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 AppliquĂ© 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. 

Thursday, January 23, 2020

A Prairie Update

As the new year has begun, so has the drive to complete some projects that we have on deck for this year. Teri wrote about hers a couple of weeks ago in her goals post seen HERE, and I (Kara) also have a few in-progress items that I have been working to get finished. As Teri mentioned in her post, I like to have projects as opposed to just blocks—not that there is anything wrong with having blocks. When we finished our Baltimore Fraktur blocks for our September 2020 class at Baltimore on the Prairie, I knew then that I would turn my block into a medallion quilt. Here is a little update on how that's going and what is to come.

The fraktur center is wool appliquĂ© on linen, but I love mixing wool and cotton along with appliquĂ© and piecing, so I knew that this quilt would be a mixture of all those things. The fabrics came to me by way of a former guild member who passed away. Her fabric collection was vast, and her husband offered the fabrics up to guild members with any monetary donations going to hospice. While I did not know Gabby, when I saw her fabric taste, I knew we were kindred spirits. She had a great collection of Dutch Heritage fabrics, and I knew they would be perfect for this quilt. 

Now that I had the fabrics and materials ready, it was time to get started. The first step was to frame the center with fabric and a contrasting bias strip.

I added a feather stitch to the bias using a #12 Painters Threads perle cotton.

Next was the piecing. Pinwheels seemed to me to be a good choice for a quilt that is reminiscent of the Pennsylvania Dutch. I've never been very fond of math, but it is a necessary evil for piecing—especially when trying to make the right size pinwheel and enough of them to fit around a square. I could say I did a lot of complicated math to figure out what size pinwheel and how many I needed to make, but that would be lying. I fit my medallion to the pinwheels by not trimming it until the blocks were finished—minimal math involved.

The grey will be a great canvas for some creative hand quilting.

A mix of Dutch Heritage fabrics and my stash.

The borders were next to be designed. Birds were definitely going to be part of this quilt (of course) and they would also be used for Teri's Baltimore Fraktur version, but I thought that it might be fun to do two different borders—one for the top and one for the sides. The top heart border is the first one that has been started and that is where the progress stands.

Ready to be stitched down and embellished.

A friend is going to help stitch all the wool down.
Love those Dutch Heritage fabrics

The two side borders have been cut, as well as the four corner blocks. I think these borders will come together quickly just like the medallion did. The medallion is not as complicated as it might look, and the ribbon work is not difficult either. If you join our class next September, you will see what I mean!

It is our plan to have our Baltimore Fraktur Quilt and wall hanging patterned up and ready to go for our students at Baltimore on the Prairie. Those who have signed up for our class there will receive the quilt and wallhanging patterns for free and then it will be sold on our website after we get back. In the meantime, we will keep you posted on the progress of this quilt and the wallhanging that Teri will be making. We are so excited about this project and can't wait to reveal the finished pieces!

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Travels and Tiles

It is hard to believe that it is 2020! I (Kara) am not sure where the last year has gone, let alone the last decade. Our past year has been busy with travel through 9 different, inspiring countries and 3 family weddings—two of which were our own children. Our most recent offspring to tie the knot wanted to have a small, intimate, destination wedding in Spain. Given our location in Germany, we decided to drive down to Barcelona for the wedding, stopping along the way in France to break up the trip. This of course gave me plenty of opportunities to snap pics of all sorts of inspiration. Even with all the variety of things we saw, the tiles were the most inspiring. We saw a few in Spain but our oldest daughter traveled on to Portugal and knowing her mother, took tile pictures there too!

So many of the tiles contain ideas for appliquĂ© and are very reminiscent of the paper cuts in Baltimore Album quilts. Our current project, Woodland Reverie (which we will be teaching this year at the Academy of AppliquĂ©), has at least 3 blocks that were influenced by tiles. Here are some of the Portuguese and Spanish tiles and maybe you will be inspired by them!

Portuguese Tiles from Lisbon

What a gorgeous center medallion this would be!

Lots of bias strips anyone?

This one would make a great paper cut.

Can you see a 9-patch in this one?

Maybe a combination of English paper-piecing, embroidery, and appliqué

Appliquéd wreaths.

This might be fun for piecing!

Possibly some border inspiration here.

Another medallion potential.

Not necessarily inspiring for quilts...but my daughter knows me well!

Spanish Tiles from Barcelona and Valencia

Ribbon flowers would be amazing with this design.

This one is reminiscent of a Pennsylvania Dutch fraktur

Tile seen at the Torres winery, Barcelona
So many ideas and an old favorite—a pinwheel

What a great border design this would be!

Not just one tile, but a beautiful mosaic.

Another great border idea.

Not all the inspiration came from tiles. Just walking the streets of Valencia, Spain and Avignon, France yielded some ideas.

Beautiful tile work on a building in Valencia.

Not tiles, but painted and etched.

Inspiration abounds in this amazing church in Valencia!

That window!
A great medallion.

Embroidery and Ribbon ideas.

Love this doorway in Avignon, France

Hopefully you have been as inspired as I was by the tiles and sights from these European places. I'm looking forward to incorporating some of that inspiration into future designs. I am grateful that our daughter chose such a magical place for her wedding. Not only did it give me inspiration, but I can't wait to go back and see what other influences Spain might have on our designs!

I had to post the reason we were there 😍!
Photo courtesy of Aneta Lehotska photography