Sunday, June 21, 2009

New Gourmet Textiles: Wool & Silk

Good evening.
Happy Father's Day Eve! We have a big day planned for Wesley, starting with a yummy Blueberry French Toast breakfast, a few special gifts, and about a dozen handmade cards carefully colored by Matthew. In anticipation of the "Dad's big day", I'm sending the newsletter out early.

New arrivals continue to pour through the door,including many of the items we purchased at last month's Market. Our shop has a fresh look for summer, with dozens of lovely quilt samples adorning the walls and hanging from the ceiling.

With all of the pretty cotton fabrics to pick from, you'd think I'd be busy stitching cotton quilts. Instead, I'm preoccupied with a pair of new fibers: wool & silk.

We've dabbled in wool for a couple of years now, and I often use wool applique on cotton quilts. I like the extra texture and dimension it adds, and it is really nice to work with. When felted (essentially, "pre-shrunk"), the fibers snuggle up tightly, and the raw-edges can be neatly blanket-stitched by hand or machine.

We found so many nice wool items at Market that we couldn't resist expanding our wool merchandise.

We're especially excited about our new Wool Pincushion of the Month program (click here for details). Our first shipment of wool from Mary Flanagan for the pincushions arrived this week (see photo left), so we should be ready to start soon. Everyone was amazed by the soft, pliable, rich feeling of this wool... you can really tell that is is top-quality.

And, some vibrant new wool pillow kits just arrived from Woolylady. I started working on "Pop Art Posies" (top photo), and decided to stitch the applique by hand rather than machine. I'm using two strands of a variegated embroidery floss, and my blanket stitch is getting better with practice.

Also new: silk fat quarters, and quilt kits by della Q. We met Della Quimby at Quilt Market, and we were inspired by her beautiful taffeta silks. Her company "della Q" is very well known in the knitting world, as she designs and sells exquisite silk knitting needle bags.
Her company also has a strong connection to an amazing charitable cause: "When you purchase a della Q product, a portion of your proceeds are donated to Vietnam Quilts, a non-profit organization that trains low-income and rural Vietnamese women in the art of quilting, and provides them with a means to a steady income."

Della recently traveled to Vietnam with Sue Spargo and Wendy Morris to teach applique skills to seventeen women, and is already making plans for the next trip.

Sewing with silk is surprisingly easy. The washable silk is backed with a lightweight, fusible interfacing, and Della recommends a smaller needle size such as 75-11 or 70-10. You do need to be careful to pin only within the seam allowances, as taffeta silk holds pin holes. Accordingly, the silk quilts tend to be simple geometric designs to perfectly highlight the exquisite beauty of the taffeta.

So, what do you think? Are you ready to try something new? Cotton fabrics are staples in every quilter's creative pantry... wool & silk sit on the spicy side... a delicious medley of fibers at your fingertips!

This photo shows the Woolylady finished "Pop Art Posies" pillow. Click here for the rest of the Woolylady patterns & kits. I decided to stitch this pillow by hand, because I love relaxing feeling of the silky floss as it slides through the soft wool. But, Lisa explained that she stitches all of her projects on the machine with Aurifil Lana Wool thread. Click here for our current selection of the thread. We'll be expanding our selection soon... as we need more "brights" to compliment these vibrant wools.

Della kindly let us borrow some of her beautiful quilts. This stunning quilt called "Pina Colada", and the Green version of "Mai Tai" can be viewed at the shop for only a few more days. Click here for information about the kits, and to view our silk fat quarter assortment. We also ordered some stunning specialty ribbon at market, and it just arrived. We're planning on making some pretty silk runners using the ribbon as a focal point. I'll feature these in a future newsletter. Della also had a beautiful little silk bag made using the black, black & white check, and just a hint of silver as an accent. Click here to see the bag.

Have a great week! ~ Laura, Wesley & the Staff at Dakota Cabin Quilts