Thursday, February 20, 2020

New Friends, Finishes, and Getting Ready

This post is a little bit of this and that as I (Kara) wrap up my to-do list before I head stateside in just a few days for the Academy of Appliqué. It's been a whirlwind couple of weeks, with a visit to Switzerland to see our nephew defend his thesis and a visit north to Heidelberg to share our needle book with a lovely bunch of ladies at the Hearts and Castles Quilt Guild. Their president, Gaby, invited me up to teach the needle book and to share some of my antique quilts. 

Stitching away!
Hard at work cutting their pieces out.
























It was great to see the ladies put their own spin on the stitches and the color placement!

Isn't this a fun background!
Branching out with her stitches.

Two people even finished their covers in class.

This awesome group was so kind and generous! From the delicious potluck to some lovely gifts, the whole day was a special treat. One of the ladies even wrote a blog about the day, and you can read it HERE. It is in German, but if you open it up in Google Chrome, it should translate it for you.

The spread of food!

This pillow cover is made by stitchers in Bethlehem and was a wonderful and unexpected gift!

After this class, it was time to get back to the grind and finish up some details before I head west. When I put together our mushroom wreath last June, I knew that the moss should be wool, so I thought I would wet-felt green moss. It turned out exactly as I hoped, but fast-forward to kitting time, and I realized I needed to make a lot more!

Ready to get wet.
Time to get rolling!

The finished product.

Some other projects that need to be completed were a few sample boards for some of the ribbons and fibers we will be selling. I was able to complete two out of the three—one for seam binding ribbon and one for wired ribbon. 

Seam binding is so versatile!
Pansy
Anemone
Ruffled Flower
Spiderweb rose and leaf
So many different flowers can be made with wired ribbon,

I had hoped to get our Fraktur quilt top finished, but alas, I ran out of time. Finishing the hand quilting on the Flora and Fauna quilt was another project that didn't meet the deadline. Frustrating to say the least, but as I was putting some things away, I came across a block that only needed about an hours work to get it to the completed stage. It wasn't a priority, but I just wanted to say I finished something this week. It is a miniature version of our Floral Elegance block that we will be teaching this September at Baltimore on the Prairie

There are a lot of textures in this block.
Bias silk, seam binding and wired ribbon are used
for the flowers.

Hooray! A finish!

There are still a few days left for a few more finishes, but only so much of the day can be spent stitching when life's details call—dogs need to be walked, husband fed, house cleaned, and maybe I should pack, too! I have to remind myself that it's about the journey and not just the finish, although a maid sure could help!

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Spring Fiber Fest 2020—Coming this March!

Last week, Kara wrote about our busy month of March, filled with teaching and lectures, beginning with the Academy of Appliqué in Williamsburg, and including two guilds. At the end of the month, I (Teri) will be concluding the frenzy of March with a fabulous getaway in Fairfield, Pennsylvania—Spring Fiber Fest 2020, where I will be teaching this wool appliqué flower with embroidery and ribbon embellishment.


 
Last year, I visited the event to shop the vendors. The location is lovely, just a few miles from Gettysburg. I so enjoyed my time there that when Kathy, of Primitive Homespuns Wool & Needleworks, asked me if I would be interested in teaching a class, I jumped at the chance. 


Because the goal was a finished—or close to being completed—project, I wanted the design to be fairly simple, while still maintaining the variety of textures that our designs typically feature. The focus of the class will be less about the appliqué and more about the embellishment. The bottom of the flower design will be appliquéd to our background, but the embroidery around it is what makes it pop. And if you know anything about us, you know there has to be some ribbon.

We will learn a ruching technique to create the ribbon center of this posy, bedecked with a few beads. Here is the gathered ribbon, before adding the beads or appliquéing it into place.
Finally, we will learn how to frame our design, using some batting to give a bit of dimension to the design within the frame. The class comes with everything you will need, including the frame.

To further embellish our flower, we will learn how to embroider this vine, which could be placed beneath the flower if you want to display it vertically, or on both sides for a lovely horizontal picture. The leaves are made with silk ribbon.

For more information about this event, click HERE. There are only two weeks left to register for the event, so check out this opportunity now! I would love to have you join me for this fun and relaxing stitch time. Hope to see you there!!


“Floral Wool Appliqué with Ruched Ribbon and Beaded Center”

Basic wool appliqué comes to life as we create this charming dimensional flower. The center is created with a ruched ribbon, and topped with a few beads. Embroidery around the outer petals completes this bloom, and it will be ready to frame. Have you ever wanted to learn how to frame a piece with batting behind it?  Well that's the finish we will be doing for this one. We may even have time to add some vines in the border!

The class fee includes everything you will need to complete the project: handout, background fabric, wool for flower petals, ribbon, beads, floss, needle, thread, batting, and frame.

Kits in a variety of colors will be available. Come join the fun!

Class Duration: 3 hours
Saturday March 28th 2:30 pm - 5:30pm

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Stitching a Sampler and More!

This time of year for Teri and me (Kara) is a little crazy. We are getting prepped and ready for our Academy of Appliqué class, and this year we have two new teaching venues, all around the same time. Needless to say we are stitching, cutting, and typing our little hearts out!



Our first class will be our Academy class, and we are teaching the first two blocks from our Woodland Reverie Quilt. We are excited about these two dimensional blocks, and we hope our students are, too! There are a few seats left in the class, so if you would like to join us, you can contact Barbara Blanton at The Academy of Appliqué.

Autumn













The next class we will be teaching is our very first pattern, Marcia's Flowers. This class will be with the Colonial Piecemakers Quilt Guild, and we will also be doing our lecture The Stories in Our Quilts. We have quite a few new quilts that we have acquired, so it is going to be a lot of fun to share some new stories.















The last class we will be teaching will be in mid-March for the Milltown Quilters guild in Columbia, Maryland. Again, we will be doing our lecture, but we have a brand new class and project to introduce. This group really wanted a class that focused primarily on ribbon and what we as quilters and appliquérs can do with it. We wanted to create a class that gave our students a little more to go home with than a practice sheet and some flowers that might get lost along the way. Thus, our Ribbon Basics class was born, along with a pattern to store our sampler of ribbon stitches and hold our beautiful ribbon flowers.

Our sampler book

Each student will be given our ribbon sampler sheet to practice their stitches on, along with threads and silk ribbon. 

Sampler sheet

A pocket for flower and leaf samples
We will also be making some flowers with wired ribbon, bias silk ribbon, and seam binding ribbon. In the class, we will have baggies to hold the made flowers and extras, but we thought it would be nice to put it all together in a simple booklet that has a place for said flowers, as well as an easy location to refer to the learned embroidery and ribbon stitches. In the class, our students will receive all the instructions for putting their sampler booklet together.













The booklet folds up neatly so everything is contained and easily referenced.

All open

Flip the pocket up.

Fold up again...

...and neatly tie it closed.

This will be a handy reference tool for some of the stitches we will teach in class, but there are so many stitches to learn that we thought it would be good to leave some space to add more pages.

Another page to add

Time to get stitching on the second page!

We would love to teach any of the classes described above at your guild, and we love to travel! Sometimes you might get both of us, or depending on which side of the pond you are on, it might be just one. If you have any questions about any of these classes or any other classes on our website, please contact us at www.needleseyestories.com

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Mitering a Border and a Goal Update

About a month ago, I (Teri) shared some of my stitching goals with you, in an effort to gain some accountability. You can read about them HERE.  I am happy to report that I have made some progress! Yesterday, I worked on the handout for our Woodland Reverie class at the upcoming Academy of Appliqué in Williamsburg. This lovely dogwood blossom will be among the flowers we will be stitching in that class. I'm always happy when I can check that to-do item off my list and can get ready to assemble kits.

Today's task was to put a border on the Floral Elegance vase that we will be teaching at Baltimore on the Prairie in September. We had picked out the fabric last year at the Academy in the Huzzah Quilt Shoppe, thinking it would make a great frame for the block; the colors and design were perfect. During Kara's last visit, we played with the fabric, folding it so that it gave us the look we wanted. I snapped a photo of the layout for reference as I cut.


My friend Kristy has taught me the importance of recording the selvage of the fabric, so we can tell people what we've used—so here it is!

Mitering corners can be a bit intimidating, but with careful measuring (and a bit of practice), it need not be too frightening. I thought I would photograph my process, just in case you want a refresher. I will admit, this fabric required more thinking than normal, but I think it was worth it.

  
First, I squared up the block. Because I wanted a 15-inch finished block, I cut it at 15.5 inches square. It helped that I had a square cutting ruler of that size, so I could be sure my design was properly centered. Then I needed to press the wrinkles out of the wool background. I turned it upside down on my wool pressing mat and used steam.

I cut my strips 27 inches long. One of my favorite finishing books is Mimi Dietrich's Happy Endings. I always have it nearby for a reference when I am binding a quilt, but she also clearly explains mitering. Her formula: Double the width of the border, add four, and then add the length of the block. My border will be 3.5 inches wide, so I added 7 + 4 + 15 = 26. I added an extra inch for insurance. 

Cutting strips with such a definite design is a slow and careful process. I measure, but I also line my ruler up on the design, double checking to be sure I am staying consistent. It is the only time I use a rotary cutter in super slow motion.

Once I cut all my strips, I arranged them around the block and realized that the design is directional. I had to decide whether I wanted the vine to continue around the block, or if I wanted the opposing sides to be going the same way. I didn't want to cut more strips, and I didn't want to waste fabric, and I rather liked the look of the continuous vine, so I was ready to proceed. (And yes, I sent a photo to Germany to be sure I wasn't just being lazy. 😌 A second opinion is always a benefit!)

  
For a brief moment, I considered embellishing the border fabric—embroidering the vines, leaves, and maybe a few flowers. It didn't take me long to decide that the fabric was pretty enough without my help.

I pinned the two side borders in place and stitched them, leaving a quarter-inch at each edge of the block. Then I did the top and bottom, and I pressed the borders away from the block.

I folded the horizontal borders sides down at a 45-degree angle, using my ruler to measure that my corners were square and my diagonals were 45 degrees. Most rulers have a mark for checking your angles, which is useful. Then I pressed the folds carefully, continuing to check for accuracy.

  
I folded the block diagonally and lined up the borders. I pinned on either side of the pressed line, which would serve as my stitching line. You could darken it with pencil if you want.

  
I carefully pulled all the seam allowances away, so that I could start my seam without messing up my miter. I always place my needle down to be sure I can check my starting point before beginning the seam. I stitched carefully along the pressed fold. 

  
After I removed the pins and lay the piece out to be sure it was flat, I trimmed the seam allowance to a quarter-inch and pressed.

Four mitered borders

  
Before I layered it for quilting, I auditioned a possible binding. I will either use the green strip from this fabric, or choose a dark brown. What do you think?

Quilting is not really my thing, but I am planning to tackle hand-quilting this myself. It is a nice size to get some practice. We shall see.

  
I have gathered my materials, cut the borders, and printed the templates for my Baltimore Fraktur wall hanging. That is my next project, after I finish with...

...our cottages. Spring, summer, and autumn are stitched, and winter is in the works. Progress!

How are you doing with your stitching goals in this new year? Thanks for keeping me accountable! I couldn't do it without you.