Friday, June 28, 2019

Susan's Suitcase

What is better than fabric shopping and lunch with a friend? Well . . . 

A few months ago, when my neighbor, Susan, and I (Teri) enjoyed such a day, she told me she had a suitcase that she thought I might enjoy looking through: it was filled with treasures made by her aunt and her mom. I couldn't wait to see what stitched stories were inside!

Remember when we used to put these precious
embroidered bibs on our babies?

The suitcase was filled with bibs, dresses, bonnets, congratulatory cards, shoes, and even a quilt. Susan's aunt, Mary McQuilkin, made the bibs, bonnets, and dresses in the 1940s. She was born in 1904 and lived until the early 1990s, a lifelong seamstress taught to sew by nuns. The detail of her dressmaking was enthralling. Her stitching was flawless! I hope you will enjoy her needlework as much as I have. I certainly learned a lot about embroidered detailing from studying her work. One thing was clear to me—there are few times that we see babies dressed up in such finery today! Susan must have been adorable, dressed in such fabulous frocks.

Each dress was lined, and almost always with lace. This velvet dress had a satin sash, with hooks in the back and a snap to keep the layers in place.

She even made these sweet little slips.

Several of the dresses had smocking.

Those tiny buttons!

The lining snaps into place at the neckline. This dress is accented with hand-embroidered flowers.

Just wait until you see the details in this one!

Aunt Mary must have loved the feather stitch as much as I do. She used it here to adorn the cuff, along with some French knots.

It opens to a satin, lace-trimmed lining. Pink, of course, for a sweet little girl!

More feather stitches and knots on the collar

 Mary used French knots to hem the dress.

This bonnet has pretty hand-embroidered flowers along the ribbon.

This is the only dress in the suitcase that was larger than baby-size.  
Perhaps it was a birthday party dress?

Bodice stitching: feather-stitched leaves, with lace. 

 The leaf design is repeated on the collar. The center of the bodice has a pattern of zig-zag blanket stitches with French knots between.

She hemmed the dress with her feather-stitched leaf pattern, and carefully cut away the organza.

The skirt is attached below the bodice with the feather stitch. Ingenious! 

I can only imagine the fashion show that Mary might have had with all of her  exquisite creations! Her workmanship is awe-inspiring, especially for someone like me, who loves embroidery but has never made clothing (except for the obligatory Home Ec assignments). Her attention to detail demonstrates a real passion for her craft. What an honor it would have been to wear one of her designs!

Susan's mother, Fern, made this quilt for Susan's son in 1965. Susan said her mother hated to sew, so you can imagine that it is filled with much love! What does that say about the power of a quilt, if one who hates to sew decides to create one for her grandson?! 

There were numerous pairs of shoes, as well as a crocheted sweater, hat, and bootie set. And a pair of lederhosen, worn by Susan's son in the late 1960s when they were in Munich, Germany. So many stories packed away in this suitcase. And so much love stitched into every one of these items. 

This is the question I leave you to ponder: What does one do with such beautiful dresses? How can this amazing workmanship be preserved and shared? 

Please share your thoughts! 

Many thanks to Susan for sharing her treasures and their stories.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

A Tardy Tutorial

Better late than never is not our normal life mantra, but sometimes that's just the way life is—especially when it comes to blog posts! Thankfully, there are no blog police out there and we can just roll with what the week brings and deliver a blog post a day (or two) later than we normally do.

We are working feverishly on quite a few projects for next year and as we do, we try to be diligent about taking pictures for our handouts. When we teach a class, we feel it is important to give our students all the information they might need to finish the project once they leave the class, thus all the pictures need to be taken for our handouts. This tutorial shows how I (Kara) have made the split leaves for one of our class projects. 

Split Leaf Tutorial

For this method I used a full leaf template, the convex side of a half leaf template and two different green fabrics. 

Step 1

Place the convex side of your leaf template on your first fabric.

Step 2

Trace the center vein line starting at the top making sure to trace the top and bottom curve of the leaf to help your placement later.

Step 3

Finger press along drawn line.

Step 4

Place on second green and pin.

Step 5

Appliqué the turned-under line between top and bottom marks. Turn over and trim the excess second fabric to 1/8 of an inch.

Step 6

Center full leaf template over appliquéd seam line and trace around with a marking pencil of your choice. I use a white uniball Signo rollerball pen which you can find HERE.

It helps if your leaf template has a drawn
center vein line, but I just eyeballed this leaf.

Drawn leaf

Step 7

Trim leaf leaving a generous 1/8".

Back side of leaf

Step 8

Place on background and pin or baste in place.

Step 9

Needle turn edges under!

There are a lot of ways to do split leaves for appliqué, but this method has worked well for me. As with many components of appliqué, it's always good to try multiple methods and find the one that works best for you. Hopefully, you will give this split leaf method a try.

In the not too distant future, we will be able to share the projects that we are working on in full. It's keeping us pretty busy, and Teri is also getting ready for an exciting, cross-country road trip. You can bet that her travels will include some fun quilty stops! 

Thanks for bearing with our tardiness in posting!

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Maine Musings and Attic Heirlooms

We are back!

Last week we had to take a little break to work on some of our upcoming deadlines, so our needles were a-flying. Now that we have had a little time to catch up and breath, I (Kara) thought I would share a little bit from my most recent travel adventure.

Normally, our travels take us somewhere in Europe, but this time we headed back across the pond to Maine—one of our favorite places in the world. Our niece was getting married in Boothbay Harbor, and while that was the primary reason for our travel, the picture above was certainly another motivating factor! Of course, we couldn't eat lobster the whole time we were there (although we may have tried); scoping out antique and quilt stores was another activity that occupied our time. I have been to quite a few antique malls, but the Wiscasset Antiques Mall has been hands down the best! It was so clean and nicely laid out, and every booth was like a little vignette. Here are some of the treasures I came across.
A funky chicken!

A sweet little stool cover
I am a sucker for crazy quilts.

This one was a testament to a thorough use of scraps.

Lots of colorful stitching!

Another good use of scraps—this time in wool!

A creative yo yo quilt

I had to resist bringing this lovely rail fence quilt home.

If my suitcase had been bigger, many things in this booth would have come home with me!

This tulip pot quilt was unique.

A beautiful southern belle
Such pretty stitching!

I loved this colorful sampler from 1883.

I fell in love with these two geisha embroideries from the 1970s. They were so well stitched and colorful that I considered buying them. I walked out of the store without them but couldn't stop thinking about how pretty they were. My wonderful husband kindly stopped back on our way to the airport so I could take them home. When things calm down again, I hope to incorporate them into a wall hanging using some different silks to coordinate with the colors.

Any trip to a new place requires a Google search, "quilt shops near me". Attic Heirlooms in Damariscotta was one that popped up. It wasn't just a quilt shop, but a wool shop as well! Of course, it became the main reason for visiting this cute Maine harbor town. I walked in and was warmly greeted by the owner, Trish Harriman.

The lovely Trish!

Attic Heirlooms has items for quilters, wool appliquérs, knitters, cross stitchers, rug hookers, and needle punchers—there is something for everyone! 

Look at all that beautiful wool!!!

There is a wonderful selection of patterns from many different designers, so there is a wide variety to choose from, depending on your taste. Trish herself is a talented designer, creating a fun Ornament of the Month program in addition to her other designs. If you happen to be in Damariscotta, Maine, Attic Heirlooms is a MUST stop, but if you can't get there in person, you can order directly from their website HERE

I love Maine and look forward to getting back up there, not just for the lobster rolls, but now for a little wool shopping and antiquing as well. My one regret from this trip was not being able to get together with Wendy Reed of the Constant Quilter. Alas, family commitments didn't leave me as much time as I had hoped. That just gives me more reason to head back up there!