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… 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….


Block 2 – The Rose and Cherry Wreath

This is the second time I have made this block, and I feel the same way about it now as I did when I made it the first time.  Yikes!!  Looks very daunting, doesn’t it?  But don’t be fooled.  This block is not nearly as difficult as it looks.  Trust me.

Tracing the pattern on freezer paper is the one thing I will avoid if at all possible.  So with that in mind, this is what I did.  First, I made a photocopy (using a single sheet of freezer paper)  of each of the four sections of the pattern.


Next, I cut a larger sheet of freezer paper (about 16″ square).  I made sure my iron was really hot and ironed each section on top of the larger sheet of freezer paper.  The majority of this block is symmetrical (as opposed to asymmetrical) so I did not have to reverse the pattern.



Now I was able to cut out the wreath, which is one entire piece.  Take your time.  Make a pot of tea.  I ended up spoiling some of the leaves, which was ok, because all of the leaves are the same shape and size, so I just made some new leaves by tracing one of the leaves on 2 layers of freezer paper.


I did not worry about cutting out each of the circles (cherries) because I am a huge fan of Perfect Circles and prefer to make my circles with them rather than freezer paper templates.



OK.  Now it’s time to iron the wreath onto the back of your fabric.  Start ironing at the bottom and slowly press the wreath into shape.  So far, so good!


Now comes the fun part!  I found it easier just to trim a small section at a time, and then prep that section.  You can see from the photo below that when I clip my curves, I clip about 1/8″ away from the freezer paper.





The technique used to prep the heart shape is called Reverse Applique.



Now comes the part you have been dreading.   It’s time to take the freezer paper out.  Do it carefully!



Looks like a jumbled mess, right?


That wasn’t so bad, now was it?  I have already traced the pattern onto the background.  Speaking of the background, I chose this one from Northcott because I wanted an antique sort of look.

Now it’s time to glue the wreath onto the background.  Instead of putting dabs of glue on the wreath (and ending up with glue all over your fingers) I put the dabs of glue on the background, one small section at a time.  Take your time.  Drink your tea.




Once the wreath was glued in place, I stitched it in place.  In fact, that is normally how I work.  I prep a bit, I stitch a bit.  Breaks up the monotony of any one task.  So next I added the circles.  I used Karen Kay Buckley’s Perfect Circles.  Here is my Youtube video on How To Make Perfect Circles.


Next, I added the bluebirds and hearts.



The leaves are easy peasy, so you will not have any problem making them!




I was going to show you how I made the flowers and buds, stems and leaves and the ribbon in this post, however my husband just came home and informed me he just put a deposit down on a snowmobile.  A snowmobile.  He wants me to go (now!) and have a look at it before he decides for sure.  I have a feeling I already know what he decided!!

I will show you how I do the rest of the block in my next post.  Here is the finished block.  Dainty!


And here are our first two blocks.  Goosebumps!!


Til next time….


Skinny Stems and Two-Tone Leaves

I hope that everyone who is participating in this new BOM has received their packages, complete with fabric and pattern.  I thoroughly enjoyed making this block and I hope you do too.  I prepped this entire block before I did any stitching on it. My husband was scheduled for surgery last week, and I knew I was going to need something to do while I waited.  Imagine….3 hours of (almost) un-interrupted stitching time!!


OK…this block has a few two-tone leaves, which I love.  It gives the leaf a bit of dimension.  These leaves are not difficult to do, so do not let them intimidate you.  Be strong! In fact, you can make any leaf a two-tone leaf…just draw a line down the middle of it!

So, you cut the freezer paper template apart and prep them as you normally would…except that you leave one of the edges a raw edge.  It doesn’t matter which one is a raw edge and which one is turned under.


The part of the leaf that has the raw edge gets glued to the background first.


Then the piece with the edge turned under goes on top!


As you can see, the tip of the half leaf with the raw edge sticks out from under the top half leaf.  This can be tucked under while stitching.


For this next leaf, you may notice that there is not a lot of contrast between the two fabrics.  I mean if you are going to put the effort into a two-tone leaf, you want everyone to see the fruits of your labour!  In that case, simply switch one of the fabrics out.  There is enough fabric in your kit that you can do this.

Low contrast….dscn8019-revised

Remove the offending piece of fabric!


Add a fabric with higher contrast.  Easy Peasy!


For the smaller two-tone leaves, I made sure there was enough contrast.  For the large leaf in the centre of the block, I wanted it to be a little more subtle, so I used the fabrics that the pattern calls for.  It is your quilt and you know what you like!



Let’s talk about stems.  For most of the stems, I used a Clover 1/4″ bias maker.  For the skinnier stems, I cut myself a piece of freezer paper the width of the stem (less than a quarter inch but bigger than an eighth). Then I simply prep the skinny stem as usual.  When I use the 1/4″  bias maker, I always make sure I am using a strip of fabric that has been cut on the bias.  For these skinny stems, I use the straight grain.  Don’t worry about how much bias to cut. I always cut a little extra.  If you don’t use it all in this block, you will use it in another block.


When it comes to stems, you also want contrast, just like in your leaves.  So I changed the fabric for some of the stems, just so that they would stand out and not blend into the leaves underneath it.


So as you can see, this block goes together like a puzzle.  One piece at a time.  One section at a time.  Just pay attention to what goes on top and what goes on the bottom….





Once all the stitching was done, I did the little bit of embroidery, which I think adds so much to this block.  For the hairs around the rose buds, I used one strand of embroidery floss.  For the stems coming out of the purple flowers, I used two strands.


So, once the block was absolutely finished (yippee!) I tossed it into a sink of hot, soapy water.  By doing this, it removes the blue marker, glue, and of course, cat hair!dscn8073

I usually let the block soak for half an hour or so.  Then I rinse the soap out and then gently squeeze the water out.  Next I lay the block on a towel to dry.  How lovely!!


When I was making my Civil War Bride quilt a couple of years ago, I never dreamed my granddaughter Grace and I would spend so much time playing “I Spy”!!  I Spy an elephant, a dog, a cat and an ostrich!  Life is good!!



Til next time….