Thursday, April 19, 2018

"Aunt Sallie's Quilt," Samplers, and More Needle Treasures

A few months ago, my husband and I (Teri) spent a lovely afternoon wandering the small town of historic Shepherdstown, West Virginia. We passed the Entler Hotel, which houses a museum, and entered just in time to enjoy the exhibits—we had about a half hour until it closed. I had been there with a friend years ago and remembered seeing an album quilt on display. I was hoping to see it again.
Shepherdstown was founded by Thomas Sheperd in 1734. He was commissioned to start the settlement to create a buffer between the French and the Indians. The town was full of artisans, mostly of German origin; many of the artifacts in the museum reflect that artisanship. In case you don't live close enough to visit in person, I hope you'll enjoy this virtual tour of the Historic Shepherdstown Museum, in the Entler Hotel. 
The front room was the dining area, which included several clocks made by early clockmaker, Jacob Kraft. 

Desk and clock

Tools of Domesticity
Manual sewing machine and iron

An old ringer washing machine


Laundry rack

The Traveler's Room
The Traveler's Room: green plaid dress and triangle quilt, c. 1840s

Traveler's Room, c. 1840s
Guests at the hotel were expected to share a room, and perhaps a bed, with a stranger,
unless they paid an extra fee of 25 cents. Rooms were for sleeping only. 

Traveler's room: hexagon quilt and coverlet; c. 1840s

A Room Full of Stitching
48 Star Flag: Crocheted by Mrs. William Tennant during WWII.

Sampler, stitched by Helen Blackford, 1850

Detail: Sampler, stitched by Ann Huffman, 1819
Detail: Sampler, stitched by Ann Huffman, 1819

Turkey Track quilt; 1875

Aunt Sallie's Quilt
I was not disappointed! The quilt I remembered is still hanging, though I may have made it just in time. I was told that it will soon be taken down for preservation purposes. I was only able to see half of it, but it was enough to fill my heart with joy.

Aunt Sallie's Quilt, 1856; Historic Shepherdstown Museum, Shepherdstown, WV

I loved that Aunt Sallie's Quilt was used to spur a modern version in a local high school art class. In the true spirit of an Album quilt, the talents of many students were combined to create this quilt. What a wonderful way to inspire young minds to pick up a needle; even if it is just a seed planted in their minds for the time in their lives when the busyness of life has settled a bit.

The museum has patterns available for the quilt. Perhaps you might wish to create your own version of Aunt Sallie's Quilt. Or better yet, a group working together to create an actual album quilt. Any takers?! To read more about the museum, you can visit the website by clicking here.

Well, the museum had closed, and it was time to stroll up the street to go home. I hope you have enjoyed visiting the quaint town of Shepherdstown, West Virginia, and the many needle treasures of the mid-1800s. Thanks for joining me!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

"In the Garden"—Dragonfly and Fern

As far off as it seems now, summer will be upon us before we know it, along with the warmer temperatures. Our gardens will be green (hopefully), and the insect life will be buzzing. Dragonflies are nice because they don't bite, like some of the other summer insects, and they come in all different sizes and colors. They are beautiful when the sun hits them just right, and that's what we were going for with our most recent pattern—the Dragonfly and Fern.

We've used a variegated, shimmer, ribbon-floss from  Painter's Threads for the body, and a little bit of organza for the wings to simulate that little bit of shimmer that dragonflies have. A few little beads to give him some bling, and he is ready to fly!

Here are some tips and pictures to help you make your summertime dragonfly and fern.

First I glued my entire pattern onto freezer paper and then cut out the fern as one piece. Then I ironed it onto the green wool that had been backed with fusible. I don't often use fusible, but because the fern was one big piece with lots of leaves, everything stayed in place better this way. Cut out the wing pieces and the body piece. You will iron the wings onto two different colors of wool, but the body piece will just be used as a guide for your embroidery.

Freezer paper fern ready to be ironed onto wool

Once the fern was ironed onto the background, I whipstitched all the way around the fern. Then I used an angled blanket stitch for the leaves in a lighter shade of green floss with two strands.

I use Weeks Dye Works "Bullfrog" floss as it had some great color variations in it.

With the fern stitched down, I positioned the wings in place. I pinned a piece of organza ribbon over one wing and blanket stitched it down with one strand of floss. Then I carefully trimmed around the excess organza around the wing, being careful not to snip my blanket stitches. It will be easier if you do one wing at a time

Two down and two to go!

The wings trimmed.

Now to the dragonfly body! The tail is made by making chain stitches with the shimmer ribbon-floss. I used the body pattern as a guide for how long the tail should be. My tail was made up of 9 chain stitches at about an eighth of an inch each. After the chain stitches were finished, I added a 7-8 wrap bullion knot—made up of 3 strands of dark teal floss—in each chain stitch.

The effect of the bullions in the tail is subtle, but they add depth.

The rest of the body is made up of French knots using the ribbon-floss. Three bullion knots make the head. 

Use one strand of floss and a straight stitch for the legs.

The final touch was to add some tiny beads to the wings using a feather stitch. Add the bead to your needle as you make each feather.

This block went together rather quickly, and hopefully it will for you too! The ladies in our class enjoyed working with the ribbon-floss and the organza—both of which are included in the pattern when you purchase it.

Lots of happy stitching!

Until the warm days of summer grace us with their presence, we hope you will enjoy stitching this block—and all the other blocks in our In the Garden series. To order your pattern, click here:

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Maltese Inspiration

Two main islands, Malta and Gozo
make up the country of Malta
Certainly a major benefit to living in Europe, is the opportunity to travel, and my husband and I (Kara) are trying to make the most of it. Last fall, we knew we wanted to plan a trip somewhere south and decidedly warmer than Germany in the winter. I scoured the travel blogs and came up with Malta for our end of March trip. While it wouldn't be hot, it would be warmer than where we were, and it looked like there were a lot of interesting things to do and see. When I told people where we were going, they usually looked at me with a strange look and said, "Malta? Where's Malta?" 

As with any place that either Teri or I visit, we always look for inspiration for future projects, and Malta was no different. What stood out to me was that no matter what type of stitching we might do—appliqué, landscapes, embellishment, or piecing—this tiny country had inspiration for it all. Please join me as I take you, through pictures, to the islands of Malta. 

When we walked into our rental—a renovated Maltese farmhouse—the first thing I noticed were the amazing tile floors. One of the bedrooms was filled with beautiful tiles, not just on the floors, but on the walls as well.

In the kitchen

It's hard not to see a quilt!

This will definitely be a block we make someday.

Notice the Maltese Cross in the upper left.
Rose of Sharon style.
Wouldn't this scene be beautiful done in either appliqué or embroidery?

There are so many ways this peacock could be interpreted in fabric.

Malta and the neighboring island, Gozo, are packed with stunning landscapes and interesting rock formations. If you are a landscape quilter, both islands are a feast for the eyes. 

St. Peter's Pool

The color of the water was stunning
Note the person on top for scale.

More of the amazing Mediterranean!

We visited this sleepy fishing village early in the morning.

The island of Gozo is famous for its bobbin lace. While we didn't get to see any lacemakers in action, we were still able to view some of their work.

So many bobbins!

Some of the different designs.
So delicate!

One of the places we visited was a museum built on the site of an original Roman townhouse. I was surprised to see that the Romans must have been quilters! Or, more accurately, some of our quilt designs may have come from their mosaics.

Tumbling Blocks.

A closer view.

English paper piecing?

That this Roman mosaic is still intact is mind blowing.

By now, my husband is quite used to me stopping in the middle of our walks to take pictures of flowers. I think there might need to be a "Flowers of Malta" project.

The color of these beauties is so intense.

These could be found blanketing the landscape.
I love the grey tones in the leaves.

Such beauty in rocks.
I can already see these done in silk ribbon.
Little yellow puffballs.

Malta was far more beautiful than I could have imagined—stitching inspiration was everywhere! Hopefully, you have enjoyed coming along with me on my visit to Malta and have been inspired by what it has to offer. 

Now, I think I am going to go and stitch one of those tiles...