Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Isn't August the Unofficial Sunflower Month??

Now that it is not so stinking hot in Michigan, I can think about appropriate signs and symbols of the end of summer.  (Instead of stuff like sweat, red faces, brown grass, wilting trees, successful rain dances, etc.  Note to self: must research my part-Cherokee Indian heritage for rain dances that WORK...).

During all our summer car trips this year, I loved passing fields of sunflowers...with all their beautiful, sunny yellow "heads" all looking in the same direction...usually toward the sun (wouldn't it be weird if while you were passing, admiring them, they all turned toward YOU??).

Anyway, I've been putting a sunflower, and a couple of sunflower buds, together, petal by petal.  I could not pick just 3 golden fabric colors (large petals, tiny center petals, and center).  Narrowing down fabric choices is my LEAST favorite quilting activity.  So I sorted through my leftover snippets for possibilities.

Welcome to my insane, miniature applique world!

Now that all the petal fabric decisions are done, the petals are prepped with freezer paper patterns ironed on the RIGHT SIDE of the fabrics.  Then I glue the scant little edges to the back with the Elmer's Disappearing Glue Stick.  Now I can start constructing a sunflower (insert diabolical, evil overlord laugh...).

I use one of my pattern weights to keep the flower center anchored while I pry up the edges and insert the tiny inner petals under the edge, one by one, each with a tiny dot of glue, all the while making sure that I am following my pattern.  Then after the "dot-dot-not-a-lot" touches of glue (Roxanne's Glue Baste) set a bit, I add the outer petals in the same way.

Ta-da!  Now, as Janet of the Quiltsalott blog would say, time to do a little applique stitching "off block."  (I LOVE that description!  Thanks for sharing it!)  

Using YLI silk thread, I applique the sunflower center to the glue basted petals, and stitch the tiny petals to the longer petals.  Now when I place the whole sunflower head on the background, I only have to stitch around the outside of the long petals.  

I like doing this for 2 reasons: 

1)  once layered motifs are basted to the cumbersome backgrounds, I find it much more clumsy to do all the inner stitching along with securing the edges

2)  now if I want to trim some of the background fabric from behind the appliqued motif, in preparation for doing hand quilting, I don't have to worry about keeping my applique stitches in the middle of my motif from penetrating the background fabric as well as the more immediate layers

Now on to the little sunflower buds...yes, the petals are tiny, and I am insane.  I could have simplified the sunflowers and buds quite a bit, but where is the fun (or insanity) in that?

Just like when building the whole sunflower head, I glue baste the tiny petals to the stem head first, then follow with the longer petals. 

I lay out and glue the little pieces to each other right on my pattern.  A tiny bit of glue may bleed through, but if the motif is actually stuck to the pattern, I've used too much glue baste ("dot-dot-not-a-lot"). 

Then I applique these little units "off block" before placing the all the motifs on the block background.

My block prep work this week also had me thinking about fall (my FAVORITE season) as I prepped and appliqued the following little motifs "off block."

I love to make these tiny, fat pumpkin babies!  They range from about an inch tall to a little over 3 inches tall (I forgot to stick Thomas Jefferson in the pictures, for reference...).

And as a Michigander, of course I had to make a basket of tiny apples (the swirly one on top is about the diameter of a pencil eraser).  When this basket is on the background, I will embroider handles on the sides.  I will also add twirly vines to the pumpkins.

I almost have my copyright issues taken care of so I can stop giving you tiny sneak peeks and finally show you whole blocks!

I hope you have some time to sew today...I am glad to almost be back to normal, whatever that is.  School started for my HS sophmore last week, and driver's ed started the week before that. It hasn't rained in WEEKS, and of course, her first time behind the wheel of a car, it rained.  There she goes, tooling around the AAA parking lot.  There's a terrified instructor next to her and two pale teenaged boys in the backseat, who have already had their turns driving for the day.

Riley was the last of the three of them to drive in this first session, so she parked the car at the end of the lesson.  I hope "hitting the thing behind you" isn't part of the parking lesson (notice the orange cone behind the car...).

I am getting a lot of hand applique done, hanging around waiting in the AAA parking lot.  This is a required course in the state of Michigan.  In addition, she and I have been spending time in a local empty parking lot learning how to drive a stick shift...I can just feel the strands of hair turning gray...

Of course, she prefers the slick, new, automatic transmission car at AAA, but both of our family cars have stick shifts...DOH!

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)


  1. Well I love sunflowers! A LOT! And yours is quite beautiful too!

    Our daughter was married in August six years ago and we grew a whole field of sunflowers for her wedding. It was quite beautiful!

  2. I was the designated parent to let the teen drive around so they could get more drive time. I think I aged 10 years with each one. I am so glad that stage of life is over!
    I can't wait to see your pattern. I love what I have seen so far.

  3. I've been playing with sunflowers too, but not as intense as you. Yes, I taught a lot of kids to drive - I had stick shift - I always felt a new driver should learn both -

  4. What great sunflowers, buds, pumpkins apples and basket; it will be nice to see your added embroidery. I thought from your first photo the sunflower was 6-8", so surprised to see the penny.

  5. love the sunflowers!
    hate stick shift and at my age I still have never learned to drive with it - I did try - talk about stress - no thank you!

  6. You are jammin' on all that applique prep! :D These will look great. Stick shift and learning to drive - ack. That's all our family had when I was a teen. Memories so strong of Dad telling everyone to get back in the car, and my youngest sister screaming in earnestness from the pit of her heart: "No way! She's going to kill us all!!" and I, too, convinced that I was going to kill us all. . . ::shudder::

  7. Girl, you ARE insane using those itsy, bitsy pieces!!!! But they're so gorgeous. I think I wanna quilt like you when I grow up.

  8. I can't wait to see these completed blocks, the teasers look fabulous. Never thought I would miss Michigan but sitting here in the south in the heat of summer I long for a cool Michigan summer evening.

  9. Your sunflowers are fabulous! And oh so tiny! Love that! And I have to tell you....when you said "wouldn't it be weird if all the sunflowers turned toward you..." I immediately freaked out! Oh, I'd run screaming if that happened! Anything that comes to life, like the trees in Wizard of Oz, well....that's just nightmare stuff! Sheesh! But the field of sunflowers was gorgeous! Of course, now when I see a field of flowers....I'll be thinking "Don't turn my way! Don't do it" Ha!

  10. That applique is absolutely amazing!

  11. My dad tried to teach me how to drive a stick shift - he said if I could learn how, then an automatic would be a breeze; best to know both. I almost crashed us through the fence by the quarry - he was screaming "HITTHEBRAKEHITTHEBRAKEHITTHEBRAKE!!!!" Well, I didn't hit the fence but it was close. He actually made me get out of the car and walk home. I looked back at him and he was still sitting in the front passenger seat - holding his head in his hands. So my uncle taught me how to drive :) An automatic - Lol.

    And Teresa, if this is a quilt that you are designing, I may just keel over! Your work is so amazing!! I hope the copyright issues are settled quickly so we can see what you've been up to - I'm sure it's going to make me faint in admiration :)

  12. Girl! just love the teasers....my dh LOVED sunflowers so they are just beyond beautiful to me. thank you for sharing and i hope to see some complete blocks soon!
    my dad taught me how to drive a stick shift on a straight road that hardly anyone drove down so i was very lucky in my first experiences.

  13. Wow those pieces are tiny! Your sunflowers are so beautiful.

  14. Beautiful sunflowers, your fabric choices are just so rich. Looking forward to seeing the whole thing.

  15. Your sunflowers are going to be stunning -- worth every second of time!

  16. I love sunflowers and have some in my garden. Definitely not like that field.
    Your sunflowers are super and all your work is worth the look you are getting. Love all the off the block works.

  17. Gosh your sunflower is gorgeous and oh-so-tiny pieces. Love it!! Love that you couldn't settle on the fabrics either - I think the variety of yellows really add to it. Do like your fall block also.

  18. You are one crazy lady! Those applique pieces are tiny! I don't even enjoy appliqueing big pieces. You put me to shame. The sunflowers are wonderful. Your daughter looks very proud of hitting the target cone.Heehee!

  19. beautiful sunflower! Your fabric choices are so great. Thanks for sharing your process.

  20. I love sunflowers and pumpkins and all those fall like things. Yours are wonderful. I can't wait to see the final product. Thanks for sharing your technique. I am working on a big wool applique project from Primitive Pieces and I think I went about it backwards. It's my first project like this and I think I should have picked something smaller to start with. Luckily it's supposed to look primitive because I'm sure it will when it's finished! :)

    They say girls learn driving skills especially stick shifts easier than guys so I'm sure your daughter will get the hang of it in no time...hopefully before too many more gray hairs!


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