Today I get to introduce my latest book called “The Joyful Stitcher”.
It’s different from what I have been doing lately, but when you’ve been in the industry for 20 years like I have, it’s time to shake things up a bit! I am continually thinking of what I am going to create next that I haven’t already done. Turns out it was something I never thought I would be doing – wool applique by hand. And I enjoyed every minute of it!
Here is the intro from my book, which tells you a little bit more about my inspiration –
As I finish this book, my two little boys are 2 and 4. They are at such fun ages and I don’t want to miss any of these moments with them. I find myself wanting to spend less time at the sewing machine so I can be with them. But, do I want to quilt less? No!!! I just need projects that are more portable. This need has caused me to rediscover my love of handwork. I didn’t realize, that with my desire to make as many quilts as possible, as quickly as possible, I had gotten away from such an essential part of quilting – the therapeutic side that comes from relaxing and hand-stitching.
Years ago, I started a hand-stitching group and every month we get together to do handwork, talk, laugh, eat dessert, and have fun. Seventeen years later, we still meet every month and I always look forward to this night of friends and stitching. One member of our group (That’s you Sandy!) is always working on beautiful wool projects and she has inspired me to incorporate wool into these designs. Wool is so easy to work with and looks amazing with just a few simple stitches to hold it in place. It makes for a great portable project to tote to the park with the boys, out on the pontoon, or to our monthly stitching meetings. Through the creative process of doing this book, I have learned to value this slow stitching to create unique quilts that can’t be achieved at the machine with squares and triangles. This whole process of rediscovery has been good for my soul and has made me – The Joyful Stitcher.
I could go on and on about how happy these projects have made me. I have always loved wool, but have stayed away because I mostly saw dark primitive colors, and I am currently all about bright and colorful. I also love fabric and beautiful prints, and the patterns that I have seen for wool have mostly been penny mats. These projects have made a way for me to combine wool with the fabrics prints that I love so much. The project on the cover is a good example of this –
It’s called In Bloom. It uses 3 1/2″ squares of cotton prints and the background fabric is Kauffman’s yarn dyed Essex linen in graphite. The wools are a combination of wool felt and felted wool.
If you look closer at my applique, you will see that I have combined cotton with the wool, for added dimension and interest.
The next project that I want to share is called Gypsy Star. It measures 55.5″ x 55.5″.
I may go a little overboard sharing photos of this one. It shows off so many of my favorite things – colorful fabrics, diamonds, stars, wool, texture, a ribbon border and machine quilting.
I love how the weight of the wool causes it to puff out after the quilting. I have had several people asked me if I layered extra batting behind the applique, but I didn’t. It’s just the combination of adding wool applique to a quilt that is quilted, rather than a wool penny mat type project. The wool has so much more life and dimension this way!
And these fabrics – they add so much life to the blocks. Most of these prints are from Anna Maria Horner. They are from assorted collections that I mixed together. The first runner that I showed also uses these fabrics. I bought some fat quarters and had enough to make quite a few quilts.
The two photos below show the mix of simple stitches that I used and how I combined the cotton and wool together for the applique.
The next one up is called Fall Colors. Size – 24″ x 24″
More close-ups of the stitching. I mainly used a whip stitch (not a blanket stitch) and a back stitch. There are also a few French knots and for the black lettering and stems, I used a chain stitch. I have tried to do a stem stitch for this, as I know that is quite popular with the embroidery crowd, but I found it way too difficult. I learned the chain stitch in first or second grade and have found it to be much easier.
I mentioned that I used a whip stitch instead of a blanket stitch. I find a blanket stitch much more time-consuming, much harder to get even and I don’t like that it curls around points and curved edges (unless you do extra tacking stitches). Doing a whip stitch instead cures all those problems. I have more photos coming in my next posts where I will talk/show more about this. Trust me – you will hardly see the difference, but it’s so much more fun to do.
And don’t you love the variegated thread? You can really see it on the green stems above, where I did a slanting whip stitch. The thread is Sue Spargo’s Eleganza (click here to see it)
For this one, I wanted a small wall hanging that I can hang by my back door or in my upstairs hallway in the fall. I also have a pillow option for this one, which I will show in another post.
That’s it for now, so I hope you will stop back to see the rest of the projects. I am going to break the preview up into 3 posts, because I have so many photos and things to say. That way the posts won’t be so long and take forever to load! You can also go to my online store (click here) to see more photos or order the book. It is available to ship now, so it will also be showing up at your local quilt shop. There are 14 projects in the book and it retails for $23. There are 16 pages of full color instruction, which includes lots of photos of the stitching and projects. There are also 2 large pattern pulls out with full size applique shapes.
So I’m curious to see how you all feel about wool? I have shown the projects at a couple of events so far and I’ve had several people say that they weren’t interested in wool until they saw these projects and how I used the wool in a different way. I thought that was interesting, because I kind of felt that way too! Of coarse you can use cotton for the applique too, if you aren’t interested in wool. So please leave me a comment to let me know your thoughts on wool too. All comments will be entered into a drawing to win a free Joyful Stitcher book. Thanks!