Musings from the mind of a modern day Sue.

Posts tagged ‘applique’

Applique & Quilting Progress

I am excited to write about my progress this week.  I have actually made headway on two of my current WIPs: the Craftsy applique class project and the Sew Sweet Simplicity quilt.

The star block was a quick applique, even with the sharp points.  Using freezer paper templates gives the edges crisp lines.  I was daring again and applied all the stitching to the star, then slit the back open to remove the freezer paper.  The bird was stitched down in a similar fashion, but required different preparation with the inside curve along the bird’s back.  The wing still needs stitched down, but will go quickly.

Star & Bird Blocks

These simple shapes are so fun & easy to applique.  I really love these fabrics, too. I did some auditioning of the fabric to determine exactly where to position the star template and the bird wing template for cutting.  Both are cut from the same fabric in a different colorway.  I love how the center of the flower design gives definition to the shape.

I sat down to my Bernina on Saturday afternoon and started FMQ.  Again, I had done enough thinking about shapes and decided to just start stitching.  Ultimately, I quilted designs I hadn’t even thought to quilt.  I repeated the loops across the square sections like in the previous two blocks.  Then, I began adding curves from one point to the next, followed by organic swirls and radiating lines.  I looked for ways to quilt in a continuous line, creating some squiggles and stitch-in-the-ditch to move into the next corner section.

3 Flowers block quilting

Overall, I am satisfied with the quilting.  I have found that my quilting is not steady and I often cross over patches or my lines are not straight or do not curve smoothly.  I know that some of this is due to the shoulder surgery I had several years ago.  Prior to that, my quilting was smoother. I am beginning to accept the changes I see occurring in my quilting and just begin finishing quilt tops.  Some experienced quilters will likely state the mantra, it’ll get better the more you practice.  Sorry, but I can only quilt in small sessions.  The longer I quilt the more unsteady my movements.  This square was all I could complete on Saturday.

I am overcoming my obstacles to finishing projects.  One of those obstacles has been perfection.  Have you seen some of those prize winning quilts?  Check out this Judge’s Choice from AQS Paducah by Setsuko Matsushima of Japan.  This is awesome!  These quilts set the bar too high and leave amateurs like myself frustrated with my projects. When did quilting become so competitive?  I want to enjoy my quilting again and that begins with accepting my work for what it is.  I hope to pick up more of those long forgotten projects and finish them, as I continue to accept where I am at and the outcomes I achieve.  They are uniquely me and that’s okay.

What project did you work on last week-end?  I’d love to hear about it.  Until next week…keep on stitching!


Life is more than just Quilting…gasp

The weather has been nice, so I’ve spent time outdoors working in my flowerbeds.  I cleaned up the dried stems & leaves from last year’s perennials and raked out the leftover leaves.  I split up some hostas that have overgrown and transplanted iris rhizomes that were being crowded by black-eyed susans in the same bed.  The heavy rains over the last three days should set the plants well.  My tulips have bloomed and the peony plants are growing.  What started as two lily of the valley plants some 15 years ago has spread through the back bed.  May’s birth month flower will soon bloom.  I transplanted a trumpet vine last fall and hope it takes root and sprouts leaves this spring. The rose bushes are sending out vines and needed trellises to control them.

Flower gardens give much inspiration for quilters.  The simple shapes & lovely colors offer a myriad of designs for applique.  I continue to work on my Craftsy class project. I finished stitching the petals on an applique flower block and the butterfly block.  Though my progress is slow, it continues weekly.

Flower & Butterfly blocks

Friday, my sister & I set out on a quilt Shop Hop.  We travelled over 300 miles to visit four shops in mid-Michigan.  We also checked out a new quilt shop that wasn’t on the hop.  It turned out to be my favorite – Park Bench quilt shop in Midland, Michigan.  I think the shop was well aware of the 3-day shop hop at their competitor down the street.  They offered the same 20% discount on purchases.  The fabrics are beautiful and the selection more the style that interests me.  I picked up Joan Ford’s latest Scraptherapy book, The Versatile Nine Patch, along with several fat quarters to use in my elephant baby quilt I have yet to begin.

Shop Hop Fabrics Closeup

Shop Hop Fabrics

Shop Hop fabric purchases

I always take along a list of notions I would like to try.  One in particular I looked for and found is the Kwik Klip. I have heard many rave about how well it helps with closing safety pins when pin basting.   Got one and hope it lives up to the hype.

Kwik Klip

The dreary weather kept me inside most of yesterday, so I also completed a bit of FMQ. I’ll have to share photos next time.  Tomorrow, I am going on a field trip with my granddaughter to Woldumar Nature Center.  All the rain has likely made the trails muddy and I’m praying the rain will hold off until the trip is over.

That recaps some of the activities over the last two weeks.  I’ve been busy with a lot more that keeps me away from needle & thread.  But life is more than just quilting.

Hoping to share more progress next week.  Until then…happy stitching!


Weekly Progress

Progress: (noun) forward or onward movement toward a destination.

Do you recall hearing about the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago with the theme of Century of Progress?  During the Great Depression, women from all over entered quilts into the largest contest ever held.  Fast forward to 2017 and women all over are entering quilts into contests.  The competition is stiff.  I recently received my AQ magazine with winners from the Daytona Beach QuiltWeek.  Fabulous quilts. The piecing, quilting, and artistry are just amazing.

So, why would someone like me consider entering a quilt into such a contest?  Not everyone will win and I hardly expect to take home a prize.  But, there is just something about sharing quilts, at all levels.  My progress towards entering a quilt into an AQS contest is slow, but I did begin the machine quilting, stitching in the ditch around the blocks.  I will need to step up my quilting over the next two weeks, if I expect to finish in time to enter in the GR show.  Here’s my quilting area setup.

Quilting setup

For those that read last week’s post on my Singer sewing machines, you may have wondered why I didn’t show a pic of my Bernina.  Well, here it is.  I purchased it in 2004, so it’s an older model.  But, I love using it.  Below are the blocks that I began stitching around.  Not much to see.  And, I continue to toss around ideas in my head about how to quilt the blocks.

Anchor quilting around blocks

I also made progress on my applique project.  I finished the Teacup block, pictured here with the only other finished block, Hearts.

Teacup & Heart blocks

I love the teacup fabric and the coordinating orange heart fabric.  These two fabrics, plus the large heart fabric, are from the Passport collection by Weeks Ringle over at Modern Quilt Studio.  I picked up a fat quarter bundle from her booth at an AQS show.  I finally decided to dip into the stash and use them in this quilt.

So, I am moving forward toward my destination of finishing my quilts.

Until next week…Happy Stitching!


Hand Applique Progress

I am a procrastinator.  I put off doing things when I definitely have time.  Last week, I procrastinated a lot.  I definitely had time to work on a quilting project, but chose not to.  I only found time to do yoga once during the week.  And, I ate too many sweets.  Maybe the change to daylights savings time affected me.  For whatever reason, my week slipped by with little progress on any WIPs; no machine quilting on my Sew Sweet Simplicity quilt that I want to enter in a quilt show; and no hand quilting on the solids improv quilt that sets beside the sofa beckoning to me nightly.

But, the week wasn’t a total failure.  I had prepared some applique shapes for basting and took them along to my guild meeting.  I was able to baste a few leaves. I fussy-cut some petal shapes.

Leaves & Petals

This project is from a hand applique class with teacher Mimi Dietrich over at Craftsy.  I like that I can learn at my own pace, going back over the information as many times as I like. And, I can work on my project as I have the time.  Mimi teaches several techniques, but I really like using freezer paper to back my applique shapes.  I have used freezer paper in past projects, but Mimi adds some great tips to improve my applique.  I appliqued the heart-shaped petals for the Heart Flower block on Sunday.  I also prepared the petal shapes and the body for the butterfly block, which is now ready for stitching.

Applique Block progress

Applique block progress: Hearts, Heart Flower, basted leaves & petal shapes, Butterfly

If you’re interested, check out the class at Craftsy, or any of the other classes, patterns, and supplies for purchase.  There is always something free to download and some fun YouTube videos.  Have you seen The Midnight Quilt Show with Angela Walters?  You really gotta watch!  Angela is funny & creative.

National Quilt Day was Saturday.  Did you do something quilty?  I had plans to attend a guild event, but they changed when my daughter organized a birthday party for my granddaughter.  I did turn my blotto block in at the guild meeting, so that it would be a part of the giveaway.

So, there’s the scoop for this week.  Hope you’ve enjoyed doing something quilty. Until next time…Happy Stitching!

Putting Quilts into Judged Shows

I enjoy quilt shows and putting my own quilts into shows. The Bay Heritage Quilter’s Guild show was this past week-end. I entered my Rose of Sharon applique quilt made for the American Quilt Study Group 2014 Civil War quilt study. Quilters could choose to have their quilt judged.

Rose of Sharon by Pamela Koppleberger

Rose of Sharon by Pamela Koppleberger

Many quilters shy away from having quilts judged. Many quilters do not feel that their work is good enough to put into a show, let alone have it judged. However, judging is a great way to find out what part of the quilting process you are good at and what part you can improve upon. The judge’s comment sheet from this show stated at the bottom, “This critique is intended to help you improve your quilting skills. Please use it as a learning experience, remembering that the finished quilt was judged, not the quiltmaker. Thank you for entering your quilt!”

You may have noticed a red ribbon on my quilt. I was fortunate to receive a second place ribbon in the Mixed or Applique, Individual, Machine Quilted category. There were twelve categories and seven additional awards, including Best of Show. Having lots of categories gives entrants more of a chance to receive recognition.

Check out this overhead view of the quilt show, followed by a few pics of my favorite quilts.

Overhead View2 Overhead View4

Courthouse Steps by Carol Collins

Courthouse Steps by Carol Collins

100 Year Quilt by Nona Simnitch of Frankenmuth

100 Year Quilt by Nona Simnitch of Frankenmuth, a good quilt friend of mine

Butternut and Blue by Nancy L. House of Harrison

Butternut and Blue by Nancy L. House

Cathedral Window by Lois Reminder

Cathedral Window by Lois Reminder

Circle Dance by Eleanor Henning

Circle Dance by Eleanor Henning

Primitive Gatherings by Kay Vink

Primitive Gatherings by Kay Vink

We Find the Defendant Quilty by Laura Patterson

We Find the Defendant Quilty by Laura Patterson

This last quilt was my pick for Viewer’s Choice. It was totally stitched by hand. Here are a couple more up close pictures.

We Find the Defendant Quilty blocks We Find the Defendant Quilty quilting

I hope that you enjoyed my quilt show post. There are lots of quilt shows springing up and I hope that you’ll have the chance to attend a few.

Happy Stitching…

Honeybee Blocks

I pulled out my honeybee blocks the other day. The quilt was planned for my daughter, Melissa, whose name means “honeybee”. It has become a UFO that I need to finish this year. I first started the quilt as an idea for a quilt challenge put on by JoAnn fabrics, planning to make the quilt for my daughter as a wedding gift. She celebrated her third anniversary last week. That’s what caused me to pull out the blocks and revisit the project. She asked me when I was going to finish her wedding quilt.

A honeybee block is a 9-patch bordered with side and corner squares. Then, shapes of a bee body and wings are appliqued at each corner. Check out this link to McCall’s Quilting for a free Honeybee block pattern. I expanded on the idea and placed twenty different 9-patch patterns in the center. I chose a paisley fabric in pink as the main fabric, then added a solid patterned pink similar to the color from my daughter’s wedding. A lighter pink is also in some of the blocks to add contrast. Two shades of green fabrics with leafy designs were used in the block borders and a multi-colored stripe for the bee body with beige wings. All the fabrics are from a Susan Winget Legacy Studio collection that was purchased at JoAnn Fabrics.

Honeybee Block

Honeybee Block

Here is my first block in the traditional pattern. I added buttons in the corners to represent the bee’s head. It also covers up any imperfections in my applique points. I have a few bees to finish appliqueing, so this project has become my take-along project. It’s a lot easier to carry along than the Rose of Sharon quilt study project that I need to finish. The Rose of Sharon blocks are spread out on my sewing table and I would rather not fold everything up into a small bag to carry with me. Instead, it is my stay at home sewing project.

Straight Set Blocks

Straight Set Blocks

Here are sixteen of the blocks in a straight set. Four other blocks would be set in the corners of a wide border.

Diagonal Set Blocks

Diagonal Set Blocks

Here are the blocks in a diagonal set. This would require side setting and corner setting triangles and only two additional blocks. The set would allow for a larger quilt while only having to make one more block.

Closer look at honeybees

Closer look at diagonal set blocks

I haven’t decided how I will set the blocks together. My initial plan had the straight set and planned elaborate applique borders. But, now I am thinking that I just need to finish the quilt. The last four blocks have not been pieced, but they are cut out. I would also have to prepare all the honeybees. I will have to think about this while I finish appliqueing the last block that is already stitched.

Honeybees at the block intersections

Honeybees at the block intersections

I also could add sashing between the blocks, but kinda like the look of the four bees where the blocks intersect.

Quilters always like to get the opinion of others when putting together a quilt. So, what do any of you think? Straight set? Diagonal set? Sashing? Wide borders with applique? What fabric in the borders? I have lots of fabric to use in this quilt and plan to use the striped bee fabric on the back. Still lots of paisley, green and beige fabrics.

Share your ideas!


Rose of Sharon Block #1

The first of four Rose of Sharon blocks is complete. I thoroughly enjoyed doing the applique. The preparation of the blocks shapes made the stitching move along quickly.

Completed  Rose of Sharon block

Completed Rose of Sharon block

I took this photo outside this afternoon with such a sunny day. The sunshine was so glaring that this block in the shade was a much better shot. Still, the colors look dull.



Here is a closer look at the block. You can better view the layout of the design and the stitching of the shapes. I haven’t pressed the block yet, and also plan to trim the block down to a 15-inch square. There will be a lot of negative white space to use for free-motion quilting.

My SewBatik Challenge quilt is on to a new venue. Forty-six quilts were on display at the annual NQA quilt show over Memorial week-end. Following the show, 30 of the quilts were sent off to Reno, Nevada to display June 12-14th at an upcoming Sew Original Quilt and Creative Expos quilt show. They will also be displayed in Lincoln, NE – September 11-13th, and Louisville, KY – October 9-11th.

Back to the sewing table to put another Rose of Sharon block together for stitching. What are you stitching up today?


Rose of Sharon Study Quilt

I am working on a Rose of Sharon quilt for the 2014 American Quilt Study Group (AQSG) quilt study. If you are not familiar with a study quilt, check out the guild website to see the Colonial Revival quilt study from 2012. I had read about the quilt study and wanted to get involved with one when I finally joined the AQSG two years ago. I submitted a  participant release form that placed me on a waiting list. This particular study is very popular. Then, I had to find an inspiration quilt that represented the quilt study period of 1850-1865. This quilt can be recreated or inspire a design that must meet certain guidelines. Earlier this year, some of the participants dropped out of the study, so now I am among the fifty quilters that will have the opportunity to present my study quilt at Seminar in September.

I chose my inspiration quilt last Spring and received permission to use it for the study. The inspiration quilt is in the permanent collection of the DAR Museum in Washington D.C. You can view the quilt on The Quilt Index at the following link. The quilt was made in Missouri for Mary Ann Poindexter, who married Dr. John Marshall Staples on September 30, 1852. Her mother and sisters made the quilt. It is dated 1852, so it easily falls within the guidelines for the study. Unfortunately, Dr. Staples died during the Civil War and Mary Ann’s sister Elizabeth presented her sister with the quilt on the occasion of her marriage to Parks Gunn in 1872.

I have been preparing the applique shapes over the last couple of days so that I can finally applique the blocks. Here are the pieces laid out in the pattern design.

Rose of Sharon applique parts

Rose of Sharon applique parts

Rose of Sharon is a popular applique pattern that has many variations. It is one of many patterns with a biblical name, derived from a verse in Song of Songs, “I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.” Ruth Finley states in her book Old Patchwork Quilts and the Women Who Made Them, page 126, “The best known appliqué pattern of all was “The Rose of Sharon”. Many examples of the quilt still survive simply because they were made as special quilts that did not receive frequent use. Most often, the pattern was made as a wedding quilt, the last of a young woman’s dowry of thirteen quilts. My quilt uses an earlier version of the Rose of Sharon pattern that has a single stemmed rose with several rosebuds radiating out from the central flower. The inspiration quilt used red, pink and green fabrics, but I chose to use two shades of pink. The study quilt will be a four-block design with a swag border, more simplistic than the swag border in the inspiration quilt.

Center Rose Applique

Center Rose Applique

One of the first quilts that I made back in 1981 was a Rose of Sharon pattern. I used a newer pattern design with a center flower and mirror images of vines with rose buds and leaves coming out from the four sides of the center rose. This design is often seen in vintage quilts and is more often made with shades of pink fabric. My first Rose of Sharon quilt was poorly constructed using a raw edge satin applique stitch. Cotton solid fabrics were not readily available in the early 80’s and I did not know any better than to use the cotton/poly blends found in my local five and dime store that sold fabrics. The quilt did not hold up well with continued use by the recipient, my sister. For this reason, I chose to make the Rose of Sharon pattern for my study, so that I could utilize my improved applique skills to produce the quilt. This time around Kona cottons are my choice of fabric. I am also hand stitching the applique pieces, although I plan to machine quilt the finished top.

I have a lot to do before this quilt needs to be finished, but feel confident that it will go quickly. Hand applique is my favorite method of stitching and the portable quality of the project will allow me to take it wherever I go. The next step is to cut out the four white background blocks and position the pieces onto them for stitching. As well, I have to finish my Written Statement to submit within the next month.

I know that many of you enjoy challenges. This is actually my third type of quilt challenge this year. Having a deadline helps me stay focused on finishing a project. How about you? Do you prefer working with deadlines or working along at a leisurely pace?

I’ll keep everyone updated on the progress.

Happy Stitching!

Songs of Spring Blocks

My local guild’s Applique Club has been working on the Songs of Spring pattern by Lori Smith at From My Heart to Your Hands. The pattern is on a small scale with 6-inch finished blocks. I had forgotten this when I suggested the pattern for the group, but the group has found unique ways to create their quilts.

One club member chose to enlarge the pattern and machine applique the blocks. She quickly finished the quilt top and showed it at our last guild meeting.

Bonnie's quilt top

Bonnie’s quilt top

I still only have four blocks completed. Our club meets for a half hour prior to the regular guild meeting, and we missed three meeting opportunities this year due to weather an alternate meeting location. I only prepared blocks for teaching a technique. Everyone works at their own pace, so some members move along more quickly than others. After one member showed off her wool applique blocks, I chose to teach this technique. Now, I have two blocks that use the needleturn technique and two blocks made of wool with a blanket stitch technique.

My Blocks

My Blocks

I had another club member ask if I planned to put all the blocks together in my quilt. I said that I did. I think that they look good together, even though they use different fabrics. The flower blocks are made with cottons and the bird blocks are made with wools, so I plan to continue with this idea. There are six of each design, so the math works out and the layout has them alternating, as well. Not that I couldn’t do my own layout.

It’s time to prepare another block. I like to have a project to take along with me wherever I go. Then, I can pull it out and work on it whether I’m sitting in a doctor’s waiting room or a guild meeting, riding along on a car trip, or visiting my in-laws. I just have to keep my hands busy.

Happy Stitching!


Farm Animal Baby Quilt

I finished the farm animal baby quilt for my great niece in time to place it in my guild’s local quilt show. This was a quilt that I began last summer while I was recovering from my rotator cuff surgery. I couldn’t tolerate too much activity with my shoulder, so I made the applique blocks. I stitched the blocks together in the Fall and had the quilt pinned for quilting before Christmas. I first blogged about this baby quilt project HERE.

Alas, I did not get the quilting done until a week ago. Honestly, I was not sure I was ready to FMQ again. I tore my rotator cuff a year ago in February after a week-end of micro-stippling. This was not the first tear, but another tear related to a bone spur. Then in January, I spent a few hours on a week-end doing FMQ on a small project and ended up with tendonitis and suffered with three weeks of pain. Needless to say, I have been reluctant to begin doing any FMQ. But, I had to get this quilt finished and the guild quilt show was my motivation.

Farm Animal baby quilt displayed at the MMQG Spring in Michigan quilt show.

Farm Animal baby quilt displayed at the MMQG Spring in Michigan quilt show.

I quilted in the ditch around all the blocks. This was fairly easy using the walking foot. I continued with straight line quilting across the diagonal of the 9-patches. With planning, I was able to complete this quilting in two continuous lines. The next challenge was adding in some FMQ around the farm animals and in the borders. I chose to outline stitch around the animals, which did not come out as nicely as I had hoped. But, practice makes perfect and I haven’t been practicing. The quilting would have to do. Lastly, I added a heart border. I completed the design as a continuous motif by stitching the heart shape and then stitching back through the center of the heart and beginning the next one. I got this idea from tutorials that Lori gives in her blog The Inbox Jaunt. Here are some closeup pics that reveal the quilting.

Quilting around farm animals & hearts; quilting in 9-patch blocks

Quilting around farm animals & hearts & in 9-patch blocks

More examples of quilting  from left side

More examples of quilting from left side including the border

My favorite part of stitching this quilt was creating the applique blocks and adding the blanket stitching. I joined the War on WIPs at the Modern Quilt Guild forums and this is the third WIP completed in 2014. I am actually moving along at one quilt per month. Yeah!!

Farm Animal Baby Quilt

Farm Animal Baby Quilt

Here’s another look at the finished quilt. Happy Stitching!

Tag Cloud