Making a Caterpillar:)

Sometimes your applique project needs a special touch.  Like a caterpillar!  I learned how to make a caterpillar many years ago in a class, and, for some reason, I really love making these little guys:)

I used 5 squares of different fabrics that are cut of 3 1/2″ square.  I used earthy tones to make this one, but you can use whatever you like.  It’s your caterpillar.img_7092.jpg

Lay all the fabrics one on top of the other.  The caterpillar is actually cut on the bias, so it doesn’t fray.  Cut the squares in half on the diagonal, and then cut a 1/2″ strip from one of the triangles.  Of course you can cut as many 1/2″ strips as you like to make more caterpillars.  They will just be different lengths.IMG_7093



I used a very thick hand quilting thread to stitch the layers together right down the middle.  I put a large knot in the thread a left a long tail (this will be the antennae lol).  Gather the pieces as tight as you can (this is why you need a thick thread).  Take a couple of back stitches to secure the thread.IMG_7096



Now comes the fun part.  I put the caterpillar in a glass of water, and then took it out and roughed him up in a thick towel.  Next I rolled him between my hands to fluff him up. IMG_7101



I lied.  Next comes the fun part:)  I twisted the body of the caterpillar and…..Voila!  Good, clean fun:)IMG_7104

Moving right along….in my last post I showed you how I prepared all the pieces for the The Chickadee block.  Now I am going to show you how I go about placing the pieces on the background.  The first thing to do is to place the prepped pieces on the pattern.  This will give you an idea of where each pieces goes.  It will also help to identify the different layers, and which pieces you will place on the background first.  This is a skill that you will develop as you do more layered applique.  Trust me:)IMG_7013

You can see that I started with piece G2-9.  Can you see the beauty of tracing those raw edge lines on the piece?  It give you a visual guide to make sure the piece is placed in the exact spot.  And now you will know exactly where the next layer goes:)IMG_7015


This is how much Roxanne’s glue I use.  Not a lot!  Just a tiny dot on the seam allowance.IMG_7020

This is one of the pieces that have that dotted line marked on the template.  It means that one section of a side is prepped and the other side is unprepped.  In other words, one part of this piece goes on top of the dark green piece, and one part goes under the light green (next photo).IMG_7024


Now it’s just a matter of putting each piece on the background, paying attention to which pieces go on top, and which ones go on the bottom:)IMG_7033

Til next time…







The Chickadee continued:)

I have finished prepping all of the pieces for the Chickadee block, but I still have a few things left to do before I can start placing the pieces on the background.IMG_6998

First, I need to trace my pattern onto the background.  I always cut my background fabric 4″ larger than the finished size.  This will allow for shrinkage when I wash the block (more on that later).  And, believe it or not, the block will shrink up a little when the stitching is completed.

So, I pin the background to the paper pattern.  Fabric shifts, so I like to use quite a few pins to hold everything in place when I trace.  I use my light box, but you can use a window to trace on or, depending on how light your background is, you may not even need a light box.  I use a Clover water soluble marker (the thick one) to trace the design.IMG_6996

The next step will make your life so easy!  I trace the “unprepped” seam allowance on the right side of each piece.    On every single piece!  There are 2 ways to do this. You can simply place the piece (right side up) on your light box and trace the edge of the freezer paper that is “unprepped”.  I use my Clover marker to trace on light fabrics and a white pencil marker to trace on dark fabrics.  At this point, the freezer paper is still attached to the wrong side of the fabric. IMG_7001

The second way to do this step is to take the freezer paper template out and place it on top of the fabric (shiny side up).  Trace the edge of the freezer paper onto the edge of the fabric that is “unprepped”.  This step is worth the time spent.  Trust me:)img_7002.jpg

Go ahead and mark all of your pieces.  You will thank yourself later:)img_7003.jpg

Of course, you don’t have to do this step with the pieces that are prepped all the way around, like this one. IMG_6940

Next, I am going to make some stems using my 1/4″ bias maker.  First I cut my strips 1/2″ wide.  Because I want these stems to curve easily, I will cut them on the bias.  I like to place my bias strips in a bowl and spray with starch before I feed them through the bias maker.  IMG_7005

Place the bias strip wrong side up and insert in the bias maker.img_7007.jpg

Use the point of your stiletto or a pin to guide the bias strip through the bias maker.  If you pray to the Quilt Gods the strip will come out the narrow end:)IMG_7008

Next, I use my big iron and press the edges flat.  Gently pull the bias maker and move the iron so that the iron and bias maker almost touch.  Make sure you hold the iron on the bias strip long enough so that the starch completely dries.img_7012.jpg

Perfect bias every time!  So, now I am ready to start placing pieces on the background.  I will save that for my next post:)  img_7011-e1558631452783.jpg

Til next time….



Preparing pieces for applique

Yesterday I began a tutorial for the Chickadee block.  The pattern is available on my website.  Many of you in the area (Barrie) asked about picking the pattern up and not having to pay shipping.  Now you can do that!  The patterns will be available for pickup starting on Wednesday May 22 at True North Yarn at Cedar Pointe.  Details are here.

Today I am going to show you how I prepare my freezer paper templates. These are the 3 greens I am using for my leaves and stems.  I love to use Northcott fabrics for most my applique projects.  The colours are yummy!IMG_6928

Once you have cut out your templates, iron onto the wrong side of the fabric.  If you are used to doing needle turn applique, this will seem odd to you.  IMG_6929

Leave enough room around each template to leave a good (not scant) 1/4″ seam allowance.IMG_6931 


Here is a photo of the tools you will need.  You will need a firm pressing surface.  An awl or a stiletto.  A mini-iron.  I swear by my Prym Dritz Petite Press!  A jar, some spray starch and a paint brush.  I use Easy On, which is a spray starch available in most grocery stores.  But you can also use Best Press.  And lastly, I cannot say enough about Karen Kay Buckley’s Perfect scissors.  I cannot imagine applique life without them:)IMG_6932

First thing to do is spray some starch into our jar.  Notice I am holding the can of spray upright and I am holding the jar on its side.  That is so that the nozzle will not clog, not unlike a can of whipped cream.  Let the foam in the jar reduce to a liquid.IMG_6963

With your paintbrush, paint some starch on the seam allowance.  IMG_6965

Hold the edge with your stiletto, pick up your iron and start to press the seam allowance over the template.  I hold my stiletto in my left hand and my iron in my right hand, but do what feels best for you.  If you cannot get the hang of the stiletto, simple use you finger to fold the seam allowance over.  Trust me, you will burn your fingers a few time and then say “I think I’ll give that stiletto another try”.IMG_6966


You will notice that some of the templates have some strange marking on them.  The two lines at the edge of the freezer paper (hash lines) means that you don’t do anything to that side.  Leave it “unprepped”.IMG_6933


If a template has no markings along the edge, the whole template gets prepped.IMG_6937


The last marking I want to show you is a dashed line.  This means that part of the edge gets prepped and part of it doesn’t get prepped.  Once I start showing you how the pieces go together this will make more sense.  First, clip right to the edge of the freezer paper where the dashed line is.IMG_6947.JPG

Next, prep the side that has no hash lines and leave the edge that does have hash lines unprepped.IMG_6948

When it comes to clipping inside curves, clip sparingly and clip to within 1/8″ of the freezer paper.  Believe it or not, 2 layers of freezer paper is thick, so you need that extra bit of fabric to wrap around the freezer paper.  Never (ever!) clip an outside curve.  Never!!IMG_6938

When it comes to points, I know you are going to want to cut those points off…. BUT DON”T DO IT!!  Just leave them be…for now:)IMG_6936.jpg

Hope everyone has a relaxing and safe long weekend:)

Til next time….



It’s been a busy month!

Last month I had the pleasure of teaching 18 eager students at an all day workshop for the Moraine Quilt Guild in Newmarket.  As you can see, it was a very productive day!  The project the class worked on is the Hummingbird in Flight pattern which is available on my website here.  The pattern comes complete with the freezer paper templates already traced so you can start prepping your pieces immediately!  Such a time saver.IMG_6750





I taught the same Hummingbird in Flight pattern at my Spring Applique Retreat held on April 23-25 at Fireside Retreat in Orillia.  I think it is fair to say we did as much eating as we did stitching!  The breakfasts were catered by the owners of Fireside, Emma and Julien.  And the cake was made by Holly’s Sweets and Eats in Barrie.  It was gluten-free!IMG_6792IMG_6791

Diane managed to get every single one of her pieces prepped and glued in place by the time we left.  Amazing!IMG_6799

Hard at work!IMG_6790

I even managed to get my own block completely stitched.  It is in the talented hands of Rose Bell of Fancy Feathers.  Can’t wait to see what she does with it.IMG_6789

Starting today, I will be doing an ongoing Tutorial for a new series of patterns I have been working on for the last year or so.  The series of 13 patterns is called “Glorious and Free” which will be based on the official birds and flowers of each province and territory in Canada.  The patterns will become available on my website as I get them completed (the pressure is on!).  You will recognize the first pattern, “The Chickadee and Purple Violet”.    All 13 of the patterns will include a full-sized pattern and the freezer paper templates already traced for you!  As you can see, each pattern piece is labelled and there is a corresponding freezer paper shape.  So half the work is done!  By the way, the Chickadee and Purple Violet represents New Brunswick and it measures 19″ x 25″.IMG_6920IMG_6911

So, the first step is to iron each sheet of freezer paper (with the templates already traced) onto  a blank sheet of freezer paper.  This step creates a thicker template than just one sheet of freezer paper.  Did you know that you can reuse your FP (freezer paper) templates up to 10 times?

Freezer paper has 2 sides.  One is a paper side and one is a shiny side.  Place the freezer paper (with the templates traced on),  and a blank sheet of FP with the shiny side down. IMG_6922

Next, place the traced FP on top of the blank one.  This step will prevent you from putting shiny side to shiny side.IMG_6923

Use a hot iron to fuse the 2 sheets together.  Do not use steam (the sheets will not fuse together properly).  Once the 2 sheets are fused, lift them immediately from the ironing surface.  Now you are ready to cut out your templates.  This is a good “sit in front of the TV” kind of job:)  I like to cut my templates right on the line (as opposed to inside or outside the line).IMG_6924

Keep each “group” of templates together.  I like to keep mine in separate zip lock bags to save my sanity.  G1, G2, G3 etc. all refer to different shades of green.  G1 is light green.  G2 is medium green.  G3 is dark green.  So each “group” is a different fabric.IMG_6926


So now I am going to start prepping my pieces.  I will post that information tomorrow:)

Til next time….