Friday, 30 May 2008

sun dappled tulips

Dear Lene,

I'm sorry it's been such a long while. While I know that we're not in any kind of race here, I was feeling for a while like you were getting so far ahead of me (I'm still on my first block!). This month is just crazy all around, and these one yard square blocks are not very portable, or good for working on except when I can give the work my full attention.

The good news is that I feel like I finally got back into the swing of the project. I spent yesterday morning basting down a half dozen tulips, and just seeing them laid out there on the background made the whole pattern really come together for me. I spent a good part of the afternoon sitting outside (it was a truly gorgeous spring day here) and peacefully appliquéing.

I now have seven of the twelve tulips appliquéd. It turns out that it's really only possible for me to place them on the background nicely when there's a mirror-image one to place as well (at least for the side tulips - the ones on the long straight stems are pretty easy). I had mentioned earlier that the side tulips create a bit of a mirror image - I'm not sure if you can see it from this angle, but this is what I mean:

In the past, when I've done this type of appliqué pattern, I've used a vinyl overlay - tracing the full pattern onto vinyl, putting it over my background, and slipping the pieces into place using that as a guide. That method can create perfect symmetry, but in this quilt, I'm not interested in perfect symmetry. I love the old quilt, the sometimes crooked tulips, and all the quirks that give it some life. So I'm just placing the pieces down by eye here. I think (hope!) that it will all work out in the end. While it may have some small imperfections or a bit of imbalance, I think it will stay true to the spirit of the old quilt.

This last picture has some shadows, but I think gives a good sense of the overall block. I took it late yesterday afternoon, on my porch, so you can see the shadow of the wrought iron fence on the quilt.

I managed to wash the second piece of background fabric (for some reason I can't explain, I'm handwashing it as I go along), and I'm going to get down the last set of stems and leaves today, hopefully I'll also get a chance to baste the big yellow piece for the second block as well.

Did I ever tell you how I got interested in appliqué in the first place? It wasn't something that immediately interested me when I started quilting. Years ago, before the American Folk Art Museum moved to it's new location, they had a smaller gallery where they'd have an annual show of antique quilts. One year, the show included an absolutely amazing Baltimore Album quilt. (That link is to the Maryland Historical Society, and years ago I was lucky enough to travel there to see a large part of their amazing quilt collection in person.) The first time I saw the quilt at the AFAM, I was stunned - speechless. I just stood there and examined it from every angle, captivated by the intricate work and incredibly tiny stitches. I thought, "I want to do that" and set out to get my appliqué skills up to par (I'm still not sure they're there yet...). For a few years I did a lot of papercut appliqué, a few repro's of Baltimore blocks, and then my tastes changed a bit and I became more interested in less intricate patterns, bigger pieces, and eventually the 4-block bug bit me.

[One funny thing? One of the things that made me lose a bit of interest in the intricate blocks was when I realized that the definitive books with the old patterns had shrunken the designs down to a modern 12" size. A lot of the antique blocks are about 16", and I felt somehow cheated, being tricked into doing such complicated work on a smaller scale than was necessary. While I could have enlarged them, the damage was done, and it was sort of like the end to a relationship that was wrong from the very beginning.]

One of these days I'll find some of those older blocks that I made and take some pictures for you. It's hard having you so far away - if you were closer we could just spend days pulling things off of shelves and out of boxes and playing with them.


Thursday, 22 May 2008

second block on the way

Dear Cassie,

Ever since we started this quilting endeavour together, all that I have been thinking of is quilts. And fabrics and thread and scissors and needles.

I have already managed to dull one of my sharp 12’s and I had to pick a new needle this morning. Actually, the dull needle had troubled me for two nights already but I blamed the new background fabric. As I told you I have enough background fabric for three blocks but not for four and I decided to do the different now and all the time I thought that this fabric choice was not good. Finally today I picked a new and fresh needle and sewing has again been smooth dancing.

I have tried two different appliqué stitches. The first block was done completely with ladder stitch. Today I wanted some entertainment and changed the ladder stitch into fell stitch. I think I prefer fell stitch - but when I am appliquéing piece that has paper inside, ladder stitch seems to be easier to control to avoid catching the paper - but I am sure I will get better with fell stitch and will soon do all the appliqué with it.

I don’t think I prefer freezer paper on top from freezer paper inside or the other way around – basting through freezer paper is a pain, no matter what. What I would love to do is to get rid of all the freezer paper and develop good coordination between eye and hand. I am using freezer paper inside for the centre part of the block because I find it easier to place the pieces when you can see the pieces without any seam allowances. But I gather all these steps are part of my appliqué journey and at some point I might be doing everything differently!

So I am already on the second block. I can see very clearly that there is a bridge to be crossed every time I move from one block onto another – it is like starting the second sleeve when making a sweater or like knitting the second sock. Starting the process all over many times worries me, so I have been thinking of preparing the pieces for the third and the fourth blocks soon to be able to avoid the problem but so far it has been just a thought. Maybe over the weekend… The weather forecast for the weekend is sunny so I am not counting on doing that.

What I need is travel quilt – I mean take along project. These huge blocks seem too big to be carrying around and I would love to have something smaller to take along. First I thought of something very simple but then decided to take up on a challenge – maybe.

I have this old folder “Best-Loved Quilt Patterns”, I got it from my MIL long time ago and it is not complete, there are some lessons missing from the folder. It was published in 1991 by Oxmoor House and I think it was a series where you received a package every month. Anyway it has some good old patterns in it and many that are not designed for rotary cutters but plain old scissors and templates.

These are the three I have been thinking of (in order from the top: Joseph's Coat, Double Wedding Ring and Ceasar's Crown). I can’t decide because at some level, I am very worried of starting another quilt, I am cautious for a good reason… I have more ufos in every possible handwork field that I dare to tell you…

Joseph´s Coat is very tempting don’t you think? It is very challenging, there are no straight seams in the whole quilt but since I am willing and eager to learn new things right now, maybe I should try and go for it … or maybe not. Maybe I should stick to Yellow Flowers only because it still makes my heart sing.

It is beautiful sunny evening. It does not get dark at all, the sun dips under the horizon but gets up very quickly. May light is pure magic, I find it very hard to go to bed in the evenings, partly because of the light for sure but partly because of my quilt.



Tuesday, 20 May 2008

stems, leaves, and tulips

Dear Lene,

I haven't been doing as much work on my quilt as I'd like. When I do get some time, it goes quickly, but I seem to have gotten very self-conscious, showing you close-ups of my work like this, so I've been trying to save my "best" times of the day for my appliqué work. Unfortunately, not all days have a "best time" so there have been a few days when I didn't pick up my project at all.
I've finished one quarter of the leaves and stems for the block, and have sewn on one tulip. To be honest, I was sort of dreading appliquéing the tulips down. I don't love working with things with seams in them - stitching down a solid piece of fabric is so much easier.

After a very thorough ironing, though, the seams really weren't too bad to deal with. I trimmed back a few of them at the base of the tulip, because with all those seam allowances meeting at one spot, it was going to be hard to get a nice edge for the appliqué. I realize, of course, that I could have chosen to appliqué all the parts of the tulips, rather than piecing them first. But the antique quilt had them pieced, and so ... I chose to go with piecing.

I had said that I would try to explain what I'm doing for the stems. Basically, I'm using a hera marker to mark my turning lines for both the long middle stem as well as the curved side stems. For the long straight stems, I'm using a ruler to mark the lines. For the curved stems, I'm running the hera marker against a plastic template. Hopefully you can see the faint marked lines on the stem at the left (above).

I'm doing the leaves totally freehand, though. In some ways, I wish I was brave enough to do all of it freehand, with no marked lines at all. But for now, I'm compromising and doing just a bit that way. Maybe as I get further along - the 2nd block, or maybe the 3rd? - I'll have worked up the nerve to free myself from the marked lines and freezer paper. While I admire the old quilt, which was most definitely done without these things, I still want my quilt to look somewhat even or symmetrical. At the same time, I am placing the leaves and tulips by eye, not using a pattern overlay to place the pieces. I want this to be something that has some life to it, a bit of imperfection, like the old quilt.

This is where I am, as of this morning. The top center stems and leaves are all sewn down, except for half of the middle stem. The bottom pieces are basted in place. I still have a whole bunch of tulips that need to be appliquéd, but I like to iron them right before basting them in place - it keeps the seams flat. Our weather right now is damp and rainy, though, so it seems like when I iron, the pieces immediately start to curl up again. However, having finally sewn down one of the tulips, I realize it isn't as bad as I had feared, so I'll be getting more of them on there soon.

There are so many other things I've been wanting to show you. Some of my other, old appliqué projects - but there's a bit of an embarrassment there, as so many were abandoned and never finished. Also, some of the projects I did from the book Family Ties - there are at least a half dozen of them, probably more. It's just a matter of gathering them together in one place. A day with better light would help too - we've just had what seems like day after day of cloudy rainy weather, and that doesn't make for nice clear pictures. So, I'll save those for another day.


PS I forgot to mention that I haven't ironed anything as I've been going along. (Maybe I'm making excuses because it looks a little sloppy right now?

Friday, 16 May 2008

The first block

Dear Cassie,

I have had a busier week than what I anticipated Monday. I wish I would have been busy with the garden work but that is not the case. This feels almost absurd, usually when the spring finally comes, it comes quickly and proceeds with good paste. Now, the spring has stopped completely. Half of the lake is still covered with ice, the amount of snow is just the same it was on Monday, the temperature is everyday hovering around zero, it is like the spring has come to a complete standstill.

Even though the weather is not a source of joy around here, my quilt very much is. When I started sewing the pieces, there was some discussion about the small stitches and how small they would really need to be to be satisfactory. I looked at yours and admired them but I did not dare to make mine small enough fearing that the amount of stitches would create some bulk and distort the fabric. Little by little I have made my stitches smaller and smaller and noticed that it has not created extra bulk. I am quite pleased with my stitches now.
I am using light yellow thread for all of my stitching. And you are right, when the stitching shows here and there it just adds to the beauty of the quilt.

One thing I have been worrying about a bit lately, are the small dots inside the flowers. First I thought that to be a perfect spot for contrasting colours but somehow I have grown to like the simplicity of the big flowers and I might get rid of the small dots. I have sewn them only to one of the flowers and might even take them out from there. Then on the other hand, maybe I leave them, for the sake of process and letting the mistakes stay. If they start to bother me much and if those small dots are the only thing I see when I look at the block, then I will get rid of them.

I have used three kinds of appliqué techniques. I have used English paper piecing for making the pieced parts (pieced leaves) and have appliqué them onto the fabric letting the papers stay inside until the pieces have been sewn down. I have appliquéd some of the flowers with freezer paper on top (following your example) and then I have tried freehand the big and simple shapes without the aid of the freezer paper.

So the first block is almost complete. I am not completely satisfied with the design and at some point I thought about tossing it away and starting over with some other design. But then I decided to stick with this, this is a challenge now and I want to try to make this work. These are the choices for fabrics for the flowers in the second block; there is some red in there!I don’t have enough fabric for the back ground, so I will need to find something for the fourth block, something quite similar. I thought that I would have more somewhere but that is not the case, I have enough for three blocks but the more I think about this course of things, the more I like the fact. I am forced to make do with what I have and I kind of like that thought.
There is something so very pleasing in the tiny stitches and the yellow little patches that I am purring with delight every time I have a chance to sit by my quilt and sew some. I am hoping to have hours tonight with the quilt.

I am sending lots of healing thoughts to your Grandmother. I do hope she will get better, little better, every single day.



Tuesday, 13 May 2008

little tulips...

Dear Lene,
I finished that huge yellow center over the weekend! I kept complaining about it, the big piece of freezer paper that I was pulling off as I got sections appliquéd down, how awkward it was to work in the middle of the piece. And now it's finished. Um... well, almost. I still have to do the reverse appliqué in the center, but I'm saving that for later.

I spent most of the weekend trying to finalize my fabric choices for the stems and leaves, and also for the tulips themselves. Quilting really is a messy sport, isn't it? I have piles of fabric all over the place, things I'd tried out and rejected, and then pieces of the fabrics I'm using draped all over the place (to avoid wrinkling them once I've ironed them).

So, here are the fabrics for the tulips - yellow and blue (trust me, I tried everything else but that blue was the best choice, hands down). The dull green is going to be for the leaves and stems. I tried a whole lot of different greens, some beiges and grays (I had kind of wanted a gray in there, but I'm thinking maybe for the back instead...?), and this green was the fabric that worked:

The tulips are pieced. Fussy little curved seams, but I'm finding them challenging and actually kind of fun. I finally sat down, looked at things and did the math. I need 48 of them! So far I have just five pieced, but most of them cut out and ready to sew for the first block - I think I have ten of twelve for the first block all ready to go.

Here's an overall picture of a quarter of a block. I've left the freezer paper on the small stems for now. I'm thinking I'm going to use a "hera marker" to help with the sewing lines for the long straight stem. I'll tell you more about that another time - I'm not quite there yet.

I think I've decided (sounds definitive, doesn't it) to use two different variations of the colors in the tulips. The yellow is bright and cheery, but I think maybe it could be overdone, so I'm doing just the center tulip in yellow/blue and the side tulips in blue/yellow. This also works out because I have a bit more of the blue fabric to work with than the yellow.

This is one last view from the side. I'm just including it because I find it kind of funny - I just realized that the rug that it's on is pretty much the same set of colors as the quilt block. I hadn't noticed it before, and it kind of made me laugh. The tulips haven't been ironed yet - they've been my pick-up project when I have a little time. I realized when I laid them out to take pictures that I'll probably have to pay pretty close attention to the side tulips, when I baste them down. The angles that they sit at creates a bit of a secondary pattern in the overall quilt, and I want them to be just right.

Things here are still hectic, with my grandma out of the hospital and into the rehabilitation center, but I'm hanging in there. I brought along my little sewing kit yesterday, with some tulips to work on, but never took them out. One of these days I'll show you my little sewing kit - made for me by a friend years ago, it's going to come in handy for making all those little tulips.


PS - I just realized that there are actually 52 tulips, if I include the four in the center of the quilt!

Monday, 12 May 2008

Of colours

Dear Cassie,

Another spring week just dawned today with almost freezing temperatures! The snow that came yesterday is all gone but there still are some old piles. The lake is partly free, but she looks cold and the wind stays in the north. But the sound of the waves is here! Thank you for the sun rays that came this way last Saturday, they were very much appreciated. I enjoyed them tremendously during the day and then by the night, I packaged them carefully (I kept only one) and sent them back to you. I am sure they are all there by now.

Since it was snowing all day yesterday, I stayed in and played with the fabrics and stitches and scissors and needles and tape measures and templates.

One reason I love quilting is the fact that I can pick any colour to work with without having to worry whether or not that particular colour will look good against my skin… or against anybody’s skin. I am free to shop fabrics following my mood and desires. The available amount of fabrics and colours can be a bit overwhelming and sometimes it is difficult to find the right choices. Before I started quilting I never liked yellow! Really it is true, I always thought that yellow was pushy and noisy and it was almost impossible to find any kind of yellow that would be even tolerable.
But since I started to see colours and fabrics from a quilter’s perspective and not from a dress maker’s I fell in love with yellow and many other colours too that hadn’t really been there for me at all.

I am a blue-wearing-person, blue spiced with browns and tiny bit of orange. But I love red - sadly it does not look good on me, at least not the kind of red that I love. So to solve the problem with red, many of my handbags and bags are red, I have a huge beautiful red umbrella and just recently a beautiful little red car too. (Car is necessary for me, I would use public transportation if that was easier, but sadly, at the moment it is not.) And dreams of red quilts; quilts of red and beige, of red and pure clean white, of red and green.

When quilting - no restrictions for me in any way. Always in spring, after the long and dark winter, my heart just aches for sun and yellow. Yellow is bright, it stands for joy and happiness. My yellow season ends by the end of June when these bloom by the lake. Not now, now picture ice and grey blue freezing water, no green, no yellow, except in my quilt.

When I drew the flower and took out the yellow fabrics I knew that I should find a spot where I could add a little bit of the contrasting colour, so I added the little specs to the flower centre. I am not sure how these little specs will look like in the end, what colours exactly are needed there, but there is my option for adding anything necessary and most likely it is going to be purple in some shade. The leaves are green, again I think there should be a spot for just a little bit of red too as a contrast to green, so, I have one fat quarter of this red among the greens. Last night I had a dream that Yellow Flowers was all quilted and I was wondering if the binding should be bright red… Too bad, I can’t remember how it was quilted.

I know, I should not jump ahead, but I am thinking about the quilting already. You told me to wait and let the quilt tell me in the end how she wants to be quilted… Are you sure about this? Are you sure my quilt will talk and tell? I just sincerely wish that she has a good sense and knows what things should be said out loud and what should remain between the two of us… Because I have poked through my finger a couple of times with the needle size sharp 12 and she already knows how I feel about freezer paper and dull needles.
No, I did not try those! Those needles are there because they were used for seaming knits and darning in ends. I should go and make a little pin cushion solely for appliqué and quilting needles.
Next time I will show some process pictures and hopefully by then my stitches have become small enough and my finger tips have grown a thick skin.
In search for tiny stitches,

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Feeling better ....

Dear Lene,
I hope I didn't scare you yesterday, with my endless whining and worrying about the fabric choices. (Also that part about wanting to sit in the corner and sulk about it - that was really mature, wasn't it?) But as I said, knowing that we're in this together got me out of my self-pity and up and going again.

I spent some time playing with an alternate set of fabrics. I think I more or less turned the house inside out, looking for different things, literally going through everything here to see what I had. You have very little clue what an undertaking that was - my fabric stash is beyond extensive, it's verging on being legendary. [Scary is another term people have used.] And also, it would be a shame to change my mind now, after I bought all those yards of red fabric for the background - I'm still a little embarrassed that I bought fabric, with everything I have here.

Then you got back home and emailed that you liked the choices. Really liked them. And I thought about it some more. I turned around at one point and saw the new block sitting there on the floor (where I'd put it to see it and some other fabrics from a distance) and suddenly I realized that the yellow? I can't even see the pattern on it from five feet away. The print that was bothering me and worrying me was totally irrelevant to the total scheme of things - okay, it helps that I'm nearsighted and wasn't wearing my glasses at the time, but it was a revelation.

So, I did get started on the block after all, and I haven't shown you much yet other than fabrics. I spent Wednesday cutting out a freezer paper template for the center section, ironing it to the fabric, and basting it down on the background.

It's a huge piece of freezer paper, almost 48cm/19" square, and it took a lot of fiddling to get everything to lie flat. I creased both the background as well as the yellow fabric, to be able to center it properly. This is the center floret (?) pinned into place, just prior to my thread basting it.

Have I ever mentioned that I don't like basting? It's kind of like swatching in knitting, just as necessary but just as distasteful to me.

One very short sewing stint later, it started looking like this -

I'm cutting away the freezer paper as I go along. It's such a big piece that it's awkward and gets in the way of reaching in to sew at the center of the piece. I had toyed with the idea of doing it freehand, but all of those scallops would be tricky to replicate that way, so I chickened out (sort of) and went with the freezer paper.

I laughed when you wondered yesterday about why the quilter of the antique used white thread for her appliqué. I hadn't told you at that point that I'm using white thread. I used to do that sometimes, use non-matching thread to show off a little - kind of like, "Look, I can use any color thread and it still looks good!". Obnoxious, I know. But I've come to appreciate the visibility of tiny stitches in a neutral color, as an accent. Also, I've realize that it makes everything much more simple. One color of thread means no searching for perfect color matches, and just one spool of thread to work from.

I also realized that I have two one-thousand-yard spools of this white thread. It might be interesting to see how much thread it takes to do the project. If I were inclined to do something like that, of course.

I'm not 100% positive yet, about all of the other fabrics. I'm going to have to make a decision pretty soon, especially on the fabric for the stems and leaves. I thought I had the right one, but then today (while looking for a totally different set of fabrics) I found another that might be even better for this group of colors. More about that soon, I hope. Until I make a final decision, I'm leaving the area where the stem needs to be tucked under the floret loose and un-sewn.

So, for now I'm going with the original fabric choices, more or less. I had said something to you about it not being a big deal to ditch the current choices, and just consider it as an appliqué "swatch", but I'm going with it and finishing the block with just a (possible) minor change to the leaf/stem fabric. Thanks for your input on the fabrics, it really helped.


PS - I'd love to send you some sun (we've had lots) but I'm not sure it packages up and travels very well....

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Lots of drawing


When I look at the pictures of the old Tulip quilt, it makes me wonder who made it. Her handwriting is all over it, but it leaves out the details that I would love to know: her age, her family, her history … then on the other hand, it probably tells everything she would like us to know of her. There is 8 (???) quilting stitches per centimetre, that surely tells something about her character – I assume the maker was a she, at that time it was more common for a woman to quilt I think. And she chose white thread for all the appliqué – was she short of coloured thread or does it tell that she was not too fussy but relaxed and forgiving? Do you know where it was made and is it typical of the area? Is there any way of knowing when was it made? Maybe by making a repro of it, the quilt will reveal its secrets and start talking to you. Maybe if you have it on your lap in a quiet evening and sip your coffee in silence and close your eyes, you will get to time travel. Please, do share the stories…

I have been at the drawing board. I made one block in size 1:4. One block will be close to one square meter, so it will be big, very. Then I drew the same block into the real size and I tweaked the pattern a little bit.

When I was happy with the design, I marked all the appliqué patches with grain lines and then finally covered the whole big drawing with a film. I am going to need it a lot, so I don’t want to get it smudged.
The next step was to draw all the pieces to template plastic with the grain lines marked. This all took me hours. Now that the drawing and the templates are done, I will draw the pieces onto a freezer paper. I know this sounds like a lot of drawing, but I have done my appliqué with freezer paper always. But again, my history in this art is very short and hopefully one day I can get rid of freezer paper and be more free because I love the hand work feel of the old quilts. Somehow at the moment I am sure of not having to stress about the fact that this would not in the end look like hand work!

Freezer paper makes it so easy to move around the pieces on the background and I aim not to draw on either the background fabric nor to the appliqué pieces, but we’ll see about that.

Now that I have all these paper cuts prepared, I will start ironing them onto the fabrics and that means that I have to make decisions about the fabrics, but definitely yellows. But I will tell about them the next time. Because I need to take a trip to town and that will take most of my afternoon.

I found this old tool and had to try how my block will look when it is multiplied.

I did mention last week that the spring is finally here. It is… The water is high and one cannot walk on the ice any more… There is still some of that white stuff around and when I woke up this morning, there was a little more than yesterday. It snowed lightly again last night.

Could you please send me the sun!


Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Fine Details

Dear Lene,

I managed to get started, at least a little, yesterday. Really taking out the antique quilt and examining it, rather than just quick overview pictures, gave me a sense of how incredibly talented the maker was.

To start out, I put a giant piece of vinyl over one of the blocks, to trace the appliqué pattern. Each block measures 86cm/34", so it really is on the large side, even for these four-block appliqué quilts.

The vine-berry-leaf pattern at the left is actually a tracing of the quilting pattern on that portion of the quilt. It was so stunning, when I looked at it closely, that I thought I'd take the opportunity to highlight it. And also for later reference. (You know, just in case I'm crazy enough to try to replicate the quilting too.)

What really struck me as I slowly traced the shapes of the pieces was the fine stitching. (Ahem, that's our blog title, more or less, isn't it?) All of the appliqué is done with white thread, no matter the color of the fabric.

That's a little section of the border. I'm 99.9% sure that the fabric was originally green.

After I took that first picture, I realized that the scale of it might not be really obvious, so I took another one (from one of the tulips) that included a ruler for scale. You can see how tiny those white stitches are pretty clearly on the red fabric.

And, as I mentioned the quilting earlier, I also took a close-up picture of that.

Again, incredibly fine work. I guess this is what inspires me about the old quilts. Anything with this much attention to detail had to have been made thoughtfully and carefully. There was obviously no rushing or a need to have a blanket on the bed to keep warm.

Ok, I think I've mused enough about the past for today. I'm starting on putting the pattern on paper, making templates, and hopefully will have something ready to be worked on fabric soon. (Enough with all this vinyl and drawing - I'd like to work with a needle and thread!)


Monday, 5 May 2008

Yellow Flowers

Dear Cassie,

I was thrilled to see our very first post up there!!!

It has been snowing (yes!) big dish rags and the wind has been blowing hard from the north, but the weather has not managed to bring my mood down at all. I have been washing and ironing fabrics and drawing the templates in big size.

I will draw the quilt in size 1:3 one of these days! So far I am calling it Yellow Flowers, I know I know, I should have thought of something more interesting to call my very first four-block quilt. I will try to keep this quilt simple and bold and this will be my very first with hand quilting. Your Tulips will be just beautiful.

Is it only two weeks we have been planning this? Is it only two weeks ago when my mail box started to fill with more and more amazing hand quilted quilt pictures after I mentioned to you wanting to try appliqué one day. Of the pictures you sent always the next one was more beautiful than the previous one and then you wrote: “Maybe this will provide some inspiration. ;-)”

So here we are, with lots of plans for the future, quilting together with Fine Stitches. I am glad. I know, we Finns, use sparsely the word love, but here it is very appropriate, because I do love this project of ours.

Here’s to Fine Stitches!



PS. Do you think we are ready to go to public or should we let this simmer a bit yet??


Dear Lene,
It's hard to believe it's been less than two weeks since you mentioned quilts in your email and we got started with this idea. From your little hint about four-block appliqué, to my taking all those pictures of antique quilts, to our idea about starting a quilting blog together. At first I laughed at your note saying that you felt feverish with excitement over all the inspiration you were feeling. Then I began to be inspired as well. I collected those old quilts years ago and somehow in keeping them safely put away, I had forgotten how beautiful they are.

Seeing the antique quilts again really got me thinking that appliqué was my first true love in quilting. I haven't done so much of it the past few years, as I have to pace myself to keep my hands from hurting. And also because knitting and spinning have been what I've spent most of my time on for the past while. But the love is still there, it's just been dormant for a time.

Your excitement was so contagious though, I knew that this (blog) was the right thing to do. I don't think I could maintain this level of inspiration on my own, but I think that having a friend across the ocean to share the ideas and to help fan the flame of excitement about quilts and quilting is the perfect way to go.

Looking at the tulip quilt again, I'm getting a little nervous. I know that my appliqué skills can handle making a reproduction of it, but it really is an ambitious project, isn't it? Maybe it's more than ambitious - crazy might be a better word - but it really is the quilt that sings out to me and inspires me the most right now. Both for the pattern and also for the fine hand quilting. I'm not going to even think about quilting just yet. I think tackling a huge appliqué project gives me plenty to work on for the time being.

I still need to finalize my fabric choices, make a firm decision about whether or not the bright color scheme I'm thinking of is too wild, and also find that vinyl for tracing the pattern from the tulip quilt. I haven't seen anything of your design ideas since that first rough sketch. Where are you with that? Have you been holding it back as a surprise, or are you not finished with the drawings?

All right, then. I'm off to take care of getting my materials together for copying the tulip pattern. I have to start somewhere, and that's got to be done even before I choose the final fabric choices. My excitement is building, but as I said I'm also a little bit nervous. I'm glad we're in this together, because tackling this alone would probably overwhelm me - with the encouragement and excitement of doing it with you, I can stick with it.