Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Antique Wedding Sampler - block 1 construction tips

Yesterday I wrote about blocks 1 and 2 that Paula and I made for our Antique Wedding Sampler quilts. There were a couple of questions/comments about block 1 that I thought I would address today.

Leslie (sorry but you are a no reply blogger so I couldn't send you a personal message) asked about the broderie perse (the floral applique in the corners). She wanted to know if there are tutorials or books available. I did publish a tutorial on broderie perse and you can find it here. There are several on YouTube however many seem to use fusible web and that is not something I wanted to do. I have searched for books specifically about broderie perse but there are very few available. One that I do have in my library is Broderie Perse by Barbara W. Barber. It is an older book and can be difficult to find. It is an interesting and informative book but honestly the information that you really need can be boiled down to a few points.

When I do broderie perse there are a few things that are important for me and I thought I would share them today.

  1. When I cut my shapes I leave roughly a 1/4" seam allowance. I position the shape on my background fabric and then trim seam allowance down to a scant 1/8". I generally trim down my seam allowances as I sew. I might trim an 1" or 1 1/2" and stitch most of that down before I trim more excess seam allowance. I do this because I find that if there is a lot of handling of the applique it can fray and you may not have enough seam allowance to turn under.
  2. I use a slim, sharp needle. My preferred needles are #10 milliners needles.
  3. I use a fine thread that either matches my applique or the background. My preferred thread these days (introduced to me by Paula) is DMC machine embroidery thread. It is cotton and very lightweight. I find that a taupe colour works well for many of my appliques but I also have other colours in my thread box.
  4. I used a tiny dab of inexpensive glue to temporarily tack my shapes in position. I look for a glue that is washable, fabric safe and acid free. For those who live in Canada you can buy Studio Glue from Dollarama. It costs $1.25 for four sticks. Bargain!

To stitch down the shapes there are a few stitches that can be used. A blind stitch (the traditional applique method where the seam allowance is turned under with the tip of the needle) is my preferred method however the applique can also be done with a buttonhole/blanket stitch in which case the raw edge of the applique is not turned under but is instead covered with the stitches.

The compass in block 1 is English paper pieced and I have a couple of tips for piecing the compass. You will notice that the large brown diamonds have tiny cream diamonds (with a red print) at the inner point. I appliqued the cream fabric to the brown fabric before I basted the paper to the brown fabric (inside the green circle).

I stitched a red triangle to either side of the diamond. When I got to the point inside the circle I made sure that the cream diamond was a couple of threads shy of the point of the red triangle. I added the red triangle at the left and took an extra stitch to keep the points of the red triangles together (inside the red circle). I then continued sewing the red triangle to the other side of the diamond.

I stitched the curved shapes to either side of four of the brown diamonds.  Those curved edges must line up or you won't have what appears to be a circle behind the compass points.

In order to make sure that the curved edges did match up I made a registration mark on my paper so that I knew where the curved edge should be positioned.

To sew the units together I made sure to line up the curve with the registration mark on the paper template and when I got to the inside edge I made sure that the cream diamond was a couple of threads shy of the point on the red triangle (at the red circle) so that when I added the next unit with the red triangle I could take an extra stitch to pull those points together. As you add pieces to make the compass be sure to open it up and ensure that the curved edge is even on either side of each large diamond.

I hope that these little tips will be helpful! Until the next time, happy sewing!
Karen H


  1. You are so generous! This is so helpful. Thank you!

  2. Thank you for the information. I have bookmarked this post and the tutorial for future reference.

  3. now i need to find my copy of the book to see if i can manage this along with Celebrating Mary Brown, both have quite intensive hand appliquéd blocks..i know that doing this along with you i would learn so much

  4. When you broke it down like this, making these blocks does seem manageable. Maybe someday I'll make this quilt, too many in progress right now. Thanks for the tutorial!

  5. Thanks for always generously sharing your quilting tips with your readers. I have learned so much from your posts.

  6. Thanks for the great tutorial. It is very interesting to have the steps broken down into manageable bits, so that it looks doable. The information can be used when assessing other patterns as well, to decide how best to tackle something that looks difficult or impossible. Thanks also for the version two updates of Paula's blocks. I love them all.

  7. I own the book and I have been drooling over your lovely blocks. I think I detect a new project on the horizon. Fabulous tutorial.

  8. I need all the help I can get great tutorial very helpful, hoping to master my fabric selection to make my blocks as gorgeous as yours!