Sycamore Rose – Block 4


Block 4 w border

Here is Sycamore Rose – Block 4, ready for download. It’s a really sweet block with simple shapes to applique. I had a blast doing this one. I hope you will be gracious enough to forgive the poor photography. I didn’t want to bother MSH who was busy with his own project. But I probably should have, anyway. It looks a bit skewed in the photo, but I promise, all four corners are the same length.

I’m really enjoying seeing the pictures on Facebook of the blocks you all have done! It brightens my day considerably when I get to peek at what ya’ll are doing. And as a side note, I realized I forgot to put up a picture of block three, so I will post that to the Facebook page posthaste.

Today I got to do a little shopping and spent a few dollars on a lapdesk. I’ve been doing my applique with a pillow in my lap, but am excited to try it with a little sturdier surface. It has a microbead bottom, so it’ll stay put and a hard plastic top to hold my little sewing box. All in all, a great purchase, I think.

We are enjoying some much needed rain today here in our little desert valley.  It makes for a lovely day.

What methods of applique are you using to do the blocks?  I’m curious to know.  Do you prefer hand or machine applique?  Prepared edge or needle turn or back basting?  I think I’ve tried just about every method with varying degrees of success.  But I haven’t tried machine applique yet.  I’d like to try, but admit to being a little nervous about using invisible thread.  Is Nylon or Polyester better/easier to use?  I like Kim Diehl’s method of machine applique and think that’s probably the way I’d do it.  But I’ve also seen Beth Ferrier demonstrate her way and that looks great, too.  It’s wonderful to have so many choices.  But also a little daunting.

So glad it’s finally spring.  And a wet one, at that.

Stay safe,



Sycamore Rose – Block 3

Sycamore Rose - Block 3

Here is Sycamore Rose – Block 3, ready for download.  I haven’t quite finished up the stitching on the block, but it will have it done in the next day or two and will post a picture then.  I didn’t want to delay the pattern just because I’m a little slowpokie this month.

March is such a happy month as we get the rain we need for the poppies to bloom in all their glorious color here in the Mojave desert.  We’re enjoying a wet weekend – well, enjoying it as long as we’re not out driving in it.  But it’s good weather to stitch away on the couch in the family room, watching TV with the kids while hearing to the rain fall and the wind howl, or else finding a nice book to keep me company.  Or I can watch the Twilight series for the umpteenth time with my dear daughter who can practically recite it verse for verse.   Happy times.

Hope you all are safe and warm wherever you are.


At the risk of exposure…

In church today, we talked a little about importance of goals and goal setting.  And it struck me.  Every January, I make the requisite list of goals that I move toward in varying stages of urgency.  But truthfully, their importance comes and goes, and while I’m well intentioned, the goals I set have a way of becoming like a well-worn road, full of potholes and fading striping.  The goals themselves lose their luster and more often than not, something of greater importance or more intense urgency comes along to replace what I originally intended to work on.  But today I realized something else.  That there a few goals I carry around in back pocket, year after year, waiting for the right time to put a plan into action.  Yet because I’m always fearful to try at something I really want to do and have it end up littered on the side of my road, I don’t do anything to make it happen.  One of those goals for me is to become proficient in good, old-fashioned needle turn applique.  I’ve been a big proponent in the past of freezer paper applique, both the glue-stick and starch & iron methods, and have even tried Eleanor Burns’ fusible interfacing method, but my heart yearns for needle turn.  I don’t think I can adequately express why it’s so important to me.  The most basic reason is that I want to develop a skill – a time-honored, old-fashioned skill that I can share with others.  But with that comes inherent risk.  The risk of exposure, to be exact.  When things don’t end up looking as good as I imagined them, I discount their value.  And instead of seeing them as stepping stones, or means to an end, I sit ashamed that I even tried.  But after today’s sermon, I realized that now is the time to really put some effort toward improving.  So with that in mind, and knowing I needed to work of Block 3 for Sycamore Rose, I’ve made two different templates for the same block.

Turned EdgeNeedleturn

One I’ll do with the standard starch & iron over freezer paper templates.  I do enjoy this method because I love the prep work.  It’s not a drudgery for me.  And I have an excuse to sit and watch TV without really having to invest myself fully in the script.  And I love the polished look of the block when it’s finished.  I like knowing that something I had a hand in can be called pretty, as I’m typically a clumsy kind of girl.  But I’m making the other set ready for needle turn.  To that end, about a week ago, I bought Becky Goldsmith & Linda Jenkins’ book, The Best Ever Applique Sampler.

Book Close Up

It’s full of gorgeous pictures that I could stare at for hours.  And while I’m not fond of the “Always,”, “Never,” & “Must’s” which are liberally sprinkled throughout the text, I do love the ample close-up pictures and profound common sense.  That said, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to needle turn a tiny circle.  But until I try, I’ll never know.  When I finish both blocks, I’ll post a picture of each, regardless of how homely the needle turn block may be.

Something else church is good for made me laugh.  I sat behind a friend of mine who had on a dress full of beautiful flowers that were perfect to applique, so I quick took out my notebook and sketched what I saw.  I also considered calling her to ask if I could come and photograph her dress for reference, but had the good sense to stop before embarrassing myself further.  Inspiration strikes where you least expect it, I guess.

Take care, friends and keep stitching.


Sycamore Rose – Block 2

Block 2 w border

I know it’s a little early, but I couldn’t wait to post it since it’s all ready to go. Here is Sycamore Rose – Block 2.

For this block, you will need approximate scraps as follows if you’re making it in the Pink/Brown colorway.

  • Medium Pink:   (one) 6-1/2″ square of Medium Pink #1 for Rose bottom and (one) 2-1/4″ x 4″ rectangle of Medium Pink #2 for tulip center
  • Dark Pink:    (one) 4-1/2″ square for Rose top
  • Light Pink:  (one) 5-1/2″ square of Light Pink #1 for Rose middle and (one) 3-1\2″x 4″ square of Light Pink #2 for tulip base
  • Gold:  (two) 2-1/2″ squares for Rose center and base circle.
  • Green: (twenty-four) 2″ x 3″ rectangles cut from assorted prints.  Or, if you’re using one fabric for all leaves, a fat quarter of fabric will be more than generous for the amount of leaves you’ll need.

I had a lot of fun putting the block together and hope the same for you!

Album Basket Quilt

I was so excited to get my sewing machine back from being serviced but realized I had nothing to sew.  So, since I’ve been looking for just the right project for my dear daughter and her new husband, I thought it would be nice to do something that’s 50/50 piecing and applique.  And after searching through some of my reference books, I found just the right project in “The Quilt Engagement Calendar Treasury” by Cyril I. Nelson & Carter Houck.

Album Basket Quilt

First, I isolated a basket to reproduce.  Easy Peasy.  Because it’s for newlyweds I knew I wanted hearts.

Basket 1

The problem was drafting the basket.  Since there is no pattern for it I turned to trusty Electric Quilt to help me.  It had a couple of cute baskets that were similar but not the same.  And since I especially liked the foot of the basket on the original quilt it meant I would need to draft it myself.  It took some time but I was finally able to get it.

Then came the real fun.  Designing the applique for the top of the basket.  Using the original quilt again as a starting point, I drafted the top of the first basket and came up with this:

Basket Quilt - Block 1

I’m really happy with it, and can hardly wait to get stitching on it!  I designed the applique in Adobe Illustrator, since I’m more comfortable with those tools.  But again, it made it so easy to do.

The whole block is only 7 inches, so there isn’t a whole lot of room.  And the quilt itself will have 81 blocks – but half of those are setting blocks, so I only need to come up with around 41 basket blocks.  I’m relishing the challenge of recreating the quilt and updating the applique to something a little more modern.  I think half the fun lies in the designing and preparation that comes before the actual stitching.  But the stitching is pretty awesome, and I love that!

Light Table

I wanted to share the super simple and relatively inexpensive light table my sweet husband made for me.
Light 1All you need to make one is an 18″ x 24″ piece of clear plexiglass, which you can get at most hardware stores; four short table legs; four washers; and four capped nuts.

First, he drilled a hole in each corner slightly smaller than the diameter of the screw attached to the leg.  This allows for a snug fit when screwing in the table legs.  Next top each screw with a washer and a capped nut.

Light 4These table legs are only about six inches tall.  If I were to do it again, I’d maybe try to find some that are eight inches tall.  Although six inches is fine.

Light 5What I really like about it is that on sunny days, I don’t even need a light on underneath it.  As you can see, there is enough light to see the lines clearly and line up my pieces.  For Sycamore Rose I’m using a white cotton sateen for my background and it’s just lovely to work with.  If your background fabric is darker then you will probably need a light source underneath the table.Light 2I’ve got block 2 all glued down and only have left to stitch it, and that’s my favorite part.  Just sitting in my chair enjoying the calming rhythm of the needle going in and out of the fabric and the satisfaction of having something beautiful to look at as I go.

I hope you all have a chance to do a little stitching, too.