Sunday, July 5, 2020

Slow Stitching Sunday: Preparing Leaves for Last Two FrankenWhiggish Rose Blocks

Good morning, and happy Sunday!  I haven't mentioned my needle turned applique project in awhile, mostly because it's dragging on FOREVER and, since I'm making 9 identical blocks, it feels like treading water without ever actually making any progress.

For those of you who haven't been around that long, I started this project in March of 2014.  I'd just completed my first appliqué project, my Jingle quilt using Erin Russek's pattern and fabulous tutorials using the starch and press prepared edge method (nope, that one's not finished yet, either, but it's at least a finished top waiting its turn under the long arm needle).  Anyway, I loved the crisp, precise shapes I was able to achieve with the starch and press method, and I loved that I could just focus on my stitches as I sewed the applique shapes to the background, since the raw edges were already tucked neatly underneath.  However, I was hoping to find a method of hand stitched appliqué that was more portable throughout the process and didn't require a hot iron to get a block ready for stitching.

I bought myself a copy of The Best-Ever Appliqué Sampler Book by Becky Goldsmith and Linda Jenkins, and set about teaching myself needle turn appliqué.  It's a great book with clear instructions, but I wasn't feeling inspired by the projects in the book.  The authors had deliberately chosen some straight, skinny stems, circles, inside points and curves, outside points and curves, and reverse appliqué  to build all of those skills that a newbie would need to tackle any appliqué design.  So I set about finding a different pattern that would have all of those different elements but that was more appealing to me creatively at that point in time, and I ended up with this pattern that I found in an issue of the now defunct Quilter's Newsletter Magazine.  The quilter whose work was featured in the magazine had based her design on an older Kim Diehl pattern, and I made further changes to her pattern motivated by my loathing for cutesy folk hearts and my love of antique appliqué quilts.  I replaced the folksy hearts with reverse appliqué tulips from a historical reproduction pattern (sourced from a different issue of QNM -- man, I miss that magazine!).  And I added little broderie perse rose buds around the center of the big rose, fussy cut from leftover drapery fabric.  If you'd like to see and read more about the pattern sources, see this blog post.  

At first I was just planning to make the one 16" block, to teach myself the techniques of needle turn appliqué  but when I'd finished I liked it so much that I decided to keep going and do a whole quilt with it.  So I imported this photo of my one completed block into my EQ quilt design software and played around with how I could use it in a quilt design.  The idea I liked the most was this one, using nine of these big blocks:

And now here we are, six years later...  I am still working on the other eight appliqué blocks!  To be fair, I've only been working on this in fits and snatches.  I've discovered that it's kind of boring to make a bunch of blocks that are all exactly the same.  I've also learned that I probably prefer the starch and press prepared edge method, burned fingertips and all.  Even though I don't need an iron with needle turn, the whole business of perfectly positioning this vinyl overlay so I can get each applique element positioned just right, then fiddling with tiny 1/2" or 3/4" pins to hold them in place, is not really portable anyway -- I mean, I'm not able to do this in my lap while I'm waiting at the doctor's office, if you know what I mean.  And, although the slight variations from one shape to another that you get with needle turning the edges as you go gives a more authentic, organic look for an historical reproduction quilt (none of those antique quilts were as "perfect" as what we quilters aim for today!), my personality is probably better suited to a method where I have more precise control over the outcome.

Looking at that design I came up with in EQ today, I'm not quite as in love with it anymore -- but it's hard to know whether that's because I've got a combination of photo blocks with so-so-lighting and virtual fabric swatches from the software program.  If I do make that design, I would be using the same fabrics for the pieced blocks, sashing and skinny border that I used in the appliqué blocks.  Right now I'm still plodding along with the appliqué.  After finishing the first block in its entirety, I've been doing the remaining 8 blocks like an assembly line, so all eight of them have their layered petals, center circles, and stems stitched down.  I'm currently pinning leaves on the second-to-last block, which is nice because I am SO SICK AND TIRED OF SEWING LITTLE GREEN LEAVES OVER AND OVER AGAIN!!!  After the leaves, I'll move on to the reverse appliqué tulips for all 8 blocks, and then finish with the stuffed fussy cut berries and the broderie perse rosebuds that go around the center circles.  

I feel like we should place bets as to how many years it will take me to finish this quilt, like guessing how many jelly beans are in the jar and whoever comes closest wins a prize!

I'm linking up today's post with the following linky parties:


·       Slow Sunday Stitching at Kathy's Quilts  

·       Oh Scrap! at Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework


·       Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts  

·       Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt

·       BOMs Away Katie Mae Quilts  


Gretchen Weaver said...

I give you a year to finish the blocks. Once you finish the current block, you'll start on the last block so you can be finally finished!!! I like the design you created so many years ago but any setting you design will be awesome. I have made several quilts with applique. I agree making a quilt with all the blocks with the same applique design and fabrics would be incredibly boring. Every stitch is that much closer to the finish of the block!

Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

sometimes applique just takes awhile - I started Love Entwined in 2013 and it has been sitting in its box for years without me looking at it - one day I would like the center to be done but I have a feeling it will end up in the trash at this rate - I'm not happy with a couple pieces that would be too much work to unpick and have lost interest in it - I really don't even know why I started that one - I hope you finish yours seeing as it sounds like you are much closer to finishing it then I will ever be on mine

Karrin Hurd said...

Beautiful work! I give you 18 months to finish the blocks! LOL! I have had projects go on and on. Just keep with it the best you can.

Debbie said...

I love your blocks, colors, and design for setting. And I have this on my to do list. I have Kim Diehl's book for inspiration. I totally agree with you on the method of applique. I even took a whole day workshop with Becky Goldsmith. It just does not work well with my fingers. I ditched the sample block we did that day. I much prefer the method of starch over a pattern. Keep on stitching! It will be amazing when done, no matter the timeline.

Sherrie said...

I do needle turn applique...but I wouldn't try this many curves...I've wanted to make a Baltimore Album quilt for years...but all those curves has kept me from making one. Your quilt will be awesome when done. Have a great day!

Nann said...

You had me at FrankenWhiggish! Making all-the-same blocks is tedious indeed. But look how good you've gotten at needleturn applique.

P.S. I, too, dislike "hearty" cutesy faux-folk elements in quilt blocks. (What I really loathe is when there's embroidery in a crude style, e.g. "I done my best." Inauthentic, and I would not deliberately do crude or bad grammar.)

SJSM said...

Once SIP is over, you have such a busy lifestyle squeezing in time for quilting is very difficult for you. With all your choral performances and practices, design work, home life it becomes quite a challenge. If SIP goes on for at least another year I’d say it would be 2 ½ years to finish given the other work you need to get done. This one does not seem to be as high of a priority to the others you have going. If we are free tomorrow I’d say another 4 years. I know that may seem pessimistic but I think you will finish so many others and this will be a "filler" from time to time. You have so many ideas going through your head of projects like the star quilt. But you may surprise me. If you get through the tulips you may get a Burst of energy to get the berries done and make the flimsy. I have projects that are "curing" that if I finished them I’d have several boxes out of my sewing room and could really breathe in there. It would be the peaceful clear space I work best in.

I am looking forward to the progress you make. It would be delightful to have you prove me wrong.

Allison said...

Your block looks beautifully neat. I'm about to pick up needle turn applique after a few months break - I thoroughly enjoyed a half-day beginners course just a few weeks before lock down happened. I find the technique very absorbing. My main problem is keeping the pieces in position. Could you explain how to use the template you mentioned in you post please?

chrisknits said...

It will be gorgeous when done, even if it's 5, 6, 7 years from now!! LOL

PaintedThread said...

Beautiful blocks!

Vivian said...

I love the traditional elegance of your whole design! When I see things like this I immediately think "that's got to be done needle-turn". These are "eat an elephant" projects --- don't focus on the meal, just on taking it one bite at a time. Another heirloom!

Mary said...


Have you considered prepared edge applique using the apliquick rods, stabilizer and glue sticks? I took a class to learn this method and like it. I am about to start a new applique project using an Erin Russek pattern.