"Applique 12 Easy Ways"

I’m often asked by my students to recommend a good  book for beginning appliquists.  And, for years I have replied without hesitation that Elly Sienkiewicz’s book Applique 12 Easy Ways is the best on the market.  Clear and instructional, it covers almost every way imaginable to hand applique.

Now there are other good books on the market, including those by Alex Anderson, but this one covers everything.  And, since it includes the freezer paper method that I use, I’m a happy camper.

"Beloved Baltimore Album Quilts"

I was reminded about this book earlier today when I received an email notification that Elly is about to release another book in her series that focuses on Baltimore Album quilts.  Beloved Baltimore Album Quilts will be released mid-October and just in time to include on your Christmas list.  The notice says that there will be 25-8″ block patterns and will feature quilts from the 2010 exhibit Baltimore Album Review II: Baltimore’s Daughters – Friends Stitch Past to Future which will be at Houston this year.  And, if the cover is any indication of what’s in the book…nice.

To get more information on this new book,  I took a little look at the C&T Publishing website (www.ctpub.com), and was *shocked* when I saw that my old stand-by, Applique 12 Easy Ways, doesn’t seem to be in their current lineup of offerings.  Can this be!  I fear that it means what’s in the market place to purchase now may be all that is available.

So, if you were ever thinking of purchasing this essential book, and haven’t….now may be the time.   Elly’s books command high prices once out of print, and I would suspect that your purchase might become an investment.  But, as any financial investor would caution, this is just a guess.




Lana Wool Thread by Aurifil

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about some threads I’d received from a major manufacturer.  I’m sure you could tell from my gushing that I love thread – to me it’s one of the essential components of my artists’ paint box.   Well, it was another unexpected surprise that I should receive a comment on that post from Alex Vernonelli, the Marketing Director for Aurifil Threads (www.aurifil.com), offering to send me some of their threads for my enjoyment.  So, after a few emails exchanged back and forth, and a  guy from FedEx was knocking on my door trying to give me a package while I was trying to get into the shower.  (Don’t care for that visual?  I don’t blame you.)

All the way from Milan, Italy was a box containing samples of the various threads Aurifil offers in different weights ranging from 50/2 to 12/2.  Now I will freely admit to you that one of the reasons I haven’t used Aurifil threads in my own applique is that they are two-ply.  I’m married to three-ply so it would take a lot to get me away from that.  Because I tug each stitch of my appliqué to get it to sink into the fabric…2-ply just hasn’t been strong enough.  So, I honestly cannot say that I am head over heals in love with their cotton threads. (Sorry Alex!  I warned you I’d be honest.)  I know that many of my co-appliquists simply swear by them because they are very fine, and almost translucent.  I’m just not a fan.

Lana Wool Threads

But, included in that box was a treasure that I’d never really seen or tried before.   Included  were some spools of Aurifil Lana wool threads for working wool appliqué.  They are actually 50% wool and 50% acrylic and at 12/2 they aren’t as thick as pearl cotton but they seem quite strong because of the addition of the acrylic.  And, with thread this thick I’m not so picky about it being two-ply.  It seemed to glide right through the felted wool I tested. 

 I wasn’t in love with the color threads they sent me, but they did send me a color card so I know that nice colors are available.  In fact, there is a collection of 12 country colors that Irish/French quilt designer Marianne Byrne has selected to coordinate with wool felt that are beautiful.

"Cinnamon Inspirations" by M Byrne

If you need further inspiration, Marianne has a book called Cinnamon Inspirations out that has patterns for several projects sewn with these threads.  I happened to see a copy at Prairie Queens Quilt Shop (prairiequeensquilts.com), and am tempted to pick up a copy just to try some of the ideas.

So there you have it.  Another tool for us to all experiment with.  If you do wool applique, why don’t you tell us a little about the threads you prefer to use.  California isn’t a real hot-bed of wool applique…I think it has something to do with the perennial spring like weather…but, I could be tempted.  And, as Mr. Bennett would have said, if any other thread manufactuers want me to try out their threads…send them in; I’m quite at my leisure. 


Mapledurham Estate

The Almshouses at Mapledurham

If any of you watch Masterpiece Mystery on PBS, you may have seen the recent airing of The Blue Geranium, a delightful Miss Marple who-done-it.  In fact, if you missed it I believe you can still view (at least for a limited time) it on your home computer if you go to the PBS website at http://video.pbs.org/ and select The Blue Geranium under the heading of “Masterpiece”. 

This particular rendition of the Agatha Christie classic is near and dear to my heart because it features as one of its locations the wonderful Mapledurham Estate which I’ve written about previously.    And, in more than one scene, you have wonderful views of the Mapledurham Waterwheel as well a photos of the manor house. 

Since the late 1990’s, I’ve stayed at one or another of the various cottages that Mapledurham has offered for holiday rentals.   Whenever I’ve led a group to the UK, we have stayed at these cottages often renting several neighboring cottages at the same time so that everyone could have their own space.  

I cannot even tell you how many quilts I’ve worked during my various stays.  Or how many wonderful dinners we’ve had with friends circled around the dining table.   It seems that as soon as we opened the doors to these charming country cottages that we are on a mission to make them our home, filling them with flowers and our recently-purchased antique treasures. 

So it was with great sadness that I learned this past spring that Mapledurham will no longer be offering its cottages as holiday rentals and has opted to long-term arrangements.  Thankfully, we learned news of the closure when we had the opportunity to stay one more time.  So, we took full advantage of breathing in every aspect of this delightful part of England.  I am sure that you will then understand that it was with a small tear that I revisited this place again in the PBS airing.   

I’m on the lookout for a new home-away-from-home cottage rental now…so, if any readers have special information on cottages available in the Berkshire, UK area, please pass that information along to me.  Our main requirement is that it feel like home. 


P.S.  Special thanks to Lola for all the years of her welcoming us to Mapledurham.

Sorry to take so take in telling you who the lucky winner of the V&A Commorative Panel is….but, Margaret M is the lucky winner of the 4th of July Giveway.  So, Margaret, I will contact you vial email for your snail mail address.  Once I have that your little panel will whosh its way to your mail box where I hope it gets transformed into a real momento of this amazing exhibit.  And, if you happen to get further along with it than I have with mine…please send me a photo. 

Thanks for all that posted.  I’ll look around and see if there isn’t something else I can offer up for a future giveaway.  And, for all of you in the US…I hope you had a terrific holiday and were able to keep cool in this unusually warm weather.


New Threads

New Threads by Coats US/Rowan

I’ve seen a couple of folks post about these new threads from Coats US/Rowan, but it was still a very pleasant surprise when I got my very own set of two boxes of this new thread in the mail last week as part of a press announcement.  

In the past I’ve written about my love of Coats threads available in Europe.  (See penelopetucker.wordpress.com/2010/04/19/a-little-souvenir-give-away.)  But, when I have gone to my local sewing craft store I have found Coats thread but in very limited color selections.  But, it seems that they have been listening to us quilters and are offering four collections of threads based on the fabrics manufactured by Rowan.   “Soul Blossoms” and “Love” coordinate with Amy Butler fabrics, while “Circus” and “Stones” coordinate with fabrics designed by Kaffe Fassett. 

Coats/Rowan Thread Collections

So it was with great anticipation that I opened these darling boxes of thread and put them to the test.  I think it goes without saying that the colors are rich and full-bodied.  But, one bit of information isn’t identified in the literature…and that is the ply of the thread.  

If you’ve read my other blogs you know that I treasure 50 wt/3-ply thread for its strength.  As an applique instructor I encourage my students to forgo the thinner threads for the thicker 50/3 variety because I feel that the work will withstand the rigors of use and washing.   But, a few of the major manufacturers have sought ways to reduce the cost of production and gone from 3-ply to 2-ply.  But, I quickly opened one of the sweet little boxes and unfurled the end of one of the threads and rejoiced to find that it is 3-ply.  Yippeee. 

Another little nod to this thread comes from the fact that it seems to coordinate very well with the Amy Butler solid fabrics  also released by Rowan.     These solids come in two weights, one for quilting and another for home furnishings and come in those yummy ice cream colors that Amy is so well-known for.  Check out her range by going to www.amybutlerdesign.com/products/fabrics_solids.php.   I can just see a beautiful, and updated, two color quilt made from solids from her collection.  Now you have the perfect thread to coordinate.  Double Yippeee. 

So, I’m a happy camper and my obsession for thread has been fed.   Thank you Rowan for your generosity. 


"Roseville Album" by Kim McLean

If you are an avid blogger, you’ll know that this is old news.  But, if you only drop by once in a while I may be presenting you with a new discovery.  As of this last Sunday, Kim McLean (of Australian quilting fame)  made available her latest pattern release, Roseville Album.  I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s a magnificent pattern for us appliquists…and will only further the damage to my brain as I attempt to decide what to do next.  Oh, hands….don’t fail me now. 

And, as I do a little blog search to find out more information on the pattern..I learn that there are two more patterns (Sprigs and Stars, and Flower Garden) that Kim McLean will be releasing in the next year or so.  Both undoubtedly just as wonderful as the others she’s done.  Keep an eye out.  If you want to know where you can get this pattern, along with her other releases…go to www.gloriouscolor.com.  And, tell them Penny sent you.   I already ordered mine.

And, if you haven’t already read my recent post about my giveway…scroll down. 


 P.S.  Thanks to Kathie from Inspired by Antique Quilts for being the scooper on this news.

Final Trip Giveaway

V & A Commemorative Panel

With only nine days remaining for the V&A Quilt Exhibit (www.vanda.ac.uk), it’s too late to encourage you all to purchase a plane ticket and hop the pond to see the show.  Instead, I’m going to commemorate the exhibit by offering one more little gift from my trip to giveaway to my loyal readers.  

 Up for grabs is one of the preprinted  panels that the V&A Museum produced to commemorate the exhibit (above).    Printed on 100% silk rather than the expected cotton, this panel could be the center of a medallion quilt, a pillow, or just something kept in your undies drawer…heck you could probably made undies from it if you’re a size zero (which I am not).  To put your hat in the ring, all you need to do is leave a post on how you might use this little souvenir.   I will pick the lucky winner on the exhibit closing date of July 4th. 

So, best of luck to you and (as they say in England) Bob’s your uncle *. 

— Penny 

* for a translation of the British phrase “and Bob’s your uncle”, click on en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob’s_your_uncle  You’ll amaze your friends with your new-found knowledge.