Saturday, June 29, 2013

Playing With Some Leaves

Mary Lou Weidman wrote a quilting book years ago that I devoured in one setting called 'Whimsies and Whynots: A Playful Approach to Quiltmaking'. In the book she adamantly encourages free-form cutting of applique pieces.  Look ma, no pattern! It was tough at first (and scary) to play without knowing the end result, but now? I can't imagine doing it any other way.
Scrap Basket applique progress
To this day, I still pick up my scissors and start cutting when I'm auditioning applique pieces.  Once in awhile I'll comb through old patterns looking for a particular shape, but mostly I just go with what pops into my head as I'm cutting scrap fabric (the best way to avoid ruining good sized pieces of fabric) and then just try to fine tune it from there.
I'm thinking it needs some leaves.....
Of course we are hugely influenced by everything we see and absorb.  My birds and flowers undoubtedly look like a zillion others you've seen throughout the years! Me? I'm just ecstatic that I've finally figured out how to cut out a bird that actually LOOKS like a bird.
Bits and pieces of bias stems and leaves
The other thing I do while auditioning is this: I have small totes where I keep all the odd bits and pieces of bias stem that end up being too big, too small, the wrong color and of course all the leftover end pieces too.  I throw in extra leaves and flowers I've cut and some other random applique pieces too.  It's a great place to go when I'm wanting to 'play' with applique. Sometimes I even find something that works out perfectly, which is wonderful and totally makes my day for a lot of reasons. It's frugal? It's time saving? Perhaps I can actually avoid the tedious applique prep process just one time? hehe

Think about how many times you've cut a small leaf out of scrap fabric and then tossed it into the trash because it was simply the wrong size or color. I know I probably threw away a small forest of trees before I decided to start being a hoarder instead.*wink
Light and dark leaf
Okay, yes! Most of the time the size is wrong or the color doesn't work for the current  project. That part doesn't matter when you're in the auditioning phase.  Not at first.  What you really want is a quick look at an idea you've formed in your mind for what (might) need to happen next.
Leaves close to same value
You just never know.  Many times the difference is extremely subtle and you wonder why you even keep trying various combinations.  A leaf is a leaf is a leaf..... And then you find something that clicks and suddenly everything makes sense again!
Medium and dark leaf
Now I need to go find some fabrics that look similar to the leaves I like there on the design wall. I can't sew them 'as is' or they would start looking scrawny from the lost seam allowances....


  1. Love this basket, it is so cheerful! What a great way of working you have and the result is lovely.

  2. Im in love with your basket and all the things you're adding to it.

    Scraps are so much fun to play with !

  3. Hey! I love that idea. I do lots of applique and am always throwing away bits that were the wrong colour or stems too short. I hate it too, as I am a real miser with fabric. The last time I emptied the waste basket a week or so back there were flowers, stems and leaves. Not any more. So thank you for the idea Audrey.

  4. Your block makes me smile on the inside and out! Love your free form work. :)

  5. What a fun block! I so enjoy how you explain your process, your little bins of leaves and stems are so smart! Much better than digging through piles of random scraps. Your blog header is beautiful, love the new look!

  6. Very beautiful block, I love ! XXX

  7. So cute, I love the colours and your way of working! I too am fond of Mary Lou's books.

  8. What an adorable basket quilt! Lovely fabrics... especially fond of the alphabet background fabric. So cute!

  9. Great to see how you work with the collection of applique pieces/bias stems in boxes - great idea to collect them together. You are clearly very creative to be able to free-cut lovely shapes!

  10. LOVE this, and the background fabric is wonderful. SO nice!

  11. you are my kinda gal~!!
    i too "hoard" bits of leftover vine and leaves as well as other shapes that "might fit in perfectly someday".

    i love what you are doing with this piece and i've had a great time checking out your blog . . . but i want to see and read more so with your permission, i would like to add you to my own blog's sidebar.



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