Friday, June 20, 2014


Hiking in the mountains, I found this lovely grouping of columbine, my favorite flower.  My first thought was that it would make a pretty, little quilt.  I had recently taken a class on using hot ribbon to finish the edges of fused appliqué and that was my first idea.  If you are interested in that technique there is also a U-tube video.   I didn't like the results for this particular project so I shelved it and didn't revisit the idea for a long time.  Then I began doing blanket stitch appliqué and decided to try again.

The first step was to enlarge the photo on my computer and trace it in Illustrator with enough artist's license to make it sewable.  It took 13 drawings of various parts to assemble the final, full-sized composite with a 16x20 inch quilt in mind.  It turned out a little larger because of the borders, but the flowers remained the same.  I am an intuitive quilter and frequently adjust my patterns to the moment.

I first sewed the background together so it would be ready when the appliqué was cut and prepared to fuse.

Final Design
TIP:  Having the flowers spill out over the inner frame adds dimension to the design and creates a unique composition.

Columbine graphic (reversed)
You can see here that I have reversed the design and labelled each part with a system of numbers and letters so I could keep the many pieces straight.  Finally I traced all the pieces onto the paper side of Soft Fuse.  Since I had simply reversed the entire design, I didn't have to worry about reversing each part when tracing.  I had already assembled several blue, green and white-on-white fabrics.

TIP:  A design like this is more interesting and has more depth when different fabrics are used for separate petals and parts.  

I then laid the full sized pattern on my ironing board, covered it with a translucent, heat-resistant, silicon sheet, and laid out the pieces on that sheet, carefully following the pattern.  When I had everything arranged to my liking I laid another heat-resistant sheet on top and ironed it all together.  The idea was that all the pieces would stick together and I could peel it all off the silicone sheet as a unit and lay it on the background.  Oh dear!  The minute I lifted it up it all fell apart, pieces everywhere, no numbers or letters.  A few of the smaller pieces went AWOL and had to be traced, fused and cut again.  At that point I was done quilting for the day.

The next day, fresh for a new start I sorted the mess, and matched pieces to the graphic, which was now positioned under the background fabric on my light table.  The fabric had peeled right off the silicon sheet with the fusible still in place so all the pieces were still usable.  I iron-tacked the pieces to the background lightly, just to hold them in place.  When all was complete again I carefully moved fabric and bouquet off the light table and onto the ironing board.  I covered the fusible pieces, now directly on the background, with the silicon sheet and ironed them down with a vengeance.  Success!

TIP:  Fusing the pieces all together and lifting them onto the background is a great idea but there must be enough overlap among the pieces or it won't work.  Look at your design carefully and assess whether this technique will work for you.  Even so, I misjudged mine!

TIP:  Don't use the light table (mine is my acrylic extender table) as an ironing board.  It is OK to lightly tack a piece in place, but a plastic table will be ruined by the sustained, high heat that is needed for the final fusing.

The fun thing about this small quilt with lots of pieces was that I was able to make it entirely from my stash.  In my next post I will talk about some special touches, the quilting, and the finished product.


  1. Beautiful, worth the extra effort. Great tips, too. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Your Columbine quilt is going to be lovely! Thanks for the tips. I'd love to see a photo of your quilt-in-progress. BTW - Wild Columbine in our area are red not lavender. Interesting how they change color by location.

    1. Thanks for your comment. This quilt was completed a couple of years ago so I can't show you the work in progress, but next post has the finished quilt with detail photos of the pertinent elements. I have never seen the blue columbine outside of Colorado and have never had success growing it on purpose. Last year I had two volunteer in my yard and it felt so special. They have now reseeded themselves so I'll have some more this year. They grow rampant in the high country - always blue in the wild. Love 'em!!

  3. Thank you for all of the tips. One of these days will try something like this myself.