Aug 30 12

Entering the Home Stretch

You are probably sick to death of bird blocks, but I’ve spent so much time this spring/summer working with them that they are just part of me now.  This is what was hanging on my design wall 4-6 weeks ago.  I fell in love with that background fabric and I wish I could find more of it but I think it I’ve missed my chance…drat!  Until I was working with machine embroidered applique, it was easy to audition setting block applique designs because I would just cut/fuse one up and throw it on the wall and gaze at it for hours.  Not so with machine embroidered applique and not so when you have limited background  fabric for the setting blocks!  I had to sweat it out while I finished embroidering the giant blocks that would ultimately be cut into fourths to create side setting triangles and the smaller blocks that would be cut to make corner setting triangles.  Here’s a shot of a giant block that was about to be chopped up to make side setting triangles:

I breathed a big sigh of relief once I saw the edges starting to fill in, as this picture below shows:

By the time I finished piecing this quilt top, I had fallen head over heels in love with it!  I guess I am a sucker for blues and greens together.  Here’s a shot of it laying on the floor once I had finished piecing it:

I am encountering new challenges all along the way since I’ve been working with machine embroidered applique quilts.  Between the fusible interfacing that’s behind each block, to the stabilizer that’s left behind, to the incredibly beautiful but very dense stitching that decorates all these applique shapes, the quilt tops take on a fair amount of extra weight.  Once they get to a certain size, spray basting just isn’t enough to hold them together throughout all the rigors of machine quilting them and cramming them in and out of small harp spaces.  If you read my blog, you know I’m not a fan of pins!  I ended up having a longarmer (Lisa Spalding of The Quilt Foundry) baste this together for me on her longarm and I’m so glad I did!  I used Quilters Dream wool batting and I LOVE this batting!  It’s so much softer and loftier than Hobb’s Tuscany or Hobb’s Heirloom so it is now my favorite wool batting.  (So much so that we just picked up this wool line in our online store.)  It has Merino wool in it and I think that’s what makes it so ooh-la-la licious!  Anyways, back to the quilting of this bad boy…

The other day, Sew Cal Gal asked a good question:

I am curious how you feel your eye is being drawn – is it to the machine embroidery or to the free-motion quilting?

No question about it, in my mind, the machine embroidery is the winner, hands down.  This is a good question, though, because ever since I’ve started quilting these heavily embroidered quilts, I have felt really challenged in the quilting department.  I didn’t use to fret about what to quilt where; it all seemed fairly intuitive to me, but these embroidered quilts are a whole new ball game for me.  On the one hand, I don’t want my quilting to compete with the embroidered thread work, but I also want my quilting to add something to the whole piece.  One day, when this quilt was on the design wall and nearly finished being pieced, I longingly looked over at it and got teary eyed because I thought there was a good chance I would wreck this quilt by quilting it.  I haven’t felt that worried about quilting something in many, many years!  At some point, you just have to get yourself into the game and go for it!  I’m nearly done quilting this now and I feel really great about it.  Here’s an example of adding some subtle points of interest through quilting:

The insides of the wreaths are a great place to echo the wreath motif with a  smaller wreath design.  Here, you can see that I’ve traced a stencil design (using one of the center designs from our 8, 9 and 10-in square wreath stencil designs) with soap.  This is easy to do because all you have to do is line up the stencil center with the center of the block.  This next shot shows the internal wreath once it’s been stitched:

This kind of detail isn’t really noticed unless you’re fairly close to the quilt, so it doesn’t compete with the more obvious embroidered thread work.  I’ll post more pics of this quilt in the next few days, so check back…

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  1. Sally Says:

    Can’t wait to see the quilting. Spectacular so far.

  2. Doreen Says:

    This is torture!!! So wish for an “up-close and personal” view of this beauty! Photos just can’t do it justice….for sure! Gorgeous! Love those colors!!!!

  3. Debbie St. Germain Says:

    I never tire of seeing your designs, love the colors together, and love the way you stitch around the appliqués, it is truly inspiring.


  4. LuAnn Kessi Says:

    Hi Patsy,
    The lime green setting triangles set your bird quilt off beautifully. It is just stunning! You have a way with color girl…
    My Best To You,
    LuAnn in Oregon

  5. Betty Jo Says:

    Patsy, What a GORGEOUS quilt. I can well understand why you really love this quilt because I do too. I hope you’ll show this quilt around so that I might be able to see it in person some day.

  6. Betty Jo Says:

    Oh, and I meant to ask…do you use two layers of wool batting for this?

  7. SewCalGal Says:

    I will NEVER EVER be sick of your bird blocks, or any blocks or quilts you create. Silly girl, art is art and I’m in love with everything you create. these are beautiful.


  8. Lynette Says:

    Oh!! Patsy it’s so gorgeous with the lime green setting triangles – the blue leaves bring them into harmony with a spectacular pop. And yeah – no way do I get tired of your bird blocks. 😀

  9. a1angiem Says:

    Stunning all put together! I was always curious how you were going to quilt this…it’s lovely! Do you still outline quilt all around the embroidered motifs?

  10. Donna F Says:

    You always amaze me with your colors. I have fell in love with every quilt of yours I can get a peek at! Keep it up, I’ll never tire of your work.

  11. Monica Dail Says:

    I have just been spell-bound from watching all your free videos. Thank you so much for the ‘freebies’ and much inspiration!