Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Oh Those Gorgeous Threads!!!

     Colorful threads neatly lined up, draw me in as if I were headed for a butter pecan sundae. I'm sure that if you are reading this newsletter you too are drawn in by colorful threads. This obsession goes back to my big box of crayons and packages of construction paper I cherished as a kid and still keep around for the grand kids! 

     Colorful thread and needles are usually a topic people bring up when they see my quilts. So, let's discuss this.

      Recently I visited with a group of ladies for a class of the Vase of Beauties pattern. Some created it in the colors I used, but the majority used wools of their color choice. I love seeing the personalities the quilts take on through the backgrounds and colors the maker uses. We started talking about stitches and they all mentioned that they were in need of size 8 threads for the stitches we were about to do. 

     As I discussed thread with them I took out my containers of Sue Spargo's Eleganza Threads by Wonderfil. The colors are rich, not washed out. The variegated are especially nice to use to add more impact to a stitch. The threads have a beautiful sheen to them and I found that I was not the only one that fell in love with these threads! It is worth taking time to see what is available in perle cotton threads before you start adding embroidery to a favorite project. The thread can make a big difference. 

     I have encouraged my wool and cotton appliqué  friends to add stitches to their work because it makes a more interesting piece. I suggest stitches in my patterns, but once you learn them you can be a free spirit in adding them wherever and however you want to. There are two books that I have used to learn stitches. They are Creative Stitching by Sue Spargo and The Right-Handed Embroiderer's Companion by Yvette Stanton.  I also use an app on my iPhone that is called Embroidery Library by C&T Publishing. 

     Currently the needles I use most of the time are size 24 Chenille needle and the #1 Milliner's needle. The brand I recommend is Clover. When adding cotton appliqué pieces to my work I use a Straw Needle. I travel all over with those basic needles. You can however, have variety of sizes of stitches by switching thread and needle sizes. Mary Corbet had a great post showing differences of french knots on a work she was creating. See it on her website  Needle n Thread  

Now that I have explained about the threads, 

here are a few photos of the Tuscany Poppies. 

     Ginger Mangie and I are providing an opportunity to learn embroidery stitches in a relaxing setting this coming April 15-17. Stitches in Bloom is a Getaway taking place at Punderson State Park Manor House in Newbury, Ohio. The lodge has a modern addition of rooms and meeting areas with great, big windows. The restaurant serves wonderful food and it looks out at Punderson Lake. Two classes will be taught and an open studio is available with some stitch instruction time while you create your own piece. My other patterns are available for studio time too!
     Check out the Felice Quilt Designs website. We would love to have you join us.  The deadline for registration is March 1, 2016. Look

Fun Flower Tote by Ginger Mangie

Vase of Beauties by Felice Troutman

Detail Vase of Beauties

Have fun with your stitches,

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

THE Quilt Show! Inspiration Overload!

     October was the month for lots of quilt shows, but the one that has been on my bucket list is the Houston International Quilt Festival. This show really got my mind rocking and my heart beating! The quilts were beautiful. The vendors had the latest fabrics and it made you feel like you need to run to your sewing room and start something immediately.   

 Welcome to Texas! 

     The shopping opportunities were huge. I picked up a wool and cotton palette for the quilt I will start when Tuscany is complete. I'm on the last block, but the biggest one. AND lots more!!!!  (If you are interested in seeing parts of Tuscany you can do that on Instagram or Facebook for Felice Quilt Designs.)

     If you have not had the opportunity to go to Houston for this show I recommend it for whatever style of quilt you create. You will see photos of all styles. There was even a wool on cotton quilt with lots of embroidery embellishment. That said to me.... the techniques that I do, have made it to the big show. 

     I travelled to Houston by way of Chicago. My friends Susan, Maryann and I picked up Karen in Chicago. It was great spending time with them, but an added plus was that we got to chat with quilters from all over the United States as well as a gal in the elevator from Australia, a South American quilter during breakfast, a new friend from New Hampshire and three lovely Texas gals while we enjoyed our Chai Latte. Quilters love talking quilts, quilt shops and family! Many quilts are gifted to family, so I understand how it runs that course. 

Here are a few of the quilts. You can tell I like bright colors.....

BEST OF SHOW by Janet Stone 
"Ewe Are My Sunshine"

Peaks and Valleys 2 by Maren Johnston

by Linda Engstrom

Rio Rosie by Maryann Herndon

Emma's Garden by Debbie Shives was displayed in the Primitive Quilts

Long Winter Flower Basket Sampler
Wool on Cotton by Eileen Daniels
Lots of beautiful stitches by 

     Another quilt show I attended was the Mutton Hill Quilt Show in Akron, Ohio. It was the first year for this show and was established by the Summit County Historical Society. There were a large variety of categories so I decided to enter "Eat Your Veggies" and "Yummy Fruit". I was very happy to receive a First Place in the Duet category for Veggies and a Second Place ribbon for Yummy Fruit. Both of these quilts were quilted by Eva Birch on her long arm . The dates for next year's show are October 22-23, 2016. 
Here are my quilts. ( Patterns and kits are available at  www.felicequiltdesigns.com )

Yummy Fruit


     Now that the Quilt Shows have slowed down, quilters are thinking about getting busy working on new projects and finishing old ones. A great opportunity to do that is a Getaway!

Ginger Mangie and I are sponsoring a Getaway April 15-17, 2016 at Punderson State Park Manor House in NE Ohio. If you are interested please go the the website www.wildsidestitching.com or www.felicequiltdesigns.com to get the registration form and sign up. We would love to have you join us for the hand stitching classes or open studio. 
Registration deadline has been moved to December 1, 2015.

I hope you enjoyed the quilts and are planning your projects for the winter months.
Happy Stitching,

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

One More Stitch?

One More Stitch? That is the question!

I love creating detail and texture with embroidery stitches on my wool appliqué quilts. Sometimes the problem is that I get to a point and ask myself, "Is that enough?"
If I do not add enough stitches the shape is flat, and if I add too many stitches I may end up with a big blur and an unclear image. Right now I am at that point with the Sunflowers block for my Tuscany Quilt. Perhaps you can help me out.

I recently went on a family vacation to the beach with my kids and grandkids and kept pretty busy. It was a wonderful time seeing the grandkids go in the ocean for the first time. Within a few minutes they were boogie boarding with smiles on their faces. Those smiles were great. Even baby Mazie and I had a good time watching the birds. However, there wasn't much time for stitching. I did however contemplate what I would do once I did start stitching.

On the trip home I was able to be passenger for a while and started some serious stitching and deciding three things:

1. where would stitches be important
2. which color threads would work the best (did I want the color to contrast or be more subtle)
3. which stitches would I use. 
Here is a starting photo when I was making decisions about placement of the pieces on the block. It is sitting on the ironing board ready to fuse.

A start on the first sunflower with the Palestrina stitch on the edges of the petals and the Stem stitch inside the petals for detail.

The Back stitch was used to create the veining on the leaf. The Bullion stitch is on the border in a dark blue to contrast in value with the green.

Here's the big question. How many french knots are needed? 
The fabric on the heads was used to add color. The center has green, then the outside has a variegated golden brown. The middle Sunflower now has variegated rust knots. The smaller flower is in progress.

So, what would you do? Is the top Sunflower done or does the middle one, with the rust french knots added, look complete? I would love to hear your comments. 

I will get started on the next block, while I wait for your response.

If you are interested in seeing more of the blocks from the Tuscany block, look back at past posts and also LIKE Felice Quilt Designs Facebook page for progress photos. You can also sign up for my newsletter with workshop and getaway opportunities on my website. www.felicequiltdesigns.com

I plan on having this pattern done by the end of August. Do you think people would be interested in a kit for the pattern? Let me know and I will see what I can do. 

I appreciate all your comments. Have a good week stitching!


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Value of a Stitch

It's been a good start to the week. I have been happily creating Poppies. 

     My quilts as of now have been Seasons, Coral Reef, Yummy Fruits and Eat Your Veggies. I started designing about a year ago. It was time to jump to another subject. This time I'm revisiting our trip to Italy. Any of you who have been there are probably longing to go back and wander the Tuscan hills as I am. Perhaps there's a Tuscany Getaway in the future! Anyone interested?


So, where do I begin? I wander through my hundreds of photos and then work up a folder with what are my favorites. I must pick through those to see which really show a good variety of subject matter and of course COLOR to put into a wool quilt.

After deciding on the photos I gather my materials....meaning beautiful colors of hand dyed felted wool and fabrics that go with the theme I have chosen. The cotton fabrics I have picked are by Silvia Vassileva for P&B Textiles. It is called Silvia's Sonnet and I just love it! The wool is not just any wool, but beautifully dyed wool by in the Patch designs. When you have a vision for a project you need the right materials. 

   I'm on my way with fabric in hand. The first blocks were taken from images in Florence at a the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. It includes the Dome designed by Filippo Brunelleschi. It is an amazing piece of architecture and worth climbing to the top of the Cupola and see the view of Florence. The outside of the cathedral is made of pink, white and green marble. Beautiful. Here's a link if you want to learn more about the Cathedral. We visited numerous cathedrals and saw amazing details. 

 Once images are put into pattern pieces where do you go? There is such a difference when you add embroidery stitches and that is something that I want to stress to those working with wool appliqué. Give it a try and you will notice a big difference. There are beautiful threads available to the embroidery audience and many tutorials. The Stitch of the Month page on my website is available to you for learning new stitches. Stitch of the Month 

 This is a door handle that I spotted walking down a street. I couldn't resist including it in my new wall quilt. 


A finished wool piece can be hand quilted, machine quilted or recently people are trying the "big stitch" quilting technique. At this point I am not thinking about the quilting but happy to keep working on the Poppies. 
Happy Stitching this week! 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Yummy Fruit is complete. Now on to Tuscany!!!!!!

Hello! I imagine many of you have been outside the past few weeks watching as the landscape changes. I have. 

Things are blooming everywhere and I love to take closeup photos of the flowers around me. I am amazed at how detailed each flower is and the translation to wool appliqué and embroidery seems like an easy thing. Here are some recent photos from my garden. Can you think of stitches you would use to reproduce some of the details you see?

In my last post I showed you how I use photos to gain ideas and also details. Today I will show you "Yummy Fruit", the final wall quilt. I had taken some time off from stitching to write up the pattern for this and also "Eat Your Veggies". Both are on my website if you are interested in a pattern. www.felicequiltdesigns.com 
Yummy Fruit
Eat Your Veggies
Tuscany corner block

I have designed a new piece and it will be a larger one than what I have created before. It includes many of the photo images I shot while on vacation in Tuscany, Italy two years ago. For those of you that have visited Italy, you too, must have wonderful photos to remind you of the trip. If you are from Italy I hope it brings back great memories. 

 I am simplifying the shapes and created the piece in colors I remember from my trip. I hope you enjoy seeing it as the piece comes together. Here's one of the corner blocks. I plan on doing a little bit more stitching on this one.

The stitches I used on this block are Bullion, Stem and Pekinese.

 My website gives instructions on how to create the three stitches listed. Check it out on the Stitch of the Month page. 

Now is the time to get outside with your cameras and look for details. Even if you use someone else's pattern you can still add your own details to enhance the quilt with more visual information and YOUR creativity!!! 
Have fun!  

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

You Can Do It! Use Your Photographs for Designing a Quilt

     Good Afternoon! It's Tuesday and we had a beautiful sunny, high of 50 degree day yesterday, however today is very gray. Our new weatherman on the local TV station mentioned rain for today. So far, there's no rain but I'm not rushing out the door as I did yesterday to get out in the sun and get things done around town.

      How's the weather where you are? Any signs of flowers coming up? I can't wait. Love my flowers!

     Flowers and living things are on my mind recently, but the focus is on Italy. I travelled there a few years ago and would love to return sometime, especially to Tuscany. Memories of winding hills, vineyards, flower boxes in windows, hillside towns with amazing doors and stone work are images I think of. You all know the colors that shout Tuscany. Burnt orange, deep and light greens, blue Tuscan skies, sunflower yellow. I could go on.

     Since there isn't a trip planned in the near future I decided to dig into the nine hundred or so photos I took while there and see what I could come up with for a Tuscany Quilt. It is now designed and I am gathering fabrics, cottons and wool, but have a good start. 

     If you have a favorite place you have visited and what to create your quilt with those photos, then DO IT!!!! I taught high school art and photography for many years and that's what my kids would say to you because they heard it from me many times. You really can do this!

Let's get your images together first. This describes my process for the Fruit Quilt I am working on.
1. Gather your favorite photos, perhaps start with ten.

2. Arrange them on a table in an order similar to how you would in the quilt. 

3. What is the main subject of the photo and can you simplify it down to basic shapes? If you can do that, you've got it made. If not, move on to another photo. Sometimes images are pretty complicated and just have too much in them. Shoot simple one or two subject photos for quilt designing of wool quilts with embroidery. Remember that the embellishment will add all the detail you need. OR you can crop the photo too. Remove those that just don't work.

4. Now that you have sorted through the photos think about the colors of the subjects. Is there a variety of color. If many of the subjects have the same color you may want to make changes or make it a monochromatic quilt. Move the photos around to compose a rectangle or square with the photos.

5. Once you like the arrangement grab piece of paper and do a rough sketch. Yes, I said rough. Don't stress! It's only for placement and sizes. Some blocks might be rectangular while others are square. Do you want one block to be the main subject. Put that one in place first then.
Really rough sketch!

6. How big do you want the blocks? Think about your other works. I usually go with no larger than 12". I draw the individual block borders on tracing paper. Once I have a good sketch I  draw the basic shapes of the objects on the tracing paper. Remember don't worry about details. 

Tracing paper shapes for kiwi
7. Arrange your quilt blocks on your design wall or floor and decide if that's the placement you want. Do the sizes of the subjects in the blocks seem big enough? If not, try looking at your computer with the digital photo on the screen and enlarge it. Give yourself the opportunity to put down the basic shape the size you want it to be by tracing it from the screen image. 

8. Think about inner borders and make sure to add those to your sketch if you want them.

9. Work with your blocks on the tracing paper remembering to refine the shapes to simple ones. The embellishment will add all the detail you need. 

10. You now need to look at those photos and shop for fabric!!!! I use cotton and wools and love combining the two. Sometimes I will add inner simple shapes for added embellishment. 
Wools from www.In the Patch Designs.com

Here are a few photos of a Fruit Quilt I am working on. Remember it's in the beginning stage where I am stitching the pieces to the background. I will have this in a pattern in the near future on my website www.felicequiltdesigns.com

Cotton applique pieces ready to stitch onto the background

Kiwi with the shapes stitched in place and ready for embellishment
At this point I stitch down all the shapes to the blocks and then begin to plan the embellishment stitch I will use for each part and the colors of thread I need. When it is completed I will post it here. What do you think so far? Are you interested in a Fruit Quilt?

Happy Designing! Remember, shoot simple one or two subject photos and have fun using your photos to create your own works.