Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Pinch of This and A Dash of That to Kickoff Summertime!

I love summer time in Miami.  Everything slows to a crawl.  Endless hours floating in the pool.  The smell of Coppertone SPF 5 Million in the air.   It is also the perfect time to quilt because everyone is hiding indoors with the air conditioner cranked up as high at the purse strings will allow.   But, before I go into summer hibernation I have a little of this and that to share you all of you.

This past weekend, Jim and I had an unexpected road trip to mid central Florida.  Jim is the driver and I am the navigator.  Some how, I can't imagine how, our route kept taking us by quilt shops.  

I don't know if I ever mentioned it before but I have a serious notions addition.

We managed to make it all the way down to Sunshine Sewing in Margate as the last stop of the day. 
They have the largest batik collection I have ever seen outside of Hancock's of Paducah.  I was very good and exhibited great self control.  See - only 16 half yards of batiks!  

On another topic, I received several emails asking for a close-up of the embroidered peacock eye.  The white of the eye is reverse appliqued.  The dark eye is a satin stitch oval using 1 strand 50 wt. cotton machine embroidery thread.  The white highlight is a small straight stitch with a colonial knot at the end using 1 strand DMC off white embroidery floss.


I am also often asked if I always use the Template Free applique technique.  The answer is yes 99.999% of the time.  Since this block is the rare 0.001% of the time I did NOT use Template Free I wanted to share it with you.  When I found a beautiful batik grape wreath print fabric I knew I had to use it for this block.  I used Template Free to place and stitch the stems and then placed by eye the fussy cut leaves.

I cut a very scant 1/4" - more like a scant 1/8" and then basted the leaf down well so that it could not move.  I can't baste with pins without impaling myself so I thread base whenever possible.

I then needle turn appliqued the leaf.  I tried not to be TOO exact so that each leaf would look different and give the block a little variety (also known as visual interest).


The last tidbit...Here is the Victorian Vase block that I worked on during the second workshop with Elly Sienkiewicz at the Quilt Scene over Mother's Day weekend.  Notice the two buds on stems on either side of the vase.  They  are skinny stems (1/8") with an attached reverse appliqued bud.  The green stem/bud is a single piece of fabric.  Underneath is a hot pink polka dot batik. Doesn't everyone have hot pink polka dot rosebuds growing in their garden?

Here's how to stitch this shape using the Template Free method.  First baste the hot pink polka dot fabric in place.  Place the basting stitches just outside the bud area.  See the pink basting stitches in the photo.
Trim the pink bud fabric close to the stitched basting.  Then place the green bud/stem fabric in place and baste in place.  See the gold basting thread in the photo.

From the front of the block, trim the green fabric a scant 1/8".   Slit the green fabric to reveal the pink bud fabric below.  I like to use a seam ripper.  The piece is very sturdy because it's very well basted.  Remove only a few basting stitches at a time as you needle turn the edge.  Stitch the inside of the bud first and the outside last.   Slow and steady wins this race!  

Here is a finished bud.  Well, not really finished because I feel the need to add embroidered moss - maybe a few thorns.  

The view from the back of the block shows that the small bud/stem unit is placed ALMOST perfectly.  I just love Template Free!  By the way, I did find a reference to this technique in an old book on embroidery.  This method was called Tacking.  I plan to research it a little more and I will share any info I find.  Easy!

To all my USA friends and readers, Happy Memorial Day!  Have a happy, healthy holiday and safe travels.  To all my friends and readers in the Northern Hemisphere, Happy Summer!  For those in the Southern Hemisphere Happy Fall/Winter.

Until next time - best stitches,
Mercy in Miami
aka The Savage Quilter

Thaddeus wearing his patriotic bandana is ready for the Holiday.


  1. I have been waiting for you!! and was happy to see a post this morning ;) VERY helpful..better than my applique "how to" books! Have preordered Sandra's new book (OCT)- I love your posts...hope it is not too long before the next, LOL. Sandy

  2. Thanks Sandy! I'm so happy you find the postings helpful. I'm making an effort to find more stitching time. I'm also keeping a camera handy so that when I can capture techniques I think readers will find helpful - or at least entertaining - but I'll settle for interesting!
    Best stitches!
    Mercy in Miami
    BTW - I'm excited waiting for Sandra's book too! It's scheduled to be published 2 days before my 50th birthday. Coincidence? Hmmmm LOL

  3. Hi Susan!
    Yes, Tacking is the common British term for Basting. It's used in the US for basting as well; i.e. Tacking Gun, Tailor's Tack Stitch, etc. Just not very common. I think it is very interesting that "newest" appliqué prep technique turned out to be one of the oldest embroidery marking techniques.
    Best stitches,