Thursday, March 23, 2017

Happy us!

We can't believe we started this blog two years ago! Time certainly has flown, and we have come a long way in those two years. Here is a peek back at our humble beginnings:

Once upon a time, there were two friends who loved to quilt. They set out for a weekend away from their families to take some classes at a quilt show in Gettysburg, PA. Sadly, they waited too long to reserve a room, and upon check-in were a bit disgruntled with the accommodations. Not to be discouraged, they decided to stay in the humble lodging rather than return home to the kids. (Even though they loved them dearly.)

Kara, the perky one, got into her pajamas and leaped through the air onto her bed in excitement. Teri, the cautious one, was lifting the covers on her bed and closely examining the wrinkles and strange fibers on the sheets. 

"Someone's been sleeping in my bed," cried Teri.  

"What do you mean?!" chirped Kara.

"There are hairs in my bed, and they aren't mine!" Teri exclaimed.

"Really? Are you sure? ...Oh, ewww! Someone's been sleeping in my bed, too!"

Thus began our adventures stitching together. Suffice it to say that we got clean sheets, stayed the night, had a great weekend of quilting, AND learned to make our reservations early. It may not have been Goldilocks in our beds, but we have been blessed to combine our creative energies, and working together has been just right.

We have learned and experienced so much since our Gettysburg adventure. Here are a few of our highlights:
  • Teaching at the Academy of Appliqué in Williamsburg
  • Having our quilt, A Fairy Tale Album, accepted into the Houston International Quilt Festival
  • Going to Houston to see the quilt and experiencing all that excitement
  • Going to our first Market
  • Meeting other quilters from all around the world
  • Designing our first pattern (Marcia's Flowers)
  • Lecturing at the Baltimore Appliqué Society and other guilds
  • Teaching at the Baltimore Appliqué Society and various local quilt shops
  • Having almost 90,000 views on our blog in our first two years
  • Launching our website
Speaking of websites . . . we have been meaning to catch up on a few things that we had to put aside while preparing for the Academy. On the list of things to do was to add a few items to our website. If you pop on over there, you will see what is new in our shop. We started our store with the Marcia's Flowers wool patterns in two palettes, and now we have the wool kits to go with them. Each kit contains enough wool to complete the project, which you can then use to top a wooden box or turn into a pillow.

Marcia's Flowers Pattern bright palette
bright palette

warm palette
Marcia's Flowers warm palette

As we promised in our Pansies post, we now have pansy ribbon kits available. Each kit makes four, five-petal pansies, with a little bit left over to make a violet or two. The how-to directions are in our pansy post (linked above). Our students in Williamsburg were all amazed at how realistic these pansies are and how easy they are to make! You can buy the kit in two different sizes: 1" wide and 5/8" wide ribbon.

5/8" pansies

5/8" pansy ribbon kit

1" pansies

1" pansy ribbon kit

Also in our shop, we have a limited supply of kits for our Floral Wreath block and our Secret Garden block. The Floral Wreath kit comes with everything you need to create this beautiful and realistic wreath of flowers—even the background is included! In the kit you will find River Silks and Hanah silk ribbon, French ombré wired ribbon, Gentle Art threads, as well as detailed directions.

Floral Wreath

So many beautiful ribbons in this kit!

While you provide the background, the Secret Garden kit contains all the appliqué fabric, ribbon, and threads needed to create your own garden. There is River SilksHanah silk ribbon, French ombré wired ribbon, and sari silk for the wisteria tree not to mention all the threads needed for the embroidered garden. The kit also includes a comprehensive set of directions to help you as you complete this block inspired by children's novel, The Secret Garden.

Secret Garden block

Ribbon, sari silk, and threads—oh, my!

We couldn't have achieved our milestones without you, our readers, so what better way to celebrate our two-year birthday, then to have a GIVEAWAY! The winner will receive a Marcia's Flowers pattern and kit in their choice of colorway. All you need to do to be eligible for this giveaway is to leave a comment on the blog below telling us which of our posts over the past two years is your favorite—and why. That's it! (If you are reading this in email, hop over to the blog by clicking here.)

 Good luck!

We thank you all for traveling with us on this journey as we tell the stories of the many different ways we, and others, use a needle. Our love of stitching binds us together, and it has been our pleasure and honor to share these stories with you. Here's to many more years of stitching and storytelling!


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Williamsburg's 2017 Academy of Appliqué: A Photo Journal

This functional colonial doll, with her sewing apron,  was as ready as we all were to spend a week with our stitching friends, enjoying the art of appliqué. This lovely lady was found in one of the gift shops in Colonial Williamsburg.
Aren't those hand-dyed ribbons behind her just screaming to be turned in to flowers?!

Kara and I (Teri) spent the day on Monday setting up our classroom in the Resort Center at Kingsmill Resort. Our first class was the Floral Wreath, above left, and the second class was the center block of The Secret Garden quilt, above right.

Our display tables were filled with samples of our appliqué work and a few wares:
threads by The Gentle Art, French wired ribbons, Hanah hand-dyed, silk bias ribbon for pansies,
an assortment of silk ribbons by River Silks, needles, pens, and our patterns and kits.

Fairy tale stitching on display, above left. Our Fairy Tale Album will be in the
Chicago Quilt Festival,  so a notebook of block photos had to take its place.

All ready! Kits, schedule, and goody bags—with chocolate, of course!—are all in place.
(Many thanks to Kristy for helping us set up our classroom!)

When we returned to our room, we were greeted by this welcoming committee,
who just looked at us calmly when we got out of the car to go inside.

We awoke to this spectacular view of the sunrise from our balcony!
The birds were singing, and we were ready for a great day.

On our walk to the Resort Center, we spotted this rainbow;
how could this day be anything but perfect?
(In fact, our whole week was perfect!!)

Such a focused group of stitchers! We started back-basting leaves, before moving on to wired-ribbon boat leaves.
Don't let the serious stares fool you: we had plenty of laughter interspersed with those quiet stitching moments.

Ann is appliquéing her rose leaves.

Gayle, Rosa, and Nancy are busy creating pansies with bias silk ribbon.

Joanne and Ann are gathering wired-ribbon roses.

Joanne's rose and pansy

Janet and Phyliss are stitching clematis petals.

Progress! Phyliss did a lot of "homework" the previous night;
look at all those blooms!

Mila is stitching a jasmine bloom next to her rose.

Rosa is working on the turkey work center of her clematis. 

The first day of the Secret Garden class required lots of appliqué to build the garden wall,
in preparation for "planting" our wisteria trees.

Everyone was excited to start the wisteria, which is made with twisted sari silk, appliquéd to the wall.

Susan, Heather, Sandy, and Kate look on as Kara demonstrates rolling a wired-ribbon rose.
And I can assure you that this class also knew how to have fun; this deep concentration had the propensity to turn to raucous  laughter at the drop of a pin. At times I wondered if the staff would peek in to see how stitching could be so funny.

Our collective bouquet of roses, with a few buds

Breakfast and lunch were served daily, included with our registration.
Each day, one or two teachers would give a short presentation, sharing a few pieces of their work. Pictured above is Rita Verroca, who spoke the last day—the only day I was settled enough to remember to take some photos! After lunch, I took a little tour into the other classrooms and took a few photos.

Kerry Burke, of Simple Bird Studio, teaches prepared-edge appliqué. To read about her Academy experience, click here.

Barbara Carper, from Williamsburg, taught the stunning urn of flowers, far left.

I decided to make one last stop in the Huzzah Quilt Shoppe, owned by Barbara Blanton,
who is also the proprietor of the Academy of Appliqué.
She had some amazing fabrics available that just flew off the bolts!

Barbara Blanton and a friend packing up the shop.
Those big smiles reflect the fabulous week we had all had!

Kathy Richardson of the Suffolk Shaker Shop with her amazing wood items, ...

... including Shaker baskets... 
...and a lovely assortment of stitching tools.

Rita's class chose one of two blocks to stitch, and they worked hard until the very end! 

Judy Severson's class is busy working on their broderie perse projects.
Such creative designing goes on in this room!

Alas! Sunday arrived and it was time to go home. We did get to sleep in a bit, so the sun was up and shining brightly as we left the room and packed the van. We had one more stop to make before heading back to Maryland.

We enjoyed a brisk walk through Colonial Williamsburg, enjoying the sights of yesteryear, ...

... as well as a few sights of spring!

Since my head was more in teaching this year than taking pictures, I didn't even get around to the other rooms during the first half of the week. Therefore, I've only given you a glimpse of half the week. Wonderful classes were also taught by Andi Perejda, Nancy Chong, Marylou McDonald, and Barbara Burnham. (I'm so sorry I missed their rooms!) 

If you have ever attended the Academy of Appliqué, then you know how special the week is: an opportunity to meet new friends and reconnect with old ones. (Rather, long-time friends—many of them are quite young!😊) As Barbara reminded us each day: "There are no strangers; only friends we have not met yet." And what a wonderful place to find friends who share the same passion! If you have never attended, consider putting this on your bucket list. You will not regret it. Hope to see you next year! 

Check it out! It's never too soon to start planning for next year.