Tag Archives: applique

Crazy for Butterflies.

9 Apr

I needed to make a quilt for a king sized bed. Making the top was not a problem but what about the cost of having it quilted. My little quilt frame would not even look at it and even if it would my albeit semi professional machine would be working on minus inches by the time the whole thing had rolled up under the arm. The only thing to do was quilt as you go. I have never done one of these before but never let it be said that I would let a little thing like that stop me. There has to be a first time for everything.

First I did crazy patch squares using strips of butterfly fabrics on a sandwich of backing and cotton/polyester wadding . Having chosen to go with a butterfly theme I was going to do some reverse applique butterflies but decided that it would either make or break the project. With my luck it would be the latter. Instead I experimented with embroideries.


Once I had drawn myself a rough plan of which colour went where to prevent adjacent duplicates it was a doddle. I had sewn the blocks into sections of two rows of eight blocks. The whole quilt was to be eight blocks by eight blocks so I had four sections. the added bonus was that as the blocks already had three layers no stabiliser was needed. It also meant that there would be butterflies the colour of the bobbin thread on the back.

I made my rows and sections by joining blocks with narrow sashing. The sashing is sown to both blocks right sides together on the back.




The front is only attached on one block right sides together.


It is then folded over and either hand or machine stitched on the right side. As life is too short and too filled with future quilts I used a fancy machine stitch trying to keep it parallel with the edge. A straight stitch would have been a nightmare keeping it neat on the back.

DSCN2948I used quilting thread.



I hooped the quilt sections and embroidered butterflies. I could have embroidered the butterflies before constructing the strips but this way I could get nearer the edges of the blocks but that was just my preference. I don’t like things too ordered.






Sew all the strips together, add a wide border to match the sashing and Bob’s your Uncle.

As an extra little touch I stitched butterflies all round the border using Sulky Solar thread. This means that at night a row of luminous butterflies lights the room. Who needs a night light when you have luminous butterflies.

I thought I might try making some baby quilts with luminous embroideries. they will either provide the comfort of a night light or produce mildly confused children. What is life without a little experimentation?



The Cheapskate’s Way to Unique Applique.

28 Nov

You may have noticed that patterns are expensive. They are also not always what you would choose. For instance, suppose that your child likes a particular character from literature or TV. You may not be able to get a pattern for an applique of same but you can probably find a colouring book. How obvious is that and how many people never think of it? I never have used this method but I’m considering it.

The other day I was browsing in a local shop that sells a lot of end-of-line  and remaindered stock and I found a  colouring book featuring snowmen. It is a bit late for this year but I will be making at least a snowman themed wall hanging  next year. In theory I could do it  now but I have a queue of UFOs and  refuse to allow a new project until at least some are finished.

This  book is ‘Colour with Frosty’ from www.holland-publishing.co.uk . This particular book is no longer on the site (probably why it was reduced) but there are lots more. The best place for cheap books is one of the remainder shops like The Works. If you want a closer look than the internet affords they have a store finder from your post code   and you can go along and grab an armful.

There were lots of other animals; bears and penguins for instance but these are the ones I have chosen on the snowman theme.

The Book – I am not sure  it is the actual Frosty the Snowman but that’s what it says on the tin so I’ll go with it.







Unless you are a McKenna Ryan fan choose pictures with large pieces and no fiddly bits. Having said that, if you see something you really like and it has lots of fiddly bits, have a go. I use the satin stitch method of attaching my appliques and I have not yet found anything too difficult, small or fiddly to deal with (even McKenna Ryan). In fact she has a beautiful new quilt with snowmen too. Have a look. If you like kits her fabrics are lovely.

If you need instructions on applique have a look at the ‘Tips and Tricks’ page on the heading at the top of this page. There are several applique projects with the basic how tos.

One note of caution. The books are someone’s copyright. If you use them for yourself I cannot see there would be a problem, although I am no expert. If you try to sell the resulting quilt, in theory you could get into copyright problems so best not to do it.

Monkey Puzzle Solved and the End of Christmas.

18 Jun

Just an update on the projects featured in the last post.

And  this one.

I had completed the alphabet monkeys for what was going to be a cot quilt. I obviously took my eye off the ball and having put it together with a set of 25 patch blocks, realised that it was a bit on the long and thin size. The only way to proceed was to make it into a full sized quilt for a single bed.

This I did.

DSCN2598_450x600Some Detail.

DSCN2605_600x600   Yet More.DSCN2607_600x600

And again.DSCN2608_600x600

Not my usual colours but I think they work quite well.

At the same time I was finishing ‘Chrissie Down Under’ by McKenna Ryan.

I can’t say I am as thrilled as I hoped by the completed wall hanging but at least it is finished.

I think my conclusion is that she does animals and birds very well but the Santa and the Cat don’t quite work. The problem with her patterns is that it is not easy to find a large picture of the finished quilt to see what it will look like.

I did use satin stitch round all the appliques rather than the suggested straight stitching with a poly filament thread. At least I can wash it without it falling apart.Mind you my all singing and dancing newer Pfaff refused to have anything to do with the multiple layers of fabric and glue. Whilst it was sulking I dug out my original Pfaff bought in 1985 and I have to say that it is far superior to the one I bought to replace it when the motor gave up. Nothing to do with the fact the original was made in Germany of course. (sarcy face emoticon) Luckily I decided that the small amount of money I was going to be charged to have a new motor fitted was worth it so I now have my old machine back and this quilt was able to be completed. What I will do with it I am not sure. We may have to move house to get higher ceilings.

DSCN2591_450x600 I love the detail on these birds.

DSCN2592_600x286Fiddly but worth it.

DSCN2593_600x306These may be my favourites.

DSCN2594_600x397This bird presented the biggest challenge with its layers of feathers.

DSCN2595_559x600See the detail.

DSCN2596_252x600Kangaroos and pelicans.


As I sit posting this I can hear music from the village green. Every year Polperro has a music festival so every afternoon there are a couple of bands performing and then lots more in all the pubs in the evening. The Big Cheese and myself even took in a spot of chamber music on Sunday.

Bees, Fast Women, Hulala and a Surfeit of Monkeys

9 May

I haven’t posted for a while as I have been otherwise engaged moving house and decorating . Not that I personally have moved house but it amounts to the same thing timewise. Then I started on the Spring cleaning. I say started as although I managed to finish the kitchen the whole process ground to a halt somewhere between the living room and the bedrooms. After that I wasn’t motivated to do anything. However I think I may be back on track at least with the embroidery machine. Hopefully the next stage will be finished quilts.

I received some new Loralie Designs embroideries and did a few for the quilt shows.

Very Fairy






Bee Happy


DSCN2492_450x600 DSCN2493_450x600 DSCN2494_450x600 DSCN2495_450x600

Fast WomenDSCN2496_600x450



There are also matching fabrics and panels available on my web site.



bee happy panel left_600x600 bee happy panel right_600x600

Fast Women Black Tossed_600x600

Fast Women White Toss_600x600

Fast Women Panel Whole_600x330

Fast Women Portrait_600x330

Then I had an urge to embroider the MM Embroideries  Little Monkeys alphabet. I finally found a use for some Fabric Freedom fat quarters I had previously failed to utilise .










I have also made a start on the rest of the Chrissie Down Under by McKenna Ryan. I had cut out all the pieces and then lost interest. I happen to have a bit of time that needs filling next week so I hope to get the rest of the panels ready to sew.

Remember the ones I did do? ( see the post about the quilt.)


I might even have it finished by Christmas – only the third since I bought the pattern.

Hopefully when these are finished I might be on a roll and back into blogging too.

Dyeing to Show You

15 Feb

If you read my last blog you will have seen my first attempts at dyeing fabric. Since then I can’t stop myself. I have dyed a fabric in every colour I bought and some in more than one. Behold.


I have also started using them in my applique.

This one makes for rather a busy background but you can’t deny it’s colourful.


You may remember I used some similar fabric in a quilt I made featuring dragons. In fact it was this fabric that started the interest in dyeing my own.


close up of fabrics.


In case you were wondering about the clowns, they are from my new quilt pattern. It will be published as soon as I get the time to sort out the printing.

Here’s a preview.







Bow Acquires Colourful New String.

30 Jan

As if I didn’t have enough  hobbies and hobbies in abeyance I have started down the road to bancruptcy with yet another. I bought some rather beautiful hand dyed fabrics at two separate quilt shows. They are fantastic for applique as each piece of fabric can yield hundreds of variations of colour and texture  rather than having one overall  pattern or colour.

Although I have several, I got to thinking how useful it would be to have  variations of variations ad infinitum. The rest, as they say is history. I had a bit of an expensive hicccup at the beginning, choosing the wrong type of fabric but even that wasn’t a disaster, just a teaching aid.

My first mistake was to believe the wording on a fabric supplier’s site that stated that it’s RFD (ready for dyeing) fabric was the best it had ever seen. On the strength of that I bought a quantity. I would probably have been happy with the results if I hadn’t had the hand dyed fabric I had bought at the shows with which to compare it. The colours were bright but the finish on the fabric was letting them down. They looked dull when I wanted vibrant.


Over Christmas myself and Daughters numbers one and two did quite a bit of dyeing of fabrics but we were definitely underwhelmed with the results. I searched the internet to find out how other people tackled the problem. and found several answers and a reasonable consensus on the best way to go about things.

First of all I discovered that mercerised cotton is a better way to go. The treatment of the fabric means that the surface is less hairy and the  fibres absorb the dye better, thus providing the required vibrancy.

I also discovered that it appears that keeping the dye bath warm for as long as possible gives better results. For someone who works from a cellar that is decidedly nippy at this time of year this could be regarded as essential information.

The picture below was taken in said cellar and still you can see the difference.


The other thing that became apparent was that the way the fabric dyes also varies with the different fabric/methods. There is less of a flat colour with the mercerised cotton. See how the pattern is varied on the bigger sample below.


To an applique addict this type of fabric is the answer to so many problems.

I used the first fabrics I dyed to finish off my latest design. It is actually a Christmas wall hanging so it’s a bit late or a bit early depending how you view it. The design is actually from daughter number one and interpreted by yours truly.  I am particularly pleased with the fabric I used for Rudolph. It wasn’t planned but turned out to be perfect.


First the elf that has lost his clothes and the friend that thinks it is hilarious.



Not quite fiddling whilst Rome burns but something equally dangerous.


Seasoning greetings.



Above an inebriated Rudolph.

Below it doesn’t pay to sleep with idle hands in the vicinity.


At the moment I am working on some clowns using the more vibrant mercerised cotton. I will post pictures to show the difference. I will also do a tutorial based on the things I have learned. Watch this space.

The Trials, Tribulations and Triumphs of Chrissie Down Under.

6 Dec

I have finally started my Mckenna Ryan quilt. I think the one I have chosen – Chrissie Down Under – is probably one of the better ones for my purpose. It is a personal opinion but, art quilt or not, I cannot get my head round the idea of not actually sewing the shapes permanently onto the backing. The advice is to vacuum rather than wash but I guess that depends on how long you intend to use the quilt and, in the case of the Christmas one, whether it will suffer from storage or sticky fingers. I had ideas of ignoring the instructions and satin stitching the pieces on but there are so many layers on some of the pieces that I fear my Pfaff will rebel as it always does given too much bulk to deal with. I think the main problem is the layers of glue from the fusible web but whatever it is it may scupper my plans.

I would also say that these are not patterns for a beginner. This is not because they are complicated, although they are. If you have the determination and the discipline to practise and a modicum of common sense then I think most things in applique are possible. My main contention with this , and presumably her other patterns, is that they are printed on both sides of the pattern sheet. This may not seem a problem if you have not tried tracing them off but if, like me, you like to use a lightbox, it is very frustrating. It is not as if they are cheap and there is therefore a need to save paper to save money. It is not impossible to trace the pieces off but it is unnecessarily frustrating trying to sort out what is the outline of the piece being traced and having to turn the light box on and off in order to determine which side of the pattern it is on. As such it might put a beginner off applique in general.

Despite the above I have just spent a pleasant couple of days tracing and fusing  blocks, at the same time  listening to  the new J.K. Rowling on my iPod. Whilst this would not be any good in the tradition of Dunbar of Catch 22 fame who liked to stay as bored as possible in order to live longer, the combination of the two makes the day fly past. Luckily this is not a problem as I have so many quilts still to make that I will have to live for ever in order to complete them or die in the attempt.

Here are the first three laid out ready to stitch. Having traced the shapes and fused them onto the various fabrics, if you follow the numerical or alphabetical order of the pieces they are actually easy to construct.





I have not bought the fabrics recommended for the quilt partly because I have far too much fabric already and partly because I want to put my own stamp on it.

I will post the rest as I do them and show what method of attaching the shapes to the background I adopt in the end.