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.

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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!

Spring on Bleecker Street Sew-Along: Part 2

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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Before we get started with Part 2, let’s just sit and relax and enjoy the different versions of Part 1 (posted here) sent in by you all!

Here is mine – using Quilting Treasures’ Bleecker Street fabric group!  Click here to view fabrics.  If you are new and wondering about the quilt kits, click here for information.

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Here is Alice’s.  She blogs at http://aliceinquilterland.blogspot.com if you would like to visit her and make a new quilting friend.  You can also see Alice moved on beyond the first part – which is absolutely wonderful!

Here is Gail’s.  I love the 30’s fabric choices.

This is Sharon’s – she has creatively turned her part 1 into a mini — Loving this idea!

This is Debby’s with a kitty to welcome the guests – this is Debby’s first time joining in a sew-along!  I am so happy to hear that, and am proud of her!

This is Kathy’s – Kathy is a dear friend of mine, and I love her dearly!

This is Jennifer’s – she is using Japanese neutrals for a completely different feel!

This is Cheryl’s.  A polka dotted roof — what is not to love?!

This is Margaret’s.  I am loving her blue roof!

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And I told Joyce it’s okay to turn in late homework!!!!  Even though Joyce didn’t share her block, she did share her fabrics.  I was hoping someone would do a monochromatic color scheme with this quilt — and Joyce apparently read my mind, somehow. :)  These fabrics are from Penny Rose!

I have enjoyed everyone’s version!!  I can’t wait to see how your quilt unfold as we sew along.  I have to say I am VERY happy that you are sewing along.  You can send me pictures of your quilt at any stage 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. :-)  So, absolutely no pressure to get things done on time. More importantly, I just want you to enjoy the project.

****** Now, to Part 2!!!  Part 2 will take a total of about 2 1/2 hours…. and I have the total time broken down into 3 sections in case you don’t have a block of time that spans 2-3 hours!

The theme of this part is “Keep Calm and Sew On” because we will be sewing with small pieces.  The trick in dealing with small pieces is to handle them as if you are handling normal pieces.  Keep calm – check your cutting, your machine, and you should come out just fine!

#1.  I do starch press my fabrics so that I keep the small pieces as non-distorted as possible.

#2.  I also finger press all my seams before heat-setting them.

Keep Calm and Sew On: Visit the Secret Stitch Club's blog for the PDF version of this image

(image from Secret Stitch Club)

#1.  Remaining trees (~35 minutes).  As I was saying, I finger-pressed my seams open before trimming off the dog-ears.

Then I used the iron to heat-set the seams open.

When you pin the two pink tree units together before sewing, be sure to match the diagonal seams, and you will have the tree units match up nicely.

I sewed together the pink tree and the yellow tree, and set aside — without sewing on the 4 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ white rectangle.

#2.  Sun embroidery on 4 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ white rectangle (~ 1 hr, and that’s with me texting with my best friend).  The pattern didn’t show the sun drawing.  So, we will just wing it.  I first press-starch my rectangle so that it is not wobbly.  You would mark the circle for your sun where you would like it as long as you keep in mind where the seam allowance is on that 4 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ rectangle.  I marked the circle using the back of an Aurifil thread spool with a fine tip pen.

You can see that instead of triangles in the original design, I used radiating lines for the sun rays.  You can do however you choose for the sun rays.   I will be using the yellow from my Marmalade Meadows Floss Pack to stitch the sun!  I normally use a John James size 9 embroidery needle for embroidery stitches, stitching with 2-ply of floss.

If you would like to order the floss pack(s), Cinnamon Quilt Shopped has them here.

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And you might have seen a pillow ornament I recently completed with the colors in the floss pack, and some fabric scraps.

Back to our sew-along, here is my sun stitched out, and pieced to the tree units.  I hope you can see that I actually stitched around the sun circle twice, stacking my back stitches.  I have never done it that way, and I quite like the effects.

And the newly completed section is sewn to Part 1.

#3.  Pinwheels (~45 minutes).  So, I looked at the quilt layout, and felt like I didn’t want to have to make a whole bunch of pinwheels all at one go later on.  I went ahead and made the 4 pinwheels needed for the yellow fabric.  I used the method here to make accurate and squared up pinwheels.  Give the method a try – you might be as happy as the result as I am! :)

I plan to make a few of these pinwheels to go with each section until I have all of them made.

And that’s it for Part 2!  I hope you will have a blast making progress on this quilt as much as I have!  Can’t wait to see what your Part 2 looks like!!!!

Happy Sewing, my sewing friends!!  Hugs to you all.