2017 Already! and Block 5

Is it just my imagination or did December fly by unusually fast?  I can’t believe it is 2017 already and 2016 is a distant, fond memory.  I did, however, manage to find some spare time to work on Block 5.  I’ll be honest, taking time to stitch saves my sanity (and my family’s sanity).  Along with the usual things to do in December, cooking, baking and entertaining, Paul and I have been doing quite a bit of snowmobiling.  Yesterday was a beautiful day to be out in the fresh air!  We hit the trails around lunch time and came back at dinner time.


I ran into a bit of a glitch with this block.  I traced, I cut, I prepped and glued most of the pieces onto the background, hoping that I would find those rare pockets of time to stitch.  And stitch I did.  Almost everything was stitched in place before I realized I had grabbed the wrong background.  What to do….what to do?  I swore.  Then I un-stitched every little leaf, every little strawberry, every little piece.  Then I carefully pulled each piece away from the background, traced the right background and glued everything in piece again(!).  Now I can sit and stitch and chuckle:)

Block 5 is another one of those blocks that go together like a jigsaw puzzle.  Also, this blocks consists of a few layers, which means that some pieces get placed on the background first, and then pieces get placed on top of those pieces.  Believe it or not, there is a very logical sequence to this block!

First, I traced the block on the background (the right background!) with a Clover Watersoluble Marker.  I like the “thick” one for tracing the pattern on the background.  I traced all my pieces on one layer of freezer paper and then ironed that piece to another piece so my templates are 2 thicknesses of freezer paper.  I started to build the epergne.




Next, I started to add the leaves and the fruit.






You can see in the top right corner there are some 2-tone leaves.  They are easy to make.  Completely prep one side of the leaf, and leave the other side with the seam allowance un-prepped.


So, I just kept adding each piece, paying attention if it went underneath or on top of the next piece.  Love the pineapple!



Now it is time to add the watermelon!



Next, I added the strawberries, blueberries and grapes.  I still need to add the green little thingies that connect the blueberries and strawberries to the branches.  I’ll do that after lunch:)


Here are the first 5 blocks in this BOM I launched back in September.  If you are new to my blog, you can find the details of this BOM here.  If you would be interested in stitching along with me, you can still sign up on my website, Simple Bird Studio.  We have added another option for you to consider.  You can sign up for the pattern and fabric, or you can sign up for just the fabric, for those that already have the patterns.  You have until January 15 to sign up:)


Til next time…..


Block 4 – Part 2

As it turns out, I did not get much time to stitch while on holidays.  There was just way too much to do!  I am always on the lookout for designs that remind me of quilts.  We stayed at the Boulderado Hotel, in Boulder, Colorado, which was built in 1908 and rich with history.  These tile floor are from the hotel and they are everywhere…the foyer, the restaurants and they even continue outside.  Very inspiring!




This is the Christmas tree that was in the foyer.  It is 28′ tall and very festive.


OK.  Let’s get started. This block is the 4th block in my new BOM, which I launched in September.  If you didn’t get a chance to sign up, you can do that now(!) on my website.  You have from now until January 15 to sign up.  We will be making 9 blocks from Sue Garman’s “Friends of Baltimore” and using the setting from “Baltimore Squared” (another awesome pattern designed by Sue Garman).  Some of you have contacted me and asked if this BOM is available as fabric only (because you already own both patterns).  That option is now on the website.

Block 4 is a perfect example of a block with lots of layering.  If you tackle this block like you would a jigsaw puzzle, you will sail through it without any stress.  You will notice that I started filling in the pieces around the outside edge…just like a jigsaw puzzle.

I started with the delicate purple and yellow flowers.  See how easy it is to place the pieces on the background when you draw that seam allowance on? Magical!




Now you can start adding some leaves and more purple flowers.


Notice that the purple flower sits on top of the stem of the pink rosebud.


And this purple flower sits on top of the pink rose and part of the leaf.



So you can see I have completed the outer edge and now I can start filling in the rest of the flowers and leaves.



It’s time to add some stems.




There are so many pieces in this block that look the same.  To keep myself organized, as I placed each piece on the background, I kept track by scribbling on each piece on the paper pattern.  The little red dot means that I made the freezer paper template and the check mark means I prepared the piece.  Just trying to stay organized!



Didn’t I say there was lots of layering?


So far, so good!!


Next, I started gluing the stems in place.



Once all the stems were in place, I added a few more leaves and the ribbon.  The ribbon is easy to do, just really skinny.




As I was placing the ribbon on, I noticed something didn’t look quite right.  I used the wrong green for one of the leaves.  So much for trying to be organized!


Thank goodness it was an easy fix.


Next I added the sweet little bluebird and Voila!!


Here are all four blocks.  Goosebumps!


Tile next time…..


You can still sign up for the new BOM!!

My husband, Paul and I are off to Boulder, Colorado for a little vacation.  So, with that in mind, I have been busily working away on the next block of my new BOM, Friends of Baltimore/Baltimore Squared.  I started this BOM back in September and was overwhelmed with the response.  If you didn’t get a chance to sign up, don’t despair.  You can now sign up on the website!  You have from now until January 15th to enroll.  When you sign up, you will be charged for Block 1, which will be shipped out on January 15th.  You will then receive a new block for the next 9 months, and your credit card will be billed monthly.  In case you haven’t seen the first three blocks, here they are.  Be sure to check out this post for details of this BOM.


First, I started tracing my pieces.  In my last post I showed you how I trace my pieces onto a single sheet of freezer paper.  I trace on the shiny side from the right side of the pattern.


As I have mentioned in the past, I find tracing to be a little boring.  So I make a pot of tea and listen to my audiobooks.  Also, I have an entertaining cat to keep me company.


Next, I decided to make the bias strips needed for this block.  Normally, I use a Clover 1/4″ bias maker for stems, but these stems are a smidge skinnier.  So I dug out my metal bias bars and used the 3/16″ bar.  I always use a contrasting thread when stitching these stems on my machine, so that when I trim the excess fabric away, I can see the stitching.  That way, I do not cut into the stitching.  I discovered that little trick the hard way!



Next step is to slide the bias strip around the bias bar so the seam is on the flat side.


Then I give the whole thing a shot of spray starch and heat it up with a really hot iron.  Beware!  The metal bias bar will be really hot.  Really hot.  So let it cool down before you try to take it out.  Learned that little trick the hard way!


So once I made some bias stems, I made the little purple flowers and started on the leaves.  There are a fair amount of leaves in this block.  Way more leaves than flowers.


Normally when I begin a block,  I prepare a few pieces and then I glue them onto the background.  But this block is a little different because almost every piece either goes over or under another piece.  So, as I prepared each piece, I placed them onto the paper pattern, so I could get an idea of which pieces should go on the background first.


As you can see, the pieces themselves are pretty simple.  The stems with the leaves attached are fairly easy to do and should not give you any problems.dscn8280




When I prepared the larger stem and leaf section, I prepped one side at a time.


I am going to try to get as many pieces glued to the background before we leave tomorrow (at 4 am), so I have something to stitch while we are away.   I know I should be packing my warm clothes and maybe some hats, mitts and scarves, but that can wait til tonight. Priorities!

I am always on the lookout for notions that will make life easier for us appliquers.  I have found what I believe is the best glue bottle.  First, the nozzle is short so it does not seem to clog up and (the best part) the lid is attached.  That means no more scouring my sewing room floor on my hands and knees looking for the lid to the glue bottle.  Life is good:)  This glue bottle, along with all the other notion I use, is available on my website.


Just take the lid off, add your favorite glue, put the lid back on and you are good to go!


Til next time……


Block 3 – Part 2 and Borders for Bed of Roses

Well…I can be quite the procrastinator.  I have been wanting to put the borders on “Bed of Roses”, designed by Sue Garman and the quilt I chose for my last BOM.  I think I really just hated finishing this quilt because I have enjoyed every moment, every stitch.  I am sorry to see it go:)  But time does march on!

So, first I stitched the inner border.  Be careful with those little pink cornerstones.  They can be tricky.


Next, I measured the sides of my quilt and cut the borders to that exact measurement.  That’s right, you are going to slice right through that last scallop.  Yikes!

I folded my border in half lengthwise and measured from the centre to make sure I had the equal amount of the scallop on each end.


First border is on and looking good!


Repeat with the remaining borders and don’t forget to add the green cornerstones:)  Voila!


So now I will show you how I finished the 3rd block of my new BOM.  When I make my templates, I like to use 2 layers of freezer of freezer paper.  I trace my pattern onto the shiny side of the freezer paper.  I use a fine Sharpie because it doesn’t smudge.  I also label all the pieces.


Next, I take another piece of freezer paper  (with the paper side up) and place the traced sheet of freezer paper on top of it.



Then I iron both sheets with a hot iron.


Now I can cut out my templates!


Now I am ready to prepare the pieces.


After I prepared all of the pieces, I took the time to draw on the seam allowance.  This is a step I will not skip.  I place the template shiny side up on the fabric and draw the remaining seam allowance.


Ok, the tail feathers are all prepared and the seam allowance is drawn on.  Before I can glue them on to the background, I need to add the stem, leaves and rosebuds.




Now we can add the first feather.  I used a pin and stabbed through the feather to make sure it was in the correct spot.  As you can see, the seam allowance actually covers a good part of the next feather.


Now I can add the next piece.  It is fiddly, so thank goodness I had help!





Can you see the beauty of drawing on the seam alowance?  It is like having a road map!




The last piece to go on is the only piece in the tail section that is completey prepped (except for the very top, of course!).



The rest of the block is a walk in the park…I finished the bird body using the same techniques as the tail feathers.  I prepared the pieces and drew on the seam allowance.





Slick, indeed.dscn8212

So, now I am ready to finish the head and neck section.  I traced the neck section and labelled the pieces.  The hash marks mean that I am going to leave that edge raw.







Same technique for the head feathers…





The bird’s head….dscn8224

And finally, the collar!


You  may have noticed I forgot the bird’s feet, so I prepared them and glued them in place.  They’re kind of tiny:)





I stitched the feet in place and then tossed the block into a sink full of hot, soapy water.


I left the block to air dry and wouldn’t you know it?  I forgot to stitch one of the feathers in place.  Always make me giggle!


Til next time……


Block 3 – Where Do I Start?

Block 3 is a block that has a lot of “stuff” going on in it.  Leaves, vines, more vines, birds parts and circles.  Oh!  And some adorable acorns!  I am sure the question that is on your mind is “Where do I begin?”.


First of all, I want you to look at every piece on this block.  Look at the leaves, look at the tail feathers, look at the circles and acorns.  There is not one shape in this whole block that I would consider “difficult”.  Every shape is easy or “doable”.  I think this block looks a little intimidating because there are a fair amount of pieces, and there is also a fair amount of layering.

When it comes to layering, you need to be able to look at a section, and be able to figure out which piece to place on the background first.  When I look at this block, a few things come to mind….every leaf is covered up with a vine, so the leaves need to go on the background first, before the vine.  The bird/branch section is a completely separate unit than the vines/leaves.  So, you can do the vine and leaves first, or you can do the bird and branch section first, it is up to you.

I chose to do the leaves and vines first.  So the first thing I did is I prepped all of the leaves.  These larger leaves are super-simple with nice gentle curves.  I do a minimal amount of clipping (just one clip in each dip).  I always clip with my scissors pointed perpendicular to the edge of the template and never (ever!) on an angle.  I  also leave a good 1/8″ between the template and the tip of my scissors.  Sorry for the fuzzy photos. My camera was out of batteries, so I had to use my phone for the first few pictures.




I glued the first batch of leaves in place.  Notice that all of these leaves are “free-standing” and have nothing underneath them.  Also, notice that I clipped the stems on an angle, so they will be completely hidden by the stem.  One more thing to notice is that these leaves are attached to the brown vine.


Here is a perfect example of layering.  If you look at the pattern, you will see that the pink berry peeks out from underneath the larger leaf, so that has to go on the background first.


The smaller leaf is tucked underneath the larger leaf, so it goes on the background next.


Now, I can put the larger leaf on top!  Easy Peasy!


The vines are a little tricky, you just have to have your wits about you:)  By the way, I used my Clover 1/4″ bias maker to make the vines. Can you see that there are two vines, a brown one and a green one?  The brown vine is a perfect circle, and the green vine weaves over and under the brown one.  To save my sanity, I drew a dotted line inside the brown vine on the background, so I could tell which vine was which.  The best way to tackle this part of the block is “one section at a time”.   You can see that I added another leaf section in the bottom left corner.  Notice that I stopped and started both vines so that a leaf or berry will be placed on top of the join.



So I am ready to attach the brown vine under the leaf.  However, the brown vine will go under the green vine, so I have not glued the green vine in place…yet.dscn8165


You may get so caught up with figuring out if the brown vines goes under or over the green one that you may forget to add a leaf or two.  I did!  Relax.  Just take your stiletto and gently lift the vine and stick the leaf under.  There is something to be said for gluing most of the pieces in place before stitching them down!


I used the same technique when I wanted to lift the brown vine so I could re-connect the green vine.


And here we go!  I stitched everything in place before I continued with the rest of the block.


Well, that a lot of information for you to digest, so I will continue this post in a day or two!  And here are out first three blocks!


Til next time…..


Making a Quilt Backing

I finished my Trail Mix quilt ages ago and I was supposed to drop it off to Colleen at Elite Quilting to be quilted…in August.  Well, August has come and gone.  And so has September.  It just needs a backing and I have procrastinated long enough!  So I am determined to get this quilt and backing to Colleen by the end of October.  Always good to have a goal to aim toward!


At first, I was just going to sew a backing together using a lovely beige fabric that has maps printed on it.  I had a sizable amount in my cupboard so….why not?  So I cut myself 2 pieces the length of the quilt (plus 10″) and was getting all set to sew them together and be done with it.  But then I remembered a few orphan blocks I have had kicking around for a while.  A really long while.  I thought it might be nice to incorporate them into the background.

These are the blocks I decided to use.  I was just going to sew a beige sashing in between each block and call it a day.  Cross if off my To-Do List.



Ok….but then I found a box of half-log cabin blocks and some interesting sashings leftover from a project that I don’t really remember.  I thought they would add an interesting touch.




A while ago I decided to make a quilt using the Bear’s Paw block.  I made 4 blocks and decided…..um I am not sure what I decided but I just didn’t make any more blocks.  I just thought it would be nice if they were being used for something more than just a cat bed!



Then I thought….”I know I have some more blocks kicking around.  I wonder where they are?”  I found them and added them to the quilt backing.


I noticed I had a few blocks with the fabric left over from the quilt I made my Mom.  So, of course I had to incorporate them into the backing.  This is a post I wrote about my Mom’s quilt.


To be honest, I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun playing with my fabrics!


Have you given any thought about going to the Academy of Applique in February?  I hope you will take the time to visit the website and check out all the super-talented teachers.  Just to be included in this group of awesome teachers makes me break out in goosebumps!  I am so excited to be teaching at the Academy and being able to share everything (and I mean everything!) I know about hand-applique.  Won’t you join us?

Til next time….



Block 2- Part 2

In my last post I showed you how I made the wreath, the leaves and the circles.  Now I am going to show you how I made the middle section.  I mentioned how I photocopied the pattern onto freezer paper to make most of my templates.  You can do that with this block because the majority of the shapes are symmertical.  Why is that important?  And what is symmetrical anyway?  Good questions!

Symmetrical simply means that if you take the shape, and draw a line down the middle, both halves are the same, but mirror images.  Like these  leaf shapes.


Even though the bird is not symmetrical, the fact that there are two birds (and they are reversed) means that you can still use the photocopied templates.  In fact, the entire block is symmetrical at this point.  If you were to draw a line right down the middle, both sides would be a mirror image of each other.


Freezer paper and starch (or Prepared Edge Applique) is the method I use so I will explain why symmetrical shapes are important.  If I were to use the templates for the middle section (the bouquet of 3 roses) from the freezer paper I photocopied, the bouquet would be reversed on the finished block. So for that not to happen, I need to reverse my templates if they are not symmetrical.   With experience you will be able to look at all the shapes in the block and decide if you can use the shapes as they are, or if you have to reverse your templates.

So, how do I reverse my templates?  There are a few ways…..I can flip my pattern over on to my lightbox and trace the templates onto my freezer paper (paper side up).  Or, I can flip my freezer paper (shiny side up) and trace from the right side of the pattern.  Either way, you have to flip something!

Believe it or not, the only shapes I had to reverse (or flip) in this block are the stems and leaves for the bouquet.  The roses are symmetrical, so I used the photocopied templates.


The buds are not symmetrical, but there are two and they are reversed.


Notice I prepped the rose, and then removed the template and cut out the buds to prep them.  No need to make new templates.  Here is a post that explains things in more detail.


Even though the leaves and stems are all one piece, I decided to separate the pieces.  Some of those curves are pretty deep and there isn’t a lot of seam allowance to fold over.  I use the word “dicey” to describe how I feel about doing this shape.  So I came up with an alternate (and less dicey!) way to handle these pieces.  I also used this technique on a pair of pants, an elephant and a horse.

First, I drew a line that separates the leaves from the stems.  Don’t worry that the stem looks a little thicker in places because we will be using bias for the stems.  dscn8093

Next, I traced the shapes onto the shiny side of the freezer paper with a fine Sharpie.  Remember, you can flip the pattern, or you can flip the freezer paper.  But you can’t flip both.  These shapes are not dicey at all!


Now I just went merrily on my way gluing the leaves in place.



Next, I added some bias stems.



Next I added the roses.  Yummy!


Then I added the ribbon.




Til next time….