Friday, February 21, 2014

Flowers for the Fence Applique

Having some time to check out the applique blocks already completed, I wanted to see how adding more color to the fence could be done. Originally, I just left it as the block appears in the quilt along. However, I did mention you could add flowers, if you wished.

Flowers can be added in a variety of ways:
1) using purchased flower decoration,
2) with embroidery stitches,
3) using appliques,
4) creating delightful flowers using buttons.

WEEK FIVE -- Applique Block

When I shared this quilt block with my sister, the first thing she said was, "it needs flowers".  And so I knew I'd have to come up with something to suit this block before the blocks were joined together. She was in agreement that it looked so much better once the flowers were applied! Take a look....

BLOCK 5: Fence Applique

BLOCK 5: Fence with Flowers

So, I just wanted to share this block from week 5; and if you want to use these flowers on your block, I've included a PDF under the February lessons on the website.

Enjoy the quilt along journey....

If you want to see my quilt blocks done so far, check out the Gallery Page on my website. And, if you can; share your quilt blocks on Facebook; or if you don't have an account there, you could email them to me. And, I can put them up there, for you.

Happy Quilting....

PS February winners for the SHARE THE LOVE Prize Draw were chosen. Please contact me, if you have not already done so. Thanks.  (

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day Draw

Thank you so much for stopping by to let me know how you feel about the applique mystery quilt along. I am happy to share this journey with you; and hope to see more photos of your finished blocks.

I do love seeing and hearing about your journey... and am certainly surprised and pleased to see so many quilters trying fused applique for the first time.

This technique was the first one I tried in a quilting class; and have loved it ever since. As I am not keen on hand stitching or doing large size quilts; fused applique gives me the perfect opportunity to apply my style of creativity to smaller projects that can be displayed in a variety of ways.

What I Love About this Mystery Quilt Along....
My original idea to have quilters create their own life's journey, started with only black and white images for the applique designs. This would allow total freedom for each person that went on this journey with me to write their own story into their quilt. This really is where the magic begins....

It's as if....I've given you a coloring book and a box of crayons; now you go interpret those pictures in your own individual way. Only we've added a twist to make it more grown up and are using delightful fabrics and colored thread, instead. I am truly amazed at the final results of your blocks.

Your creativity is shining through... with your applique color choices; your pieced block options; the added embellishments; how you interpret your blocks; the fabric choices, using your scraps and stash fabrics, adding cherished memories from clothing pieces; are all such great ways to make it your own special story.

My Goals....
1.) The project should be fun, allow creativity, and add some challenge to our current ability.
2.) Giving guidelines; so our own skills and creativity can be put into action to create a one of a kind quilt. I do prefer variety because we are not carbon copies; we are each unique individuals.
2.) To be able to use fabrics and embellishing elements that we may already have on hand.
3.) To have options that allow a broader range of quilters to join in; regardless of skill level.
4.) Working on one lesson at a time allows us to focus only on that portion; without feeling overwhelmed by the larger picture. (Which of course, is part of the mystery!)
5.) Flexibility continues as we build the quilt; because each block is done separately. This gives each of us the ability to add our own twist in the final arrangement of the blocks.
7.) A smaller project is easier on the budget and our time; and I wanted to provide an opportunity to create a quilt along that didn't just involve pieced blocks with the end result being a bed size quilt.
8.) To challenge myself with this first attempt to teach others what I have learned and share my ideas to make quilting a great (online) experience for those of us that can't travel to quilting classes.

I look forward to seeing how many variations there will be when we all get to arrange our quilt blocks into the final layouts. Thank you for trusting me as I unlock each week's lesson to build a unique quilt that tells a story of our life's journey.

Valentine's Share the Love Draw....
Okay, it is time to reveal the three winners for this Share the Love prize draw.

Congratulations go to:

1.)  Diane in Delaware
2.)  Starchaser 06
3.)  Michelle Collette

Please email me ( so I know which email address to send your free pattern. Go to my Craftsy store to make your selection. Then email me this information. Thank you for joining this quilt along.

Happy Quilting.....

Friday, February 7, 2014

Fused Applique Mini Tutorial

Now that the nine patch, four patch, and scrappy blocks; have been reviewed, let's take a closer look at the fused machine applique technique.

Applique Blocks

I have seen lots of very creative applique blocks come in on Facebook, already; however, for anyone that is new to this technique or would like a more detailed approach, here is a mini tutorial using our Week 6 applique design.

Once the PDF is downloaded, the template page(s) printed, and your fabric selected; you are ready to follow these steps:

Fusible Web:
Follow instructions provided with the fusible web product you are using.  (Here I am using Wonder Under by Pellon.)

With the template page face up underneath the fusible, trace out each design. Draw on the paper-side of the fusible, as all my templates have already been reversed. If you draw on the other side (web side), they will face in the opposite direction, from what the pattern applique layout shows. (If your images face the opposite direction, that is okay too.)

To help identify all those pieces:
--Write on its corresponding letter or number.
--Draw on directional arrows, when needed (for proper placement on fabric prints.)
--When doing more appliques at the same time, separate them into Ziploc bags, for easy storage and retrieval, when ready to begin each block.
Additional things you can add (where pieces are large enough or where necessary):
--Template parts: head, left arm, right foot, etc.
--Color of fabric you want to use (so when you go to place pieces you're using the correct fabrics).
Once the images have been traced; cut them apart either separately or as a group (if they are going on the same fabric). I prefer to leave a narrow white edge around the hatched lines, to make accurate cutting easier.

I find the fabric is less flimsy to cut when you cut through both the fabric and fusible web paper. If you need to release an edge to aid in removing the paper, this makes that easier, as well.

My preferred fusible was Steam-a-Seam 2; however, since it isn't available at present, I am using 805 Wonder-Under by Pellon.  The one problem that I have is getting the paper off the fused applique. So, this is what I do; and it de-stresses this process:

1.) Slide the tip of the seam ripper in between the paper and fabric to loosen one side or corner for easier removal, once the piece is cut out. (Depth: about 1/4".)
2.) Place a pencil mark at this location, to instantly know which side you've lifted. Because as sure as anything, when it comes time to separate the paper and fabric, you'll probably not remember which spot you separated. (This easily happens when doing a lot of pieces, at the same time.)
3.) It is best if you do it before you trim the piece, as the extra fabric on the edge gives it more stability.
4.) Since one cannot loosen too much on very small pieces, we want at least half of the piece to stay fastened to allow for cutting out the design.
Releasing Edge of Template

--Use a permanent marker instead of a lead pencil. Why? It doesn't rub off and get on your hands, while working or while using the iron. The lines are easy to draw and see; and will not fade as much as a pen or pencil mark does.
--I like to use a hatched line when tracing out my templates. This eliminates the need to use a ruler, which needs to be wiped, or else collected ink from the edge can smudge other  template pieces as the ruler is moved about. Also, one need not worry about an unsteady hand, causing crooked lines, as it is easy to lift the hand when tired, and then continue tracing.   
--If drawing circles is difficult, you could also use an item the proper size, and trace around it; (IE: bobbin, spool, plate...) 
--Use a small piece of masking tape to help secure your page to the table, as you trace out the templates, when appropriate.

Select the fabrics you will be using; press if necessary to remove wrinkles.

To aid in applique placement, you can mark the center of the block, but adding a crease line vertically and horizontally on the block.

Marking Center of Block With Creases

If there are many pieces to layer in a design, you can carefully do a quick press (iron down, iron up) with the iron, then continue adding more pieces, to keep them from sliding about. Then fuse all when ready. (However, only do this when you know you have pieces where you desire them.)

Only fusible with sticky backs can be re-lifted and re-arranged during the placement process. That is why so many people liked Steam-a-Steam 2. (Wonder Under does not have a sticky back.)

To get pieces to align properly while arranging them on the quilt block; use your rotary cutting ruler (or any clear ruler) to keep them straight. This way you can see through the ruler and ensure your design is placed where you want it.

Using the Ruler to Place the Swing's Seat

--Where many pieces cross, I sometimes like to fuse on the bottom pieces first; go stitch them on; and then go back and add the ones on top. This is helpful when you are changing thread colors; or when it is more difficult to stitch the bottom piece(s) without affecting the piece(s) that overlaps it.
Two examples might be: 
(1) A railroad crossing... Stitch around all the short pieces; and then, add the long pieces.
(2) A grouping of flowers... five in the design with three in the background. Stitch on the three in the back row; and then add the final two in the front row. 

Embellishing the Blocks:
Sometimes, you will want to add extra elements to the applique that are not made from fabric; such as: extra rows of stitching, buttons, lace, rickrack, bias tape, etc. to embellish the quilt blocks.

Stitching Lines:
A machine-stitched line is quick; and works much better when an applique piece would be so narrow it would not really be worth the trouble. (Like the swing's rope here.) You could also do this step by hand with an embroidery stitch.

It will depend on the color of your fabric; however, in this block we can use a pencil to draw a light line to mark the stitching line.

I like to use a 2.5 stitch length and stitch on the drawn line; with the needle down in the fabric, turn the block and stitch over the first row of stitching; and if I want more definition, do it one more time. Then, I pull the threads to the backside; and knot. (I used three lines, on this block.)

Drawing on the Lines for the Swing's Rope

Lines Ready to be Stitched

Other Embellishments:
If pieces are very small, they can be replaced with buttons, sequins, googly eyes, or fussy-cut fabrics. To embellish and decorate a block; we could add decorative stitching, embroidery, lace, bias tape, piping, rickrack, etc. 

Extra care must be taken with blocks that are embellished, as to not nick or melt the attachments, when using the iron.

Sewing the Block:
Before we stitch our applique designs, we'll need to decide what:
--thread type(s) and color(s) to use
--type of stitches and size
--adding applique pieces in one or more application(s)
--any embellishments and when they are added to the block

Thread Type and Color:
Generally, it is recommended to use cotton thread for cotton fabric. But if you don't have cotton thread and have lots of other blends of thread, use them. I like the polyester/cotton blend for appliqueing. 

Color Options: 
You can match the thread to the fabric, use one thread color throughout, or use a combination of thread colors; to embellish and decorate the blocks, as you desire. I have used all three in different projects.

Types of Stitches:
I like using a buttonhole or blanket stitch in a 2.5/2.5 size; and the zigzag stitch for finishing the edges on my appliques. I do recommend using a zigzag stitch for small applique pieces. I generally use a 2.0/0.5 or sometimes a 1.5/0.5 stitch size. The zigzag stitch is also quicker, if time is a factor. And since not all machines have the extra fancy stitches, the zigzag stitch still looks lovely used on appliques.

Personally, I have no tolerance for needle-turn applique, and hand sewing I only reserve for the quilt binding on small projects; and therefore, I love this fused machine applique technique. 

I hope this tutorial was helpful, and if you have any other concerns, please email them to me. I can do another applique post, if there are enough interest. Thanks for reading....

And happy stitching....

Tree Swing Block:
This is just one way to do it; as you could fuse the complete design and then add the stitching.

In my example:
The tree trunk and swing were done before the tree top was fused and stitched. Since the top of the trunk is covered by the leaves, a straight stitch can be used to get to the other side; and then continue with the selected stitch type.  (This is optional.)

Stitching the Swing and Tree Trunk

After adding the tree top; a few lines of additional stitching was added to the tree trunk. These lines were done with machine stitching. (Can also be done by hand or left out.)

Showing the Finished Applique


With Valentine's Day coming up, let's share the love....

To enter my "Share the Love" draw leave a comment on this February 7, 2014 blog post for your chance to win 1 of 3 patterns from my Craftsy pattern store. Winners will be drawn on Feb.14.

Draw Rules:
1.) Post a comment about something you LOVE about this applique mystery quilt along.
2.) Contest is open to ALL participants. (Both free and paid versions.)
3.) You must have a valid email address to claim your prize, if you are a winner.

To make this extra special: Non-participants can also play. And if your name is chosen as a winner; you will receive the February paid version, so you can join in all the fun the group is having. 


Happy Quilting....

You can check out this blog entry for more examples of  Applique Stitching . 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Quilt Along Layout

It was only a few weeks ago, that this project began. And I have already enjoyed seeing some of your work and look forward to seeing your final layouts; when we get to the end of this project.


As promised, I am ready to share some more details... on the quilt's layout. I know we are not ready to assemble these quilt blocks, yet; however, it'll give you more options, if your block sizes vary in future projects.

For anyone wishing to make a smaller or larger rendition of this project, here is how you can adjust the block's sizes to fit your own.

The original design...
calls for 10 nine-patch blocks intermixed with interesting applique blocks. So when my nine patch blocks were smaller then my design called for; I decided to make up a quilt anyway, using these blocks.

At that time, I had decided I would use my nine patch blocks with blank applique blocks to show you how to adjust the size to fit this pattern's layout.  This will also work with larger blocks.

The pieced blocks coming in weeks 12 and 13 are still hidden to be revealed later on.

So here it is....
This is how you can resize the applique blocks to fit your pieced blocks, regardless of the block size, required.

For Sections 1 and 4; the quilt calls for six blocks in these two sizes:  5" x 5" and a 5" x 9.5". Now what I needed to do was resize them to match my nine patch blocks that were only 4 3/4" x 4 3/4" in size.

Cut six blocks the same size as your pieced blocks. (My example here is: 4 3/4".) Then... to resize the second set of blocks, lay two of these 4 3/4" squares, side by side, as shown below.

Two blocks (each: 4 3/4" x 4 3/4")

On the ruler, we see the total length is 9 1/2". To cut the other six blocks, make them 1/2" shorter and cut these six blocks at: 4 3/4" x 9". (If desired, you could add this 1/2" and then trim the blocks in a later step.)

In this post, we will be working with only sections one and four. I will reveal the other two sections in a later post.
Both sections use the same blocks in their layouts. Section 1 fits at the top left-hand corner and Section 4 fits at the bottom right-hand corner of the quilt. 
For the quilt along, we are creating each unfinished block, one at a time, in order that we have the flexibility to rearrange our pieced blocks and applique blocks, as desired. Plus, this allows the applique mystery to unfold block by block.
However, in these examples, to help demonstrate the layout, at this time; the applique blocks are left blank (shown in this example in white). I will be adding the appliques, later.
To create these two sections....
Lay out the blocks, stitch into rows, and then into a section. (Section 1 is demonstrated here.)

Laying Out the Blocks

1) Prepare all the blocks; both pieced (nine-patch); and applique blocks (shown in white here).
2) Arrange your blocks, as desired to fit this layout.
Blocks Sewn Into Rows
3) Sew these eight blocks together into three separate rows. 
4) Then join these three rows into a group, which I refer here as a section.

Once these blocks are stitched together into this configuration; measure all four blocks before trimming. Because I have already made the other two blocks, I knew my final measurement would be 13" x 13" for these four blocks.  (Examples below are not trimmed yet.)
SECTION 1: Blocks Sewn Together
SECTION 4: Blocks Sewn Together

When all four sections are sewn together, we will measure the width of the quilt top across its center and cut our border lengths to fit this measurement. That instruction will be given in April; when we get to that stage of this project.

Happy Quilting!!