Thursday, June 25, 2020

Revisiting Little Red

When Teri and I (Kara) first started this stitching adventure, we did a fair bit of crazy quilt teaching. We fell in love with the stitches and the embellishments. As we are currently in the throes of getting ready for our block launch in the Woolen Oak Mystery Stitch-A-Long, we thought it might be fun to re-share some of our past posts. 

This project was a great blend of our favorite things—fairy tales and embellishment. We hope you enjoy our Little Red the second time around!

Making Little Red Crazy

Little Red Riding Hood is one of our favorite fairy tales so when I (Kara) saw this vintage postcard cloth reproduction on Ebay, I knew that it would be a perfect centerpiece for our next crazy quilting class.

Our first class went through the basics of embroidering seam stitches and motifs. After the class was finished, we began to get requests for a class that would teach some more advanced embellishment using ribbon, beads, and trims.

This Victorian Little Red Riding Hood 
became the centerpiece of a very simple block

I wanted to keep the block simple so that the project would not be overwhelming but would have enough space to fit all the different techniques we wanted to teach. This particular colorway has to be one of my favorites, so picking fabrics for it was easy.

The first step was highlighting different elements of the postcard with a bit of silk ribbon and wool thread. I just did a few gathered silk roses where there were roses on the print and added some chain, stem, and straight stitches on the birdcage and basket.

After the postcard elements were done, I began to plan the seam stitches for the piece. Those needed to be done next since the embellishments would overlap them a bit.  

Chain stitches and lazy daisies

After the seam stitches were finished, I started on the different embellishment techniques we wanted to teach. The butterfly was created from a piece of scavenged lace and was attached with a crested chain stitch done close together with a Valdani #8 pearl cotton. The little wood beads used for the butterfly's body were the perfect color.

A lacy butterfly

The blue silk ombré ribbon that frames the corners was gathered first and then attached with glass beads.

The next place to be embellished was the lower right corner where I did some more gathered roses, as well as two spiderweb roses. The center flower is made up of silk ribbon using the ribbon stitch, some straight stitches, and more glass beads for the center.

Last but not least were a couple of motifs to balance things out and pull from the imagery in the center. The flowers from the picture were re-created with french knots and silk ribbon. The basket was made with the same wool used on the postcard, but I added a tiny piece of linen for the cover.

None of the techniques used in this block were difficult, but when used in conjunction with the charming vintage postcard, they created a lovely sample for our class.

The Little Red Riding Hood postcard has so many options for embellishment and so do the postcards pictured below. I can see a wreath of French knots surrounding the hands and maybe some ribbon roses for the one on the right.

Crazy quilting lends itself to all tastes, and there are no rules as to what can be used for embellishment. Hopefully you have enjoyed looking at our crazy Little Red and have been able to get some ideas for your crazy quilt blocks. Happy Stitching!

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Taming Appliqué Points

Whether it is cotton or wool, we love appliqué, though cotton appliqué is our first love. Through the years we have learned many tips and techniques to help us hone our craft, and today I (Kara) would like to share some "pointers" on points.

There are three things that can help make your points practically perfect. I like to call them my point-turning-trifecta—a sturdy needle, a toothpick, and a glue-stick.

Sajou appliqué needles, a toothpick, and
an acid-free glue-stick 

The French Sajou appliqué needles have a nice large eye, a sharp point, and are quite sturdy, but we also like the Bohin size 11 appliqué needles for the same reasons, since the Sajou needles might be hard to source in the states. An acid-free glue-stick, a run-of-the-mill toothpick, and the trifecta is complete. 

Here is a little picture tutorial of making a pointy point on a leaf, but the process will certainly work for any appliqué points. Both Teri and I are big fans of the back-basting method of needle-turn appliqué, so the pictures below will show that method. (For lefties, just reverse the process.)

Back-basted leaf ready to stitch
Remove a couple basting stitches and begin 
turning under the seam allowance up to about
an 1/8th of an inch from the corner.

Trim off the top of the point just above the 
drawn line. Make sure to leave some fabric
at the top.

With your toothpick or needle, turn under the 
right side seam allowance and secure with two
anchor stitches in the same spot at the top.

With your toothpick or your needle,
sweep the left side seam allowance under, and
then roll the toothpick away from the point.
Try not to jam the seam allowance into the point.
Give a gentle tug on your thread to pull
out the point and finger press in place. 
Continue turning the seam allowance under,
while rolling the toothpick away from the point.

Where does the glue-stick come in, you might ask? If your point gives you troubles or frays, run your needle or the toothpick over the top of the glue-stick and then sweep your left seam allowance under. The little bit of glue will hold things down for you to stitch the fabric in place. 

For a visually more pronounced point, take a tiny stitch at the point and into the background just a hair. A sturdy needle helps with this tip as you are stitching through a lot of layers.

A little broderie perse leaf with a decent point. The little stitch on the end helps give 
the illusion of a sharper point.

Another leaf where the stitch at the top will help make your point look sharper,

The leaves above may look great, but we all have those days and/or fabric that just doesn't let us make beautiful points. One solution is to camouflage them with a little embroidery! 

A fly stitch around these leaves adds dimension but also hides 
any point imperfections.

Another fly stitch camouflaged leaf.

Not all points are leaves. A stem stitch does the hiding here.

Why not use a chain stitch to "accentuate" the points?

And truthfully, sometimes we have appliqué pieces that are so small you really don't want to mess with them—that is what ultra suede is for.

After making all the little stones around the doorway,
I chose to use ultra-suede for the topiary pot.

I like to look at every point as a challenge and try to make it my best one yet. Practice makes perfect—or at least better—and remember, there are no point police! Occasionally, I will talk to the point and say, "You're not the boss of me," and then stitch it into submission (those are nicer words than some of the other words I might say to my appliqué). 

Hopefully, you can add a few more tricks to your appliqué bag, and you will be able to tackle your points with confidence!

Thursday, June 11, 2020

What's Happening Through Our Needles' Eyes

Kara and I (Teri) have been keeping pretty busy, even though all of our teaching venues in the spring were cancelled. Things tend to work themselves out for the good, and the extra stitching time has been a bonus for us. We thought we'd give you an update of what's happening through our needles' eyes.

Woolen Oak Mystery Stitch-A-Long

If you haven't checked this out yet, run—don't walk—and see what the fuss is all about! We are in Week #2, and the response has been overwhelming! The Woolen Oak Facebook group has over 5500 members, and the pictures of the first two blocks being posted by participants are fantastic! For a list of all the designers, check out our post, It's a Mystery! But take a look at the first two blocks below, and click on the captions for more information.

While our pattern is not released until week #9, we have been busy, busy, busy—Kara working with a dyer in Germany to get the wool dyed and cut, and me cutting the cotton for the acorn backgrounds to prepare our kits. Due to popular demand, we decided allow the option to reserve kits, so we can mail a couple of days before our patterns are released. Little did we imagine that the response would far exceed our expectations! All the Woolen Oak designers been restocking and cutting, so that we will be prepared for our weeks. Kara and I have already sold as many kits as we thought we would sell, and no one has even seen our block yet! Such support is truly humbling. So we keep cutting. We will be ready for you!

We've only just begun, but as you can see, we are not planning on running out of fabric. And we are developing a very close relationship with our cutting tables and rotary cutters! You can find out about reserving a wool and/or thread kit for our block on our website, by clicking here. Or, you can wait until the big reveal. We plan to have plenty to go around!

Speaking of our website...

I have been working on updating our site and improving on our web shop. What a lot of learning I have accomplished these past couple of weeks, as I prepared the shop to take preorders. My best learning takes place on a short deadline, and so I entered the cyber-world (an alien realm to me) and I am learning to navigate within it. In the process of ironing out the kinks, I realized that our product photos were sorely lacking. So I got busy taking updated photos and trying to improve the site. So while you are looking to order the Woolen Oak kit, take a look at some of our other patterns and kits.

Our In the Garden Series includes a kit for the entire quilt, as well as patterns for twelve individual block designs, which you can mix and match. All of these printed patterns include any ribbon needed to complete the block. The patterns are also available for digital download—without the ribbon, of course.

A few of the blocks featured include:

Wheelbarrow of Flowers

Garden Gate

We also have full kits available for our Lovely Botanicals Quilt, which include patterns, detailed instructions, and all the ribbon necessary to make the quilt. Detail shots are on the website.

Lovely Botanicals

The Lovely Vase center medallion can also be purchased as a separate block, if you wish to only stitch this design.

And the Botanical Beauties blocks can also be purchased as a set of four smaller blocks, if you want only the corner blocks.

We would love for you to stop by and explore our website, which is always in a process of evolving, as I learn more about web design. Truthfully, I'd rather be designing quilts, but I try to imagine that it's just one big virtual quilt!


We are busy preparing for Baltimore on the Prairie, which is still accepting (risk-free) registrations. In light of the COVID-19 situation, a final decision about the conference will be made on August first, but as of right now, we are planning on it going forward. Hope springs eternal! 

Baltimore Fraktur
Floral Elegance

Both Kara and I are creating quilts with the Fraktur as a center medallion. We will be ready to share our results with your soon. Patterns for both will be available.

We are thrilled to have been invited to return to The Academy of Appliqué in March of 2021 and to Baltimore of the Prairie for the September 2021 conference! So of course, our needles have been flying on those designs. 
A tiny hint...
Alsatian inspiration for a new design

Under our needles

We are working on a few new designs, which we hope to have ready to release on our website soon. These have a mixture of cotton and wool fabrics, and are embellished with embroidery. 

And finally, we are looking ahead to spring of 2021, hoping to teach a few classes in Germany, one of which will be a beginning appliqué class. Stay tuned for more details as we learn them. But for now, I'm back to the cutting table!

What's under YOUR needles?