Wednesday, February 22, 2017

One Lump, Or Two?

Any American girl, who grew up watching Jane Austin type classics, can identify with the feeling of awe when watching the exchange of niceties between two well-breed, fine ladies at tea time. The romantic mental image that comes to mind is that of the host asking her perfectly perched guest if she would like a spot of tea? As any proper lady, who is the epitome of utmost decorum would do, follows the previous question with... "would you like one lump or two"?

I remember the very first time that I came to visit Germany. My future mother-in-law had produced the most delightful spread of afternoon treats for the occasion. While it was not the traditional ritual of perfect-picture refinement and etiquette, I felt the inner girl in me beam with delight, when I noticed, sitting there before me was a bowl full of lumps... sugar cubes to be exact, which is something that is not so commonly found on the other side of the pond. 

Perhaps it goes without saying that these two paper pieced tea cups remind me of that deeply engraved memory, and why their addition in my Penny Quilt, is just another way that this quilt is continues to tell my own personal story.

If you are familiar with American culture, then you know that tea is not such a deep seeded tradition. Our culture seems to be more about take-it-on-the-go Starbucks coffee, rather than high tea in the afternoon. Perhaps it could stem from, as I learned in one of my history classes long ago, that ever since the British Tea Party, that Americans gradually moved away from tea, and moved towards it's alternative caffeine source of coffee. Since living in Germany, tea has actually become very much a part of my everyday.

Speaking of tea... I had mentioned last week that I was considering tea staining some of my fabrics... don't you think it's quite fitting to talk about it now? Since several of my favorite, go-to low volumes tend towards white, they just don't work for the vintage look that I am going for in this quilt top. So, here's what I've found from my experiments:

You can see the original fabric on the left. I first started with leaving the fabrics in the tea for an hour. Once I pulled them out, they were simply too dark and too reddish for what I wanted. I then changed the type of tea, and tried for only 10 minutes, since I didn't want the fabrics as dark as the first batch. The color was more brownish, which is what I was going for, but still too dark even after 10 minutes. So, I threw the same fabrics back in only for 1 minute, and got the color that I was looking for. I used a Darjeeling tea on the 1 hour batch, which is a very light colored black tea, even in the cup. Even though Ceylon or Assam teas are darker, they gave the the right shade that I was looking for in the 1 minute/10 minute batch. I did notice on the Carolyn Friedlander Ledger fabric (bottom row) that the tea stained the fabric in a mottled look, which can be quite fitting for this use, but may not be desirable for other projects.

What category do you fall into... an on-the-go coffee drinker or do you prefer slowing down for an afternoon tea? Any hot beverage stories?

Linking up this week to Let's Bee Social and Stitched In Color.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Purple Heart

The purple heart is a medal of honor that is awarded to those who have been wounded or killed in service. For me, it is a symbol of bravery and courage at a level that is often so beyond oneself. When I started making the "Heart Quartet" block for my Penny Sampler quilt, somehow I kept coming back to that one heart just "needed" to be purple. My original direction was about the color, but then it became about this block telling my own personal story.

Only those who have picked up and left what was once called home, the people that they love and care for, and even the way of life, to live somewhere else, can truly comprehend the depth of what it means to do so. Many have told me that I am brave to have made such a step. From the inside, it doesn't always feel like that. It's true that my daily struggles and emotions of living and operating in a foreign country have often felt like a daily battle.

Before I knew it, I was making a block that represents me with my "boys". I am the one who is different from the rest, the purple heart, shining with courage... the courage that it took to follow my heart and leave everything behind. The map background fabric represents the long journey that I took to be with the man who completes me in every way.

There are several other blocks that I feel are very personal to me too, and tell more of my story. Perhaps it's quite fitting for such a quilt to find it's home in the room that I share with my family, and one of the most used rooms in the house. 

Do you have any personal stories of bravery and courage?
Linking up this week to Let's Bee Social.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Penny Sampler

Did you ever have a quilt that sat on your to-do list for a really long time?... I'm talking about more than just the flavor-of-the-month long time, but over a year or two long time? If you were to look at the quilts on my bucket list, I would have to say that I am a total sucker for a sampler quilt. While I love modern, bright, and bold fabrics in super saturated colors, there is a certain appeal to me to give those traditional quilts that inspired today's quilting movement a big nod.

It turns out that the Penny Sampler quilt from Rachel at Stitched in Color has been that on-my-brain quilt for quite a while now. I had actually almost purchased it last year, but because I had other things on my plate, I filed it away in the back of my mind. Well, it just wouldn't go away, and when Rachel posted that she would be doing another class... seriously, what was a girl to do? The pattern is set up as a six month, twelve month, or an on your own plan. I started out with the on your own version, but might switch to the six month group so I can join in on the fun.

This quilt will make it in my living room, and adorn a spot beside my highly honored and daily used quilt that my aunt made me. As I have been working on this quilt, there are several blocks that I feel like relate to my own personal story. Somehow this block makes me think of a neighboring German village:

My vision for this quilt is to actually stay with toned down and less saturated colors... I would really like this quilt to have the look of an heirloom that has been in the family for years. You really have no idea how hard it is to stay away from those strong popping color contrasts. I have used several Alison Glass batiks that I've been saving for just the right project. Instead of bright yellow, a muted gold takes its place. I have even thought about tea staining a few of the background fabrics to give it a worn look, but we'll just have to see if that actually happens.

My Penny Sampler is just one of my yearly goals projects, and I think a nice finish at your own pace project for the year.

Linking up to Let's Bee Social.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Mein Hase

Even though there are million things swirling around on my to-do list with my second pattern launch about a month away, I decided to squeeze in a quick baby present. My oldest son's teacher just had a sweet baby girl, and I just couldn't get this adorable bunny out of my head as the perfect welcoming gift. I adore paper piecing, and this bunny from the mini woodland bundle was the first thing that came to mind, not to mention that Juliette's patterns are so well done.

I enlarged the pattern so that it was a better fit for a14" pillow, and used soft blush shades to leave know doubt that this is for a sweet princess. When I make a paper piecing block, I actually give a lot of thought to fabric placement. I thought that it would be fitting, and wanted to highlight the "life together" text print, since that's what adding a bundle of joy to the family actually means.

I finished it off with a envelope closure using Carolyn Friedlander's Grid Diamond print in Ice Peach Metallic from her Carkai collection.

As part of my yearly goal, I quilted this with FMQ swirls again... practice makes perfect, right? Free motion quilting on small projects like this are not the challenge for me, but quilting a larger quilt. Perhaps practicing on smaller projects like this will help me with the big ones (fingers crossed)

In Germany those enduring pet names that you might call your loved ones are quite different than what you would hear in the States. Instead of names like sweetheart, honey, sugar, etc. the names are usually animals like bunny (Hase), mouse (Maus), or sparrow (Spatz). So, it's fun for me to think that this pillow could possibly be "für einen kleinen Hasen". (for a little bunny)

Linking up this week to Let's Bee Social.
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