Wednesday, October 3, 2012

"Baltimore Rhapsody" Block #6 - the oboe, part 1

The oboe is the next block in "Baltimore Rhapsody," a music quilt in the Baltimore album style that I am designing.  It is the soprano member of the double reed instrument family... double reed because two pieces of thin, narrow reed are shaved and tied together with thread and placed in a holder affixed to the small end of the instrument.  When blown, the softened, wet reeds vibrate to make the distinctive sound.  

The modern oboe was invented in Paris, France about 300 years ago by a bagpiper in the court ballet orchestra, but it is based on similar ancient instruments.  One of these, the Aulos, was popular in Greece and took much strength to play; the player's cheeks were strapped with a leather belt to keep them from bursting, LOL!

It is said that the instrument is not so much blown, but that the air is allowed to escape into the instrument to produce the sound (maybe that is why oboe players always appear a little tortured while they play...). 

My high school band director used to tease that playing the oboe killed brain cells, due to all the back pressure in the head.  Oh my!  (I had expressed interest in the oboe...I think he was trying to discourage me...)

The oboe gives the "A" for all the other orchestra instrumentsto tune to.  This is because altering the pitch of this instrument involves actual carpentry!

The pink Sweet Williams are made petal by petal, glue basted together with tiny dots of Roxanne's Glue Baste.  Petals are prepped with a glue stick first, then the order of the addition of petals is based on which petals are "behind" and which petals are toward the "front."

My fingers are so clumsy, I handle the little pieces with forceps as I line them up, working over my pattern.

I place the tiny dots of glue away from the intersection of the pieces so that I don't have to stitch through the dried glue later.  I use this Roxanne's glue so that I don't have to work with pins.

I find this pre-assembly work very satisfying!

After the glue baste is dry enough, I carefully remove the ironed-on freezer paper patterns (they can be reused!) and hand applique the blossom together using YLI silk thread.

I lay out all my prepped pieces on the pattern to make sure I haven't missed any.  I do as much of the unit assembly BEFORE working on the background as I can...I find it easier and more accurate working right on the pattern to "build" the motifs instead of trying to see the pattern through the background fabric square. 

When all the units are glue basted and the larger ones stitched off block, I center the background square on the pattern so that the design is showing through as my guide (a light box makes this easier). Then I glue baste everything to the background square using as little glue as possible ("dot-dot-not-a-lot").

Here is one of the blossoms, all stitched together, ready to be placed on the background square, using a light box to reveal the pattern through the fabric.  These blocks that I stitch off block are really portable for sewing away from the quilt cave.

At this point, I hand appliqued all the blossom, leaves, buds, and vines to the background square before adding the oboe.  I just find it easier to applique the more involved instrument pieces when I'm not catching my thread on the unstitched edges of the flower pieces.

As this post is getting too long, I will show detailed steps of building the oboe in my next post (the oboe, part 2).  Soon, all these patterns will be available for purchase on my web site.  All the blocks finish 15 inches square, and they will be available individually or in groups.

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)


  1. Oh my goodness. These are just so gorgeous!

    I was going to ask you in my comments if you use just the glue or pins or both but you answered my question! I use the glue baste-it, but sometimes use pins also.

    Keep 'em coming. I'm amazed at how quickly you work these up. I'm a slow-poke when it comes to appliqué:/

  2. Now I can really tell my sister she lost brain cells - she was an oboist for many yrs. Another lovely block.

  3. This is a GREAT post. I love your applique, it is beautiful. I know little about musical instruments, but I love listening to music and have a widely varied interest in types. I come from a musically talentend family and grew up listening to music that my dad played in our home, both recorded and making his own. Some of my fondest memories are of childhood years of my dad's making music. Also, my sons and brother and a nephew are musically talented. Almost forgot to mention that my granddaughter is a violinist and also now plays flute in high school marching band. Sorry, too much information, but I got on a roll here. :D
    Wishing you a really nice day!

  4. Looking at these blocks is so inspiring! The floral borders could showcase just about anything in the centre (I was never involved in music), but I could never come up with such intricate designs to do the borders justice. thanks for sharing!

  5. The oboe must have been hard to stitch. So many little parts to stitch. Looks excellent.

  6. Well, that answer a lot of questions about an extremely talented young man who played the oboe back in my college years!

    I've enjoyed all of your blocks. I play the piano and so that one struck a "chord" with me. :)
    Lovely, lovely work.


  7. Another beauty, this is going to be a stunning quilt.

  8. your talent continues to blow me away! I can't wait to see this quilt finished!


  9. Absolutely beautiful can not wait for the pattern. I have been playing and teaching the oboe for over 50 years and it is not the pressure that destroys brain cells, but making the darn reeds. But I would no more give it up then I would give up quilting--life's too short. Thank you.

  10. Oh my goodness Teresa, you are one amazing woman. I'm in love with your project, your work is just mesmerising!


Thanks for stopping by the quilt cave...I love your feedback!

I am sorry, but you need a Google account/Profile to pose a question or leave a comment. That is very easy to get (FOR FREE) at

Of course, you can click on my email and contact me there any time!

I am no longer able to accept comments from Anonymous readers...too much weird spam!