Sunday, November 29, 2015

One heck of a project

This post is about one project that has taken a lot of concentration.  I usually don't concentrate too hard on the sewing process, but for this one, I did.  Slooow stitching, lots of pivoting, lots of thinking about the next stitch. I even used magnifying glasses to keep on track.  Hence, I spent two months creating and sewing borders.

Remember this top - the nine-patch revisited?

 I blogged about it here.  I knew I wanted to do something more to it. That opportunity started late September when I attended the Holly Girls' Quilt Retreat in Elk Rapids, Michigan.

The topic of the retreat was raw-edge machine applique.  I knew going in that I wanted to design borders for the nine-patch. I looked at various appliqued borders in reference books and pattern books. Once I realized I could do just about anything and that I didn't want borders with a single form that repeated endlessly, I began sketching some ideas. I brought a pile of scrap fabric and strips of background fabric with me. That was the extent of my preparation for the class.  

Sue Nickels and Pat Holly are top-notch masters of raw edge machine applique. They shared their knowledge expertly and generously. We learned techniques - how to use fusible without adding bulk, how to design vines with equal repetitions,  how to assemble complex applique pieces, and how to sew it all together.  Best of all, they allowed us to do as we wanted for our projects and were able to adapt what they taught to fit our needs.  We didn't have to use their patterns, though some were available.

As I worked on my border, I realized I needed to make my applique pieces small to fit the scale of the blocks in the body of the quilt. Those blocks are three inches square.  I learned to combine many small pieces to make a unit before fusing them to the background fabric. I learned to adjust the stitch length and width to fit the size of the applique. I also had to create new motifs as I went along. I managed to get one border fused and a few pieces sewn by the end of the retreat.  Here I am at the final show and tell.

In the past, I learned to zigzag applique which usually makes a pretty heavy edge on the fabric. Blanket stitch done correctly lies flat and isn't noticeable, especially if thread color matches the fabric.  My machines at home do not "do" blanket stitch, but I was able to borrow a Bernina to use during the workshop.  Oh boy! That turned out to be "expensive".  Now, I was under the influence of the Bernina!!!  Once I got home, I went out and bought myself a small Bernina, a 350 PE. (I am not interested in all the bells and whistles that the fancier Berninas have.) Well, I did have the excuse of not being able to finish my quilt top without the proper machine!

Without further ado, here is the finished flimsy. Close up photos will be in the next post. Tomorrow, I promise!


  1. Wow! This looks SO good, Kathy! You've got just the right scale and variety, making it a really exquisite quilt.

  2. Even though I am not an appliqué person (unless it's machined) I found this post very interesting and love how you scaled down the border to fit in with the scale of the blocks. I am a fan of nine patch and this is a lovely quilt!

  3. I love Nine Patch quilts anyway, but the addition of the appliqué border made yours exceptional. I love it! Can't wait to see it quilted.

  4. Well that just made the quilt! Love the scale and movement of the borders!

  5. Wow, this is gorgeous! Love all the colors and the border sets it off so nicely. I have several quilts that are waiting for an applique border. I am still waiting to decide what is going to go in the border. I think my machine can do blanket stitch. I am going to have to check into it some more.

  6. I think the bottom photo could be a terrific blog header! It's beautiful.

    Then again, so is that lovely porch!


  7. Wow, you put this quilt in the catagory of "Awesome"! I love what your wonderful applique borders do for this quilt. It is beautiful, and so is your porch!

    I think you probably learned from some of the best with the Holly girls. I love my Bernina, and don't use the blanket stitch feature (which is why I purchased it!) as much as I should.


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