Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Keep your creativity going!

Here’s a great little video about creativity:

29 Ways to Stay Creative: 

How many do you do regularly to nurture your creativity??

Here's something I'm planning to do that would go under the category of "practice, practice, practice."  Sharon Boggon, an Australian needle artist, is organizing "Take a Stitch Tuesday" though her blog:   Each Tuesday, beginning January 3rd, 2012, she will post a new embroidery challenge stitch.  Then participants will practice the stitch and see if they can come up with new ways to use it in their needle work.  Sounds like fun, doesn't it?  If you're interested, go to her amazing blog and scroll down to the info for the challenge.

There are spots available for my class at The Elly Sienkiewicz Appliqué Academy in February:

Now you know what Santa can bring you for Christmas!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Beautiful Fall!

We spend part of the year in Boone, NC where the Fall leaves were spectacular this year.

This was taken at the Bass Lake located in Moses Cone Park where  my husband and I go  each morning to run. 

Scenes like this always remind me of “Spring and Fall,” a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889) that was one of my favorites to teach to my high school students.

“Spring and Fall”
Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah, as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow's springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

Now, the Fall leaves don't spark thoughts of my own mortality but there is something about their unbridled beauty that makes me a bit weepy.  Just look at these colors:

We have since made our migration to Miami and I have been stitching as much as possible.  I'm working on the center block of the quilt in progress.  It will probably stay under wraps until after I show it (hopefully) at Appliqué Academy in February.  But here are some of the flowers all prepped and ready to stitch.

Wishing you a wonderful stitching Sunday!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Happy Dance, Finally!

My latest block is finally, finally finished!!  Picture me doing a happy dance!  

This block took me a while to finish, but here it is at last!  Maybe it was all those blueberries.  I counted them repeatedly and the number (68!) never got any smaller!  And there were some interruptions and interludes along the way:  summer visitors, setting up this blog, adventures in design.  It feels good to be done!

This block is my design inspired by an antique quilt attributed to Mary Simon.  The dogwood branch is a new element and I'm pleased with the flowers.  Sometimes, you can draw something but that doesn't mean it will look the way you envisioned it when translated into fabric.  The light dogwood flowers are a pale pink batik; the darker ones are an Oakshott cotton.  The embroidered lines that give the flowers their dogwood look are done in stem stitch using one strand of silk floss.  The centers are French knots, 2 wraps in 4mm silk ribbon.

Here is what the block looked liked before embellishments and the hummingbird.

The moral of the story:  Don't let the blueberries get you down!  

Have a happy stitching kind of day!!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The whole difference between construction and creation is exactly this: that a thing constructed can only be loved after it is constructed; but a thing created is loved before it exists.
                                                   --Charles Dickens

Don't forget!!  Registration for The Elly Sienkiewicz Appliqué Academy begins tomorrow!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Techniques for a complex stem

My current favorite method for doing appliqué is prepared edge.  I was a dedicated needle turner until I took a class from Jeanne Sullivan.  As most of us do when we learn a new technique, I’ve modified what I learned in Jeanne’s class to my own comfort zone.

Lately though, I’ve been working on a block that has a rather complex stem.  I could probably wrestle this stem into submission and prepare the edge but I would be standing at the iron way too long.    So, I return to needle turn and reassure myself that I can still do it.

The first step is to prepare a template of the stem and press it to the fabric.  Trace around the outside of the template with your favorite marking pencil.  My favorite is the Sew Line pencil, which comes in several colors. In the picture below, the stem on the left is completely appliquéd.  The one on the right still has the template on it to guide correct placement. 

Use tiny appliqué pins to secure the piece in place.
Remove the template.

At this point, you could begin to appliqué by cutting away along the traced line of the stem leaving a 3/16” seam allowance – a scant ¼” or a healthy 1/8” – which ever way you choose to think of it.  Cut away a 2" section of fabric, appliqué it, and repeat.

I add a step at this point and baste down my stem using the back basting method.  I do this for a few reasons: 1) I always snag my thread on the pins which slows me down and tends to aggravate me a bit; 2) I’m more certain that the stem will stay in place; 3) without the pins, the work seems more portable to me because I can easily fold it.

To baste the stem, use a #8 embroidery needle and quilting thread in school bus yellow.  Baste on the traced line in such a way that you take small stitches in the fabric leaving a longer visible thread on top.  Back basters do this because the large needle and heavier thread perforate the fabric and make it easier to turn under.  I think they’re right!

Once the stem is basted, remove the pins.  Begin to cut away the excess leaving your seam allowance and needle turn the edge about 2” at a time.  You do this in sections because the excess fabric also helps to hold the shape in place.

This will sound like too much preparation to some of you and that’s totally understandable.  I do it for the reasons mentioned above and because it gives me the best result.  It takes me about 20 minutes for the basting step but that extra time is worth it to me because it makes the stitching so much more relaxing.

Monday, July 18, 2011

At long last!

Today, of all days, I was trying to discipline myself regarding how often I check my email.  As I was finishing lunch, my friend, Patsy called and said the magic words, “It’s up.”  And no, she wasn’t talking about a flag or the stock market.   She was talking about the web site for The Elly Sienkiewicz Appliqué Academy.

I am truly honored to be among the full-time faculty for 2012.  Here are pictures of the projects for my classes.

Floral Elegance
Main Conference Class

Spring Peeper Amidst the Roses
Tuesday / Wednesday Add a Day Class

This is an alternative center for "Spring Peeper" 
for anyone who is not into cute little tree frogs.

I am so looking forward to teaching these blocks to the wonderful students at Appliqué Academy!  Now, I just have to wait for February 2012.

Go to the web site and click on "2012 Brochure" to see all the beautiful projects for the classes to be offered in 2012.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The wait is almost over!

It won’t be long now until the web site for The Elly Sienkiewicz Appliqué Academy is available.  The suspense is killing me!  The only thing better than my current anticipation will be the excitement of seeing the class offerings.  Bette Augustine, administrator for TESAA, estimated its unveiling around mid-July, depending on how “Larry” (her computer) was behaving.  So, stay tuned, to see who is teaching what.  The class samples are sure to be inspirational “eye candy.”

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Who is the Stella in StellaBella?

You may have wondered why my blog is called Stella Bella Appliqué when my name is Evelyn.  Even if that profound question hasn’t crossed your mind, you’ll want to meet the real Stella.  And here she is:

My husband and I have three dogs:  Carrie, Stella, and Maggie.  All Cavalier King Charles spaniels, but each with her very distinct personality.  Carrie is the poet; Stella is the boss; Maggie is the wild child.  We love them all but Stella makes us laugh the most.  When we picked Stella up from the breeder, we were warned, “Keep an eye on this one.  She’s a pistol.”  And so she is.

Around our house, Stella is also known as “Little Buddha” because she lives in the moment.  Some of her moments have a lot to do with what she needs at the moment:  ice from the freezer; her dinner, on time, please; a wet washrag on the side of the tub (she never learned to drink water from a dish like a normal dog); her bedtime cookie.  The rest of the time, she sleeps.  And don’t even think about making her get out of bed before you’ve rubbed her belly for at least ten minutes.  She watches television and barks at anything remotely resembling a creature.  Animal Planet is just not possible.  She loves people and other dogs and especially children.  Stella stole my heart when I was grieving for another special dog, Sophie, our Great Dane.

I don’t play favorites, exactly.  But, if they were children, Carrie and Maggie would probably say, in a unified chorus, “Stella, you were always Mom’s favorite!”