Thursday, May 4, 2017

Twilight Gardens - Dutch Tulips

Block 5 - Dutch Tulips

If you followed along on my earlier article, Applique Tutorial, you may have already started or completed block 5.  I wrote that tutorial just a little early, as I know many quilters are not applique people and sometimes get discouraged just at the mention of the word.

In reality, applique is not that difficult, it is just another skill that once you add to your toolbox, will open up an enormous number of patterns to you.  If you are already skilled at applique, you probably have a favorite method you like to use, and so by all means proceed.  My tutorial focused on a method of preparation of the pieces that I had never done before, so it was a learning experience for me too.  I thought it worked very well, and, had the added benefit, that once the pieces are prepared, you can applique them to the background either by hand or by machine, whichever you choose.

We have two groups of fabrics for this block.  The first group includes the block background.  This is the first block where I have selected a fabric other than solid black for my background.  This dark charcoal with a subtle stripe is just a little different, and provides some nice texture for the open areas surrounding the flowers.  I also selected 3 blue fabrics to use for the tulips and a single green (plain) fabric to use for the bias stems and the leaves.  The applique design is simple and these are nice high contrast fabrics with the background.

The second group of fabrics forms the piano key strip that runs along the base of this block. I selected a mix of solid look fabrics, and ones with patterns, textures, and contrasting colors.  I purposely stayed with warmer tones and a couple of grays.  These will each contribute a couple of pieces to the pieced strip, just in random order.

The strip is very easy to construct. We cut 13 rectangles from this group of fabrics (2 or 3 from each) that are 1 1/2" x 5 1/2". Then arrange them in a pleasant, random fashion and sew them together with a 1/4" seam.  Press all seams in the same direction.

Set this pieced strip aside while we do the applique.

Refer to my earlier article, Applique Tutorial, for specific instructions on preparing your applique pieces, and also hand sewing to the background.

For placement of the pieces, I like to transfer the outline design of the block onto the background fabric.  So, the pattern has you start by cutting out a 9 1/2" x 13 1/2" piece from the background.  I cut mine so that the lines on the fabric were vertical, but that is just individual preference.

Use a light box, or work against a bright window. Cover your pattern with the background fabric. Position the fabric over the pattern so that you will have some trimming room around the design on all sides when you are done.  I centered the design left to right, and positioned it so that I had about 1 3/4" of background space above the top of the center tulip.

 Trace the design onto the fabric with your favorite washable (removable) marker.  For dark fabrics like this, my favorite marking pen is the Clover #517 white marking pen.  It creates a fine white line that can easily be seen on any medium to dark value fabric.  It is permanent while you are working, and will not wipe away, even with a lot of handling. Then it completely comes out with a little water, or the steam of an iron.  So easy!

Use these lines as your placement guides when you begin sewing your pieces down. Begin with the stems.  I did the two side stems first, clipping them in the middle where they overlap to create a miter that would easily by covered by the vertical stem.

For hand applique, you can position the pieces, and hold them in place with a washable basting glue (like Roxanne), or just pin them in place with small applique pins.

Applique pins are a special type of pin. They are shorter than regular quilting pins to prevent your thread from getting tangled around them as you are working.  They are available from many companies, but the best on the market, bar none, are those from Little House of Japan.  They have the finest shaft of any applique pins so they don't distort your fabrics, and a very small glass head to grip.  I LOVE them.  Little House Applique Pins.

Proceed to applique all leaves in place.  When you reach to tulips be sure to applique the left and right outside pieces down first, then the center of each tulip.  On mine, I fussy cut the woven accent design on one of the blue fabrics to fall down the center of each of the side tulips.

 Once your applique is finished, stitch the piano key strip to the bottom of your applique block, being sure to incorporate the center stem of the tulips into the seam.  Carefully position before you sew.

Once the two units are sewn together, press the seam allowance toward the applique block.  Center and trim the finished block to measure 12 1/2" tall x 13 1/2" wide.  Note this is a different size than the previous blocks we have made.  This is because we will be adding additional sashing around all the blocks.  The sizes will all work out in the end.


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