Saturday, January 1, 2022

New Year, New Ambitions, and New Applique Projects for Rebecca!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!  Have you made big plans or resolutions for 2022?  Will you be Eating Less Junk Food, Drinking More Water, Spending Less Money, Achieving Self-Actualization and Becoming One With the Universe?  Or are you mustering your willpower behind resolutions like No New Projects Until the Old Ones are Finished, or Only Using Fabric that you Already Own?  If those are your goals for 2022, I'll be cheering you along from the sidelines but I won't be joining you in your Year of Austerity.  Two years into the Plague, I've had enough of deprivation and restrictions and my New Year's Resolutions are all about MORE instead of less.  More creative challenges, more learning new skills and honing existing ones, and more shopping to support small businesses: local quilt shops, mom-and-pop online sellers, and all of the talented designers whose fabric lines, quilt patterns, and digital quilting designs send so much beauty and inspiration out into a bleak world!

Rebecca's New Applique Projects for 2022:

With that in mind, I've resolved to start THREE of Sarah Fielke's challenging year-long BOM (Block of the Month) projects involving extensive handwork, lots of variety, and excuses to buy more fabric (and cut into plenty of the scraps and yardage already in my stash).  Mwahahaha!

A few weeks ago, I asked y'all to weigh in and help me decide which of these three Sarah Fielke BOM reruns I should join in 2022, and I was hoping your collective feedback would help me to pick one.  Well, that didn't happen!  There was no clear preference for one project, and I am drawn to different aspects of each one.  What I like about all three projects, and what I like about designer Sarah Fielke's style in general, is their playfulness and whimsy -- like beautiful children's book illustrations that captivate a child's imagination.  The techniques are challenging and involve a lot of hand stitching, but the style is just plain cheerful and fun.  I need some FUN in 2022!  If any of you want to join me (and thousands of other quilters around the world) with one of these projects, you still have time to sign up on Sarah's web site here.  The first patterns won't be released until January 31st, so you still have time to pick your project and get your fabrics together!

I'm planning to use lots of scraps and fat quarter yardage from my stash for these three quilts, so the easiest way to ensure that they don't end up looking all alike is to use very different background fabrics for each one.  To that end, I made a quest to one of my favorite Not-Quite-Local Quilt Shops a few days ago, Sew Much Fun in Lowell, NC.

Supporting Local Businesses by Purchasing Way More Fabric Than I Need

Yes, my plan was to just buy yardage for the background fabrics and alternate block fabrics for Happy Days and Simple Folk, and yardage for the center medallion and borders of Down the Rabbit Hole.  As you see in the photo above, I also bought half yard cuts of a bunch of other fabrics that caught my eye, to be cut up for the appliqué and pieced blocks.  It's a good thing I got to the shop 45 minutes before they closed, because I kept finding more and MORE fabrics while they were cutting the ones I'd already picked out...  I was like a toddler in the grocery checkout, grabbing candy bars and tossing them in the cart while mom isn't looking!

As of right now, I'm considering using that deep chocolatey brown fabric (bottom of the stack on the right) for either my Simple Folk or my Happy Days background.  Whichever one doesn't get the dark brown background will have a mix of "low volume" and text prints, or maybe that periwinkle blue/white fabric (bottom of the stack on the left) will be the background.  Down the Rabbit Hole is going to be clear bright colors.  There is also a possibility that I won't use any of the background fabrics I bought yesterday for any of these quilts, though.  I have an assortment of shot cotton solids in my stash that might make for nice backgrounds for Happy Days.  And, as I said previously, I have no qualms about buying more fabric in 2022.  

Priority Works in Progress for 2022:

Other projects planned for 2022 include finishing my '80s Retro Building Blocks sampler quilt top that I took down from the design wall when I started my nephew's graduation quilt:

In-Progress Retro '80s Building Blocks Sampler

I also want to move forward with the Deco Bed Quilt (pattern by Lo and Behold here) that I planned and bought fabric for a few months ago:

Kona Solids Color Plan for 102 x 102 Deco Bed Quilt

The Retro '80s sampler and the Deco quilt are both generous Queen sizes and are priorities because they are meant for beds in my own home that are currently quiltless.  I had made quilts for both of my sons' twin beds when they were much younger, but never got around to making them new quilts when they shot up like giants and needed bigger beds.  The sampler quilt is destined for the bedroom of Son the Younger (18-year-old Anders) and the Deco quilt will go on the bed of Son the Elder (my Lars-of-Ours who just turned 21).  I bought some AccuQuilt strip dies specifically to speed up the cutting the many strips required for the Deco quilt and I did prewash and start cutting into a few of the fabrics before setting it aside, but I'll need to start cutting the navy background fabric before I can start piecing blocks.  

Meanwhile, I still have two other "big works" in progress that I've been working on since 2013 and 2014, and I'd like to move forward with both of these in the New Year as well.  My Jingle quilt has been waiting oh-so-patiently for custom quilting since I finished the top in 2019, and I've penciled this one into my quilting schedule for mid-February:

My 72 x 72 Jingle BOM Waiting Patiently for Custom Quilting

The Jingle sampler uses patterns designed by Erin Russek, with some modifications and substitutions (Rebecca "has difficulty following instructions" 😁) and it's a mix of traditionally pieced blocks, hand stitched appliqué, with some hand embroidery for stems and the monogram etc.  This was my first attempt at appliqué and I followed Erin's excellent instructions for starched and pressed pre-turned edges.  

Starch and Press Preturned Edges for Jingle Applique

I LOVED working on the appliqué blocks for this project!  Preparing all of the appliqué shapes for each block ahead of time was time consuming and I sustained a few burns from my iron in the process, but it is so nice to be stitching down smooth, perfectly shaped leaves and circles without trying to turn curved fabric edges under at the same time I'm stitching them.  I enjoyed the variety of working on a sampler quilt, too, and found it motivating and enjoyable to make creative decisions along the way as I selected fabrics for the blocks one by one and watched them "come to life" as I stitched the shapes to my block backgrounds.  I know I'm going to enjoy that with the new Sarah Fielke BOMs I've selected for this year.

Jingle is meant for wall display during the Christmas season, so I'm planning on a double batting with 80/20 on the bottom for structure and stability, topped with wool for dimension.  I'll be doing SID (stitch in the ditch) around all of my appliqué with a combination of rulerwork, free motion quilitng, and digital quilting designs in the pieced blocks, appliqué backgrounds and borders.  Metallic threads will be involved...

First Frankenwhiggish Rose Block, Completed in 2014

Finally, there's this Frankenwhiggish Rose needleturn appliqué project that has been dragging on and on and on...  I started it in 2014, soon after finishing the appliqué blocks for my Jingle quilt, when I was wanting to explore alternative methods of hand stitched appliqué that would streamline the prep work and eliminate the likelihood of burning my fingerprints off with the iron.   I call it the "Frankenwhiggish Rose" because the block design was cobbled together from different sources.  I first saw a quilt in Quilter's Newsletter Magazine that had been inspired by a Kim Diehl pattern, but had been deemed by the editors to be sufficiently distinct that they published it as a new pattern in their magazine.  That's where I got the shape of the big rose petals.  But I disliked the folksy hearts on that pattern and substituted them for reverse appliqué tulips that I got from a pattern for an antique reproduction quilt in another magazine.  The broderie perse rosebuds circling the center of the block were a whim inspired by the rosebuds on my kitchen drapery fabric (I cut them out of scraps!) and the stuffed berries in the block corners are there because stuffed berries make me happy.  I followed the basic instructions for needleturn appliqué in a book by Becky Goldsmith, but using my own patterns rather than any of the projects in the book.  (The fabric colors for this project are truer in the recent photo below).

Needle Turned Edges for the Frankenwhiggish Rose Applique

After having made that first test block to confirm I liked my Frankenstein design and fabric combinations, I set out to make eight more identical blocks.  I thought it would be more efficient to do all the stems first, then all the center rose petals, then the leaves for all eight blocks...  Well, I've been bogged down with the monotony of making and stitching bazillions of these fiddly leaves (16 per block, so 128 of the little buggers accomplished one or two leaves at a time), and I've learned a few things along the way:

  1. I prefer hand stitching applique with preturned edges to needleturn, for a couple of reasons.  Although the slight irregularity of shapes that is inherent to needle turning edges as you stitch them down might create a more authentic look for a reproduction project, I am finding it tedious and annoying.  Turning the edges as I go slows down the stitching process. Moreover, with this method I only pin a few shapes to the block at a time for stitching whereas, with Erin's starch and press turned edge technique, the entire block is positioned and glue basted on the block to be stitched down all at once.  Since the applique stitches themselves cause some distortion and drawing up of the background fabric, I'm finding that  it's more and more difficult to line up the vinyl pattern overlay to position subsequent applique shapes the further along I get in stitching the blocks together.  So these nine blocks that were supposed to be "identical" are not going to be identical at all.  As in nature, each leaf, flower petal and vine is unique.  That's not a bad thing necessarily, but it's not desirable for every project.
  2. For a really intense project involving hundreds of hours of handwork, I prefer a sampler style where each block is going to be different.  For all of the fun that I had making the design choices and watching them all come together as I stitched that first block, the joy and satisfaction have diminished considerably as I've been slogging away on multiples of the exact same block.  I still admire antique quilts that have multiples of the same appliqué block, and I'm not saying I'll never make one like that again, but I was drawn to the Sarah Fielke projects particularly because I knew the variety would stave off boredom and keep the project fun for me. 

As of right now, I have eight more of those little green leaves needing to be positioned, pinned, and sewn to the ninth Frankenwhiggish, and then I'll be moving on to making tulips with reverse appliquéd centers for eight blocks, then broderie perse rosebuds for eight blocks, and finally the stuffed berries for eight blocks.  Once the blocks are finished, I have some ideas about how I might set them but nothing is set in stone.  I might be so sick of the project by that point that I have to put it in time out until 2023...  

I'm hoping to completely finish the Deco and Retro '80s bed quilts and the Jingle wall hanging, make a start on each of the new BOMs (even if I don't keep up with the BOM schedules), and finish the Frankenwhiggish Rose appliqué Blocks in 2022.  I'm looking forward to learning about Sarah Fielke's preferred methods for appliqué but I'll adapt them as I see fit and may combine multiple methods, or choose one quilt for hand stitched appliqué and another one for machine appliqué.  I'm intrigued by a prepared edge appliqué technique one of my quilting friends shared with our bee a couple years ago, before the Plague of 2019/2020/2021/etc. broke up our in-person gatherings;

A Few of My Quilting Bee Peeps, Before the Plague: Jeri, MaryBeth, and Marguerite

In the photo above, Jeri (far left) is showing us how she uses leave-in washaway applique sheets for her hand stitched applique.  It's fusible on one side and has the consistency of a machine embroidery stabilizer or a nonwoven interfacing.  She traces her shapes onto the stabilizer product, cuts them out, and fuses them to her applique fabrics.  Then she cuts around them leaving a scant 1/4" turning allowance.  But then, instead of fiddling around with cups of liquid starch and paintbrushes and a blistering hot iron to turn the applique fabric edges around the stabilizer templates, she uses fabric glue stick to secure the raw edges directly to the back of the templates in a pinching, twisting motion around the shape.  

Back Side of Jeri's Tulip, Raw Edges Glue-Basted to Washaway Stabilizer, Ready to Stitch

This reminded me of how Harriet Hargrave uses fabric glue stick and freezer paper templates for her machine applique method, except that Harriet's freezer paper templates need to have the glue moistened and freezer paper templates ripped out through a snip in the backing fabric afterwards.  These applique sheets that Jeri uses are meant to be left in the quilt, washing away eventually if the finished quilt is washed.  Even if it's a Wash-This-Quilt-Over-My-Dead-Body kind of project, the leave-in stabilizers aren't sticky or stiff and I really like the way they enhance the dimensionality of Jeri's appliqué.  It's not puffy like trapunto, just a little less flat than appliqué without the use of this product.  

Of course, the best way to reach long-term goals is to break them down into smaller chunks.  As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I won't get my hands on any of the BOM patterns for the new Sarah Fielke projects until the very last day of the month, January 31st, so my focus between now and then is on moving other things along so I'm ready to dive into the new BOMs when the patterns drop.  To that end, here are my goals for this week:

  1. Several clients' quilts need to be completed and moved out of my queue
  2. Prep those last 8 leaves on the final Frankenwhiggish Rose block for late-night hand stitching by the television
  3. Finish assembling a boring Christmas tumbler throw quilt that needs to come off my design wall to make room for other projects

And here are my goals for the month of January:

  1. Make borders and a few more blocks for Retro '80s sampler 
  2. Finish cutting out Deco Quilt
  3. Prep reverse applique tulips for Frankenwhiggish Rose

What new projects are YOU planning to start this year, or which older ones are you hoping to finish?  Have you ever tried these washaway applique sheets?  If you have another favorite appliqué technique or product that I should try, please tell me about it either by hitting Reply (if you're reading this post via email) or by leaving a comment on the blog post.  Whatever you're working on, I wish you many hours of happy stitching, health, and blessings in this fresh and shiny new year.  I'll be linking up today's post with my favorite linky parties (links can be found on my blog sidebar).


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

I tried the wash away sheets but didn't like them - possibly because I sometimes hand quilt over the applique adding veins to leaf's outlining some larger flowers in the applique itself and find it much harder to hand quilt through - I just plain like needle turn applique - no fuss just stitch.
For a possible challenge to myself this year is to start a new hexie quilt from a photo - no pattern - just go from the photo as the photo of the hexie quilt went nowhere as so happens on Pinterest.
I say you go girl in all those BOMs I just wasn't interested enough in any of them to make - nice quilts but no thanks! I will be watching to see what progress you make!

Gretchen Weaver said...

All those BOM's are beautiful but my favorite is Happy Days. I won't be joining in though, I already have an assortment of applique projects with pulled fabrics waiting for me to finish Hearts & Wreaths. Happy stitching, can't wait to see all your beautiful quilts!

Ramona said...

I always look forward to seeing what you are working on in your little corner and there will be some beauties this year! Happy New Year!

Frédérique - Quilting Patchwork Appliqué said...

I love your new year's resolutions ;))
Tous les projets à venir sont superbes, j'ai hâte de les voir grandir !
Bonne et heureuse année, mes meilleurs voeux pour 2022.
Thank you for sharing, and linking up!

Heather said...

I’m loving your generous and indulgent approach to New Years planning- time to find some joy in life

O'Quilts said...

I am so with you!!! More More More...of especially and friendship xo xo said...

I'm loving your "more" concept and definitely approve of your choice to tackle all three projects! Your year will be full of fun!

Pamela Arbour said...

Well, that was very interesting! I love all of your projects and I'm impressed with your motivation. I hope you give us a quarterly update on all of them. I realized that BOMs are great and I can keep up until the end but then putting them together and quilting them seems to slow me down and by January I was starting on another group of BOMs and after a few years, I found myself with a lot of almost completed BOMs! I did enjoy all of your post. I haven't tried that applique stabilizer. I also read Karen's thoughts on quilting over it. I will keep that in mind, but I do think I would like to try it.

Pat N said...

I thoroughly enjoyed your thoughts and plans for the year. Your attitude is great and contagious! Thanks for sharing.
I’ve tried nearly every turned edge appliqué method out there and tend to go back to using leave-in stabilizer products on most projects.
What a time saver! Some products are thicker than others (Ricky Tim’s Stable Stuff), some have a built-in adhesive (Hugs & Kisses appliqué papers and Quilter’s Select Print & Piece), some come in sheets that can go through your printer (good for boring, repetitive shapes), and others are sold in larger yardage if you are working on larger appliqué designs (Sharon Schamber’s appliqué stabilizer). All have their advantages and disadvantages. And ALL require that you cut accurately. What you see is what you get!

If you want smooth large curves, go for the stiffer products. If you want to hand embroider or embellish, the thinner products or freezer paper or starch methods are best, It’s your quilt; your choice!
My plans for 2022 include making The Quilt Show BOM (and finishing it), the Uptown Appliqué BOM with Gay of Sentimental Stitches, along with finishing several other languishing BOM projects from past years. You are not the only quilter with projects that have been in time out…

Kathy S. said...

Woohoo on starting on all three projects!!! Good luck with all of them. Your work is gorgeous. You've got this. Happy new year!

Barb N said...

You have an ambitious creation load for 2022, but I suspect you'll succeed! I look at those three quilts and just melt - such a huge undertaking! But what fun to gather fabrics, cut, arrange, create, and have a group to follow in the process. All the quilts will be beautiful. And I'm glad to see you working on the Deco quilt. Your colors are awesome.
Find joy in 2022 is essential. You're on your way!

Deb A said...

Oh boy - those are all lovely but I like the Simple one best! So much applique happening at your house on all those beautiful projects. I tend to back baste as I am terrible at prepping. Good luck with your goals.

Kathleen said...

What a lot of fun in your future! I love Sarah's quilt but am not ready to commit to a project like that. So many ways to do applique, I have tried them all, but I am somewhere between glue w/ fusible or cardstock and the starch if you really want to go and sew. You really have some luscious should be fun when you get going. It will be fun to see how your year progresses!

Sandy said...

I'm exhausted just reading your ambitious list of projects for the year! LOL! But it sounds like you're going to have such fun, and I can't wait to watch your progress and decision making. :)

MissPat said...

My feeble attempts at applique have only resulted in forlorn unfinished blocks. I'm not surprised at your decision to go for all 3 new projects and hope you find the balance between client quilts and your own projects. I've got way too many UFOs to even think of starting anything new. Good luck with your ambitious plans.

Nancy @ Grace and Peace Quilting said...

It's going to be fun watching your blog this year, Rebecca, with all of those fun projects you have planned!!! I'm going to look for some of that wash away stabilizer--I have an applique border I've been avoiding. You go, quilter girl! Happy new year!

Karrin Hurd said...

I joined in for Down the Rabbit Hole. I probably don't need another applique project, but that one has always called to me. Thanks for the link! I probably didn't need to be led astray though!

Darlene S said...

I love all your projects and goals for 2022. THREE of Sarah Fielke's challenging year-long BOM is going to be amazing. I'm looking forward to seeing your progress on each of these quilts. I love the fabrics you have selected from your stash and your new additions.

Melisa- pinkernpunkinquilting said...

You certainly have some fabulous works in progress and in the horizon. It is always fun to buy fabric especially for a new project. Looking forward to seeing all you accomplish this new year.

LIttle Penguin Quilts said...

I love your attitude, Rebecca, and I can tell you're going to have a lot of fun, sewing all kinds of quilts! I never make those "not going to buy anything new" resolutions because there's always something you need for a certain project and it's fun to go looking. I'm still working on my quilting plans for the year, too, and enjoy leaving room on my dance card for something new that pops up! Happy New Year!

The Joyful Quilter said...

Wow!! Sounds like you've got a busy year planned, Rebecca. Enjoy your quilty efforts and happy shopping!!

Robin said...

I really appreciate your enthusiasm about new patterns, new fabrics, new projects. It feels like it been a long slog waiting for stores to be stocked and new patterns invented. I've lost a little of the joy of quilting that I really want to get back. I've spent the last two years completing UFOs with few new starts. I made a lot of progress and for that I'm grateful but I hope to find something soon that will tempt me to make it for the pleasure of making, not for the pleasure of finishing. (Although there will be a little of that too.)

Anonymous said...

Rebecca, It is going to be so much fun following along on all of the projects on your list for 2022!!
I am lucky to have a couple of awesome local quilt shops, and, plan to do some shopping at both this year. They carry very different fabrics, so even though the shops are not large, the variety available is amazing! I have a hard time buying fabric online because I need to feel the fabric, and see the real colors in person.
I still have to make my list of projects I want to start/finish/move forward this year. Hope to get that done in the next week or so!
Sandra B

The Cozy Quilter said...

I will be looking to you for inspiration to complete my Coming Home quilt…I need to appliqué doors and windows on the big house border and piece and appliqué the last border. You are very ambitious to tackle all tree in one year! Lovely colours you have chosen for your projects.

Jeanette K. Lyon said...

Is that all??? (and she laughed and laughed) I know you will get all this done but I got weary just thinking about it. So. Much. Creativity!

Alycia~Quiltygirl said...

Oh what fun you have planned!! I love those Sara patterns - those will be awesome to watch you make. and the Art Deco one - love it!!! and I love that you aren't restricting!!! You go girl!!!

Carole @ From My Carolina Home said...

What a nice chatty post, full of ideas and plans. It is great to identify what you love and don't like about the process, so you can concentrate on what brings you joy and leave behind the tedious. Have fun this year.

Sharon Kwilter said...

Wow, your projects are amazing. I'm definitely going to enjoy watching your progress photos. And I have to admit during the pandemic I found shopping and buying fabric a comfort so I did it a LOT. I did mostly buy online, but I did my part to support quilt shops in the past couple of years. LOL

CathieJ said...

Oh wow, you are far more ambitious with your quilting than I think I could ever be. I am just hoping to finish a queen size log cabin variation this year. I have always loved Down the Rabbit Hole. I have seen other bloggers complete it. I look forward to following your progress.

Cheree @ The Morning Latte said...

Good luck on all three! I like them all but to pick one, hmmm: it'd be between the Rabbit Hole and Happy Days. Last year was definitely a bigger year of buying for me so I would love to just settle in a shop my least for now.

Linda said...

Oh those fabrics you picked!! I really enjoyed your post - so full of creative joy! I've never tried the washaway applique sheets but how interesting!
Thank you for sharing with To Do Tuesday!!

Sandra Walker said...

Those are some humongous goals Rebecca! I think my eyeballs fell out of my sockets when I saw that you'd chosen not one but all three LOL of the Sarah Fielke quilts. I love them, especially the Down the Rabbit Hole one, but that may be because I followed someone doing it a few years ago, and she is AMAZING at hand appliqué. I cannot wait to see how you quilt Jingle. Wow that is a beauty of a quilt! It's refreshing (and I'm a bit envious ha, but I have a most HEALTHY stash) to see you out adding to your stash too, grin!

Preeti said...

In the new year, I am going to "try" to observe more and react less. However your lofty goals (unachievable for me) are making me react with eyes popping out of my head :-O One thing is certain - there will always be lots to see and inspired by in your blogposts. Whatever you do it will be beautiful and I am rooting for you. Wishing you loads of creativity, sewing mojo and uninterrupted sewing time.

Stephanie said...

Hi Rebecca, happy new year! I'm a newbie quilter and discovered your blog as I'm researching the Bernina 750 QE. You had some very knowledgeable advice on some past discussion threads. I was quite grateful to read what you posted as I found them extremely helpful. I wanted to reach out to get more of your thoughts on the 750 QE. Would you recommend that machine for a new quilter who's looking to expand her sewing/quilting projects and skills? Thanks so much for any insights you can share!

dq said...

You will be a happy but busy girl! I guess if you can't decide you do choose all three. You certainly have some great goals for yourself. I truly do hope you can get yours quilted in February. Take time for yourself!