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Awe-Inspiring Applique

I love stitching on a quilt where I can do a variety of designs, use what I have learned in workshops, and expand my skills. In May I was fortunate to have just such a quilt on my frame. It was made by my quilting friend, Janet Huenink - an absolutely spectacular wall hanging filled with little appliqués of vines, leaves, berries, and flowers divided into separate blocks. Her only request for the quilting was that it should be custom quilted - no all-over or edge-to-edge design on this quilt. Since she was planning to hang it on a wall in her sewing room I wanted to incorporate a lot of designs so that she would see something different in the piece each time she looked at it.

My initial design idea when I first saw this quilt was to outline and then echo around all of the appliqués. However, I was not satisfied with that option as the appliqué pieces were just too small and close together to make that design work well. So I began to search the Internet and found a YouTube video that showed a swirl and leaf design that radiated from the vines - a perfect and very doable option for those blocks. I changed my hopping foot to use the open-toed variety and, as a result, it was easier to see where to stitch around the appliqués.

Next I made a list of the background fillers that I thought would work well around the small flower blocks - pebbles, stipple, loops, and swirls. Each of them were good design choices in those blocks. I was especially pleased with the swirls as they looked like lace when combined with the antique-looking fabric. In addition I was able to stitch extra petals in between the existing fabric petals on some of the small flower blocks - a fun way to add more dimension.

I also decided to simply outline and then add a couple of additional leaves to the flower blocks with leaves and stems.

The large flower blocks lent themselves to using some designs that I learned from DeLoa Jones at the recent Midwest Machine Quilters workshop held at the International Quilt Study Center and Museum in April. The feathers, continuous curves, ribbons, and loops were fun to do and added a great deal to those blocks.

Three sizes of sashing in this quilt required three different designs. I stitched ribbon candy in the smallest sashing and wishbones in the medium-sized sashing. I searched my stencils to find a design that would fit into the 2” sashing - another idea that I learned from DeLoa Jones. I used stencils often when I was hand quilting and machine quilting on my domestic machine but had not used them on the long arm. I was excited to find how easy they were to use and look forward to finding more uses for them.

Stay tuned for my next blog where I recount the adventures I had in choosing just the right thread to use for this project - a decision equally as important as the design choices.

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