Friday, August 24, 2012

Applique Hurricane Preparations!

View from my sewing room.  I am very blessed!
As I write to you dear blog reader, we are waiting for Tropical Storm Issac to decide on its path.  I have my battery powered light box and Ott light dusted off so that I can continue to stitch if the storm does come our way and happens to knock out power in our area.  My husband mentioned something about the list of emergency supplies extending beyond fresh hand sewing needles and battery powered lighting but I suspect they are not as essential as my stitching supplies !
Grape Wreath Close-up
I did want to share the latest block I finished appliqueing this week.  It's the Grape Wreath designed by Elly Sienkiewicz.  What did I learn while working on this block?  I learned that when working on a project that requires repetition, make sure you select a technique that you ENJOY.  I started this project using the Perfect Circle method and I was miserable because I was painting with starch and ironing and all this stuff that felt like crafting and not sewing.  Yes, my circles looked very round but my spirit was very flat.  I switched to needle turning the circles and not only did I actually finish the block, I enjoyed stitching every single grape!  I don't even care that they are not perfectly round.

Grape Wreath Block designed by Elly Sienkiewicz
Another lesson learned had to do with color.  Every pink, purple, red that I auditioned for this block looked OK but did not excite me.  Then as I was enjoying a plate of fruit salad that included different varieties of grapes I got the idea to mix and match the grapes as they appeared in my yummy salad.  Once I added the yellow and green grapes the whole block came to life. The contrast in color and value gave the block the ZING that I was striving to achieve.  True, the block does not follow the Baltimore Album style tradition based on color choice.  However, I am honoring the spirit of the early stitchers by applying artistic principles of color and composition.  I hope the many wonderful and talented traditionalist forgive.  I have no self control when it comes to color!

Santa Maria Block sketch designed by Mercy Savage
Every Baltimore Album style quilt needs a ship block.  Born and raised in Miami, and as a second generation Cuban American, I thought it would be nice to honor my heritage by stitching Columbus's ship, the Santa Maria.  Of course I couldn't find a pattern for it so I drafted one.  I'm still contemplating it on my design wall but here is a sneak peek at what I have so far.

Just for fun I wanted to share what's growing in my garden these days.  This is one place where I draw lots of my color inspiration.  Enjoy!



Until next time...
Best stitches!
Mercy in Miami

Monday, August 13, 2012

Four Years in the Life of a Baltimore Style Album Quilt

Close-up of Ruched Rose Wreath.  Design and inking by Elly Sienkiewicz

First eight blocks in progress

As I was preparing my registration materials for the Elly Sienkiewizc Applique Academy over the weekend, I was inspired to put my in-progress Aqua Album blocks up on my design.  This project has been four years in the making and each block is a design from one of Elly's books.  Life has interrupted this quilt top's progress many times in those four years.  Fortunately, I was been able to overcame each challenge in turn and I never gave up on my favorite form of quilt making, needle turn applique.   When I as finally able to reacquaint myself with my Album-style blocks, the first thing I did was review each block and see what still needed to be done.  I was shocked to realize that of the eight blocks started, NONE are finished.  Plus I still have another 5 blocks to make to complete a 13-block setting.  I was struck as to how little I had accomplished in four years and how much still needed to be done.  And then I realized, I am in the middle of one of my all time favorite projects.   I am completely happy in the process and grateful each time I pick up my project and can stitch.  Some people are about the destination, but I, dear blog reader, am all about the journey.   I hope my photos motivate you to enjoy your journey and not give up on your passion, no matter what life throws at you.

I recommend the following sites to those of you that would like to learn more about Baltimore-style Album quilts (BAQs).

And of course, Elly's site

Pastoral Peacock (Design by Elly Sienkiewicz)


The Peacock's eye is embroidered.  Now I need to do the same to the leaves and the rose buds.  Definitely, need some rose moss here and there.


Grape Wreath is the block I am currently stitching (Design by Elly Sienkiewicz)

You can see I am Back Basting each grape with a little bit of batting in each one!

Ruched Rose Wreath is my most finished block.  Elly did all the ink work on the block for me in a class in 2010.  I still have to go over it to darken a few areas and then heat set it.

Bottom rose is ruched velvet ribbon.

Victorian Vase  (Design by Elly Sienkiewicz).  Missing all the flowers and the leaves.

Victorian Vase Rosebud.  I just love the polka dot batik fabric!

Urn with Stuffed Roses  (Design by Elly Sienkiewicz)
Center, where pin is, is waiting for a vignette!

Rosebuds are crying for some moss.  This is a great spot to use fancy fabrics that you don't have to needle turn.

Woven Basket with Roses (Design by Elly Sienkiewicz)  that is missing the weaving on the basket front and the roses.  The rose buds are the bottom layer of reverse applique.  Notice I used hand-dyed velvet. 

Roses and Acorns

This block is not finished because I cannot decide how to make the flowers.  The pieces of ribbon are informally pinned on the block so that I can decide on color, texture, etc.

Until next time,

Best stitches,
Mercy in Miami

Friday, August 3, 2012

Treadle Machine Embroidery...the Last Installment!

Stitched on a very thin piece of wood!

Here are the last photos of the pages from Ana Gonzalez's Treadle Machine Embroidery portfolio.  These few pieces were all created using multi-colors of thread, ribbons, beads, yarns, etc. and stitched on different surfaces;  ALL on a TREADLE sewing machine, ALL by LAMPLIGHT.  The first one in the series of photos was stitched on a very then piece of soft wood.  I hope you enjoyed viewing these pages with me!

Until next time...

Best stitches,
Mercy in Miami