Sycamore Rose – Block 6

Block 6

The first of the month sure rolls along quickly.  I can’t believe it’s here already and bringing with it the start of summer.  The days are just gorgeous now, drenched in sunshine.  All too soon, I’ll be complaining of the heat, but in the meantime, it’s just nice to appreciate the weather.

Block 6 is easy to put together.  I’ve been exclusively needle-turning this one, so it isn’t quite done yet.  But it’s been a lot of fun.  You can download the pattern here: Sycamore Rose – Block 6.  Please remember when you print it out to make sure it is printing actual size and is not  fit to the page.  I made that mistake once and it isn’t fun.

There may be two patterns this month.  Block 7 may be put up in the middle of the month to keep this BOM from running on forever.  But my sweet husband and I have a silver anniversary trip planned for the middle of June, so it may be a few days late.  If I double the blocks for June, July, August, and September, we should be able to end in December, which would be nice.  Let me know if you have an opinion either way.

Enjoy, and happy stitching!


A little tutorial

I’d like to share how I approach 1/4″ bias stems – or just stems in general.  I’ve used bias tape makers in the past, and they do create a beautifully stem, but the process I come back to again and again is just using my fingers.  All that you need are fabric cut on the bias 3/4″ wide – or three times the finished size of the stem – a water spritzer, and your iron and pressing surface.

IMG_0013IMG_00121. Spritz the fabric strip with water and lay down wrong side up on your pressing surface.  Make sure your iron is dry and that the steam is off so you don’t burn your fingers.  You don’t need spray starch or sizing for this method.  Just water works fine.

2. Fold up the bottom edge about half-way, so that it meets in the middle, and iron.

IMG_0016IMG_0019IMG_00203.  Now fold down the other side to cover the first fold. Like so:

IMG_0021and iron flat.  You may want to spritz the fabric with a little more water before folding the second side down.  Sometimes I do, Sometimes I don’t.  It depends on how much of a fight the fabric puts up.

And when you’re done – Wah-la!!

IMG_0026Perfect 1/4″ bias stems.  So quick and easy.  If there are noticeable bumps and bobbles, I just cut those little areas out and use the rest of the stem.  But I got just as many bumps and bobbles using the bias tape maker.   This method is quick, easy, and allows you to make LOTS of bias tape in only a little bit of time.


I also wanted to share a little bit of how I prepared this block for needle-turn applique.  The first thing I needed was an overlay, which I made from frosted vinyl bought at a fabric chain store.  I got the thicker width and it’s been lovely to work with.

The problem was that by the time I got it home, it had stiffened and wrinkled so that it wasn’t useable.  No worries, though, I cut a 15″ block from the creased yardage

IMG_0029then took a hair dryer to it to relax the plastic.  It worked like a charm.

IMG_0042Just go smooth and steady, covering the entire surface and smooth it flat with your hands and it will relax and become pliable and smooth once again.

IMG_0048Once this is done, I’m ready to trace my pattern onto the plastic with an ultra fine point Sharpie.

IMG_0027I put an “XL” in the upper right hand corner of the overlay and the block itself, so I can always reposition the overlay the correct direction.

Now it’s time to make the templates.  I use full sheet mailing labels to print the templates on and cut them off.  Then stick them to the appropriate fabric and trace with chalk or pencil, and cut out with a scant 1/4″ seam allowance.

IMG_0002Once all the pieces are traced and cut and the stems are made, it’s time to position it on the background block using the overlay.   To be honest, I lay the stems down without the overlay; just laying the block down over the paper pattern.  But if my background were black or brown, and I couldn’t see through to the paper pattern, I’d use the overlay for that part, too.

IMG_0005I only lay down a few pieces at a time, so that I’m not overwhelmed.  Needle-turned applique is still new to me, so I’m going to take it in bite-sized chunks.  But the overlay is wonderful in helping to position everything accurately.

IMG_0008IMG_0007IMG_0005Now all that’s left is to stitch it all down.

I keep the rest of the pieces, which have been pre-cut in a folder lined with batting made by Piece o’Cake designs.  I’ve laid the pieces in the order that they’ll be stitched so that they’re easy to find and place.

IMG_0004I hope this tutorial helps you!

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,