Bed of Roses – Block 9

Block 9 already!  Where has the time gone?

Each time I start a new block of Sue Garman’s “Bed of Roses”, I am pleasantly surprised at how easy they are.  I encourage all appliquers (especially beginner appliquers) to give these blocks a try.  Block 9 (along with all previous 8 blocks) are available on my website Simple Bird Studio.  You can choose to order just the patterns (some of them or all of them) or you can choose to do this quilt as a Block of the Month which includes the pattern and the same fabrics that I am using.

I started this block like all the others.  I traced the pattern onto the background with a Clover water soluble marker. This marker comes available with a thick tip or a thin tip.  For tracing onto the background, I prefer the thick tip because it is a lot easier to see!

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Next, I use a Clover 1/4″ bias maker to make the stems.  I glue the stems in place with Roxanne’s Glue Baste it.  The marker, the bias maker and the glue are all available on my website.

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So now let me show you how I make all those templates.  I must confess, I really hate tracing my templates by hand and I will avoid doing it whenever possible!  First, I photocopy the pattern onto freezer paper and then I iron that piece of freezer paper onto another one to make two layers of freezer paper.

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Whenever I have a unit that has many layers, I could make multiple copies of each unit so I have a separate template for each section (but you know me well enough by now to know I am not going to do that!)  Here is what I am going to do instead…

I leave the entire unit intact and prep the piece as I normally would.  Because I am making the outer section, I am using R3 fabric.

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I iron the template onto the back of the fabric…

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…and I cut it out leaving a 1/4″ seam allowance.  This piece has fairly gently curves, so I clip just once.  Notice I don’t clip all the way to the freezer paper.

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I prep the pieces using a stiletto, a mini iron and liquid starch.

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So, now it is time to remove the freezer paper.

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Now, I take that same template that I just removed, and cut the first section off.

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Next, I am going to repeat everything I just did, except on a different fabric…

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I should mention that there are two identical units on this block and I am making both at the same time using just this one template.

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I just keep cutting the outer section off and reusing the same template….

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So here we have 10 separate sections I prepped using just one template.  Sweet!

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Here is another layering tip that I am happy to share with you.  It will make your life a whole lot easier!  When you place one piece on top of another, you need to leave that part of the seam allowance un-prepped.  I take my template and draw the seam allowance on with my marking pencil.

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When I place each piece on the background, the line I have drawn replaces the line on the background that I have just covered up.

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Now its time to start adding the leaves……

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……and berries.  Lots of berries!

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And finally, a funky little vase!  Love it!!

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Til next time….

Kerry

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Third block of “Love Is In the Air”

Yesterday afternoon I started to prep the third block in “Love Is In The Air” a pattern designed by Lori Smith.  I thought the blocks were a tad small (8 1/2″), so I enlarged them 125%.  I cut my background blocks 15″ square and I will trim them down slightly when I decide what kind of sashing to make.  I love working on a quilt this way.  So many unknowns and so many possibilities!!

I am using a fat quarter bundle of shirtings for the backgrounds (each square will have a different background).  And I am trying really hard to make this quilt as scrappy as possible.  Very liberating!

Like most blocks, it all started with the stems and leaves…..

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…..and then a pretty flower!

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I love using as many greens as I possibly can for the leaves.  I try to include as many different patterns and textures as I can.

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The whole time I was prepping all the leaves and buds, I was worrying (yes worrying!) about what kind of fabric I should use for the vase.   The vase fabric shouldn’t be the focal point of the block, but it shouldn’t disappear into the background, either.  I searched until I found a fabric that I think fit the bill.

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And here is the prepped block waiting to be stitched!

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So far, so good!

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I have been making some pretty steady progress on my hexie quilt.  I am hand quilting it with the Baptist fan design.  So relaxing!!

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Til next time….

Kerry

Save those scraps!

I have been working away on the second block of “Love is in the Air” a pattern designed by Lori Smith.  I purchased this pattern a couple of years ago and put it away with the rest of my patterns.  Honestly, I forgot all about it.  About a month ago,  I went through my patterns and books in search of a simple applique pattern that would lend itself to a really scrappy feel.  As soon as I “found” this pattern in my box of (far too many) patterns, I knew “Love is in the Air” was exactly what I was looking for!  For those of you who may want to stitch these blocks along with me, the pattern is available here.

As I mentioned in my last post, I am using a collection of shirting for the backgrounds, so that means that each background square will be different, which I am not going to lie has me a little unsettled.  But I do love a challenge!

Also, I enlarged the patterns by 125%.  I cut my background squares 16″ x 16″, but I am not sure right now what size they will end up.  I never have all the details figured out before I start a quilt….what fun would that be?   Sometimes you have to listen to the quilt!

I started this block by tracing the pattern onto the background with a water soluble marker.  Next, I made a bunch of leaves, using many different fabrics, just for the fun of it and then I auditioned them.  Some I like.  Some I don’t.  Some of the leaves are competing with the background, so I will save those leaves for another project!

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OK, next I added my stems.  Notice I used the same fabric for all of the stems, just to give a bit of consistency.

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Next, I went searching through my scraps and I found this piece of fabric I have had for about 8 years.  I love this fabric!  So I decided to use it for the 4 main flowers.

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Then I went through my scraps and found a fabric that went with the flower fabric.

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Next, I went through my blues and golds and chose a few fabrics that played nicely with the main flower fabric.   So far, so good!

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This patterns has a circle in the centre that I could make with a piece of bias and  a 1/4 bias maker, but I chose to make a template instead and prep it in the way I prep all of my templates.  So much easier!  Instead of tracing the circle from the pattern, I used a compass to get a more accurate shape.
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I cut the circle out and ironed it to the wrong side of the fabric.  I decided not to cut the centre of the fabric out just yet, to keep it more stable.

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Using starch, a stiletto and a mini-iron, I prepped the outside edge.

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Next, I trimmed out the centre and prepped the inside edge.

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Taking the freezer paper out is always fun (and kind of scary!) but it works like a charm every time!

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Once it is glued in place, it looks very neat and tidy.  Whew!!

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So, I auditioned several fabrics for the centres of the main flowers…brown, black, burgundy, blue…nothing appealed to me.  Then I tried gold.  Gold it is!!  But wait….

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I thought the gold circles were a tad too big, so I made them a shade smaller.

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Ahhhh.  That’s much better!

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Here’s a fun fact… I used three different golds in this block.  After all, it is a scrappy quilt!

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And here are both blocks.  Sweet!

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Keeping with the scrappy theme, I am working away on Trail Mix, a quilt designed by Laundry Basket Quilts.  I chuckled when I saw this block.DSCN7451

In this block alone, there is a scrap from my hexie quilt I worked on last winter,

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…a scrap of the background of my Civil War Bride Quilt….

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….and a piece of the background of my Reminescence.  Memories!

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Til next time….

Kerry

Bed of Roses BOM

I decided a while ago that I would like to start a new quilt.  Something a little simpler (ok…a lot simpler!) than “Friends of Baltimore” and “To Everything There Is A Season”. But challenging enough to hold my interest.  After giving it a lot of thought, I have decided to start Sue Garman’s “Bed of Roses”.  You may think I am crazy, but let me explain!  At first glance, it looks like a very complicated quilt, but it really isn’t.  In fact, I was blown away by how easy (yes…easy!) the first block was.

The patterns for Bed of Roses are available on my website.  You can order the complete set, or you can order a pattern or two a month.  The choice is yours.   I have added another exciting option….I am offering this quilt as a Block-of-the-Month, complete with the pattern and the exact same fabrics that I am using. I will post a detailed tutorial of each block from start to finish on my blog around the first on the month and you can stitch each block along with me.  Check out my website for the details!  Also, make sure you check out my Youtube videos where I show you how to make bias stems, circles and some other neat stuff!

Before I started to work on this block, I pre-washed all of my fabrics including the background.  The fabrics I have chosen for this quilt are Toscana and Shimmer, both are from Northcott.

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Ok, so here is Block 1.  If you can make bias strips, make circles and stitch some gentle curves, then you can do this block.  It has some very simple elements in it, but the arrangement of those simple elements makes it look like a very complex block.  Watch closely and you will  how easy this block is…

First, I made the bias strips and glued them in place.  It doesn’t look like much now, but keep reading!  By the way, I have traced the pattern onto the background using a Clover water soluble marker.  I am using a crisp white background, so I do not need a light box to trace my pattern.  I simply placed my background fabric on top of the pattern and traced away!

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Next, I added some more stems.  These stems will be covered up with another stem, so I like to trim the edge on an angle.DSCN6925

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So, here all the bias strips glued in place.  That wasn’t painful at all, was it?

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Next. I started to prep the pieces and put them into place.  I started with the centre pieces.  I prep my pieces using liquid starch and a mini-iron.  Once the piece is prepped, I remove the freezer paper template.  You can see that the seam allowance is ironed in place, so there is no need to turn the edge under as you are stitching.

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Next, I use Roxann’s glue (instead of pins) to hold the pieces in place until I can stitch them.

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Once I glued the centre pieces on, I came across my first “uh oh…now what do I do?”  I am not sure how well it shows in the photo below, but the yellow fabric is quite a bit lighter than the dark pink fabric it is on and the dark pink shows through.  So…..I went to put the kettle on and made myself a cup of tea.  Let’s be honest, you have a few options here. You can leave it alone and love your quilt just the way it is.  Or you can fix it and love your quilt.  Either way, you (and only you!) have to be happy with your results.  I knew I had to fix it.

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So this is what I did…I took the yellow pieces off and added another layer of yellow fabric to the existing piece (without the seam allowance).  I just tucked it inside the piece with the seam allowance.

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I glued everything in place again and look!….no shadowing!!

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So, now I just started to add all of the prepped pieces.  This is a very simple tip that I like to use whenever I have a few layers that need to line up.  Once I prep my piece, I remove the freezer paper template and place it on top (shiny side up) and draw on the seam allowance wherever there is a raw edge.  I do this to all of the pieces.

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So, now when I start to place the pieces on top of each other, I have a nice crisp line to use as a guide.  Very precise!

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Now I have a line so that I know exactly where to place the next piece.  Magical!

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I did the same thing with the smaller flowers…

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Here are most of the pieces glued in place and ready to stitch.  Depending on the number of pieces in a block, I like to prep some pieces and then go and stitch.  Some people like to prep the entire block before starting to stitch.  The choice is yours!

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Next, I added the leaves.

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It was when I was at this point in the block that I realized that there wasn’t anything that I would describe as “difficult”.  Quite the contrary…pretty simple.

Now onto the circles.  When I do my circles, I like to use Perfect Circles.  One afternoon I decided to go on a “Circle Marathon” and just do all 72 circles in this block…you know…get it over with!  I lined the completed circles up in rows so I could see my progress.  Thank goodness for audio books, that is all I can say!

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Once all the circles were ready, I glued them in place and started to stitch them.  I don’t recommend gluing all 72 circles in place before you start stitching.  The thread gets caught up in the circles and its annoying!

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And here we are.  Finished.  Yummy!

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Block 1 also comes with enough fabric to complete 2 of the side triangles.  I will do a separate blog post about those. Stay tuned!

Til next time…

Kerry

Sunday Afternoon Applique Show and Tell

Our Sunday Afternoon Applique Group met this past Sunday and I thought I would share with you some of the projects that we are working on.  Kathy has been busy stitching, of all things, a bridal veil for a friend.  Kathy is the one modelling the veil and I am the bridesmaid, making sure that the veil is lying perfectly flat!

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In her spare time, Kathy has also managed to prep a few blocks of her “Aunt Millie’s Garden”.

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Christie has been very busy stitching the Cardinal block of “To Everything There Is A Season”.  Lovely!

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Lynn has been working away on her blocks of “To Everything…” and this is the beginning of the Summer Vase.

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I have been working on the centre medallion of “To Everything..”  The pieces are bigger than the ones in the blocks, so it is working up quite quickly!

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I am also working away on my hexie quilt, which is starting to take shape.

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How Much Fabric Should I Buy??  This is a question that I am asked from time to time and I thought it would make a good blog post. First, let me take you on a bit of a tour of my sewing room where I keep all of my fabric.  I make no apologies for the size of my fabric collection.  A painter has to have her paints, right?

I have a stash of tone-on-tones in clear colours, which I used to make my Friends of Baltimore.  I also used these same fabrics for the blocks of “To Everything There Is A Season”, but I added a few batiks and a few fabrics with a bit more of a design on them.  I keep these fabrics in containers and  I keep telling myself that if I just folded each fabric after I used it, it wouldn’t be quite so messy!  It is always a good idea to have a good variety of colours in light, medium and dark.

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I am always on the hunt for new fabrics and new colours.  I purchased these tone-on-tones recently, just to add a few more to the stash.  When I am purchasing tone-on-tones with applique in mind, I rarely buy more than a fat quarter.  Fat eighths are even better!  These tone-on-tones can range from looking almost like a solid, to having a bit of a swirl or even some dots!

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If you are just starting to build an applique stash, I highly recommend purchasing layer cakes, which are 10″ squares of an entire collection.  Layer cakes also takes the pressure off of choosing fabrics that “go together”, and a 10″ square is the perfect amount!  You can also add tone-on-tones to these collections of fabrics.

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For my Civil War Bride Quilt, I used a more muted pallete.  Since I didn’t have a lot of these muddy colours, I had to go on a few shopping trips to make sure I had a really good assortment.  Again, I purchased mainly fat quarters and fat eighths.  When I think that a fabric has a lot of potential for fussy cutting, I usually buy at least 1/2 a meter.  You can see that I used fabrics with a much larger print on them and very few tone-on-tones.  Most of the greens I used in this quilt came from a layer cake of Civil War greens.

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When I made my Aunt Millie’s Garden, I used my collection of brights, which include stripes and polka dots.  I find these types of fabrics are easier to buy in a fat quarter bundle (or even better…a fat eighths bundle!) so you get a good assortment of fabrics with the same “feel”.

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When it comes to backings, I always make sure the back matches the front!

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Til next time…

Kerry

 

Building a Better Pine Cone

When I mentioned in my last post about “off-block construction” a few of you asked if I would do a tutorial on that subject.  So…here it is!!

I would normally use my Applique Pressing sheet for this tutorial, but, sadly I cannot find it.  A few  weeks ago, I spent a couple of hours organizing my quilting stuff.  I guess I have put my pressing sheet away in a really secure spot.  I am sure I will some across it one day!  But that’s ok….because maybe you don’t own a pressing sheet.  So, let me show you what you can use instead of an Applique Pressing Sheet.

I used a piece of freezer paper (shiny side up).  First I traced the pine cone on the shiny side of the freezer paper with a Sharpie marker.  I have found that a Sharpie marker is about the only thing that leaves a permanent mark of the shiny surface.

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Note:  If I was using my Applique Pressing Sheet, I would simply pin it to the pattern, and build the pine cone on it, like I did with these flowers.

First, I made my templates using 2 layers of freezer paper.  Yes, they are a little on the small side!

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Then I chose my fabrics…light, medium and dark brown.

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Whenever I have a unit that has a lot of pieces in it (and those pieces need to line up) I take the time and do this next step.  Once the piece is prepped, I take out the template and place it on top of the finished piece.  The template has to have the shiny side up.  Next, I take a very sharp marking pen (I like to use a Clover water soluble fine marker for light fabrics and a white chalk marker for dark fabrics) and mark the remaining seam allowance.  You will be very happy you did this!!

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So….next, I start to glue the pieces in place.  The glue will not stick permanently to the shiny surface of the freezer paper (or the pressing sheet), but it will hold temporarily.

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Once all of the pieces are glued in place (and you have made peace with the fact you will have to make 7 more pine cones) you can lift the entire piece off the the freezer paper (or applique pressing sheet) and simply put it in place on the background.  If you are working on a unit that has fewer pieces (or larger pieces) you can actually stitch it before you place it on the background.  I thought this piece would be easier to stitch while it is on the background.  Lots of options!

Til next time….

Kerry

 

A New Hoop and Other Fun Stuff!

Earlier this year, I treated myself to a new quilt hoop.  I have always hand quilted using a hoop, and I thought it was time to graduate to the kind of hoop with a base that tucks under my legs, which leaves my hands free to quilt.  I love it!!  No more aching shoulders and neck, because the quilt is supported with the hoop and not my arms.

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Today, we discovered that my hoop also can be used as the perfect hiding spot.  “Gee..has anyone seen the cat?”

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“Here he is!”  Sneaky!

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Last year I taught a Beginner Applique Class to a great group of ladies.  They wanted to continue to improve their  skills, so I am teaching them how to make a Baltimore quilt.  Pretty ambitious, I know!  But I have faith in them!  Yesterday was our first day.  We will meet once a month and work on various blocks while learning new techniques.  These are the fabrics I will be using for my blocks.

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Here is first block.  It is a variation of the Rose of Sharon block.

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First I started with the buds.  The buds actually are made of two layers of fabrics.

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Next, I added the leaves…DSCN6135

…and some more leaves and some bias stems.

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Next, it was time to stitch the flowers.  The flowers are also two layers, so I wanted to reduce the bulk before I stitched them onto the background.  First I prepped both layers.

Then I stitched the top layer onto the bottom layer.

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Next, I carefully trimmed the bottom layer of fabric away, cutting a 1/4″ away from the stitching.

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And finally, I added the flowers to the block.

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I am still working away on the third border of Sue Garman’s “Friends of Baltimore” quilt.  I have finished the right side of the vase and now I am working on the left side.

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Til next time…

Kerry