Peacock Details

The Peacock "border" details
The Peacock “border” details

As I mentioned the other day, I was able to piece in some of the small blocks.

It isn’t a very linear or straightforward process and there is a lot of fiddling that goes on.

One issue I am having is with measurements. I know each row is 3.5″ wide, so I have cut solids + seam allowance to make up that size with the small blocks. I still run short and have to add other pieces of fabric. I do like the texture the added seams give the piece. However, it is still annoying. I can’t figure out what I am doing wrong.

The Peacock "border" detail
The Peacock “border” detail

I didn’t put a small block on the end of the bottom (first) row and am kind of regretting that. I have a lot of small blocks I want to use and may need to go back and add one. However, the top right hand corner background area is pretty blank and may need some mall blocks there to lighten it up.

You can see the not all of the row ends are sewn on the right side. I am leaving the design open to add more small blocks. I didn’t do that on the left and may need to add some additional yardage to the ends. We’ll see. It may be that I concentrate the small blocks on the top and right.

I am adding different colored solids that kind of match the colors of the print fabrics on the edges and to fill in the background. I bought some solids from the line of fabric, but I have others that go with the fabrics as well. the shiny green solid you see above is one of the first fabrics I bought when I made my first quilt. I have been keeping it all this time and I think it is the right color for this piece.

I bought a lot of black with the intention of using black for the entire background. While I need to drape a piece of black up on the right-top, I decided that it will probably make the quilt too depressing. I am also thinking of using a variety of solids.

The dark blues at the top are ok, but the lavender might be too light.

The Peacock - in process, October 2016
The Peacock – in process, October 2016

PIQF 2016 Review

Last Sunday, I took some time to visit PIQF, the Pacific International Quilt Show put on by the Mancuso family. It was, again held at the Santa Clara Convention Center. I was pleased that there was no 49ers game (the stadium is across the street) as I had no interest in fighting THAT traffic.

It was the last day of the quilt show and I could tell all of the vendors were tired. I wasn’t able to find any Aurifil #2600 50wt and found that many of the vendors were out of the most popular items.

In general, I thought that the show showed a slight improvement this year. In terms of quilts shown, I found them brighter and more cheerful.

detail of Ophelia by Marilyn Farquhar, Heidelberg, Ontario, Canada
detail of Ophelia by Marilyn Farquhar, Heidelberg, Ontario, Canada

The machine work was still excellent and quiltmakers seem to continue to push the boundaries. The Best of Show was someone new this year, which also pleased me. There were new vendors and some vendors had been moved around.

The modern exhibit was really excellent and number of BAMers had quilts in that exhibit.

I saw many more Southern California and out of state quiltmakers showing than Northern California quiltmakers. I wonder about that: first, is my impression correct; second: why are more So-Cal and out of state people entering and are we Northern Californians not entering as much? I know I did not enter a quilt this year.

I drove with my SIL down to the show. She spent most of the show talking to longarm vendors. I got her take on the machines during lunch and the drives. I was really glad the show provided her the opportunity to talk to multiple vendors in one place. While she was doing that, I walked up and down nearby aisles and was able to look at most of the vendors and quilts while she got the information she needed from various longarm vendors.

Untitled by Linda Evans of Murrieta, Calif.
Untitled by Linda Evans of Murrieta, Calif.

I have always wanted to make a season quilt. I don’t know why, but I like the imagery of the seasons indicating the passage of time.

I am not sure I need to make a seasons quilt now as this one is really great. I love the curviness of the shapes and imagery. Of course, there were things I would do differently, so, perhaps, I do need to make one. 😉

Teal in the City by Elaine Lindsay, Cupertino Calif.
Teal in the City by Elaine Lindsay, Cupertino Calif.

I was pleased to see one Tula Pink City Sampler quilt,  Teal in the City by Elaine Lindsay, Cupertino Calif. Seeing this quilt inspired me to continue working on mine. I like the way Ms. Lindsay used a cohesive color palette. The blocks really fit together. I also like the different sashing colors for her blocks. That is a good idea. Seeing a done City Sampler in person also gives me an idea of the size. It is large but not crazy large. It would probably fit on our bed, if we needed another bed quilt. 😉

Cactus Fish, a collaboration between Freddy Moran and Alethea Ballard, Walnut Creek, Calif.
Cactus Fish, a collaboration between Freddy Moran and Alethea Ballard, Walnut Creek, Calif.

You might remember that I talked about Freddy Moran’s new ‘appliquilt’ style of work. I was pleased to see one of her quilts, Cactus Fish, a collaboration with Alethea Ballard, in this style at the show. It was one of the quilts she showed in July. I just can’t remember if it was finished at the time or if it was still in progress.

One day isn’t really enough. I walked down a couple of rows twice, once by myself and once with SIL. I found myself not remembering the quilts I had already seen. I consider myself someone with a good visual memory. I may need to rethink that. There is a lot of visual stimulation at a quilt show and even I couldn’t take it all in in one day.

Some themes I noticed:

  • several Peacock quilts
  • Ophelia by Marilyn Farquhar, Heidelberg, Ontario, Canada
    Ophelia by Marilyn Farquhar, Heidelberg, Ontario, Canada

    secondarily, a number of interesting animal quilts – not in a photorealism style, which I appreciated

  • fewer dark landscape quilts
  • less photorealism
  • fewer art quilts, though the ones I did see were interesting.
  • I noticed a number of brighter, more whimsical quilts
  • There was a lot more negative space, even in quilts not in the Modern exhibit

Some improvements the Mancusos could still make:

  • white drapes instead of black would lighten up the whole show.
  • continue to vett vendors and replace out of date/boring vendors
  • more modern vendors
  • require vendors to have new fabrics, not just old stuff they keep in their traveling kit
  • limit non-quilt supplies vendors

Of course, I am not a quilt show organizer (though I am happy to consult!) and I am glad to have such a large show so close to me. It is easy for me to say what I think should be changed, but it is not always easy to make the changes. Incremental changes are easier to make and less of a risk. I wish they would publish year over year attendance records, so I could see how the changes they made this year affected attendance, though they might not see an increase until next year.

PIQF 2016 Purchases
PIQF 2016 Purchases

I bought a few things, but not the items that were on my list. The fabric will be a quick quilt for the grandson of one of my Austrian friends. I want to finish (work on??) the Windmill quilt. Since I still have not been able to find the template I bought another. Silly, but necessary. I also am always on the hunt for sharp needles with big eyes. I bought another Tulip brand pack to try them on Under the Sea.

New Donation Blocks

As I mentioned yesterday, I needed a lot of leaders and enders to help me keep the layout of The Peacock in order. In addition to other projects, I made a number of donation blocks.

I picked up a few blue kits at the guild meeting Saturday. My intention was to sew them “sometime” during the next month. Quickly, I realized that I would need leaders and enders while I pieced The Peacock. Very quickly I had the kits out and blocks partially made.

Donation blocks - October 2016
Donation blocks – October 2016

Soon after that, I had 4 blocks made from a combination of my own fabric and the kits.  These join the two I made before my trip.

I made several blue blocks with the intention of putting them together into a quilt. I don’t have enough yet, but will will soon. I think I mentioned that the Peacock requires a leader/ender between each seam. One half of the block is in one row and the other half is in the row above. It requires another piece between each Peacock seam so I can keep the different blocks in order. It is a quilt where I will get two quilts out of the piecing.

Red and turquoise donation blocks - October 2016
Red and turquoise donation blocks – October 2016

Previously, I made red and white blocks for a different charity quilt. I like having color themes even if the reds (or whatever colors) aren’t exactly matchy-matchy. I have enough red blocks to make a charity quilt, however, I want to try something new and am waiting to figure out some match and layout before I piece the blocks together. I am still making red blocks as I can pair them with black for boys.

More on the Peacock

The Peacock in process - October 2016
The Peacock in process – October 2016

I spent some time on Saturday night and most of the day Sunday trying to make progress on The Peacock. I now have four rows sewn together in a chunk. A fifth is the start of a new chunk.

The piecing is very labor intensive, though not as labor intensive as Y seams. The good part is that I have to put a leader/ender piece between each Peacock seam under the machine. This will equal a lot of additional blocks or, perhaps, a quilt top.

I started to put the small blocks into the ends of some of the rows. That piecing is fiddly and I haven’t gotten all the measurements figured out. Still, I am pleased that I have been able to incorporate those small blocks into the border as I piece. I have more to piece in and have to figure out how to do that.

Finished: Food Quilt #3

Food Quilt #3: Finished
Food Quilt #3: Finished

I finished this quilt at the Labor Day Craft Night. This shows the power regular sewing with people who are expecting you to be there.

This quilt is for my nephew who is now a freshman at the University of Michigan. He will need it when winter sets in, California boy that he is.

Food Quilt #3 Back
Food Quilt #3 Back

I am pretty sure I am done with food themed quilts. I made an effort to use most of the larger pieces on the back and think I just have a few smallish (up to fat eighth size) left. Someone at the guild asked for the scraps and I may give them to her. I have a few years before the next batch of nephews go off to college and all of them already have quilts, so I don’t feel obliged to make another. However, an excuse to make a quilt is always tempting. For now, I need to focus on the nephews who don’t yet have quilts. One in particular is ripe and I have no idea what to make for him.

The photo isn’t great as I had to take the photo outside late in the day, so the shadows disrupt the look.

ColorPlay Mountains

Once again, I used the palette builder to…well… build some palettes for you.

Mountain photo
Mountain photo

The photo is a photo I took from the car window as my friends drove me around GroBes Walser Tal in Vorarlberg, Austria. I chose this picture deliberately because there were a lot of blues and I wanted to see if the Palette Builder could deal with them.

Mountains & Sky
Mountains & Sky

I am pretty pleased with the palette the tool built. I didn’t even move the circles around.

Mountains & Sky 2
Mountains & Sky 2

mtn-palette2I like some of the colors in the second palette, but I am not as excited about it overall. Peacock and Glacier are two of my favorite Kona solid colors. The others are ok.

This is a fun tool, as I have said, and I could make 50 more palettes with this one photo. Go and make a quilt with this palette.

Stepping Stones Progress

I spent some time over the weekend working on the Stepping Stones. I am ready to just piece without thinking. It never seems to work out, though. I always have to do some deciding or planning or math.

This past weekend required all three. As you might remember from my last update, I had some HSTs to make and was putting it off. I finally made them when I needed some easy piecing. I made a bunch so I would have some choice when I made a few more blocks to complete the top. After I made the HSTs and completed the leftover partial block, the question of the border came to mind.

Stepping Stones Revised
Stepping Stones Revised

I sat down to look at the EQ plan I had and found that I hadn’t completed it. I wasn’t 100% happy with the border I designed for the original Stepping Stones quilt. It is in no way terrible, but I wanted to finish off the groups of squares (red 4 patches set in groups of four, above).

Stepping Stones, EQ version
Stepping Stones, EQ version

I played around with EQ and came up with a new design. I am not sure it is the final for a couple of reasons:

  1. I don’t know that the groups of red 4 patches in the corners add anything
  2. I am not sure about the blue/green HSTs in the very corner. They add a little something, like breaking up a series of squares, but they don’t have any reference anywhere else in the quilt.
Stepping Stones #2 Border Trial
Stepping Stones #2 Border Trial

I am absolutely sure that I am happy with the red points that go into the border to finish off the scrappy lines of red that are made of HSTs throughout the quilt.

I want to get the border settled so I can start putting the whole top together via chunking. For chunking, I need to start in one of the corners.

More Pulse Quilts

I have been collecting a random assortment of photos of Pulse quilts as I see them posted on Instagram. You can see many, many more by searching the hashtag #quiltsforpulse regularly.

Pulse by Kathy Matthews
Pulse by Kathy Matthews

Kathy Matthews posted hers. Kathy did a really nice design branching off from the original heart pattern. Kathy’s layout would be a great baby quilt  or off-to-college design as well. I can imagine it in blacks and reds. My mind is spinning with the possibilities.

Pulse Quilts waiting for distribution
Pulse Quilts waiting for distribution

The Orlando Modern Quilt Guild updated their meeting minutes and included a detailed description of their Pulse Project progress. The scale of this project boggles my mind. I am amazed at what they have accomplished. It is especially moving when the numbers of quilts and what they did to blocks and pieces they received is taken into consideration. The outpouring of love is amazing.

The guild is on schedule and has begun to give out some of the quilts. Click on the hashtag above to see some photos of one of the ceremonies.

BAM sent off two quilts recently and Cheryl posted photos of them.

Good job, everyone!

Petrillo Bag #3

Petrillo Bag #3
Petrillo Bag #3

My third Petrillo bag has been on the To Do list for a long time. Before I went on my trip, I decided to sew it, as I mentioned when I enumerated the bag hacks. I also worked on it, because the Peacock was acting like a beast and I wasn’t feeling the quilt love, in general.

I really was almost done cutting it out. I felt kind of stupid the whole time I finished the cutting for letting it lie so long. It took me a few days to sew it, longer than it should have, because I had to rip a few seams and make a new main flap.

Petrillo Bag #3 Inside
Petrillo Bag #3 Inside

I have used it a few times and am linking it. I haven’t filled it to overflowing, so I don’t know if it will really work for a long conference where I can’t easily return to my hotel, but so far so good.

The hack I sewed to the stabilize pocket makes a huge difference when I carry things around. The zipper pocket doesn’t sag. I am mad at myself for not adding vinyl to the bottom. I have to worry a lot more about where I set it.

Freddy Moran Lecture

Freddy Moran -
Freddy Moran -

At the end of July, I went to a Freddy Moran lecture at the San Francisco Quilter’s Guild. I am not a member, but they do get good speakers, so I try and go once in a while.

End of July? I know. This post has been laying around for awhile.

I like Freddy’s work because it is bright and I like her work because of her collaborations with Gwen Marston. I have heard her speak a few times and have dozens of quilts from the books she has written on my “to make” list. Actually, I want to make quilts as bright as hers more than I want to make the actual patterns. She inspired me to use dots and colors as neutrals.

Freddy is getting quite old (approaching 90) and her husband died last year, which sent her into a tailspin. She talked about the changes in her life affecting her work and methods in the lecture.

Freddy started out her quiltmaking “career” with a sampler quilt, but didn’t feel she was very good at the technical aspects of quiltmaking. She didn’t start until she was over 60 and her kids were grown, which she thought was part of the issue. At some point she made a house block and that sent her off in the direction of multiple house blocks. She made a number of house quilts and found that bright colors were what she liked. She doesn’t think she is particularly good at technique and now doesn’t even sew much.

Freddy showed a number of quilts, which look different from her house quilts. I could still see the ‘Freddy touch’ when I looked at them as well as the influence of her collaboration with Gwen Marston. I especially like the basket quilt. I’d also love to make a row quilt like hers.

Freddy Moran's Applique'
Freddy Moran’s Applique’

She is doing a new collaboration with her quilter now where she glue sticks fabric and motifs to a background fabric and then her quilter “appli-quilts” the pieces to the background.

She has other new pieces which remind me of Mary Mashuta’s “Pushed Neutral” technique, which was so intriguing when I started making art quilts.

I really enjoyed the lecture. I wish I could go and spend time with the various quiltmakers I admire and see what they think of my work.

Last of the Flying Geese

Last Batch of Flying Geese
Last Batch of Flying Geese

I took a photo of the last few Flying Geese I made before I went on vacation.

This is a cheerful bunch and I am pleased with them.

My next step is to make a block, per my design, and see if it works. The Round and Round pattern is a genius way to use the Friendship Star and I really like the pattern. Combining it with the Flying Geese will be an interesting challenge.

ColorPlay Chocolate

Milka HaselnuB
Milka HaselnuB

Yes, I am going to torture you today. I am not really very sorry. It is helping me to remember my trip.

Milka is a brand of chocolate sold in Austria. Occasionally, I can buy it at World Market, but not regularly. It might be sold elsewhere, but it is not widely available here in the US. When I visit friends in Austria, I indulge.

Yes, chocolate snobs are sticking their noses up, because this bar is made from milk chocolate. I am also a dark chocolate fan, but this milk chocolate is no Hershey’s. It is so creamy and rich that it calms fretful children and makes grown men weep when they eat it.

Now that you are frantically rummaging through your desk drawers looking for chocolate crumbs, let’s get to the ColorPlay. 😉

I took the wrapper and ran it through the Palette Builder tool. If you still haven’t tried it, get some colorful photos and have some fun.

Milka ColorPlay
Milka ColorPlay

I didn’t crop this photo, but when I ran it through the tool, I moved the circles off the background and focused on the wrapper. Yes, I can control the colors to a certain degree, as you know, by moving the little circles around. The palette above is a little heavy with those particular shades of red and green. Thus, I decided to make a new palette and try to make it lighter.

Milka HaselnuB 2
Milka HaselnuB 2

Perhaps the Daffodil and Ruby, in the middle photo above, add to the palette in ways that I cannot imagine without sewing. My favorite, however, is the second palette. Yes, there is a lot of purply tones, but it feels lighter and fresher to me. What do you think?

The whole idea is to give you ideas for palettes for your quilts, so let me know if you create a project with either of these palettes.

The Peacock Progresses

During the past little while, I have been flinging curses at the Peacock as it sits on my design wall, taking up space and glaring smugly at me.

No more.

Peacock on Sunday
Peacock on Sunday

I made two cuts on Sunday and was off. With those two rotary cut strips, everything changed. Finishing the piecing actually became possible…. no probable. I only had time for a little work on it, but the piece progresses. I am snatching bits of time where I can and making some progress. It is amazing how something can change so quickly. I do think that, more importantly, my attitude about the project changed.

First, I had along rest with absolutely no sewing. The closest I came was visiting a craft shop that carried quilt fabrics and magazines.

Next, solving the problem of squaring up the piece began to rumble around in the back of my mind until I had a solution I wanted to try. Two cuts and I realized that what I wanted to do would work and it was actually a reasonable idea.

The idea was to cut 3.5″ strips (same width as half one of the blocks), cut a 60 degree angle on one side and sew it to the edge blocks. These short strips work. The black, with which I have started, blends nicely in with the very darkest blocks.

Peacock: More background added
Peacock: More background added

Third, I started to move the blocks around after taking some photos. Some of the blocks looked out of place in the photos. Moving them make the piece come together better.

In the photo, right, I have moved some of the solids around to try and blend the background a little better. I haven’t tried super hard yet and I know I won’t be able to blend as well as I do with the Fabric of the Year quilts, but I want to give the impression of a bit of blending going on. That I immediately started to blend the blocks into an Impressionist look tells me I have much more color blending in my future.

Peacock: Exchanging Black for Green
Peacock: Exchanging Black for Green

Most importantly, I have changed out the black on the bottom and used green (see arrows at the bottom). The black was too jarring near some blocks that had no black. The green isn’t a perfect match to those feather blocks, but it is the green I used in the other feather blocks.

I am also trying out some of the blues at the top, but I am thinking they may be too dark and I might try some light blue. I have a stack of solids I can try. I just haven’t tried very hard to find the right one yet.

I plan to have a sort of irregular line of blocks, as the quilt looks now, though the background will make the quilt square. There are still some unknowns. I don’t know what the quilt will look like exactly. I am not sure how I will make the small blocks float around the edges as you see them now. I will let it mull in the back of my mind and see what comes up.

CQFA Show and Tell

Rhonda and I ducked out of the BAM Retreat to attend the CQFA meeting. They are often conflicting at the moment, which is a challenge. I didn’t want to leave the retreat, however I have missed so many CQFA meetings that I felt bad about missing another. Since Rhonda was going, I decided to go for the meeting, but not stay for the workshop.

Despite my perpetual To Do List item to make ATCs, I didn’t make any. I wasn’t the only one. Poor Virginia had nobody with whom to exchange.

Tea in a Cafe
Tea in a Cafe

One of the most exciting things to happen to other guild is that there will be a show either in July 2017 or in 2018. The theme will be “In Conversation.” I immediately got a flash of an idea in my mind and drew it out in my journal. It is loosely based on a picture I took in Austria.

The picture is just the start. I want to add in some hands. I don’t know the angle yet, though straight on sideways or straight from the top would be easier to draw. I do like the angle shown in the picture, but I don’t know if I can do it credible justice. My UFO list is creeping up, but I am excited about this project and wonder if I can get started on it and get it to a good point before I lose interest?

Maureen's Book
Maureen’s Book

Anyway. Show and Tell was awesome. I was especially inspired by Maureen’s book. She is in a collage group that meets once a week. She has been doing some great stuff in that group. In a recent meeting, she learned about a simple Japanese binding and made a book.

The content/pages are always a problem for me. How many journals does a person need? Maureen had a genius idea to use black and white drawings from a previous class.

I love this book! The overall content and structure are great, but the best part is the little surprises inside. She added a window on to the next page. One of the pages has a rounded edge, again providing a glimpse farther in the book. Another page is cut at an angle and the following page is so carefully placed that the reader cannot tell they are two separate pages right away.

Julie brought her Tumbler quilt.

Dolores' Cube
Dolores’ Cube

Dolores showed an almost finished fabric sculpture. She has been working on studies to get the process down for awhile. I have seen the smaller ones, but was thrilled to see the large version.

Each side has a different texture. Some of them are achieved through quilting, but others are kind of sewing techniques such as smocking.

I love the textures she achieved, especially from some serious quilting on the sides.

Carol is still working in solids and brought two of her quilts. These are a follow up to the quilt she worked on at the Retreat. I really like the subtle shifts in color in the Tulip quilt. I know that there are depths that tone-on-tones achieve that solids can’t, however I can’t help but love what people can achieve with solids as well.

Jennifer brought more of her felted wool pieces. Nancy brought a journal cover she made using my tutorial. I was pretty excited about that, because someone actually used one of my tutorials! Virginia brought some placemats. Reva made a 3D owl. The list goes on and one. I am always so inspired by the ladies who create and share at CQFA.

Quilt Class: Rose Wreath pt.3

We are making the Flower Wreath block. To find out how to make templates, including the ring, see Part 1 for making templates and Part 2 for making the ring and positioning the ring on the background.

Flower Wreath
Flower Wreath

Now we are going to stitch the ring. If you haven’t started, check the Supply List in part 1 and grab your 3″x5″ tearaway backed fabric. Your ring should be applied to the background and ready to stitch. If your ring is not fused and ready to stitch, go back to part 2.

I stitch in layers, so that the stitching is easier, there are fewer starts and stops and the piece looks more finished. Now that you are ready to stitch, it is time to choose your thread.

Choose thread
Choose thread

Whenever you choose thread, you must consider the stitch. If the stitch will be dense like a satin stitch, you should choose the color by looking at the thread wrapped around the whole spool. That will give you a better sense of the color the satin stitch will end up.

It you will be using a straight stitch, you should unreel a bit of the thread and look at one strand on your fabric. You may need to pool a little of the thread together – less dense than the whole spool and more dense than one strand.

Now set up your machine for zig zag stitching. You will need to choose a stitch density. I like a semi-open zig zag that is not too wide. Dense satin stitching, however, can really highlight and outline each piece. I use the following settings on my machine:

  • Ring: width: 3.0, density: 0.45
  • Flowers: width: 3.0, density: 0.45
  • Leaves: width: 2.0, density: 0.5
  • Flower centers: width: 2.0, density: 0.5

YMMV: Your machine will vary so use the test piece and try out your settings.

Even if I haven’t chosen all the fabric, I like to get the ring stitched down first, so I can audition the other fabric without worrying about the ring. Yes, it is fused and shouldn’t go anywhere, but I still like it to be stitched down.

In order to choose the stitch density, you will need to test. Get the tearaway backed sample piece you have prepared and start testing with the width and densities I have provided above. Stitch lines of zig zag stitching 2-3″ long using a contrasting thread similar to the thread you will be using to stitch the ring. Adjust the width and density on your machine until you are pleased with the look.

Stitch ring
Stitch ring

Put the ring on the machine and start stitching. I always leave a long tail that I can pull to the back and tie shut later. My zig zag does not automatically tie the ends. If your machine is more advanced you may not have to tie a knot on the back. I don’t want my zig zag to come out if it gets snagged while the quilt is being used, which is why I tie the ends.

I use my applique’ foot, which has a red arrow in the center to stitch out the zig zag. I place the tip of the red arrow on the raw edge of the ring and follow it around. You want a smooth curve, so you should stitch with needle down or use the hand wheel to put the needle down when you stop. If the center point on your foot gets off the raw edge of your ring, stop and readjust. Stop with the needle down on the outside of the ring’s curve whenever you need to readjust the needle to accommodate the curve. Turn the fabric to the left to get the center point of the foot back on the raw edge of your ring. The stitching will be slightly closer together on the inside of the shape, when the needle punches the fabric to the left, and more open on the outside of the shape or when the needle hits the background.

Tail of thread
Tail of thread

When you have done about half – 3/4s of the stitching on the ring, stop and pull the beginning thread to the back and tie it off.

I tie the beginning off before I get to the end, because the beginning and ending threads can get tangled up and make it impossible to make small, neat knots. I have tied all four ends together in a pinch, but prefer to make the knots as small as possible.

Fold work back to tie
Fold work back to tie

I also use this technique also if I have to stop and pull the work out of the machine because of thread breakage or necessary bobbin refill.

I fold the work back (I only used my pincushion so I could photograph what I was doing. Normally, I just hold it with my wrist as pull the front through to the back and tie the ends together.) I don’t take the work out of the machine unless there is a good reason – like a big knot, or thread breakage, etc.

Completely stitched ring
Completely stitched ring

Once your knot is tied, continue stitching to where you started. I don’t overlap much once I get to the beginning, perhaps only a stitch or two, because I don’t want the look of the stitching to be too different.

I pull the work out of the machine and tie off the ending threads. Again, you may not need to do this if your machine does it for you.

Now follow the same steps, but on the inside, to finish stitching down the ring. Once you have stitched both the inside and outside of the rings, your ring will be complete and you will be ready to place the leaves and flowers on the ring.

Choose fabrics by putting scraps on background
Choose fabrics by putting scraps on background

If you have not already done so, choose the rest of your fabrics. You will need fabric for the flowers (1-4 fabrics) and leaves (1-20 fabrics). If you have not cut out and fused the wreath to the background, please go back to part 2. The leaves can be the traditional green or you can use something else. If you use one color, you might want to mix up prints to increase interest. You can also use different colors. Make the block your own.

Make visual decisions visually
Make visual decisions visually

I thought about making the leaves green to make them more realistic, but decided I still wanted to use a variety of turquoises and aquas and to stay with my quilt’s color scheme. I found more fabrics to use in my scrap basket.

It is important, with my limited color scheme, to make sure the viewer can see the individual leaves. For that, I need to have enough contrast between the various aquas and turquoises. Remember, when choosing your fabrics, to make visual decisions visually. Put your potential fabrics on the background and step back to look at them. From my test piece (right) you can see that there are a variety of tones of aqua and turquoise. Some of them blend a bit into the background. I want movement and interest.

Cover fusible with fabric
Cover fusible with fabric

Once you have chosen all of your fabrics press the fabric. Add fusible to the wrong sides.

Use the pressing cloth or applique’ pressing sheet to keep the fusible from sticking to your iron.

Follow the directions on your fusible’s packaging.


Trace leaves & Flowers
Trace leaves & Flowers

Mark all of your leaves and flowers. Flip the fusible so that paper side is up. You will be able to see your different fabrics through the paper. Place a template face DOWN on the appropriate fabric and trace with a writing implement. I use a Sewline pencil, but you can also use a pen, regular pencil or anything. I wouldn’t use a Sharpie even though I don’t think the paper will allow the marking to bleed through to the fabric.

Once you have traced all pieces**, cut them out right inside the drawn line. You should have 20 leaves, 4 flowers and 4 flower centers.

  1. Take all of your pieces and arrange them the pleasing way. Arrange them into the final position. You are using this try-out to look at the overall effect of the whole block. Once you are pleased with the arrangement, take a photo or sketch out placement.
  2. Fuse & Stitch Flowers
    Fuse & Stitch Flowers

    You will need to stitch the flowers first, then the leaves and finally the flower centers. The flowers and leaves are on the same layer, so you can stitch them in any order. Anything that will be covered by another piece will need to be stitched before you fuse the covering piece.

  3. Place the flowers on the ring using the press marks you used to place the ring on the background (or fold the background in quarters and finger press again). Place them symmetrically along the ring, or in a pleasing way to your eye.
  4. Fuse them into place and get ready to stitch. You can also reference the machine applique’ tutorial for more information. Again, pay attention to where the layers of the design are placed. If there are leaves that you want to place under the wreath, you will need to satin stitch them before you fuse the wreath down entirely. For the flowers, you will need to satin stitch down any parts of the design that will be covered by another piece of fused fabric, such as the centers. The design will look better if you satin stitch a layer and then fuse the next piece down.
  5. Flower Wreath Layers

    Place the interfacing under the background. You could use a machine basting stitch to stitch the interfacing (Pellon Stitch & Tear or similar) temporarily to the background, but pinning works fine, too. You will need to zig zag with the interfacing under the background.

  6. Stitching flowers
    Stitching flowers

    Satin stitch all the other pieces down using the thread you chose. When you stitch, the middle of the stitch will cover the outside raw edge of each piece. I line up the red arrow on my foot (see photo) with the sharp edge of that raw edge. The pieces you will satin stitch have curves, thus you will need to manipulate the stitch so it is smooth. Stitch with needle down.

    Stop stitching to create smooth curves
    Stop stitching to create smooth curves

    Stop with the needle down on the outside of the curve for the leaves and flower petals. For the inside point between the flower petals stop above that point on the inside. If you do not have a machine that automatically stops with the needle down, again, you can use the hand wheel to move the needle into the downward position when you stop. Do thisMove the handwheel carefully without moving the fabric. Once the needle is down you will need to assess the way to turn the fabric. Always turn the fabric very slightly to ensure a smooth curve. You may only need to take one stitch before adjusting the fabric again in order to get around the curve smoothly. For the outside curves, generally, you need to turn the fabric to the left to make a smooth curve. (Updated 10/30/2012: My engineer SIL says: You turn it clockwise for outside curves and counter clockwise for inside curves. YMMV) The stitching will be closer together on the inside of the shape and more open on the outside of the shape when you move in this direction. For the inside point of the flower, between the petals, you will need to take a slight adjustment of the background to the right. For the pointy ends of the leaves, stop the needle on the outside of the leaf near the point and adjust the fabric to the right very, very slightly. Take one stitch, stop on the outside of the point again. Adjust very slightly to the right. Your goal should be to get the needle into the same hole on the inside of the leaf until the arrow or line on your machine’s foot is in line with the raw edge of the other side of the leaf. When you move the fabric always keep the needle down. Before starting, take a few of the templates, e.g. a leaf and a flower, make some test pieces and do a test with junk fabric so you get the feel of the procedure. This is not skill you should work on when you are pressed for time.

  7. Arrange leaves
    Arrange leaves
  8. Once you are finished with the flowers, change your thread and adjust the width and density of your stitch, if desired.
  9. Arrange the leaves in a pleasing manner. I placed 5 at a time on the background and stitched them down.
  10. Stitch leaves
    Stitch leaves

    Arrange and stitch all of the leaves. My photo shows only 10 sewn leaves, but I did eventually stitch all of them.

  11. Place the centers on the flowers and stitch them down. Follow all the directions above for tying off and moving the needle to create a smooth curve.
  12. Back of block
    Back of block

    Once you have stitched all the pieces, rip off the tearaway. I use a seam ripper to get the ripping started on pieces that are surrounded by stitching. Try not to distort the block while you are tearing out the stabilizer.

  13. Once you are finished with the entire stitching and ripping out the tearaway, trim the background down to 12.5″
Fusible Machine Applique' Block
Fusible Machine Applique’ Block

Finished block! Hooray! You did it!

**Nota bene: These pieces have no right direction. You can trace them any way and apply them anyway and they will look fine. Pay attention if you are cutting out letters or another motif that has a special direction. Put the right side down on the paper backed fusible and trace the motif backwards.