Day 28 Flowers for the Fiesta

I’m having a hard time keeping up! I have about five blog posts to share with you, once I get the chance to write them. My hundred-day project has me hopping and my imagination burning brightly with ideas to try next. My granddaughter graduates from high school in a few days, and times a’wastin’ on getting her gift quilt done. There are guild duties in arrears, people to see, places to go. And it’s finally SPRING!! Nice enough to enjoy being outside a bit.

Alrighty, that little breathless whinefest done, I’ll move on to showing you my latest work on the 100 Day Project. As mentioned before, I have set aside a few weeks (100 days) to experiment with my quilting. There is one actual THING (the graduation quilt) to make in that time. But mostly, I am just trying stuff. My intention is to learn to be a better storyteller with my quilts. They, at their best, should evoke a story for the viewer, or at least for their owner. Though stories don’t have to be told with either words or pictures, there is some efficiency to that. One way to add pictures to quilts is with appliqué, so that is the method I am working on most. There are a lot of different appliqué techniques, and each one has strategies that contribute to success. Since I haven’t done a lot of appliqué, each method I try requires working through the process to learn some of those strategies.

Here is another lesson. I took a perfectly good quilt top and decided to add some decoration. A couple of weeks ago I showed you Fiesta!

I liked it. It was fun, it was easy, it was quick. But in truth, the great big green setting triangles? A little much. I wanted them broken, or something. I wanted them to not look like a baseball field. Seemed like this was a worthy subject for more experimenting.

There were two reasons I named it Fiesta! One, the bright colors are happy, like a party. Two, the colors remind me of Fiestaware dishes. Both the party and the dishes are casual, and any relief from the green had to be casual, as well. I sketched a couple of designs and decided to start with one, and maybe add the other.

While investigating methods of machine appliqué, I stumbled on a Fons & Porter video with McKenna Ryan. Ryan demonstrates how to assemble the components of a complex block. Her wall-hanging quilt uses raw-edge appliqué and has tiny details. My Fiesta! is intended as a lap quilt and needs to be washable; raw-edge appliqué isn’t appropriate, but a lot of the method worked just fine for me. Please see her video for an easy explanation of her methods.

In my own process of creating and attaching the appliqué motifs, I found these tips (learned now and in other work) helpful.
* For larger components, cut the center out of the fusible web prior to adhering it to the fabric. Leave about a quarter inch of web inside the drawn line. This will make the shape less stiff when stitched to the fabric.
* When you cut the fabric into shapes with fusible web adhered, turn the fabric rather than turning the scissors.
* If you have small pieces that are completely on top of larger pieces, like my flower centers, adhere them and stitch them to the larger piece before assembling.
* Assemble overlapped components prior to placing them on the quilt surface. You can use a Teflon pressing sheet as shown in the video, or you can use parchment paper just as well. Once the components are joined and cooled, you can peel them off your pressing sheet and move it as one unit to the fabric.
* For ease of stitching, appliqué the motif to the smallest piece of quilt top fabric you can. In other words, stitching my flower sets to my quilt top would have been far easier if I’d stitched it first to the green setting triangles, and then set the center and finished assembling the top. As it was, my quilt top is about 62″ square, and it was okay for fitting through my sewing machine arm. Any larger would have been pretty hard to work with. Smaller would have been much easier to work with!
* When stitching down the whole motif, do the elements that are underneath first, so the stitching on the upper pieces covers their starting points.
* Switch to straight stitch (from the satin stitch I used) to travel from one place to another. Then cover that straight stitch with your newly started line of satin.
* If you need to work on stitching over several sessions, make a note or take a picture of your machine settings so the stitches are consistent each time. (My machine doesn’t have a save function for that.)

I created my flower sets, and adhered them and stitched them to my quilt top one at a time, so manipulating the top wouldn’t loosen the motifs prior to being stitched down.

I tried a variety of stitches and stitch lengths, settling on a narrow satin stitch. I also tried different presser feet and various thread types. Though my 50 wt piecing thread, Superior’s So Fine, works well for weight, there is no sheen to it. A spool of something shinier in red was much prettier. The very-shiny tri-lobal Glide thread I used for one of the blue flowers was a bit hard to manage.

The addition of flowers on this quilt top helps break up the wide fields of green. On the whole, the design is not great for multiple reasons. One of those is that there are NO OTHER flowers on the quilt, so it doesn’t suit completely. However, the appliqué helps soften the sharp lines of the center, and I like it better now than I did before. It is done now. 🙂

This was a great lesson for me, both in how much I learned and in being pleased enough with the outcome.

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17 thoughts on “Day 28 Flowers for the Fiesta

  1. katechiconi

    I like the new additions very much! And I do think that several of the prints you’d already used read in a floral sort of way, so the flowers don’t look too different. I like the idea of taking a photo of your settings when you find a stitch you like. I’ve made myself a sort of sampler of each stitch I like to use for appliqué, in a variety of stitch lengths and widths, with a note beside each one of what the setting is so I have a handy reference without needing to do a test strip.

    Reply
    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      🙂 I guess I wasn’t paying attention, was I? YES of course there are other flowers, all over the yellow-gold setting triangles, if nowhere else.

      Your stitch sampler is a great idea. If I keep going with this, I think I’d find such a thing very useful. Thanks for the comment.

      Reply
  2. KerryCan

    I admit, I liked this quilt better before the applique flowers–I liked its expanses of yellow and green. But you’re learning so much and so full of enthusiasm, it’s fun to follow along!

    Reply
  3. snarkyquilter

    Well, if you want to try curved bias tape, you could do stem curves coming out of your flower bunches. Then your top would be more floral. I know, I know, you don’t need more work. Did you find you needed stabilizer under your applique as you satin stitched it?

    Reply
    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I did not need stabilizer, actually. Supposedly the foot I used keeps it flat. ? Either way it was fine without. Ones less thing to mess with. Thanks. And some other day I’ll do a quilt with a lot more flowers, but I think this one is done. 🙂

      Reply
  4. Cindy Anderson

    The addition of the flowers definitely breaks up the large areas. Sometimes our experiments don’t turn out as spectacular as we had hoped. The good thing is that you tried new techniques and that, in itself, is a victory. 😊

    Reply
    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Thanks, Cindy. This is exactly how I’m looking at it. I liked it but didn’t love it before. I like it a bit more now, but still don’t love it. And I learned a lot, so it’s a win. 🙂

      Reply
  5. TextileRanger

    If you had placed the flowers more toward the outside corners, do you think the stitching would be any easier to manage? Just wondering, in case I ever do anything like this.

    Reply
    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Actually I think it would have been harder, because when I needed the bulk of the top between the needle and the inside of the arm, there would have been even more fabric to wrestle. Really, the much easier way would be to applique before adding the setting triangles.

      Reply
  6. tierneycreates

    I totally understand about keeping up – I am so behind. My fantasy someday is to write posts in bulk and then schedule them for publishing automatically during the week – someday 🙂
    Another wonderful medallion quilt! Thanks for sharing your process on the appliqué.

    Reply

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