Wednesday, October 15, 2014

"Downstairs Collection" patterns for Andover Fabrics

Back in May at the Pittsburgh Spring Quilt Market I had the good fortune to meet several of the folks at Andover Fabrics, among them the very talented Kathy Hall who designs the Downton Abbey fabric collections. I am a big Downton Abbey fan and love the clothes and hats on the show, and I was interested in using some of their fabric for a new hat pattern. As it turned out, they were looking for someone to make up a fascinator with some of their fabrics, the Downstairs Collection in particular. Kathy, in addition to being an awesome fabric designer, also has a whimsical side, and wanted some fun little hats that could be worn to a tea. On their fabric story board, they had some child-sized silverware next to the Downstairs Collection, and she wanted some fun embellishments like that for the fascinator designs. When I returned from the show, I started keeping my eyes open for accents for the hats, and lo and behold, I ran across a child's toy silverware set at a local antique shop just the right size for the little hats! I paired it with a toy teacup and crocheted doily for a little vintage downstairs tea look.
I do like to offer a few choices in my patterns, and so I decided to add a funky sewing fascinator to the mix complete with a useable pincushion and mini-sewing tools! The long decorative pins in the pincushion added just the right touch.
I needed one more look, and decided on a fun folded fabric rose nestled on a soft bed of tulle. This is such an easy flower to make, and the downstairs line of fabrics was the perfect choice for a soft, feminine feel.
I'll be demonstrating how to make these flowers at Houston Quilt Market next weekend in my booth # 929, and will also have the patterns available, here's the pattern, one size fits all, worn with a little hairband or comb.
Around the same time as the Spring Quilt Market I also lost a dear aunt, my mom's sister and last remaining sibling. It was very sudden, she did not suffer long, but at the same time it was a real shock for her family and many friends. She was a strong country woman who still raised her own vegetables in a little garden and loved to cook and sew, and I was blessed with some of her hand-embroidered linens when she passed. I knew I wanted to do something special with them and also something to honor my Aunt Catherine, and the Downstairs Collection really blended beautifully with her linens and some other things I'd been collecting.
I decided to do an apron pattern and named it "Nana's Apron" after her, as her grandchildren and their mom all called her Nana. The pattern has 2 versions, one I made up just in the Downton Abbey fabric, and the other I mixed up the fabric with the vintage linens: dresser scarves, little embroidered doilies, etc. The pattern is adjustable to fit most sizes, you can see on these sisters, they're wearing the same size apron so it's pretty flexible. A pullover style that ties in back or can wrap and tie in front, the apron has 2 big patch pockets for holding recipes or the necessary tissue for drying a little one's eyes. We shot the pictures at the Old Stone House for a true authentic look, yet the apron has a contemporary feel to it too and is super-easy to make, good for beginners! Here's the cover photo,
 this will also be at Houston Quilt Market...hope to see you there!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Old Stone House

A couple of weeks ago I visited a historic landmark that's not too far away; the Old Stone House. Originally built in 1766 by a German immigrant, it's the oldest house in Rowan County and has been preserved and restored beautifully over the years. It's owned by the Rowan County Museum, and was restored by the same folks who did a lot of work in Old Salem in my hometown of Winston-Salem.
The house has a beautiful stone facade, and is set in a very quiet rural area with little fanfare, a simple setting befitting its time and dignity. There is a little garden in the back where I'm guessing the family grew vegetables, and the kitchen at far right has been rebuilt. I believe there were areas of damage over the years, but care has been taken to preserve as much of the original structure as possible and recreate what was missing. The front windows and door are so charming and inviting, the sun just streams in the long windows.
Inside to the left there is a living room with large fireplace where the family would gather, and behind that in back a bedroom. To the right  was a nice-sized dining room with a humble serving pitcher sitting in the window, and behind that, a sweet little nursery with a child's bed and antique dolls on display. The furnishings are true to the era and simple.

On the right end of the house is the kitchen with a massive fireplace used for cooking and big table. There was a little set of stairs in the back corner which led up to a larder, and a small pantry area below. There was also an apparatus set up in the corner for making candles. I suppose a house had to be completely self-sufficient in those days!
The upstairs of the house is huge! Half of the second floor was taken up by a fiber art area of looms where all the house's rugs were hand-woven, spinning wheels to spin the fiber, and carders to card the fibers. The ceiling went all the way to the top of the house with exposed beams, just beautiful, and of course there were fireplaces upstairs too.
The other half of the second floor was mostly taken up by a large bedroom. There was a dress on display there that belonged to one of the ladies of the house, and the story goes that when the dress was starting to show wear, her husband went out and bought her some new buttons to sew on it to dress it up. And what beautiful buttons he chose, too, they matched the fabric perfectly!

I've really enjoyed visiting the Old Stone House in the last couple of weeks; one of my recent visits brought the attention of a little butterfly who landed right on my hand, and then followed me to my van as though he wanted to go home with me, very bizarre and cool! If you'd like to visit this museum, they're open Sat. and Sun. 1-4 through November, and then they do a special around Christmas too. Well worth the trip, and you will learn a lot about the history of the house with a guided tour.

Vessel class at Tranqwool

Last weekend we had a new felted vessel class at Tranqwool Knitting Provisions aka Green Goat Gallery, and what beautiful vessels these girls made! I have to say my students were experienced felters, they had gone through all the rockin' and rollin' we do in my nuno-felting classes, and so they were thrilled to do some wet-felting with minimal rolling. Instead we rubbed and bounced our way to felting freedom and the results were spectacular! Their works of art were very different, one girl wanted a larger vessel and chose more subdued hues, and then we had an explosion of color and texture too! So proud of my students and we all enjoyed the class - as well as the delicious lunch Jenny prepared for us that day.
 The colors and textures really came out in Jane's beautiful vessel when it dried!
Love Anne's delicious soft colors and curly fibers!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Nuno at The Green Goat Gallery

Not long ago we had a nuno-felting class at The Green Goat Gallery/Tranqwool Knitting Provisions

in Spencer, the girls made some beautiful scarves! They each started out with a hand-dyed silk chiffon scarf and merino wool fibers to harmonize, each gal choosing their own favorite colors. After laying out their fibers on their scarves, they tweaked their designs with some curly mohair fibers, bamboo and a bit of Angelina to add a touch of bling. Then they wet-felted everything together, and lastly, shrunk the wool to add the texture to their scarves. They really had me hopping at the end of the class but I was able to get a couple of pictures, absolutely gorgeous work, and I was so proud of each of them!

Double-layer Flower Class

Not long after the Pittsburgh show we had a fun flower class at The Fibre Studio in Charlotte, the girls made some gorgeous flowers! We had a big class, some had taken felting classes with me before, but we also had a few who had never felted before, they all did an amazing job. They really had me hopping to keep up, but I was able to get just a few pictures before everyone slipped out, and was really wowed by their success, beautiful work! Here are a few pics I was able to get but all the flowers were truly incredible.

Pittsburgh Quilt Market

Back in the spring I visited Pittsburgh and vended the Spring Quilt Market there, it was wonderful! I always love visiting Pittsburgh, and this trip was not disappointing: the show itself was fantastic, and we had a great time. I had an awesome response to my new #188 "Christmas Placemats" patterns, this might even overtake my last best-seller in sales, and we are not even into fall yet! And I met the nicest people at market, Sharon Holland who was the assistant editor for Quilt-it Today and Sew-it Today stopped by my booth a couple of times, it was great to finally meet her after working with her for the magazine and we had a great visit! Also had a nice chat with Tula Pink who loved my bunny ears fascinator and was sweet enough to model it for me in the photo shown. I was fortunate enough to meet some of the wonderful folks at Andover Fabrics and am working with them to bring some new styles to market using their incredible line of Downton Abbey fabrics, so exciting!  And of course I couldn't have done it without my good friend Patty (also shown in the photo), she always has such clever and creative ideas for display and is great company too. I'm so looking forward to heading to Houston for fall market in a couple of months!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Laura's Scarf

One of my very talented students was sweet enough to bring in her finished and dried Felted Ruffle Scarf to a class she took last Saturday, didn't it turn out gorgeous? She used a beautiful palette of autumn colors in hand-dyed merino enhanced with coordinating bamboo, silk, and curly fibers in our wet-felting class. Then when she got home and the scarf had dried, she embellished her work of art further by needle-felting soft green vines in the center, adding just the right touch!                        
I love the way this turned out, and thrilled that she brought it to the class so we could see it. I am always inspired and amazed at the special touches my students add to their class projects!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ruffle Scarf Class

Saturday we had a grand time at our felted ruffle scarf class at The Fibre Studio in Charlotte, what a great group of students we had! This time I grouped together fiber colors rather than make up kits per se, and the girls picked out their own silk prints and embellishments to enhance their scarves. They did an amazing job, too! With the ruffle scarf finishing around 5 ft. long, they had to do almost an 8-ft. layout of hand-dyed merino wool fibers, silk, bamboo, Angelina and other assorted goodies, and then massage and roll the fibers into a felted wool small feat in this one-day class. The girls worked very hard and their color choices were just gorgeous that they put together. I wasn't able to take a lot of pictures, but here are a couple, and I know they were all very proud of their work, their scarves were just beautiful!

Bunny Ears Fascinator

Made a new fascinator for Easter with removable bunny ears and some faux fur ribbon, this one might be my favorite! I wore it one day at the Savannah quit show and Patty said, oh, you need a little tag that says "I'm late! I'm late!" Maybe next year...anyway here is the hat, after Easter I'll remove the velcro-d in ears and wear it for spring!

Savannah Quilts

What would a quilt show be without quilts? And I could not have done it without my friend Patty, what a blessing she was with her companionship and also creative input. We really saw an amazing variety of talent at the show, here is just a sampling of the beautiful work on display.

 LOVE this quilt with its meandering dimension, at first I thought the little stuffed balls were felted! And then I thought, this would make an awesome felted piece, hmm...

 There was a beautiful exhibit from the Hoffman challenge there too, this was Patty's favorite piece above, the cicada purse! I liked this dimensional set shown below, what an imagination!

 Wow, the detail in this quilting just blew me away, wish I could do that!

At the Savannah Quilt Show

Our "Heavenly Hibiscus" felted flower class in Savannah was so much fun! The girls worked very hard laying out their fibers, tweaking their handiwork with bamboo, silk and sparkly Angelina, and then rolling and shaping them into perfect little posies! Each flower was a work of art in its own right, and I was so very proud of all of my students! My friend Carolyn even demonstrated how to make a bud.


When the Mancuso's invited me to teach at the Savannah Quilt Show this year, I was just thrilled! I had never visited Savannah before, even though this Southern belle had stolen away a good friend of mine a few years ago. So I was excited to not only be able to teach at a nice quilt show but to visit my friend as well. I was not disappointed - Savannah is such a beautiful town, set right on the river and so much to do! We stayed at a charming hotel downtown within easy walking distance of River Street, in fact, we had a beautiful view of the river and bridge from our hotel window!

Once we were settled into our room, we called my friend, what a delight it was to see her! She had not changed a bit from her sweet self, and graciously came and picked us up for a little tour of this charming city. What a beautiful place, with lots of historical architecture, big, rambling trees, and hanging moss. We had a great time with our friend, who then took us to her home (formerly known as "The Party House" and had been owned by a prominent political figure!) After showing us her awesome house which had every nook and cranny filled with my friends special creative touches and design work (I'm so jealous!) we had a delicious supper before visiting on her back sunporch overlooking a very picturesque view of the marsh. OK, so now I'm ready to see that movie again, "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil." And definitely ready for another visit to this quaint town!