Thursday, April 21, 2016

Catching a Creative Wave

With just one sleep and a few hours left before we head out for the Scrappy & Happy Quilt Cruise with Stitchin Heaven Travel.

I simply canNOT wait! For the three days that we're at sea we'll be quilting away on the too-much-fun-for-words quilt, Runaway Thread. The banner on this newsletter shows the very edge of this fun quilt.

Making the Runaway Thread project can generate a few extra scraps, and we certainly wouldn't want to leave any scrap left unused, so this past week (yes, with less than a week to go--I can sometimes be such a Last Minute Lulu!) my creative brain won't rest until I prepare a couple of project extras for the lucky quilters on the trip!

Here's another sneaky-peek that's coming along for the ride:

And what's a party without some party favors? Just a peek, wouldn't want to spoil the fun!

Hope to see you on board! And if you missed this boat, there'll be another in January. . . just sayn'

Happy Stitching!
joan ford

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Fancy Stitching

As a quilt book and pattern author, I can get tied up with the technical stuff involved in the process of developing quilt patterns and making samples. I can make a scant quarter inch seam with the best of them, but sometimes I like to try things that might take my skills a little off the beaten--or should I say "quilted'--trail.

Whether or not you've joined the Splendid Sampler experience online, perhaps you've noticed that many of the 'Splendid' blocks featured here in this newsletter or those that keep popping up online in several social media outlets, feature hand embroidered embellishments, like this block, designed by Alyssa Thomas of Penguin and Fish.

Some 'Splendid' blocks don't feature any embellishment at all, but a little bit of hand stitching adds just the right amount of interest or texture to a block--Splendid Sampler project or otherwise--to make a plain block pop.

Hand embroidery is one of those things I twiddle with from time to time. I can do a really consistent chain stitch and running stitch, but the other, 'fancier' stitches, not so much. I need a little practice, and a good teacher. What better way to hone these skills than with a project that I'm building just for me! Then I don't have to worry about stitches out of place for photography or for samples.

For example, here's a Portuguese knotted stem stitch, adding texture to a block center.

And I'm getting some help. Well, sort of. My friend Shelly Stokes of Cedar Canyon Textiles introduced me to Mary Corbet and her website a couple months ago. Mary's site is loaded with exquisite samples and helpful demos for all kinds of hand embroidered stitches. . .

A floral embellishment. . .

How about a buttonhole up and down stitch with added color from French knots and straight stitches? I need to work on this one a bit more to get comfortable with it. Even so, I'm happy with my first attempt.

I highly recommend Mary's site and her newsletter, if you're like me and would like to hone your hand embroidered embellishment skills.

Happy Stitching!
joan ford

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Vermont Get-Away

Last Friday, I jumped in the car, headed to Vermont, with the temperatures feeling a lot like springtime, a bit humid, even. By the time I got back into the car to head home on Sunday afternoon, it was cold, windy and snowing for my journey.

In between, the weather and all of our friendly accommodations at the Strong House Inn in Vergennes, Vermont were just right. Our project for the weekend was 99 Bottles--a lapsized quilt with a ba-zillion (or so it seems) miniature 9-patch blocks.

As you can imagine, as with any quilt project, there's a fair amount of work to be done. . . There's fabric selection. . .

 . . . Cutting . . .

 . . . .sorting and arranging. . .

. . .  Pressing issues for sure. . . .

. . . a little bit of pinning and sewing. . .

Eventually, you get a few tiny blocks. Then those become bigger blocks . . . and somewhere down the road, a quilt appears. Like magic!

But with all this sorting, cutting, pressing, and sewing going on, someone has to keep us nourished. Our Innkeeper Mary proved up to the task with fabulous meals throughout the weekend. Including a fluffy pancake breakfast featuring yummy world-renowned Vermont maple syrup!

And the atmosphere. Perfect for quilting, lots of windows and natural light.

By Sunday, everyone made great progress and was well on their way to throwing down 99 Bottles!

In the end, any quilting retreat is really about new friends, old friends, great food, comfortable accommodations, lots of quilty fun, and a hot cup of tea with a maple cookie to wrap up the day.

If you missed the fun this time, I'm so sorry, but we'll see you next time. . . right?

In the meantime,

Happy Stitching!
joan ford