Summer Stitch Along Part 9 – Embellishing

I’ve been trying to sneak in some hand stitching over the past couple weeks.  I’ve finished 3 of the 4 blocks and have a pretty good start on the 4th block.  I have 5 more days before “summer” is over and I just might be able to finish it!  This isn’t the best photo, as my design wall doesn’t get good natural light, but you can see how it’s coming along.


After looking at the blocks on my design wall, I decided that the blocks needed a little embellishment.  The original quilt from the book doesn’t have the extra embellishment, but the runner option does.  When I did the runner, I thought it would take a lot of extra time to do the embellishment, but it was so quick!  Here’s a photo of that runner to show you what I mean by embellishment – just a few embroidery stitches like French knots or lazy daisy stitches on the applique shapes.


I took some photos of the few embellishment stitches that I did on my sew along project –

These two blocks just have a few extra French knots, which are super quick to do.


For this block I added a lazy daisy flower.


For this block, I combined a few long stitches, with French knots at the end.


If you are doing a different project from the book, you can also add some of these fun, yet simple stitches to make them more visually interesting.

If you are doing the Christmas runner, each ornament has a few embellishments.


You can zoom in on the photo above to see more of the details –


I will also show this pillow photo again, because it shows how the embellishment makes this so much more interesting:


The cover runner also has a few extra French knots in the flower centers.  Again, it’s nothing hard or over the top, just little details that are simple to do.

That’s all for today.  I’ll be back next time to share the Chain Stitch – Another one of my favorite easy stitches!

I hope you enjoy your holiday weekend!  I know we will – We are taking the kids to Storybook Land and we are having a little pickleball tournament at our house.  It’s going to be fun!


And one more thing I almost forgot!   Bear Patch Quilting in White Bear Lake, Minnesota has their wools kits put together for the projects in the Joyful Stitcher book.  I mentioned a while back that they were going to be doing this and they sent me a few photos to share.  They have kits for each project from the book, but the photos below show a couple options.  You can contact them at 651-429-1039 if you are interested in ordering them.

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Ideas for Stitching Stems – Summer Stitch Along Part 8

As part of the Summer Stitch along, I wanted to share some ideas for stitching stems.

You can use the whip stitch that I shared in this post, but it’s kind of fun to mix it up a little.  The photo below shows how the whip stitch looks on a stem.


One of the stitches that use most often is the back-stitch.  The photos below show several examples of how I used it.  In the photo directly below, you can see the back-stitch on the green stem and on the inside edge of the red flower.


One thing I want to point out about using the back-stitch on a stem like this – It is best if you do this stitch on wool felt, not felted wool.  The edges are not secured at all, so if you use felted wool, the edges will fray.  If it’s felt, you don’t have to worry about it.  (to read about the difference between wool felt and felted wool, click here.

This photo also shows the backstitch on the stem.  I also used the stitch on the center of the leaf, combined with a long stitch and French knot.


This photo shows have using a variegated thread dressed up that backstitch on the stem and makes it a little more interesting.  I also used the backstitch to attach the center part of the orange jack o lantern flower.


Lastly, this photo shows a little bit of black stitch mixed in with the other stitches.


The backstitch is very easy to do, as you can see in the photo below.



And – I almost hate to admit this, but if you like this look and you are in a hurry, you can create the look of this hand stitch very easily on your machine.  See the chevron design, the center of the snowflake, the green and red star design, and the red serpentine line in the photos below.  They are all done with my sewing machine.  I used a heavy thread (by Dual Duty, see this post) and a size 16 needle.  (the ornaments are from my Mod Ornaments pattern in the Joyful Stitcher book.


Another fun stitch to try is a variation on the whip stitch that I talked about at the top of this post.  It’s the same steps, you just slant the stitch as shown below and adjust the width of the stitch so that it is the same width as the stem (this works well with skinny stems 1/4″ – 3/8″).


When finished, the stem looks like this:


You can also repeat the slanted whip stitch, this time crossing over the other direction to make an X.  When repeated, the stitch looks like this:


As shown in the Gypsy Star quilt from the Joyful Stitcher book.


I hope that gives you some ideas of stitches to try!

If you missed a post on the stitch along, you can view the others here.  (Just scroll down the page a little bit to see links to all the posts)

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Big Splash, Part 2

My latest fabric line, Big Splash previewed at market this spring.  I shared a little bit about the inspiration for the line in this post, if you want to read more about it.


It comes out in November, but is available for shops to preorder now from Henry Glass Fabrics (or their distributors).  I got some early yardage and have made a few quilts that I want to share with you today.  These are the prints that we have included in the line.


The free pattern with the line looks is shown below – with a fun Octopus applique in the center.  The pattern will be available on HG’s website (it is currently on there, but the directions will be updated.  They aren’t incorrect, but they are for an entirely appliqued quilt.  I want the blocks pieced, so we are working on changing that.)


While I wait for the rest of the yardage, my design directed had a digital quilt printed of the free pattern.  It has found a home on my son Carter’s new big boy bed (he just turned 5).  I made my son Max a small throw with his name appliqued on it.


I used some of the patches from the panel to embellish the name band.


This quilt takes 7 fat quarters, plus some background fabric and the chevron for the binding.  The pattern is called Oh Baby and can be found in my “Little Quilts for Little Kids” book.



One of my favorite prints from the line is the chevron.  Not only is it great for borders and binding, it’s also great for my Starstruck technique.


I made a few more of those little stars and finished the small runner from the book.   Each one is a fun surprise to open as you press that final seam, that they are highly addictive!  This runner takes roughly 1 yard of chevron fabric and 1/2 yard of the grey.


Some close-ups of the blocks –


Lastly,  I made the Puppy Love quilt from my “Little Quilts for Little Kids” book.  I switched out the puppy applique for one inspired by the little crab print from the line.


This quilt uses the chevron again, along with all of the other prints from the line except the panel.  I would have used it for the backing, if I had enough yardage left.


If you are interested in this fabric line, please mention it to your local quilt shop.  Preorders are being accepted from quilt shops now and the order to the plant being placed in the next two weeks.  You can click here to go over to Henry Glass’s website to see the entire line or find a sales rep.  If your local shop does not carry the line, I will also be offering kits for the projects that I shared today.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Summer Stitch Along – Part 7


Summer is flying by!

I have been getting some stitching done, but not as much as I would like.  This week is a good example of why – We are having 30 people for supper tonight and another 30 for dinner on Saturday for the a birthday party, along with swimming lessons, VBS, dentists appointments, work,  etc.

We’ve been sneaking in a little time for swimming at our house in the evenings and that’s usually when I do my handwork.   The other night, Carter said to me – “Mom, today is a great day.  Everyday that I get to go swimming is a great day.”  I couldn’t help but smile after hearing that.  Then he asked me if gravity works under water.  What 5 year old thinks of these things!  I thought we were relaxing and de-stressing, but now I need to go look up what effect gravity has under water so I can keep up with my 5 year old ;-).  If you want, I have a couple cute videos of my boys jumping and sliding down our giant slip-n-slide on my Instagram page.  You can view it here.   (Or you can also get there by clicking on my Instagram photos on the lower right sidebar.)



I also wanted to say thanks for everyone that shared info on their favorite fusibles!  (see my last post)   I can’t wait to try them – I will let you know what I think of them, after I’ve gotten a chance to use them.


Here is how far I’ve gotten on my blocks for the Stitch Along –

Block 1:


Block 2:



In my last post, I talked about how to do the whip stitch.   As you can see, that is mostly what I’ve been using.


The other stitches that I’ve used in these blocks have been done on the little circles and that is what I’m going to share today.

Let’s start with the French Knot.  Come up in the center of the circle with your thread.


I wrap the thread around the needle twice.


Pull the wraps tight to the wool circle, insert the needle back into the same hole and pull the thread all the way through.


After doing the French knot, I chose from two different ways to finish off the circle.  You can see them both in the photo below.


This is the easier (and faster) of the two – You just make large stitches from the outer edge to the French knot.


If you are up for a little more, you can do the Lazy Daisy Stitch.

Start by coming up in the center next to the French knot.   Then put the needle back down next to that hole (but not in it) and bring the needle tip back up on the outside edge of the circle as shown below.  Wrap the tread around the needle tip as shown.


Then carefully pull the thread through, creating the loop.   Complete the stitch by brining the needle down on the outside edge of the loop so it is tacked down.  Repeat until you have petals all the way around the circle.  I usually do 6.  They  take a little practice to get them even, but they sure are cute!


That is all for today!  I have to go and make another pound cake for tonight.   Joel smoked a brisket and I have some very naughty potatoes waiting to go in the oven.  The only bummer is that it’s supposed to be 95 degrees and there is no way we can fit 30 people inside our house to eat!  I’m hoping all goes well – that the food turns out and the garage doesn’t get too hot during supper.

Have a great week!

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Garden Party

I finished a quilt that I have been working on for the last 11 months.  Yeah!  I saw it last year at the Minnesota quilt show in the Fiberworks Quilt Shop booth.  I debated for quite a while over if I should buy the pattern and kit.  I don’t usually buy kits or do quilts with lots of applique – this quilt has a ton!  I wasn’t sure if I would really stick with it to finish it, but the design and the fabrics were so pretty.  Now, I’m happy to say I actually finished it and it’s hanging in my stairway.  It’s called Garden Party.


I don’t have a great spot to hang it for a photos, so my only option was to lay it out on the grass.  It doesn’t look as pretty as it could, but this will have to do.   Even though my photos don’t do it justice, I hope you can see all the pretty prints that were in the kit.  I took a photo of the ones that were included in mine.  In addition to those print, there were 6 background prints and several text prints for the sashing.  I didn’t have any similar prints in my stash.


The quilt is done with fusible machine applique.  I used the blanket stitch in combination with a small zig zag.  I think it took 2-3 hours to trace, cut and stitch down each block.  At that point, I didn’t have all the small heart-shaped petals on the flower stems yet.  I decided to stitch them down during the machine quilting process.  I don’t like it as well, but I was just wanting to get it finished.



For the machine quilting, I chose to do a lot of pebble quilting  (which was no fun at all – I hate doing it!) and some easier (and much more fun) stitching in the flower petals.  If you look closely, you will see words quilted in some of the petals.


In this block, I stitched my boy’s names.  My photo isn’t very good, so you have to look hard to see them (lower left corner)


In this block, I stitched the name of my newest book “Joyful Stitcher.  This quilt was part of the reason why I was so inspired to do a book on applique, so I thought it was fitting to include those words.


My lessons learned from this quilt –

I’m really struggling with the fusible products on the market right now.  In the past, I have always used Heat’n’Bond light, but I can’t seem to get it to stick at all anymore.  I can’t figure out what I am doing wrong with it.  I think it works a little better when it’s a new roll, but not much.  I also tried Steam a Seam 2 and I thought the fabric frayed so badly with it.  I also had trouble with the glue sticking to the  paper layer that I hadn’t traced my pattern on (but only part of the time, so I wasn’t tracing it to the wrong side).  I’m curious if anyone would like to share their opinions on their favorite fusible?


Secondly, I discovered a new thread for doing the applique – Sulky Blendables.   I got this multi pack  (though the spools in the photo might not be exactly what was in that pack).  I liked the weight and the fact that the thread is variegated.


If you are interested in this design, you can find the pattern here and the kit here.


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Summer Stitch Along, Part 6 – The Whipstitch

How is everyone coming with their Joyful Stitcher project?  I’m curious to hear where everyone is at.  I am sewing on mine much faster than I am blogging on it, but the next blog posts should be a lot less involved so it won’t take me quite as long to prepare them.

For those of you not doing the stitch along, I have some other projects that I will be sharing soon so there will be more variety coming up.  Just hang in there!  If you follow my Instagram, you have already seen one those projects.  Here is a peek –  I just need to get the photos edited and I can share more.



Now, back to the Stitch Along.  Today I am sharing my favorite stitch –  It’s hand down the one I use the most!  It’s just a simple whip stitch.  Here is what the it looks like:


When I was first introduced to stitching on wool, I was taught the blanket stitch.  Though I love the look of that stitch, I find it challenging to keep even.  My frustration led me to avoid it.  The following photo shows what the blanket stitch looks like – It’s the black stitching going around the outside edge of my ornaments.

When I saw the whip stitch on wool, I decided to give it a try and found it so much easier.  They really do look similar, and when you are using thread that matches the wool applique, you can hardly tell the difference.  In addition to being easier to keep even, it is way faster!  Fast is helpful when you are trying to get lots of handwork done with little people around 😉


This detail shot shows how easy that stitch is:


There really isn’t much to it.  Position the needle as shown above, then pull the thread through.  Repeat until you run out of thread or the shape is done.  After a little practice, it should be easy to get fairly even.


Here are a few samples of places that I used that stitch on the projects from the book:




I hope you will give this stitch a try.  Let me know what you think of it!  That’s all for today.  I’ll be back soon so share more stitches.  In the meantime, the whip stitch should keep you busy until I get back.




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My Contact Paper Trick – Summer Stitch Along Post #5

Today as part of the Summer Stitch along, we get to talk about two of my favorite tricks – Layering cotton behind wool applique and using contact paper to get those applique shapes placed perfectly onto your background fabric.


The first trick is super easy, but adds a fun touch.  It’s kind of a reverse applique technique that uses cotton behind the wool.  Many of you asked about it when I did the initial preview of the book.  I used the technique in Mandala and Boho Stars quilts from the book.

This is the Mandala quilt and the large yellow circles in the center of the design and cotton.  In this case, layering the cotton in with the wool helps reduce some of the bulk that accumulates when you layer lots of wool.


This is the Boho Stars quilt.


In this case, I layered the cotton behind the wool shapes because I love the mix of the cotton prints with the wool texture.  Here’s a close-up of a couple of those blocks:


It’s super easy – All you need to do is lay a piece of cotton behind the wool applique shape that has a cut out area.  Locate the dashed lines that indicate the size of this shape on the applique templates.   You can use my freezer paper method that I talked about here, if you want help getting that size transferred onto the cotton.  Then just lay the cotton behind the wool before you stitch it.




The next trick that I want to share has been so helpful for me with the projects in this book.  In the past, when I have done applique I have struggled to get the applique shapes in position on the background fabric.  The only method that I have seen or read about is to trace the design onto a large sheet of template plastic, then stick your hand underneath and try to get the applique shape into place.  On intricate, symmetrical designs I found this method really inaccurate and putsy – reaching your hand under and realigning over and over.  I just thought that there had to be an easier way!


When I was trying to figure out an easier way to do this, it just came to me that I could use clear Contact paper instead – it’s clear and sticky.  First, use a Sharpie to transfer your pattern onto the clear side of the contact paper.  (You don’t need to reverse the shapes).


Next, peel off the paper backing and stick your applique shapes onto the sticky side of the contact paper.


For the next step, I used Roxanne’s Glue Baste-It.  It’s my preferred method for holding the applique shapes onto my background fabric.  You can also use applique pins, but I find my thread is constantly hooking on the pins or I am stabbing myself with them.  This is much easier!


Add the glue to the back side of the applique shapes.  The trick is not to use too much of this stuff – Notice how I am using lots of tiny dots?  And how I am avoiding putting it too close to where I will be stitching?


Now flip the piece over onto the background fabric (or in the sample photo below, the large teal circle that I am appliquing on first, before it is put on the background fabric.)  Center it on the block or circle, etc and press down so the glue makes good contact with the fabric below and let the glue dry.


One thing I want to point out here – Notice how I got my green flower center in the wrong spot?  You have to put down the top shape down first, then layer over that, so keep that in mind when you are using this technique.  (This was an easy fix, as I could easily tuck the points of the shape back underneath the green circle)


When the glue is dry, carefully peel off the contact paper.  Your shapes are perfectly positioned in a quick and easy step.


If you want to save the contact paper tracings, just stick them to a sheet of template plastic, as shown in the photo below.  Then you can peel them back off and reuse them.


So, your next step for the Sew Along is to prepare any layered cotton shapes, make your contact paper placement guides, and use them to glue your applique shapes to the background fabric.

And just one last thing – Before you do that, I want to point out that I  always do my handwork in the smallest possible form.  I am making the quilt below, so to start with I will applique onto the large circles in the center of each motif first.


Here is an example of that:


In the upper right motif in the full quilt, I will even applique the small circles onto the large pink petals before I applique them to the background fabric.  Anything you can do to make it easier to handle will help!


Next, I will applique the pieces in each motif to the background squares of just that block.  I have 3 of my four blocks prepared here –


Lastly, I will sew the four sections together and applique any pieces that overlap.


If anyone has any questions, please leave it in the comments and check back to see my response.  That should be the last of the prep!  Next time we will be ready to sew – my favorite part!




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