Thursday, January 7, 2016

Events Dedicated to the Art of Appliqué

There was a rumor going around recently saying that “the Elly Sienkiewicz Appliqué Academy in Williamsburg, VA is no more, because Elly has retired.”  The truth is that Elly has closed her yearly academy; however, she has inspired others to carry on this wonderful tradition, at Williamsburg and at other locations!

I know it’s true, because I am honored to be one of 12 applique artists invited to teach workshops at Academy of Appliqué 2016 in Williamsburg, and also Baltimore on the Prairie 2016 with other nationally known applique teachers.

Barbara Blanton will continue the Academy of Appliqué at Kingsmill Resort, Williamsburg, Virginia from February 29 - March 5, 2016, offering workshops for beginner, intermediate and advanced stitchers with nationally known, award winning instructors, plus an up close and personal tour to view quilts at the Museum of Colonial Williamsburg. More info:

Tresa Jones will carry on the appliqué tradition at Baltimore on the Prairie, September 21-24, 2016 at Lied Lodge & Conference Center, Nebraska City, NE, offering workshops with nationally known, award winning instructors, and a bus tour to the International Quilt Study Center. More info:

Kathy Dunigan will host The Kathy Dunigan Academy of Appliqué, Hilton Dallas/Rockwall Lakefront, Rockwall, Texas from February 1-6, 2016, offering workshops with “leading teachers, well known and new on the quilt scene, both hand and machine alike,” plus additional festivities. More info:

Appliqué is alive and thriving! I hope to see lots of applique enthusiasts at one or all of these events.

And another! Don't forget Applique Away on Galveston Bay! February 2016. Teachers are Pearl Pereira, Sue Garman and Margaret Willingham.
Keep Stitching!
Barbara M. Burnham

Monday, January 4, 2016

Choosing Fabrics for Applique Blocks

Applique students often ask me how I choose fabrics. That's a difficult question to answer. If you are trying to reproduce an antique quilt, or trying to match a photo that comes with a pattern, most of the fabric decisions are fairly easy - it’s just a matter of finding similar fabrics.

For this vase block in my book, Baltimore Garden Quilt, fabric choices were easy by following the antique quilt (also shown here) with reproduction fabrics available at the time.

If you want another color scheme, there are many inspirations and fabric choices.  It helps to know a bit about contrast, value, intensity, but there are no right or wrong choices, as long as the end result pleases YOU. Helpful books for learning to choose fabrics: Jinny Beyer's "Color Confidence for Quilters" and "The Scrap Look." Joen Wolfrom has also written several wonderful books on choosing color schemes for quilts.

This Baltimore Garden Vase is one of the blocks I will be teaching at the 2016 Academy of Appliqué, in Williamsburg, VA, so I am working up some different samples. One version is a simple color scheme in shades of pink and blue.

For another version, I want to find a feature fabric to make the vase center a focal point. Auditions begin with a pattern window cutout for the vase center.  Some fabrics are more promising than others.  This white dove could inspire a Christmas version.
A horse racing theme might be fun.

Chickens are popular, and the black background offers nice contrast.

I love bluebirds, but these are rejects – the birds get lost in a confusing background.



A bluebird with nest is too big – another reject.

But this little warbler has real potential! So I will cut this applique piece to feature her. Next step is to start finding fabrics to coordinate with her --

-- looking for bright red, red-orange, orange to gold, and greens from light to dark with olive tones. I won’t use them all, though. 

Appliqué takes a lot of your time and effort, and fabric costs $$$, so you might want an idea of what your final result will really look like before investing your efforts. Stacking fabrics that blend and coordinate is a good way to start.
For a complex block, I might take the time to paste a mockup – rough cutting chunks of fabric, and pasting them with gluestick to a pattern copy. The paper mockup will be my guide for fabric cutting and stitching, as well as inspiration on my sewing room wall.

There are many ways to approach fabric selection for applique - this is just one example. I'll try to post some more ideas soon.

Keep Stitching!
Barbara M. Burnham
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