Saturday, March 26, 2016

Wooly and White

I think it's going to be a long and rambling post today, so be warned!

I've finished one of my Little Wooly Baskets, Block 3:

I'm doing my own thing with the colours, so I went with my signature Black Eyed Susans for the large flowers, and sort of a rosehip or bittersweet thing for the berries. You can find links to all the patterns for this free design by Dawn Heese in my last post right here.

In the end, I stitched it down the same way as always, with a single strand of co-ordinating DMC floss. But I did try some other ways:

I like the look of dark blanket stitching when other people do it, so I gave it a try. But, it really looked out of place on my block. I don't think it fits with my lighter, brighter colour scheme. It might have worked better if I stitched everything that way, but I had already sewn down the basket body with the light thread. I also tried perle cotton a few different ways, but the only things that stuck were the little crosses on the berries.

The coloured wools for the flowers and leaves are all by Wooly Lady. A local store once had many of their pillow kits on sale for half price, and I bought a few! I really loved the bright hand-dyed colours and stylized natural designs. But, it turned out that I'm too allergic to wool to sew a large, all wool project like that. So, I use a little here and there for smaller projects like this. When the backgrounds are cotton, I'm usually ok.

The basket fabrics are from my old jackets. I threw the whole, wool, jackets in the washing machine so they would felt a little, hung them to dry, and then cut them apart. Considering that I only ever use small pieces, I probably have a lifetime supply of wool now!

This past week, though, I've had new projects springing out all over. I did no improv sewing this month. Instead, I spent two days planning and rough cutting pieced backgrounds for a new applique project:

The hearts are Post-It notes. Pretty and functional!

I've planned these down to the inch, and I hope the result will look completely random! So, not improv at all, I'm afraid. The backgrounds are from a few Tim Holtz Eclectic Elements collections, and the applique will be these fabrics that I got in September:

Painter's Canvas by Laura Gunn

Yes, it's the exact same colour scheme as the Wooly Baskets. I can't seem to let it go! But, I've been thinking about it for more than a year now, so I'm glad to get it started.

And that's not all! In January I spent a lot of time looking at all the patterns offered by Gay at Sentimental Stitches. She has lots of great applique patterns, but the ones that caught my eye were another free Block of the Month, the Vintage Blooms stitchery designs. You can find all the patterns for that right here.

This is a very easy stitchery project that once again has a lot of scope for personalization. I spent a couple of days re-designing it in January, and then I managed to file away my drawings and get back to some existing projects. But, recent days have been very stressful here at Casa Monica, where we have been having a lot of trouble with my elderly father. So, a very easy, "low volume" project seemed like just the ticket.

My idea for Vintage Blooms was to try it in white work:

I've been admiring white work quilts all over lately, including Julia's here, and this one at Keepsake Quilting. I really like those low volume batiks!

For the white stitching to show up well, it has to be heavy. So, I enlarged the pattern to 130%, and I'm stitching with four strands of white DMC floss. The background is some of the Connecting Threads fabric I bought in the fall for Stars for a New Day. Now that I've redesigned that one too, I will have lots of the light fabric left over. I used it for a test run of the white stitching because it was handy, and it was so perfect that I'm going to use it for all 20 blocks.

They are fast to sew. A second one is almost done too:

Right now I'm thinking of using some pale colours in the setting for these blocks, so it won't be completely white and beige. Earlier this month I was hoping to avoid buying any more new fabric this year, but after the past two weeks here, I feel like I deserve it! So, I've ordered some of this, from the same Keepsake Quilting catalog, for the setting. I hope it will be light enough!

And, I will just gloss over the fat quarters I bought at one of my local quilt shops last week...

More neutrals! But hopefully, not another new project. :D

(Not yet, anyway.)

I have found that for me it works best to just buy for stash when I see fabric I like, and then start projects with mostly stash fabric. Often if I buy a few yards of one fabric for a specific project, I will change my mind about it before the order arrives! But then, another new idea will come along that is perfect too, just as Vintage Blooms will use my extra fabric from Stars for a New Day. It's all good.

My plan for Easter Sunday is to spend some quiet time on one or both of these hand stitching projects. Let's hope that materializes! And check out all the other Slow Sunday Stitching at Kathy's Quilts tomorrow too. Happy stitching!


  1. Interesting about your blanket stitch thread colors! Who would have thought that dark thread wouldn't have been the ticket. I did chuckle over your lifetime supply of wool from old jackets!!! I love your white work embroidery. What a fun month you have had!!!--Terry

    1. Well, it has been stressful, but you know, I'm glad that it pushed me to start this new project. I like the way it's going. Thanks as always, Terry!

  2. The brighter colors for your flowers just shout out happiness and joy. Why not reincarnate some of those older wool jackets into awesome baskets. I haven't seen white work. It's a great low volume project. Adding fabric to the stash and then finding a project is generally my way of designing too. It feels good to fill your stash with fabrics you love. It makes it fun to play.

  3. sorry to read that Dad is not so well, I hope he finds contentment with himself
    Your basket is a delight and loving the new fabrics. What a good idea to use up your old coat this way as you say the fabric will last a good while.
    Have been a fan of white work for years, also coloured done in one colour too happy stitching and a very happy Easter to you and yours

  4. You have been busy - lots of great projects on the go! I'm with you on the stash - buy what you like when you see it and then shop from stash when you start a project.

  5. I like your wooly basket--very happy and cheerful! Looks like you have lots of fun stitching on the horizon!

  6. I love your black-eyed susans. You have been really busy this past week.

  7. My goodness, but you have been busy! I like the bright pink hearts against the beige background fabrics, they really pop!

  8. Love those wooly baskets. Perfect for Spring. My style of fabric buying is exactly the same as yours. Buy what I like when I see it and sew (mostly) from stash. I hope your Dad comes through whatever is stressing you out.

    I am staying busy with lots of yard work and a "new" Singer 301. Happy Easter!

  9. Your Little Wooly Basket turned out beautifully. I agree with you on the lighter thread versus the darker thread. Isn't it amazing the way the colour of the thread can change the mood of a piece? I also really like of your neutrals. Hmmm ..., there may be an on-line shopping trip coming soon. Great start on the white on white Vintage Blooms.

    I hope that you're having a pleasant Easter Sunday stitching and relaxing.

  10. I understand some of the issues associated with an elderly parent and the related stress - as well as the potential associated stitching productivity gain! You've done really well. The wooly baskets are coming on well and I do like the white work. I'm interested to see the total effect of that one, especially with your new fabric.
    I hope your Easter stitching is going to plan and provides a quiet break. I managed to get quite a lot of stitching done as well as visiting family.

  11. Enjoyed reading about your projects! The basket of flowers caught my eye - so bright and cheerful. Keep stitching!

  12. It's invaluable to have hand work for those stressful times. Never a mistake to have more than one either! I figured out a long time ago that it works much better for me to buy stash as I find it, not for particular projects. Then I can shop at home when I'm in the mood to get something started.:)

  13. Lots of wonderful projects that you've got going. Your Wooly Baskets block is so lovely & the colours you chose look terrific. Looking forward to seeing your progress on your other projects. Hope all goes well with your father.


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