we knew what a treat it is to see the work of our fellow appliqué-ers in BAS! And we were not disappointed. Here is the exhibit for you to enjoy.

We so enjoy watching people study our Fairy Tale Album and discover the details of the various stories!

Kara and I (Teri) feel that it is quite a privilege to belong to such a wonderful organization, filled with talented people who share our passion for appliqué. We are endlessly inspired by the work we see—at an exhibit like this, at meetings, or in the monthly newsletter. And our members are not only local to Baltimore! Quilts were sent from Rhode Island and Hawaii for this exhibit. Perhaps you would like to see what the Baltimore Appliqué Society is all about. Visit their web site to learn more:

We hope you were just as inspired as we were. Let's appliqué!