12/15/18

Blocks by the Batch

Here is a quick picture tutorial on making applique blocks in batches. When I received the pattern for the Dec 2018 block of the Triplett Sisters’ BOM I saw there were two blocks of the same design in the original quilt. There is also a third block that is very similar with the only variation being two leaves. Normally I would really like that quirky difference. This time, however, I decided to make three identical blocks (Tripletts?) so I could show you how I work in batches.

First off, here is the completed block. Lily with Flat Leaves.

Lily with Flat Leaves

Let’s make a batch of blocks! With Back Basting Applique we always start by drawing the complete pattern on the wrong side of the background block.

Study the block and determine which pieces are in the first layer – they will be pieces that either tuck under another piece or stand alone.

Since I was making three blocks at the same time I back basted (by machine- you know it’s my favorite method!) everything for layer one on all three blocks.  I feel like it saves time in the long run if I can iron and cut from one or two pieces of fabric for multiple blocks in one sitting.

Three blocks with layer one basted and trimmed.

Trim leaving a seam allowance. I’m most comfortable with a generous 1/8″ seam allowance – use what works best for you.

There! I have three partial blocks, all basted and ready for needle turn. This is now very portable. All I need to grab is my thread, needle, small scissors, plus a seam ripper (because I basted on the machine and prefer to remove machine basting with a seam ripper.)

Here is my set of blocks with the first layer completed.

Layer 1 is completed

Next back baste and trim all of the Layer 2 motifs on all three blocks.

Applique Layer 2.

Here is my trio with Layer 2 completed.

Three blocks with Layer 2 appliqued.

Continue in this fashion back basting each successive layer on all three blocks.

Back Baste Layer 3

Layer 3 is completed

With each layer the blocks become more complete until finally there is only one layer remaining. I think adding gold at this point really brightened these blocks up.

Back baste the final layer

All three blocks are now completed

Finally, comes the best part, press your completed blocks and check three more blocks off your to do list!

Lily with Flat Leaves. Done.

For more info about the Triplett Sisters’ Huguenot Friendship Quilt Block of the Month click here.

To order a copy of Back Basting Applique Step by Step click here.

To see all the posts for the Huguenot Friendship Quilt click here.

To join the BOM facebook group click here.

02/26/18

Fancy Work Applique

Each month I receive an email with the next pattern in the block of the month quilt I’m stitching with Lori Triplett and her sister Kay Triplett. Lori is using pre-fused, laser cut appliques and adding touches of hand painting to her blocks. Kay is using needle turn applique with freezer paper on top. And I’m using back basting applique with my Waddington Road Primitives fabrics.

A favorite recent block was a gorgeous cutwork pattern that the sisters call Fancy Work. I studied the pattern and decided there was enough space between elements that I could successfully back baste it using one piece of tan fabric. I started by tracing the full pattern to the wrong side of the fabric. Next I placed a single piece of fabric on the front stacked with both fabrics right side up. I like to complete the basting step by machine so I dropped my feed dogs and from the back I basted on all the drawn lines.

Basted on wrong side

For this tutorial I intentionally used black thread in the bobbin – so you would be able to see the basting on the front. That was a good thing because then I was also able to see it!!

Front side of the basted design

At this point I paused for a reality check. Did I really want to work with those tiny seam allowances? Reviewing the image of the original quilt I noted that this block is repeated three times and each version looks a little different than the other two blocks. I took that as my sign and decided it really didn’t matter how close to the original my block turned out. I set to work and trimmed the entire block.Some appliquers prefer to cut as they stitch but I like to get all the excess fabric out of the way so I can see exactly where I need to needle turn.

The stitching went fine as long as I didn’t try to rush. I just turned a bit and stitched a bit until the entire design was appliqued. I stitched the circles last so I could shape them to fit the open space between the other motifs. At one point I felt disappointed that they had become so much smaller than the original drawing and considered cutting new, larger circles and covering them. But if I had done that I wouldn’t be able to say it was cut from one piece of cloth, and besides, I had already coached myself that it didn’t really matter.

Finished 8″ x 8″ block

The reverse applique was the scary part. All the rest of the stitching was already completed when I took my small sharp scissors and cut a slit. I almost couldn’t breathe. It was a month’s worth of applique work resting on the tips of those scissors. But cut I did! Over the next four evenings I completed one reverse applique slit per night. Slow and steady – each stitch was carefully placed.

I marvel to think how the original quiltmaker got such narrow reverse applique slits in her work, but I’ve decided to concede the small seam allowance prize to her. If you are making this quilt too and are feeling challenged by the small seam allowances relax a little and resist the urge to compare to the original. I like my finished block just fine and I’ll like the other two versions even better because they aren’t quite as fancy!

Here are my first nine completed blocks. I think my Fancy Work block looks nice with the group.

The first nine blocks of the Triplett Sisters BOM

To see the original quilt and learn more about this BOM click here.

09/18/17

Bigger Berries Tutorial

I’m sewing along with sisters Lori and Kay Triplet on their appliqued Block of the Month project. Here is my August block: Grapes.

Grapes Block

Earlier I posted a picture tutorial about back basting the tiny berries on the Pokeberry block. They were itty bitty berries! See the post here. Next came the Grapes block with more circles to applique. Normally I may have groaned when I saw all those grapes but having just tackled many more berries that were much smaller in the earlier block I almost cheered to see bigger berries.

Kay posted a tutorial on Facebook showing how she was making her pokeberries using her grandmother’s thimble and a button. You can see it here. Look for the Aug 3, 2017 post.

I often use a similar method using Karen Kay Buckley’s Perfect Circle makers – and I was perfectly happy cutting all those circles by hand until I figured out a way to cut them in bulk – with a die cutter. Ah yes, die cut circles, that’s what I’m talking about! Let’s take a look.

You will notice in the photos that I have cut green circles and red circles. The Grape Block is one of the few blocks that repeats in this BOM so I figured I might as well make all the grapes at the same time.

The 1″ circle is a good size die to own because it can be used for many of the smaller sizes in Karen’s circle maker set.

I use my die cutter for other things but even if I didn’t I would be happy to have it just for cutting circles!

Cut the fabric approximately the same size as the die. I stacked the red and green fabrics to cut multiple layers at once. Crank the handle and run that puppy through the machine (follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the die cutting machine).

Viola! Circles galore!Hand stitch a running stitch close to the edge. Tips: Start with a back stitch! Leave a tail. Use hand quilting thread or another strong thread.

Find the circle maker in the size you want. Karen’s original set has four of each size. I lost one of them in the size used in this tutorial so my photos show making the grapes three at a time (but I’d rather make them four at a time!)Pull the thread tail gathering the fabric around the teflon disc. Give it a spritz of spray starch or magic sizing. Pull the tail again tightening the gathers.

Gather the fabric around the circle maker

Spritz

Tighten the gathers

Press from the wrong side with a hot, dry iron. Flip the circles over and press again from the right side. Let them cool. Think cookies: if you touch them too soon after taking them out of the oven you will burn your fingers!Loosen a stitch across from the tail. It helps to use a straight pin to slide under the stitch. Pop the teflon disc out and pull the tail to snug up the gathers and smooth the circle. It may be tempting to press again at this point but I find that if I leave them alone I get rounder finished berries/grapes.

If you aren’t quite ready to applique, string the berries onto a thread. Just put a knot in the thread and string them on, sort of like stringing popcorn for the Christmas tree. Leave a long tail so they don’t fall off the thread.

Position in place using the pattern as a guide. Hand applique using matching thread. I have a friend who does the basting step with matching applique thread leaving a long enough tail to thread into her needle with when she’s ready to sew.

Here’s my completed red grape version.

Grapes in Red

And here are the blocks I’ve completed so far.

For more information about the Triplet Sister’s Block of the Month check out their website here.

06/9/17

Red and Green Applique, Be Still My Heart!

Those who know me best know that applique quilts are my favorite – especially 19th century, red and green, appliqued, sampler quilts. I adore them. So when Lori Triplett showed me the Huguenot Friendship Quilt that she and her sister Kay were planning as a Block of the Month program my heart skipped a beat – it was red and green, it was applique, it was sampler blocks. There was no doubt in my mind, I would be making that quilt!

But there’s more! I’ve been invited to join Lori and Kay in sewing the blocks with each of us using different colorways and different methods. I’ll be stitching my blocks using the Back Basting Applique technique with a selection of fabrics from my Waddington Road Primitives fabric collection.

The color palette for my blocks in Waddington Road Primitives

Each month I’ll be posting my version of the blocks here at Barb’s Favorites but if you want to sew-a-long you will need to get the patterns or fusible applique kits over at the Triplett Sister’s website. Click here to see the original quilt (get ready to gasp!) and read all the details of the program.

Here’s my first block: Windblown Aster. It finishes 8″ x 8″ and will be turned on point in the final quilt.

Huguenot Friendship Quilt, Block 1 Windblown Aster