Here is “Fiona” my one-of-a-kind, original folk art kitten doll, finally all painted and dressed and photographed!
Back to the bluebird block…I finished embroidering the raw edges of the branch using the blanket stitch. I experimented with an alternate stitch, but liked the blanket stitch better. For the rest of my raw edges, for the most part, I used a satin stitch. The satin stitch was pretty easy and it looked very nice. Just a rundown on the basic steps first…Poke your threaded needle through your fabric from the wrong/back side to the right/front side of the fabric, just to the inside of your raw edge. I’m using a purple line in my photos to represent the actual edge of your appliqué. (You can click my photos to make them larger.)
- Assorted colors of embroidery floss depending on your fabric choices (I used DMC black/310, white, 168, 260, 317, 370, 392, 646, 726, 742, 783, 797, 826, and 842)
- An embroidery needle (I think mine was a size 10)
- A hoop (I used a 9 inch wooden hoop for an 11 1/2 square of fabric. If your square is smaller, you might want a smaller hoop.)
Okay, I’m back…We are about to start embellishing the bluebird quilt block with hand embroidery stitches. If you would prefer to use machine stitching, a zig zag or satin stitch along the raw edges of the appliqué will work fine, or you can try out the decorative stitches that might have come with your machine. I’m going to start with a hand-embroidered blanket stitch. Here are the basics of the blanket stitch before we start on the block itself. The first stitch is made by poking your needle through from the back of the fabric to the front of the fabric, along the raw edge you want to finish (shown here with a purple line).
Pull your embroidery floss taut, not too tight to make the fabric pucker, but just enough that the stitch is smooth. It helps to smooth it with your finger as you go. These are the essential steps. You will just keep repeating them along your raw edge.
Poke your needle in and out of your fabric again, coming our on top of the last loop of floss. Keep your stitches an even distance apart. When stitching around a circle, point your needle from the middle centerpoint of the circle outward to make the stitches fan out nicely.
Pull it taut, and continue all the way around. You will take one little stitch almost in place to lock it down when you reach your starting point again. Then you will carry your floss along the wrong side (back) of the fabric to the next raw edge you want to finish, or you will take a backstitch on the back of the fabric and cut the floss to end it. I make a little knot just to be safe. Since this block will be quilted and it will have batting behind of it, it doesn’t need to lie perfectly flat.
- A hoop (I used a 9 inch wooden embroidery hoop, but you may need a smaller one if your square is smaller than mine, which was 11 1/2 inches)
- Embroidery floss (I used DMC 3777, but you will match your floss to the red of your berries)
- An embroidery needle (I think I used a size 10)
Put your quilt block in your hoop, keeping the fabric taut, and tighten the screw on the side of the hoop to make it snug. Cut a length of embroidery floss about 20 inches long and separate out two strands of floss from the rest. Thread your needle with the two strands. A needle threader helps, but I just wet the ends with my tongue and cut them at a slant to make threading easier.
Pick a berry and start your blanket stitch as described above. Take a little lock stitch almost in place as you reach your starting point and carry the floss along the back of your fabric to the next berry. Repeat the process, ending and starting a new thread as you run out. I tried to work in clusters so I didn’t have to make my floss travel too far across the back. I used the blanket stitch on all the red berries.
Here’s a closeup of my blanket stitch. I found I got a little better at it as I went along. It would probably be possible to use this stitch on most of the raw edges, if you wanted to, but I think I will experiment with another stitch for the next area I do. More later…
I haven’t yet finished my quilt block-of-the-month homework from this past year, or the year before, or maybe any year, but…I have just started two more classes. One is an appliqué class, and the first block is a bluebird. I was fiddling and couldn’t stop myself. I redesigned the whole block. Then I thought it might be a nice thing to share since I could show some raw edge appliqué in action, and then I could embellish my design with hand embroidery, which I am determined to learn. So…if you would like to stitch along with me, please download and print the PDF for my design. You will need to download Adobe Reader, if you don’t already have it. It is a nine inch square design, which won’t fit on 8 1/2 by 11 inch paper. So, you will use the center marks on the design for placement.
Please note this is my original drawing and it is copyrighted. In this instance, I am allowing copies to be made for personal use only. Selling my design or making items to sell from my design is not allowed, but you may make the design up to keep for yourself or to give to friends or whomever you like. Please credit me with the design if you publish your version of my design anywhere.
- Tracing paper
- Pencil (I like the mechanical kind)
- Paper-backed fusible web (I like Wonder-Under)
- 10 inch square or larger of background fabric (I used a pale lavender-blue cotton quilting fabric, 11 1/2 square)
- Assorted fabric scraps in navy, royal blue, rust, tan, cream, gray, and two reds (I used cotton quilting fabrics)
- Optional embroidery tracing paper, or graphite paper and a hard pencil (I used a 2H pencil)
- Optional disappearing ink pen, or permanent marker (I used a Pigma pen)
Cut a ten inch square of tracing paper and draw a nine inch square on it. Mark the center on all four sides and mark the middle of the square with a cross. Match the center marks up with the center marks on my design and trace the design onto the tracing paper. You may simplify the design all you like. You’ll be working from the tracing. Using the color picture at the top of this post as a guide, simplify the design into shapes by what color goes where.
Flip your tracing over to the reverse side. If you don’t do this, your design will be facing the opposite direction when you are done.
Lay your paper-backed fusible web over the tracing and draw the shapes for each color onto paper side of the fusible web. Give yourself about an extra eighth to a quarter of an inch of paper-backed fusible around each shape. (For anyone who might not already know this, you can click on the blog images to make them larger if you need to.)
For the berries and the branch, you will simply cut along your drawn lines, except for either end of your branch where you will need to leave some extra fabric. You will trim your block down to size after it is stitched. Leaving a little extra on the sides of your block is a precaution against the small amount of fabric that gets taking up from stitching.
For the bluebird, you will leave an underlap where the edge of one color meets the next. This means you will leave an extra eighth to a quarter of an inch of fabric where one piece slips under another. It isn’t so important which piece goes under which. I started at the bottom of my bird, leaving a little extra at the top of each shape as I went up. So, the top of the tail, for instance, had a little extra fabric.