Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The A-Word

Occasionally in a class I get a die-hard student who resists the idea of attempting any and all handwork. She calls hand quilting "a four-letter word" and applique "the A-word." Honestly, chatter about the difficulty level of these quilting skills is way over-rated! Both are quite do-able, especially if you just relax and don't hold yourself to an impossible degree of perfection. Progress, that's all I want--not perfection! That said, I did the A-word yesterday as I worked on a new class sample. Just two points of advice: use a nice strong thin needle, like a #10 Milliner (also called a Straw needle) and thread that absolutely, exactly, matches the color of the to-be-appliqued fabric. Can't miss. 

The last week in January 2011, I get the opportunity to teach quilting on Ocracoke Island.  We're making a variation of the classic North Carolina Lily pattern in our three-day workshop beginning Wednesday January 26 at the Ocracoke Community Center. My block is more of a tribute to the common Day Lily than any fancy flower. If you haven't heard of Ocracoke, this small island is about 22 miles from the mainland of North Carolina. Famous for its wild ponies and its pirate history--Blackbeard was killed there--Ocracoke is a magical place. I'll drive to the ferry at Cedar Island and about two hours, fifteen minutes later, will arrive on Ocracoke. 

For info on the upcoming class, re-named the NC Island Lily, contact Marcy Brenner, at Marcy, a quilter and member of the Ocracoke Thread & Needle Club, is a musician with her partner Lou Castro. Together they are the duet Coyote and she's also the newest member of Molasses Creek. You've heard Marcy sing if you saw the movie Nights in Rodanthe. Please also email Amy Howard at as a back-up since Marcy is often on the road singing.

By the way, if your local quilt store doesn't stock #10 Milliner needles, don't despair. They're available by mail order from the Colonial Needle Company at this link .Go to 'Hand Needles' and scroll down. 

Just for fun, I've included some pictures of other North Carolina Lily quilts, most vintage but a few modern. The red, white, and green one is from my collection and is the "ancestor" block of the pattern we'll be sewing on Ocracoke

Other Lily quilt pictures.

From the collection of Kathy Sullivan. This one has lots of leaves.

Here's a huge 1850s Lily quilt that I found in Southport, NC and saved from being cut into pillows! In the picture it's hanging sideways.) This antique quilt begat the piece below. I call it 'Wild Lily.' No, I am not an applique expert--will leave that to my friend Pinky Porter, who followed my pattern and did the needleturn work expertly and now it's a wall hanging. 


  1. "Wild Lily" is wonderful! All of them are beautiful, though the more A-word the better:)

  2. Thank you. I am getting back to piecing a memorial quilt that I just couldn't finish for a few years, & I've decided that, as a tribute of love (because I've always wanted to & have been intimidated) I am going to hand quilt it when it's done.
    It will be my first attempt & it's king-sized. A little Quixotic, perhaps, but I will do my best.<3

  3. Thank you for a wonderful post! You've given me so much to think about...needles, a favorite quilt block I've put off sewing...a new movie to look for...and memories of a fun place I've visited! Hugs and happy stitching!