Embroidered bluebirds help to feather one’s summer nest

Posted Sept. 14, 2009, at 5:48 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:25 a.m.

The bluebirds of happiness have been hovering in my needlework life these last few weeks. A friend and her husband completed work on a house in Corea recently.

The phrase “bluebirds of happiness” is a hallmark of my friend’s vocabulary. She uses it to describe events in life that send her off into the land of bliss. Building the house fell into that category. My friend spent many happy hours mulling over paint chips, dancing with pleasure when she refurbished an old wool carpet and a thrift shop sofa, and making delighted forays to Marden’s to see what she might find for very little money that would help feather her new summer nest.

With that idea in mind and wanting to do my part to keep the bluebirds of happiness in flight around my friend’s head, I turned to fabric and thread. I made a pair of white pillowslips and bought another pair, both to be embroidered in bird motifs.

Part of the fun of the project was leafing through my modest collection of iron-on embroidery transfers to find the perfect bird image to embroider on the pillowslips. As it turned out, I didn’t have a lot of bird motifs and the ones I did have were much more ornate and involved than I liked. I wanted something small and simple, something I could do in the small amount of time I had available each evening.

After much searching, my eye happened upon a test motif in “Small Floral Iron-on Transfer Designs” published by Dover Publications. It was a bird. A perfect bird. My bluebird of happiness.

Choosing the right shade of happy blue, and only blue, in which to work the bird motif was easy. I had a large spool of cotton embroidery floss in the perfect shade — not too light, not too dark, something akin to bachelor buttons.

A few touches of a hot iron and the outlines of the little birds were imprinted on the pillowslips in blue ink — little blue birds even before the embroidery began.

I used outline, straight and French knot stitches for the birds. And when they were finished, I could almost hear them chirp.

I wrapped them in tissue paper tucked them in a gift bag and took them to my friend. She opened the package as she sat on her porch enjoying a fine late summer day. Her pleasure at the gift fluttered around us — bluebirds of happiness.

Visit www.doverpublications.com to access information about embroider transfer pattern books, call your local bookstore.

Snippets

— The Jonathan Frost Gallery in Rockland will host the opening reception for its “Quilts and Textile Arts” show from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16, at the gallery. The juried show features the work of 24 fiber artists. Steve Lindsay will play the piano for the festive opening.

The next Wednesday, Sept. 23, beginning at 6 p.m., the gallery will host a fashion show of wearable items.

The exhibition includes traditional quilts, contemporary art quilts, applique work and hand-dyed wall hangings by Susan E. Atwater of Damariscotta; Kathleen Daniels of China Village; Mathea Daunheimer and Roxanne Wells, Thomaston; Jo Diggs of Portland; Janet B. Elwin of Walpole; Susan Gerhardt of South Thomaston; Betty Johnson of Rockland; Natasha Kempers-Cullen of Topsham; Phyllis Harper Loney of Round Pond; Jeanne-Marie Robinson of Northport; and Gail Galloway-Nicholson, Carrie Hedstrom, Diane Neil, Sarah Ann Smith and Nancy F. Wheelwright, all of Camden.

Blankets by Cynthia McGuirl of Thomaston and rugs by Mary Ann Small of Rockland also will be on display.

Many articles of clothing and fashionable accessories will be on display, including dresses, coats, jackets, capes, shawls, scarves, hats, bracelets, handbags and totes. The creators of these pieces are Barbara Beebe of Friendship, Katharine Cobey and Katherine Woodcock-Lynn, Cushing; Karen Martin, Camden; Elaine Pew, Alna; Anastasia Sulzhenko, Rockland; and Susan Atwater, Cynthia McGuirl, Diane Neil and Mary Ann Small.

The jury for the show consisted of gallery owner Jonathan Frost and expert quilter Janet B. Elwin, who helped found the New England Quilters Guild. She has written four books, including “Creative Triangles for Quilters” and “Hexagon Magic.” Entries were judged on overall effect and craftsmanship.

The show will remain on view through Saturday, Oct. 24, at Jonathan Frost Gallery, 21 Winter St., Rockland. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, except Wednesday, when it stays open until 8 p.m. Call 596-0800 for more.

— To learn more about a baseball-themed quilt signed by members of the 2009 Red Sox team being raffled to benefit the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, Mass., visit www.nequiltmuseum.org.

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