Spring on Bleecker Street Sew-Along: Part 7

NOTE:  If you are just now hearing about the Spring on Bleecker Street Sew-Along, and would like to find out more, click HERE.

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Hello Friends, I hope you have been well since our last Spring on Bleecker Street post (Part 6).

But before I share about the new part added to the quilt, let’s enjoy what you have sent in!  And THANK YOU, and good job for keeping up!  And please don’t feel bad if you haven’t been able to devote as much time as you would like on the project.  I know I sure haven’t because of the happenings in my life recently.

This is mine from Part 6.

Billie of http://billiebeesblog.blogspot.com (I have “known” Billie for quite a few years.  I have affectionately called her the queen of BOM’s because she works out the coolest BOM projects. Stop by Billie’s blog and see all the amazing quilts she is making!

Alice’s block is really special to me.  You have read about my major de-stashing effort, and Alice asked to be sent a box of my mystery fabric box!  She ended up incorporated one of the fabrics I sent her in the birdhouse block.  What a sweet gesture.

Gail sent in her Parts 5 and 6 progress pictures.  I love the 30’s fabrics Gail has used, making her blocks take on a sweet and whimsical feel.

Good Job, EVERYONE!  Your quilts will all be absolutely GORGEOUS!!!

I am VERY happy that you are sewing along.  You can send me pictures of your quilt at anystage at any time, and I will just include your pictures in the next posting of Spring on Bleecker Street.

Remember, this is a sew-along for those of us who have more projects we can count, all going on at the same time, and still have a life to live. :-) So, absolutely no pressure to get things done on time. You can go as fast or as slow as life allows.  More importantly, I just want you to enjoy the project as I have.

***

I have had another busy month.  Within the last two weeks and a half, I finalized almost 25 upcoming quilt designs. So I have been doing a lot of pattern writing.  I can’t wait to share with you these new designs — there are some really fun ones!

Back to Spring on Bleecker Street — I have only been able to do the applique on both the bird/swirl blocks this month.

There are a few things I thought I would share with you that might help your applique process go a bit smoother.

#1.  I use a lightbox for tracing and placement purposes.  I have this nifty LED lightbox that is really bright (you can get it at Hobby Lobby because that’s where I got mine).  So, the pattern sheet is place on the light box first, and then, the paper-backed fusible for tracing applique pattern pieces to prepare the fabric applique pieces.

Applicable specifically to this pattern, there is no full-sized placement guide included in this pattern, only a guide!  So, after you have prepared your fabric pieces, you will have to guess-timate and approximate where the pieces go.  That’s perfectly fine. I had no problems with that.

NOW — if you want both your blocks to be as close to perfectly mirror-imaged as possible, this is what you would do.  Work and finalize the placement of applique pieces on one block only.  Fuse the pieces in place.  Then, bring that block #1 (with applique pieces) to your light box (or a window if you don’t have one) — place the block RIGHT SIDE DOWN.

Then, place the background block of block #2 right side up, on top of the wrong side of block #1.  You will see where the pieces are placed on block #1, and then you can in turn place the applique pieces on the appropriate spots on block #2.

#2.  We all like to finish our applique pieces differently.  I like to finish my fusible applique pieces with buttonhole stitching.  So the following is applicable only to buttonhole stitching.  I like to use fine threads and small stitches for buttonhole stitching so that they do not dominate over the applique pieces.  In these pictures you see, I have used the newly released Aurifil Mako 80 wt!   The 80wt was developed for hand applique, but the spools are also machine friendly.  So you can actually use the 80wt for machine stitching as well.

I loved using 50wt for buttonhole stitching, and I am loving the 80wt for buttonhole stitching even more!  The picture below shows a close-up of my buttonhole stitches.

#3.  With buttonhole stitching, I always had problems with the direction-changing of the stitching paths where I have to pivot the stitches to be perpendicular to the edge of applique pieces, and more often than not, those pivoting stitches don’t come out looking good.  The other situation that frustrates me is that it’s hard to do buttonhole stitching around sharp points or narrow pieces…. so, over the years, I have come up with using a combination of buttonhole and outline stitching around my applique pieces — buttonhole stitching when the going is good, and then I switch to straight line stitching when the going gets tough (e.g. when I am getting close a pointy edge, or where the piece is just too narrow), and then, once I get through the rough spots, I switch back to buttonhole stitching again!  I like the resulting look much better that way.

You see how by switching to outline straight stitching, I didn’t have to deal with trying to pivot the buttonhole stitching just so…?  It’s much easier for me this way.

Here you see that the swirl on the bird is too narrow for me to really do buttonhole stitching.  So I just outline/straight stitched around it.

Now, I do have to warn you about the switch between stitches:  I always use my hand wheel (instead of my foot pedal) to control where my needle lands right at the edge of the applique piece. 

#4.  As mentioned before, I always press-starch my blocks REALLY good before I sew the applique pieces in place. That way, I don’t have to use a stabilizer on the bottom of the block, and I won’t have anything to peel off after the finishing stitches.

SO I am hoping these tips will help you navigate applique-ing small pieces, and my swirls relatively easily!  If you know me, you know that swirls pop up quite often in my applique designs. :)

Once you are finished with the applique, and are ready to move to the stitchery part, use the following as a guide to mark the embroidery.

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As you know, I didn’t quite get my act together, so I will be using the next few weeks to add the stitchery to my bird/swirl blocks, as well as the birdhouse block.  I will be using my Marmalade Meadows colors…. I love these colors, if I do say so myself. :)

Have you tried stitching with Aurifloss?  If you haven’t, you have to!  One thing that struck me when I first tried it was that my stitches looked much more defined and crisp.  Then, through communicating with Alex Veronelli, he told me the floss is manufactured the same way as the other cotton threads in that an extra step is added to the manufacturing process to reduce the lint!  I know what that step is — but you will have to find out what it is at Alex’s thread lecture.  If you haven’t been to the thread lectures, you have to!!!  

Anyway, you can order these amazing embroidery floss through your local Aurifil dealers, or you may order them online from

#1.  Cinnamon’s Quilt Shoppe here.

#2.  You may contact www.followthatthread.com to order.

#3.  Pumpkinvine Corner (scroll down to the bottom of order page) here.

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Well, I have my work cut out for me with the stitching this month!  And meanwhile, I have this daunting quilt I am supposed to make for a magazine with about 80 star blocks.  I have to get the quilt top completed in about 5-7 days.  So…. I’d better get going and get star-block-making!!  Till next time, Dear Friends — and Happy Sewing!

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8 thoughts on “Spring on Bleecker Street Sew-Along: Part 7

  1. If you finish the points without stitching into them how do they stay down? I must be missing something because I would have thought they would fray away if there are no stitching to hold the applique to the background. There is so little fabric in the points. Do you quilt it down instead?

  2. Hi Wendy, I was wondering about the same thing as Maga. How do those points stay down? Do you use Soft Fuse to secure it all or what? Bleecker Street is beautiful and I wish I would have joined in. Hopefully I will have more spare time and can join your next BOM.
    Keep designing! I love your quilts 😄

  3. I actually don’t use the stitches to hold down the pieces because they pieces are properly fused onto the background fabric. Some designers actually ONLY fuse down their applique pieces, and do not finish the raw edge. I like my applique pieces to at least have the finishing stitches. If the pieces are fused onto the background fabric correctly, they won’t come off. So, the straight stitches aren’t an issue. I use steam-a-seam2 Lite.

    Hope this helps.

    Wendy

  4. I can imagine what a flurry your sewing space must be with all of those stars flying about.

    I love this QAL. Everyone is doing such a great job on their projects.

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