Thursday, February 7, 2013

Embellished Quilts

" ... And Silk Threads"

Even before "Mr. Darcy" was introduced on the screen in the 1995 BBC Production of "Pride and Prejudice", I was enchanted with the opening segment, where an elegant young hand gracefully pulls needle and thread through a delicate silky fabric. It alludes to a gentle activity in a peaceful, serene setting. Perhaps it is this feeling that all is well with the world that has always drawn me to embroidery and hand work in general. When I first started quilting about 15 years ago, it was the lure of the hand work that drew me and and then captured me. Therefore, most of my early quilts involved mostly hand stitching using applique, embroidery and quilting.

At the time, "Piecemakers - Times and Seasons" calenders (that came with a full set of patterns) were a popular attraction in the local quilt shops. I registered for a class and thereafter became completely consumed with applique and embellished hand quilting for a while. The quilt below was made using the patterns from the 1997 calender. All 12 months were individual, so a number of them became separate wall hangings, which have been gifted away. Below, 4 remaining months have been stitched together into a larger piece, but have not yet been quilted. (Another project which has been placed onto the ever threatening "back-burner".)

During the class, it was always fun to wander through the shop and find fabrics that were meant to be used as a specific landscape feature. At the time, many manufacturers seemed to cater their fabrics to suit that particular design

A close-up look at some of the fabrics that were "fussy cut" into landscape features such as sky, grass, trees, chimney, etc..

As you can see, I got a little carried away with the silk ribbon embroidery.

This Victorian style crazy quilt was made using the patterns from the 2001 "Piecemakers" calender, for a class that I was asked to teach at another quilt shop. The class was taught in conjunction with another quilter who taught the machine piecing and quilting portion of the class.

This quilt uses a combination of machine piecing and machine quilting along with detailed hand embellishments.

Also made during the earlier years of my quilting experience, this miniature Baltimore had not been quilted until last winter. Proof that some UFO's do make it off of the back burner and actually get completed. There is hope!

Made from Jenifer Buechel's book, "Silk Ribbon Baltimore".

Another beautifully made film that celebrates embroidery and sewing  is "Bright Star" (2009), produced and directed by Jane Campion (The Piano). It's the story of the poet John Keats and the love of his life, Fanny Brawne. Fanny is serious about following the latest fashions and is proud of the fact that she can design and make her own clothes. As most embroiderers and quilters understand, stitching is what gets her through both happy times and times of grief.  Stitching is an integral part of her life, as it is for many sewers today. Well worth the watch, if you can find the movie.


  1. Your embroidery and applique work is incredible. I'm also impressed that you finished projects that had been sitting in your UFO pile for so many years. Most of us (including myself) would probably have given up on them completely. Do you find that you have a greater appreciation for them, years later, now that they are complete?

    1. Hi Needle and Nest. There is a feeling of great satisfaction when I finish one of these projects that has been in the closet for years, yet I am not quite sure what to do with them once completed. My choice of colours in these earlier projects is not something that I would put up in my home currently, but I do still appreciate the effort of the handwork in these early pieces, and will keep them carefully wrapped in acid free tissue paper for some future time.

  2. Do you know, for a couple of years now I have been kicking around the idea of a silk ribbon Baltimore. Now I see that not only is the idea not new, but there is a whole book on the subject! Wouldn't you know it?

    But all your ribbon embroidery is gorgeous. It's something I mean to get into, but somehow I keep being frustrated in my efforts to source ribbon.

    Great post!

    1. Hi Monica. Thanks for your comments. Years ago, when I did all of that silk ribbon work, the silk ribbon was quite easy to find, in fact, some of the quilt shops even carried it, (no doubt because of the "Piecemakers" calenders). In recent years, I have not looked for it, but I think that I have seen it at "Michael's". I will keep my eyes open and let you know if I find a source.

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