A Tisket, A Tasket - April

The April block of the Bunny Hill BOM featured a chocolate Easter bunny, a chick and Easter eggs. This block was fairly straightforward, and I even found a nifty basket weave print that worked well with the other colors in that month's design.

I decided that French knots were too floppy for eyes, so this time I tried a very small satin stitch circle for each of the eyes. Success! Until I rinsed the blocks. That's when the navy blue embroidery floss ran. Darn! It had been given to me by friends, left over from tying a quilt. My frugal nature made me want to use this floss, but after I realized that the dye was running, I tried to get as much running dye out of my applique block as possible and pitched the rest of that horrid stuff.

Lesson Learned: Cheap embroidery floss will only break your heart. Don't mess with it.


A Tisket, A Tasket - March

The March hare and trifoliate leaves graced the March block of this BOM. The original pattern had three leaves and five petals - that seems to suggest Oxalis, or wood sorrel. But don't bunnies eat clover? That would be Trifolium, and a cluster of tiny, zygomorphic flowers to be botanically correct. Sorry, I'm such a botany nerd that I have a hard time making fanciful, unrealistic plants even in my quilts.

I decided to chain stitch the stems with all six strands of embroidery floss for maximum impact. But that also made the fabric curl just a tiny bit. I don't use a hoop. I usually embroider (and often hand quilt) without a hoop. Everything was flatter after a good pressing.

This was when I learned that my freezer paper technique is capable of making tiny, accurate circles. The bunny's tail was a little bigger than 1/4" in diameter. Not bad!

Lesson Learned: Doing something that you expect to be difficult might end up being surprisingly easy, if you're using the correct method. Corollary: If it's difficult, you might have to switch techniques.


A Tisket, A Tasket - February

The February block featured love birds and hearts. I didn't have any real challenges with this block. I changed the layout of the flowers from the original. I often want to change something. I can't simply follow the original pattern blindly (or stick to a single fabric line) which is why I'm probably not a good candidate to make samples for quilt shops.

The pale blue of the birds didn't contrast well with the white-on-white background fabric. I had previously made an applique block that didn't have enough contrast between the appliques and the background. I had figured out that a single thread of embroidery floss was enough to accentuate the edges.

The only "mistake" I made on this block was cutting the background fabric too small. The finished blocks were supposed to be 8" and I had cut the background for the January block 9.5" square. I cut all the others 9.5" square. But when it was time to cut the background for this February block, I forgot and cut the background to only 8.5" square. So now that I have a finish in mind that requires the backgrounds to actually be 9" in size, I must add a seam to each of the four sides. Oh, well. The final product will be worth it.

I probably should have been more organized, and had my criteria for this project written down.

Lesson Learned: Always cut your applique backgrounds even bigger than you think you'll ever need - especially if you're not sure how you're going to finish the project. Add at least 1" to the "cut size" - maybe even 2", if you can spare it.


A Tisket, A Tasket - January

In 2009, Anne Sutton of Bunny Hill Designs offered a BOM called A Tisket, A Tasket. (available here)

Each block featured a basket filled with something appropriate to that time of year. I decided to join along. The 8" blocks were fairly quick to make. It was a good first experience for a block-of-the-month, because I could actually keep up.

I learned a lot about applique along the way, so I thought I'd break one of the cardinal rules of quilting (never point out your mistakes!) so that you might also learn. I still love the project, and look forward to actually completing it. Maybe showing it around on blogland will give me just a little more determination to complete this so I can hang it on my wall.

I have a very special setting idea in mind. I can't wait to show it to you!


Here is the January block. It features a white snowman. This was only the first block, and already I had a technical issue: What do I do about the fabrics that will show through the white of the snowman? I had some solid white Kona. That fabric line is coarsely woven.

I decided that any kind of stiff stabilizer (no matter how opaque) would not be to my liking. The very reason I decided to do my applique by hand is because I didn't like the idea of anything stiff behind the fabric.

I hadn't figured out how to do reverse applique yet with my freezer paper method. I don't think I would have liked it done in reverse, because the snowman would be receding. Somehow, the subtle shadows would be wrong to me. (I'm stubborn!)

Here was my solution at the time: Sew two layers together, turn inside out. Yes, you have to deal with a bulky seam allowance when you are sewing, embroidering, pressing and quilting, but it prevents the background showing. On the plus side, you get some very realistic shadows!

If I had the chance to do it over again, I'd cut one piece of white to the exact finished shape, then wrap it with another piece of white fabric, turning under the raw edges. That way, I'd get the same two layers but less bulk.

I figured out that I could make my own variegated embroidery thread by combining single strands of various colors. The blobby, floppy French knots actually work well for pieces of coal.

Lesson Learned: Go ahead and do whatever works, even if it isn't perfect. There are plenty of unfinished quilts still hidden away somewhere, awaiting perfection.


Sometimes, you're right and you don't even know it.

My friend Gayle let me borrow a commercially-made apple core template. I made a pair of templates for myself from the plastic you can cut with scissors.

I began hand piecing. Why is this not going right? I quickly lost interest in the project. It sat, a lonely UFO...

One day, I came across the stalled project. I decided to check my templates. Fortunately, I had made two. The answer was immediately apparent. They don't fit together properly at all! No wonder I seemed to think something was wrong.

Lesson Learned: Check out all your measurements and templates carefully before you begin work. I'm going to design a few different sizes of apple core templates for myself, and I'll know that they're the right shape.


What's Stopping Me?

“Do not wait; the time will never be 'just right.' Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.”

~ George Herbert

OK, let's give this blogging thing a try. It's not like I lack ideas.