Saturday, March 14, 2009

It's NEVER Finished!

Hi applique lovers!
Here's a riddle for you:  When is a Baltimore Album Block finished?  Answer: NEVER!!!!  If you are working on a deadline you can always PRETEND it's finished when you run out of time.  But in your heart you KNOW there was still more to do.  The lost BOM posting I proudly displayed a photo of the first block in the Baltimore BOM series with the captioned "finished".  I was a fool.  As soon as I posted the blog that I realized I forgot to add the rose moss embroidery detail.  So, I pulled out my trusty hoop and favorite embroidery needles.  My first wrong turn was to follow the directions on the pattern.  It called for 2 back to back rows of blanket stitching using one strand of embroidery thread.  Guess what?  You couldn't even see it 4 feet away.  As Mary Sorensen likes to say "If I'm taking the time to do it then I want credit for it!"

The invisible stitching is at the 12 o'clock position.  At 2 o'clock is the same stitch with 2 strands of embroidery thread.  It made the center look too thick - yuck!  But I liked the look of 2 strands.  At 9 o'clock is a thicker silk in a feather stitch.  I was trying to avoid the thick center of the back to back blanket stitch.  I liked the stitch but the thread was too thick.  Then I tried the feather stitch with 2 strands of silk embroidery thread.  It was just like right.

I completed the rose moss embroidery and was able to move on to the other blocks (notice I didn't say it's finished!).   

Block two is a woven basket filled with ribbon flowers.  I decided to use Sharon Schamber's applique technique for the next two blocks just to shake things up a bit. In her technique, you use a special foundation paper that serves as a pattern for the applique shape.  You prep the applique piece by gluing the seam allowance to the underside of the foundation paper.  The shape is then appliqued either by hand or machine.  After the block is complete, it's soaked for several hours to dissolve the glue - AND the foundation paper turns to a fiber that acts like stuffing under the applique shape.  The result is VERY nice.  See my Applique Academy blog for a finished block using her technique.  

Here is Block #2 with  basket, stems, leaves, and acorns prepped according to Sharon's technique.  My fingers are pointing to places I will un-stitch later after washing to insert ribbon flowers.

After the block is prepped, even hand stitching goes really fast.  I decided to sew this block by hand.  Here is a close up of the basket.

Here is Block #3.  I prepped the Dove and Olive Branch with Sharon's technique and stitched by machine using mono-filament thread.  I discovered that the machine stitching shows on very light fabric - it's not the thread that shows but the holes from the needle.  I was able to cover the machine stitching holes with hand embroidery.  The photo at the top of the blog is a detail of the Dove and shows a close up of the embroidery.  It gave the block a very authentic Baltimore.  And, the best part is that it was all a nice accident.  Sometimes it does pay to experiment!

Happy Stitching!
Mercy in Miami
aka The Savage Quilter

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Applique Academy

    This year my husband and I celebrated St. Valentine's Day in Williamsburg, VA.  My gift was a trip to The Elly Sienkiewicz Applique Academy.  It was my first trip to THE Academy (as the regulars call it) and I found it very interesting.  Pretty much everything about the experience is unlike any other quilting event or retreat I have ever attended.  For example, you have several weeks to pour over the brochure and plan out your classes but you cannot send in your registration or money until a certain date.  Then as the registrations are received they are collected, dated, and numbered.  You then are put into classes on a first come first serve basis.  If you send in your registration early you are penalized and your move to the back of the line.  Up until THE registration day the Yahoo Groups are buzzing and it reminds me of the news footage you see every year of the department store that puts designer wedding gowns on sale for $5 each - you know the one I'm talking about - women lining up for days and then when the doors open it looks like the running of the bulls in Pamplona.  Then this is ALWAYS followed by the tragic, FOX NEWS story of the lovely Bride-to-Be that was trampled to death by crazed shoppers.   But back to the Academy process; after the registration is mailed in then the really puzzling part of the process starts.  Two friends can both send in their registration on the same day, by FedEx, overnight, for 8 AM delivery (for a FexEx fee of about $80) and one friend will be in the class and the other will be number 9 on the waiting list???!!!!   It really doesn't matter which class you end up in  because ALL the teachers are world class applique instructors and well worth the money.  My advice is to save the $80 for fabric and take your chances on the waiting list.  But be an active wait lister - check back often up until the minute to see if there is room in the class.   Spaces do open up in some classes.

My first choice for class was with Shirely Bloomfield but her class was one of those that sold out early.  Here she is addressing the group at the Welcome Dinner and showing her class samples.
On my second day there I learned several students dropped out in the last few weeks before the academy began and she had FOUR empty seats in her class. UGH!  Oh well, I have decided not be upset because my consolation prize was a class with Sharon Schamber. Sharon was my second choice only because I have never taken a class with Shirley.  Sharon's class was fabulous and if you ever have a chance to take a class with her, please take it.  This was my third class with her and I am always amazed at how much I learn each and every class.  The block we worked on is called Victorian Rose - it worked up very fast and was a lot of fun to do! Here is my completed block.
During class we worked on our blocks by hand.  At home I finished mine by machine.  Here is close up of the rose itself - it is completely machine stitched.

I did the black embroidered border at home.  In the directions it says you can either do the embroidery by hand or by bobbin work.  Well, I wasn't crazy about doing it by hand but I had never done bobbin work either.  Nothing ventured nothing gained - right?  So I went for the bobbin work.  It was so EASY!  I couldn't believe it!!!  Here's a close-up of how it turned out.

The Academy itself ran like a clock.  Everything was very orderly, our arrangements were perfect, the classrooms were spacious with good lighting, and hotel rooms were very clean, and the staff blew us away with great service.  If you don't include the banquet meals at the planned events, the food was very good.  It's a college town so we found good pizza, subs, salads, etc. for quick, tasty lunches.

The Academy was pretty high on my list of "Quilt Things To Do Before I Need  a Walker" so I'm was thrilled to attend.  However, I'm not sure I will be going again.  The timing has shifted so that St. Valentine's Day falls each year during the Academy.  So I won't be going without Jim.  But, as we discovered, that part of Virginia in February (off season) is pretty dull and he had a hard time staying busy.   Then again, never say never!

Happy Stitching!
Mercy in Miami
aka The Savage Quilter