Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Patchwork for Breakfast

I haven't shot Isabela's quilt up on the design wall yet because I am still working on some significant applique elements that will contribute a lot to the final look of the composition.  And also it's been dang dark and cold around here, with almost constant cloud cover. (Where are you Spring?  It's safe to some out now.)
So rather I've been spreading this out on the dining room table to finish up those elements each morning after the house gets quiet.  As you can see above, the fabric assortment is almost identical to Eleni's, and there are several "orphan" blocks used as well.  While it's not on a grid like Eleni's is, it does employ lots of squarish details, so it calls on a different sense of order than Nicolas's does even though they are both mostly improv. (You might just spy a bit of my upcoming Linen collection up there!)
For Isabela, my old soul, I decided to dig into my stash of vintage scraps.  Several years ago I bought a bunch of ziplocs filled with unsewn quilt pieces from the flea market.  I've used some semi-finished Dresden plates from them in other projects, but (above) I finally made use of these tiny 2 1/4" squares that were cut and pinned together by print when I bought them.  Oh, they are so sweet- those tiny prints!  So a 25-patch was born out of them and wrapped with some borders of Denyse's fabrics.
From this side you can see a bit more of the "open fields" of larger more subtle blocks that I used to provide a background for a group of growing stemmed flowers.  I am using vintage half Dresden plates as the flower petals- the real reason that I only used half to begin with, is because the hand piecing on them was imperfect enough that they just wouldn't lay flat.  So separating them allowed them to lay however they needed to lay to be flat, whether it was a perfect semi-circle not. 
Here you can see the one that is not on a stem, but peeking sideways out from behind another piece.  To go ahead and include this to-be-appliqued piece into the patchwork, I simple turned the edges of the applique towards their wrong side by 1/4" only where they are included in the patchwork seam.  So the straight patchwork seam is the only thing holding it in place until I have the applique finished.
For the stemmed flowers, I cut long 1 1/2" wide strips of bias and pinned them in place taking some subtle curves with just a gentle stretch.  Then I machine baste them down 1/4" from their edges.  This prevents me from having to use any pins during the applique process, and the piece stays entirely secure as I only clip out a few inches of basting at a time right before I turn the edge down and applique in place.  And an additional bonus to this process is that the basting provides a lovely perforation of needle holes in both the applique piece and the foundation, so that you can see just where to fold it under and just where to sew it onto the foundation.  You can see above that the left side of the stem is already appliqued while the right side is waiting to have the basting clipped and its edge turned under and sewn in place.

So that's where this one is.  It's been fun to dissect them with you.  It feels a bit like being in front of a classroom rambling on about my process, which has really become a favorite thing to do- especially when I see more nodding heads than confused looks.

Nodding with me?
I'll share the finished top soon. xoxoAnna


  1. yes. thank you for sharing your creative process. it's inspiring

  2. keep rumbling, I just love it !!!

  3. Love learning about your creative process! This is gorgeous.

  4. I think this one is my favorite, mostly I think, because I would love to be hand piecing a quilt in the quiet every morning but my two year old would not! It sounds blissful. Enjoy it - I'm sure you are!

  5. It's been a treat to see your personal quilting style displayed in these quilts for your children. I love you you're incorporating orphan blocks as well as using elements of design or fabric that "feel" like them. These are each so personal, and yet each one looks like you too.

  6. that applique tip is brilliant! thank you for that.
    and i have thoroughly enjoyed seeing all these different quilt tops and reading about how they evolved, how you have made them each unique.

  7. It's gorgeous! So inspiring.

  8. Beautiful! It makes me want to get back to work on my most recent neglected quilt.

  9. These quilts are amazing and so fun to watch your process!
    Thanks for sharing!

  10. Wowza, I've been crafting all through my pregnancy but the sheer beauty and scale of these has me in awe!

  11. Annie C10:59 PM

    Oh man, I need to get my huge patchwork quilt tied so I can try some applique with your basting method. I love the look of applique, but am totally intimidated by the whole turning under and stitching thing. I think I could do your way, Teacher!

  12. So gorgeous, I love your colors and patterns!!! Brightens the dark days (with snow and wind) in Iceland :)

  13. So detailed and colorful. Simply beautiful!

  14. Thank you so much for sharing these beautiful quilts and your thought process in creating them. LOVE how you combine your artist self with your quilting & sewing work!

  15. Gorgeous and super inspiring!!

  16. Anonymous3:07 PM

    A beautiful, exciting quilt.
    How I wish I could compose a similar design.
    Thank you for so much inspiration


  17. What a pretty quilt. Love that you are using "orphans". I have many orphan blocks myself. I should maybe think about something like this. Thanks for the inspiration.

  18. That's a very clever way to applique! Great idea to get the "pilot" holes pre-drilled for stitching! ;-)

  19. Anonymous9:25 AM

    Hi Anna Maria! A question that doesn't relate to this post: you have lots of kids, but I never see any toys in your photos. Are they hidden in the kids rooms? Or have you tought your kids to play with each other, the dogs or to do crafts instead. I have a 6 month old and it only took him being baptized (lots of gifts) to have me worried about accumulating so many toys that he will loose the ability of imagination. I was just wondering what your thoughts are on this subject.

    1. Hi there! Most of the toys that definitely do exist in this house are in the family room in baskets or in Roman's room (the current youngest at 3) in even more baskets! When I have the mind to remember I do like to bag up some of the toys and put them out of sight (in a closet or the attic) then rotate them out again later, hoping to offer a less overwhelming environment. But I am no expert, of course! The older kids tend to be either crafting, playing music on various instruments or on their Kindles!


  20. Tricia B9:11 PM

    Just asking about the applique on the stems. You machine baste but then hand applique? The hand turn under method? Can't quite tell for sure from the picture.

  21. Oh I love this!!

  22. That's lovely Anna Maria, I especially like that you've combined different blocks.

    I photographed a quilt recently, based on your 'Bohemian' pattern. I pulled together a set of blues that I thought were suitably Bohemian too, including some Indian block prints. You can see it here - - I do hope you like it.

    One thing I learned is how HARD it is to photograph a quilt - especially without getting superflous and not-so-pretty bedroom stuff in shot!. Maybe I'll use the table-top next time...

    With fond regards from New Zealand

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