Playing Today

My word for the year is PLAY! While I generally enjoy my creative time, some is more playful than others. Today I’ve played at two things so far. Both are designs.

Last evening I googled images for “urn flowers applique“. One of the images selected was an antique quilt done in only two colors, peach and white. (I couldn’t find out more about it. It had been a sale listing and the information was gone. No date, no name, no provenance.) The two colors formed a primary design as well as a secondary. I grabbed a piece of paper from the recycling bin and scribbled part of the design, enough so I could replicate it today in EQ7.

On analysis, it was done in 256 half-square triangles, in a 16×16 layout. The antique also included a peach inner border and a white outer border. My drawing below in blue and white skips the borders but includes a narrow white line to emulate the binding.

Binary Stars blue

Really cool, huh?

Here is a corner to show you the construction. Make the corner 16 times, and your quilt is ready for assembly.
Binary Stars blue 4 by 4

And since I was playing, I wondered how it would look in multiple colors. I love two-color quilts, but frankly I think this is a lot more interesting.
Binary Stars multicolors

And the corner for this one:
Binary Stars multicolors 4 by 4

Notice, if you will, that this design has absolutely NOTHING to do with “urn flowers applique“. That was my original search because I’m planning to start an urn flowers applique project! But first I need a design.

Since I don’t draw well, I decided to cut shapes and arrange them on paper. This gives me a pretty good idea of how big the shapes should be and how they might be arranged. The crumpled white paper is the wrapping label off a roll of batting. (Do you save some of that paper, too?) I taped two strips together and then started cutting shapes from another chunk. To save my arrangement I traced quickly around the shapes. It should be pretty easy to transfer to freezer paper and then fabric.


I’m planning to do old-fashioned needle turn applique, without all the glueing and pressing and fusing and fussing that some of the other techniques use. This will be relatively primitive, both due to my skills and my intention. The colors I’m choosing are joyful, not stuffy. I’ll show you progress as I make it.

What are you playing with these days? 


18 thoughts on “Playing Today

  1. just carla

    Hello Melanie~

    I love your blog here on WordPress and so am nominating you for the Versatile Blogger Award!!

    Congrats and Enjoy! You do have an exceptional site ~ and I so enjoy your work and insights!


  2. KerryCan

    I like the two-color HST pattern best! The simplicity and graphic punch really appeal to me. I’m not big on appliqué–haven’t ever really been moved to try it–I think I’m drawn to geometric designs more than organic or curvilinear. But I’ll be interested to see what you come up with!

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I totally understand the preference, even though mine goes the other way. The applique? I thought I could start this week, but the quilt back for the big-block quilt is taking higher priority. Thanks for taking a look.

  3. Shasta

    I like both these designs. The HST seem do-able even though they don’t fit the description. It is surprising sometimes the things Google comes up with. The applique pattern too.

  4. ntexas99

    I’ve been playing with something I affectionately call “the Sparkle project”. It’s a hanging mobile that I asked my sister to build for me. It consists of a plastic mesh grate on top, which hangs off a hook in the ceiling, and I’ve been adding and subtracting various sparkly bits and bobs, such as broken earrings or bits that have fallen off wind chimes or a necklace pendant that has a particular sparkle effect. It’s become quite addictive, really. And so much fun!

    Love your blue and white version the most, although the two color version is also very nice. I’m more drawn to the crisp freshness of the blue and white, but it all comes down to a matter of personal attraction. Whatever makes you happiest is the one you should cobble together. 🙂

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Hi — I’m sorry I didn’t see this and answer sooner. I’ve been off my game. … Your mobile sounds like fun, a happy distraction and a good way to collect memories. Thanks for the comment.

  5. snarkyquilter

    If you make the HST design, please do the multi-color one. It has so much more depth than the two color one. As for appliqued urns of flowers, I suggest a search engine search on Gwen Marston applique images to see her versions of a primitive needle turn appliqued vase of flowers. Good luck with the applique corners. I’ve done exactly one needle turn, very small, piece, just to say I had done it. Never again.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I own a few of Marston’s books, including one specifically on that. I have a couple of other books that are relevant, and the library has some good resources, too. So I’m in pretty good shape on that, I think. Yes, this might be a one-and-done method, but I’ve wanted to give it a go for a long time. Now is the time.

      For the HST, I also started playing with the design to do completely different things. If you preserve the center and then… 🙂

  6. allisonreidnem

    I just love the versatility of HSTs! Your more colourful version looks great. I’ve been playing with pencil and squared paper – trying out designs for small quilts and runners.

  7. katechiconi

    I squinted at that design for the longest time, wondering if I was deficient in imagination. I couldn’t see urns or flowers… All is explained. I don’t keep the paper from batting rolls, but I do keep smallish pieces of light card from inside prepacked fat quarters, from packaged bed linen, from manilla folders, etc. They make perfect templates. And I have a YouTube video to recommend if you’re going to be doing needleturn appliqué; Sarah Fielke’s process gives beautifully neat edges without any of the glueing, fusing, etc that you are avoiding:

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      That’s a great little video. My stitches are neat and invisible, but the edges, especially corners, is where my technique will suffer due to inexperience. Thanks for the link. That will help.

  8. norma

    I like the multi colour pattern best. Looks very interesting!
    I am playing with a scrap quilt but with actual pieces rather than drawings. (Also playing with the new puppy – taking up rather more time than sewing at the moment)

  9. zippyquilts

    Indeed, I was wondering about that design and if you and I had different definitions of urns and applique. Both look good, but the HST design looks like more fun that the applique to me! Good luck with both 🙂

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I’ve done very little applique but I admire it, so it seems like time to try something new. 😉 Not sure if/when I’ll make the hst block design. However, I made about the same number of hst for my big-block medallion in the last few days. They’re certainly easy enough to do. And one of the benefits about it being ALL hst is it doesn’t matter what size they are, as long as they’re the same. 🙂


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