Hand applique and embroidery

How do you applique a two sided quilt?

You think, think, plan, think some more, plan again and then finally jump in and do it.  That kinda describes the process I went through when contemplating the idea of embroidering an identical tree on both sides of a quilt.

Idea #1

  •  adhere light weight fabric adhesive to the back of two pieces of fabric for the tree trunks
  • draw the tree trunk onto the fabric and cut out two identical trees
  • adhere the tree to one side of the quilt and baste in place
  • adhere the tree on other side and then machine embroidery through all layers of the quilt and tree
  • machine quilt the details onto the tree
  • Concern – machine quilting will cause the quilt to be “flattened” and lining up the edges of the tree on each both sides of the quilt would be difficult

Idea #2

  • baste stitch the outline of the tree onto the quilt
  • cut out fabric to match the tree
  • use needle turn embroidery to stitch the tree onto each side of the quilt
  • machine quilt  the details onto the tree
  • Concern – it might be difficult to control the amount of fabric involved while doing hand embroidery

Idea #3

  • pin large pieces of the tree fabric to both sides of the quilt
  • machine quilt the tree details onto the tree
  • trim the fabric approximately 5/8″ – 3/4″ away from quilting details
  • use needle turn embroidery to stitch the fabric to the quilt
  • This was ultimately the idea I decided to use for the trees, sun and moon


Daytime detail:

I decided to hand applique leaves onto the daytime side of the quilt.  To do this, I pinned pieces of green fabric onto the quilted tree.  Then I machine quilted the outline and veins of a leaf onto each piece of fabric.  After cutting around each stitched leaf, I used needle turn embroidery to secure the edges of the fabric.

Nighttime detail:

I did not want to use the same technique on the nighttime side of the quilt. So, after completing the daytime side, I used the quilting lines as a guide to paint faint green fabric dye onto the leaves and then hand embroidered outlines around the leaves.



Unfortunately while quilting the leaves onto the daytime side, my long arm machine handles fell off the machine while I was working on a leaf.  When this happened, the needle broke and the broken needle tore the fabric through all layers of the quilt.  This picture shows that even on the backside of the quilt, the broken needle tore the fabric. I was really bummed!

To fix the tear, I could applique a leaf onto the daytime side.  But, how do I fix the tear on the nighttime side.  I could applique leaves on this side as well.  However, that was more applique then I really wanted to do.  And, I had really wanted the two sides of the quilt to use different techniques.  This was really frustrating.

Ultimately, I decided to add a bit more detail to the quilt.  By appliqueing an owl on the nighttime side and a cardinal to the daytime side, I was able to repair the quilt and no one can even tell that the quilt was torn.


A good repair and some nice details for the quilt! I have added more details to the quilt that were really fun to do.  I will post about those soon.

A two sided quilt – sounds easy, right?

You have probably seen adult coloring books in stores over the past few years.  Meant as a way to unwind from daily stress, these books can take an adult back to their childhood days of coloring.

Since my crafts are my way to relax at the end of a day, I have not purchased any of these coloring books.  I have however, looked at the books in stores.  The pictures are complex and do provide great inspiration for quilting patterns and applique designs.

Last summer, I paged through one of these coloring books with trees.  Each design featured a tree with unique patterns.  Some of the designs had animals in the trees – owls, birds and even cats. One day I may make one of these, perhaps a tree with many different owls appliqued on the branches.

Directly next to the display of coloring books, was a different display featuring paper craft ideas. One idea showed strips of wrapping paper cut and glued horizontally in the background, and featured cutouts of black or white paper animals, flowers or trees as the main object.  Sorry, but I did not think to take a picture of the display. But, it was a really nice idea.

This idea stuck with me, and besides thinking about making some greeting cards with the idea, I realized that a quilt could be made with a similar design.  At the time I first saw the display, my paper craft supplies were buried in the back of my craft storage closet, so the cards would need to wait.  But, I did have lots of fabric that I could utilize for a quilt.

So, I set out to work on my new design.  Many of my batik scraps were blue and green, which would work well for the background of a tree.

Sorting through the fabrics, I couldn’t decide whether I wanted a the colors to depict a tree during the daytime, the nighttime, or an unsorted scrappy look.  After playing around with a graphic program, I ruled out the scrappy look because it was too chaotic for my liking.  But, I simply just couldn’t decide which of the other two I preferred.  So, I thought I would try something new and make a two sided quilt – one side with bright daytime colors, the other side with darker nighttime colors.  After cutting 2 1/2″ strips, the fabrics were sewn together with some shorter pieces inserted periodically to add some variation to the background.

Since I had decided to try to make the applique exactly reversible, the quilting the front and back together would need to be done next.  When loading the pieced backgrounds onto my long arm machine, I realized that making a completely reversible quilt was going to be rather difficult.

This year, in particular, my ideas for quilts have been easy in the planning stages, but more challenging when actually sewing.  This quilt was no exception.  On paper, it looked straightforward – sew the strips, load it on my quilting frame and quilt away.  Right!  Actually, wrong.  Lining up so many seams on the front and the back of the quilt prior to machine quilting was definitely not easy.  I discovered that even though my piecing was exact, the number and location of the seams impacted the stretch and movement of the two pieces of fabric.  I ended up having to pin along each seam of the layers to try to get my quilting to look right on both the front and the back of the quilt. IMG_1042


Once the backgrounds was quilted, I decided to get my least favorite part of any quilt (the binding) done before I  would start work on the appliqued tree.  More on that in my next posting.

Since moving into my newer sewing room, my paper craft supplies are now accessible, so cards can once again be made.  That project will be included in a future post as well.

Color Burst completed piecing.

After several more hours of sewing, the piecing if finally done.IMG_2608

Close-up of corner
Close up of Small Burst
Close up of Large Burst

But the result is awesome!

Some statistics:
Number of blocks sewn:
Red/Orange Blocks = 8 small, 4 large
Yellow/Green Blocks = 16 small, 8 large
Blue/Purple Blocks = 24 small, 12 large
Cream Blocks = 24 small, 12 large
Total = 72 small, 36 large

Number of Piece in Large Starburst:
Red = 36
Orange = 32
Yellow = 56
Green = 80
Blue = 144
Purple = 156
Cream = 156

Number of Piece in Small Starburst:
Red = 40
Orange = 32
Yellow = 48
Green = 96
Blue = 192
Purple = 168
Cream = 212

Total Pieces (not including background) = 1453!

I also pieced together a Doll Quilt – this one has 680 pieces in a 18″ x 24″ miniature quilt.


The background quilting design for each of these will have a different for each cream section in the design.  The quilting will take me many hours to complete. With everything else I am doing, it may be a few month before I post the finish pictures.

Color Burst, continued


After piecing together the individual blocks, the fun part began.  Combined to make the starburst rays, the true vibrancy of the fabrics started to show.

The rays were then combined to complete the Burst. Being a scrap quilt, there were many different fabrics used, but very little of each fabric. Tally of different fabrics:

Red: 9 fabrics
Orange: 8 fabrics
Yellow: 7 fabrics
Green: 10 fabrics
Blue: 11 fabrics
Purple: 12 fabrics
Cream: 13 fabricsimg_1249

Color Burst

It has been several months since I posted about quilting.  That doesn’t mean that I haven’t been sewing, just that I have been working on some time-consuming projects.

One of the projects I am working on is another scrap quilt, this one made with various types of long cabin blocks set into diamond shapes.  The quilt idea was rather easy to design in EQ8, but has proven very tricky to actually sew.

The idea behind the quilt was to make an asymmetrical starburst with half of the star on one side of the quilt and overlapping bands of off white making up the other half of the quilt.  The color scheme incorporated the transitioning through the colors of the rainbow for the starburst.

The log cabin blocks are completed.  There are four red/orange blocks, eight yellow/green blocks, twelve blue purple blocks and twelve cream blocks.

Three of these were not too difficult.  But, the blue and purple blocks were rather challenging with the corner inserts on each side.  This block is also called a Pineapple block, which I have done before in a square form in a Christmas Bed runner.  In the square form, this block just takes a bit more time than a traditional log cabin block.  However, in the diamond form I found this to be very tricky.  Each block had 45 pieces, and I needed to make twelve of them.

I like how the color transitions turned out. Now on to piecing the quilt blocks together.

Window on My World – quilting and hand embroidery. I’m done!


After hours of quilting and hand embroidery, I have finished my lanscape quilt. I am very pleased with the result. Hopefully when I look at it, I won’t find something that I want to change.

Each season has lots to look at – animals, plants, etc.  It really does look like my backyard.

Winter / Midnight
Spring / Sunrise


Summer / Midday


Autumn / Sunset


Some of the details:

Our first dog, a German Shorthair Pointer named Striker, and some hand embroidered flowers.
One of our first cats, Comet, who liked to climb trees, and some more flowers.
Our yorkie, Duke, barking an our cat, Onyx.  Onyx is always trying to get up and away from him.
Our oldest cat, Squigglez, who will be thirteen years old this summer, does enjoy wondering in the yard in the summertime.
Having a heavily wooded yard and lots of plants, we have lots of wildlife that visit.


Window on My World – applique.

It has been a while since I have posted.  But, after the holidays were over, I returned to working on the landscape quilt for my wall.

After piecing the backgrounds, the next step was to consider what to applique onto each seasonal panel.  Since this wall quilt is meant to be a memory of my backyard, I wanted to include things in my yard. Some shapes were cut by hand – trees mainly.  The rest of the shapes were cut using my Cameo.

Winter / Midnight

A few evergreen trees
An apple tree
Animals – deer, rabbit, cardinal and bird




Spring / Sunrise

Apple and lilac trees
Trellis with bench swing
Another Rabbit
Family Pets – two of our cats – Squigglez and Onyx



Summer / Midday

A few more trees
Trellis, sun
Duke, our Yorkie, barking at Onyx
Comet, one of our former cats, climbing a tree


Autumn / Sunsetimg_1830

A few more trees in fall colors
Striker, our former German Shorthair Pointer



After taking the photos, I decided that I needed to add something in the foreground of the two center panels.  Since we actually have a fire pit in our backyard, I added one, split between the  two panels.  An Adirondack chair on either side of the fire pit completed the applique designs.

Next up, quilting and hand embroidery, should be finished soon.

Window on My World – landscape quilt background panels.

When designing the backgrounds for the panels of my quilt, I wanted each panel to be different. In doing this, I was hoping that I could enhance the imagery of each season and each time of day.

Winter / Midnight



Starting with winter, I thought that strips of various shade of blue, navy and deep purple going across the sky might show the movement of a winter sky.

Then, I added snow in drifts for the ground.





After sewing the snowdrifts, I decided that I did not like that the ground was different than the sky. So, off came the snow drifts.

New snow drifts were made of strips of white and grey fabric sewn to similar to the sky.

This I liked much better!

Spring / Sunrise



For spring, I wanted the piecing to highlight the sunrise. So, the blue, yellow and orange fabrics were sewn to depict the rays of the sun.

And, to keep each panel looking unified, I decided that the ground should also be sewn to look like the rising sun was casting rays of light on the ground.

Summer / Midday



For summer, I wanted the piecing to highlight the tranquility of summer when a slight breeze is blowing.  To achieve this, I pieced the various shades of blue with a slight slope away from the center of the quilt.  The ground was then pieced to echo  or mirror  the slope of the sky.



Autumn / Sunset



For autumn, I also wanted the piecing to highlight the sun, this time as the sun goes down below the horizon.

Yellow, orange and  red fabrics were used for the sun with various shades of blue and purple for the sky. These fabrics were sewn in strips but with shifts to show the sun rays.

The ground was sewn similar with various shades of darker green. Grey fabric was used to show the set of steps to one side of the yard.


Next post will include the applique designs for these panels.

Dye Resists

When learning to dye fabrics, I recalled my teenage years when tie-dye was so popular.  Tie-dye is probably the best known form of a type of dyeing called resist-dyeing. So, I decided to investigate this category of techniques. What I found was fascinating to me.

Resist dyeing refers to traditional methods of dyeing fabrics to create patterns and has been widely used since antiquity.  The oldest example of resist dyeing was pieces of linen from Egyptian mummies and dates to the fourth century. The cloth was soaked in wax, scratched with a sharp tool, dyed with a mixture of blood and ashes, and then washed with hot water to remove the wax. The technique was also used in China during the T’ang dynasty as well as India, Japan and Africa.

These methods are used to “resist” or prevent the dye from reaching all of the cloth, thereby creating a unique pattern.  Common resists include wax, starch paste, tying or stitching.  The most well-known varieties are tie-dye and batik.

Traditional Batik:

The first technique I tried was traditional batik.  I love the look of batik fabrics and wanted to try to make my own.  But, after trying the technique, I think I will leave this form of resist dyeing to the wonderful craftsmen in Indonesia.  For a really good video on the process of batik – check out this Indonesian Batik Process video.
I found was that the tradition wax had a disagreeable odor, was difficult to get to melt properly for the intricate designs that I wanted to make and was very messy to remove from the fabric.  Perhaps I was too critical of my results, but I really wanted to find an easier way. Some day I may try low temperature Soy Wax for batik.

So, moving on to other techniques. ProChemical and Dharma Trading sell several starch resist – Potato Dextrin and Corn Dextrin amongst them.
Note: Potato and Corn Dextrin are not intended for immersion dye baths, as they are water soluble.

Potato Dextrin:

Potato Dextrin produces lace-like patterns and crackle lines, similar to batik.

Combed Cotton, Potato Dextrin Resist, Green Dye

1) Potato Dextrin Paste.  Manufacturer’s directions state to bring 1 cup of water to boiling, slowly whisk in 1.25 cups of dextrin into the water and cool to about 80 degrees. Anyone who does much cooking knows that adding any type of starch to hot  water is very difficult – it simply clumps up too easily.  My first several attempts followed the manufacturer’s directions with successful results but plenty of frustration making the paste. So, I actually add the dextrin to cold water and then microwave for one minute.
2) Stretch fabric on a hard surface, which is covered with a thin piece of plastic. Tape fabric or secure with pins every ½ inch.
3) Squeegee a smooth layer of paste on the fabric. The paste thickness determines the amount of crackle. In general, the thinner the paste, the finer the crackle; the thicker the paste – the larger the crackle.
4) Allow the cloth to dry completely while it is still stretched. The fabric needs to stay very tight. Crackling takes place as the fabric dries. Depending upon the thickness, this can take up to two days. 5) Apply dye with a paint brush.
6) Cover the fabric loosely with plastic and batch for 24 hours.
7)  Rinse, wash with Blue Dawn and dry.

I used this technique to make some of the fabric for my Dyed Fabric quilt.  If you look closely, you can see that the small white squares between each of the blocks is actually white fabric with black crackle. And, the appliqued ribbon in the border of the quilt is the same crackle fabric.

Mini Quilt made to match my Dyed Fabric Quilt



Corn Dextrin:

Corn Dextrin is best for solid areas and lines. Many cool designs can be made by applying the corn dextrin with a squeegee, rubber stamps, stencils, spatulas, or drawing with a squeeze bottle.

1) Corn Dextrin Paste.  Similar to potato dextrin, I mix 1.5 cups of dextrin cold water, heat in the microwave for one minute and allow to cool to about 80 degrees.
2) Tape fabric to a hard surface covered with a thin piece of plastic.
3) Place a stencil on the fabric.  To stabilize the stencil and keep it from moving around I run a glue stick around the edge of the stencil before placing on the fabric.
4) Squeegee a smooth layer of paste onto the the stencil and fabric.
5) Remove the stencil.
6) Allow the cloth to dry completely while it is still stretched.
7) Apply dye with a paint brush or spray bottle
8) Cover the fabric loosely with plastic and batch for 24 hours.
7)  Rinse, wash with Blue Dawn and dry.


I have plans to use these fabrics in a bed runner.  But, it may be a while before I finish making all the fabrics for that.