Sunday, July 29, 2012

Back to Beautiful Baltimore!

This heart wreath will someday be part of a quilt that will include the clipper ship, heart wreath, and urn of flowers on the Gallery page.   

The pattern is by Elly Sienkiewicz from her book,  The Best of Baltimore Beauties, Part II.  I had a lovely toile that I wanted to incorporate into the center of the block.  I made a template of the heart shape from freezer paper by carefully tracing just inside the outer line of the heart's stem.  I used a transparency overlay of the pattern to place the toile and basted it to the background.  The wreath itself was prepared for cutaway appliqué by making a freezer paper template, pressing it to the aqua green batik, and marking around the edge of that template.  With the template still on the fabric, I used the transparency overlay again to place this piece on the background and pinned it in place.  I used a light box to be sure that the basted toile lined up with the heart wreath.

In the photo above of the back of the block, you can see the basting line for the toile and the batik basted in place on top of it.

The next two pictures show the front of the block in progress.  Although I am not a back baster, I use that method for basting.  I baste on the marked line using a number 8 embroidery needle and quilting thread in bright yellow.  You can see that the stitches are larger on the top so that they are more visible on the front.  The idea behind basting in this manner is that the larger needle and thread perforates the fabric and helps it to needleturn more easily.  Many quilters using this cutaway method would simply pin the piece in place with small appliqué pins and start stitching.  I admire their skills!  I prefer to baste because it holds the piece more firmly in place and the appliqué thread doesn't catch on the pins.  I tend to scrunch my block up like an accordion when I'm stitching so the basting gives the added assurance that nothing is going to move during that process. 

To needleturn using the cutaway method, trim a 3/16" seam allowance for an inch or two as seen around the top edge of the leaf in the second photo.  Remove a few stitches of the basting and needleturn that small section.  

I stitched the center of the heart wreath first and tried to make sure that the stitches went through the toile and the background to hold everything in place. I say "tried" because I can see in the picture that I missed a couple!

The "wild roses" were made with 5/8" wide French wired ombré ribbon.  I used a 10" piece of ribbon and ruched it at 2" intervals.  The French knot centers are stitched with 4mm silk ribbon.  I'm very pleased with the mood that the toile gives to the block.  That couple looks like they're falling in love!

So, Woo Hoo!  
Picture me doing the Happy Dance!  

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Sweet Detour...

A funny thing happened on my way to the next Baltimore Album block!  And it’s all the fault of my dear friend, Patsy!  She tempted me with a picture of a darling quilt by Japanese designer, Yoko Saito.  You can see a picture of it on her web site,  Quilt Party

Anyway, Patsy and I both love this little quilt.  Plus, she’s in Miami and I’m in Boone and we miss each other.  So we both ordered the book that contains the patterns, “Floral Bouquet Quilt” from One World Fabrics.   Then, we started planning and swapping fabrics and totally got into trouble.  In short order, we were both stitching away and here are my first two blocks.

The first one took about 3 days to complete.  The second one was more like five days because the embroidered Queen Anne’s lace isn’t hard but it takes longer than you might expect.  We’re not trying to break speed records!  It’s just that Patsy and I are both more than a little gratified to finish something in days, not weeks or months.  I've had to reacquaint myself with operating a sewing machine!  These little blocks give me a sense of accomplishment even if they’re not as complex as Baltimore Album blocks.

I have taken a few liberties with the patterns and added lace – the beads will come later.  I love the Japanese taupe fabrics and the scrappiness of the blocks.  I have some of the Yoko Saito fabrics but am digging in to my stash of  Daiwabo fabrics, also from Japan.  They are like "buttah" to stitch!  You will find links to quilt shops that carry Japanese taupe fabrics by clicking on "Places to Visit" on the right.  

Coincidentally, the Queen Anne’s lace is blooming here in the mountains and it’s especially lovely this year.  Here are some pictures from my morning walk.

I’ll soon return to my first love, Baltimore Album appliqué.  But for now, my little trip to Japan has been a sweet detour.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

A Real Beauty!

Suzanne “Suzy” Louth is an amazingly accomplished quilter.  She just finished this lovely wall hanging that she started in my class at The Elly Sienkiewicz Appliqué Academy

But let me tell you more about Suzy.  I met Suzy in 2003, the first year that I was a student at TESAA and, happily, we have become friends over the years.  It was fun each year at the Academy to see what Suzy had accomplished because she gets more done in a year than most people do in a decade.  She has won numerous honors with her gorgeous quilts including Best of Show at the Vermont Quilt Festival in 2009 for her Baltimore Album quilt, “A New Look at a Grand Old Lady.”

Suzy was the Honored Quilter at TESAA in 2011 and taught a class there this past February.  I was both surprised and honored when Suzy chose to take my class for her main conference this year where we worked on my pattern, “Floral Elegance.”  Suzy has finished her project from the class and it’s a beauty, of course.

Her vase looks like "flow blue" with Suzy's fabric choice.   The borders frame the block beautifully and Suzy's artistic eye is easy to spot in her color choices.  Is it any wonder that she's such an accomplished and honored quilter?  This pretty quilt hangs in Suzy's dining room.

I hope that when Suzy looks at her quilt it reminds her of fun times at Appliqué Academy:  seeing old friends and making new ones, telling stories that make each other laugh till your sides ache, sharing appliqué tips and our latest "finds," lunch breaks and dinner breaks, and looking forward to the next year when we can do it all over again.

BEAUTIFUL!! SUZY!!  Many thanks!!