29 August, 2012

A Little Bird Told Me...

Sometimes you just know what your next project wants and needs to be. I love birds, watch them daily from my window, have been an Audubon groupie for some time, and knew when I first saw a photo of this quilt that this would be my next project. I was itching, absolutely ITCHING to make something spectacular, using my newly learned technique, needle-turn appliqué.

So I bought the book, "In the Meadow", beautifully done...I might add, by Blackbird Designs . The quilt in the book is called "Birdsong".

Favorites, all stacked up
The Meadow Collection Swatch Card
Then I ordered the "Meadow" fat-quarter collection by Moda, which includes some of the fabrics that were used in the book.  I am on the lookout for other fabrics that will go along with these in just the right way.

I have loved prepping this quilt, copying the patterns for the bird blocks, cutting the freezer paper templates and organizing all of the pattern pieces into files. I get up early, really early, (just can't sleep late...,) and it's my favorite time time of the day, the perfect time to get this quilt ready to actually begin the hand appliqué. I do not believe that in all of my years of making quilts, and it's been 40+ years!, that I have ever needed to be quite as organized as this quilt requires.

I love hand appliqué, really, really love it!  My very first experience with it was when I made a quilt for our soon-to-be younger daughter.  It was 1975, eons ago... I purchased a Simplicity Hollie Hobbie rocking horse pattern and I was like the classic, "Lady in Waiting", hand stitching this quilt as my baby grew inside of me.  Such sweet times...  I changed the colors up a bit.  I used red and dark blue rather than pink and light blue. Butterfly has kept this quilt close to her, all through  her childhood and on into her adulthood.

I have done a bit more hand appliqué along the way. I made a quilt for our older daughter, J.T., also known as The Brainiac. I made her quilt when she was just about to graduate from High School, all hand appliquéd and hand quilted. She wanted a car for graduation, but got a hand-made quilt instead. She purchased her own car, which is the way that it is supposed to be, I think. That quilt took “Best of Show” at the Foothill Quilters Guild annual quilt show in Auburn, CA, in 1991... a lifetime ago.

So... I laid out my first block, the Meadowlark.  There are six different bird designs which are repeated throughout the quilt.  Other blocks are the Chipping Sparrow, the Blue Jay, the Magpie, the Lark Bunting, and the Carolina Wren.  Some blocks are reversed and some blocks have smaller leaf appliqué blocks added alongside.  The freezer paper template is ironed to the fabric on the right side, then you cut out around the template leaving a small seam allowance to turn under. You start stitching down the pieces that are in the background and move forward so that all of the pieces are properly layered. The freezer paper template provides a firm edge and guides you in where to turn the fabric under the template, then small stitches are taken as you move along the turned edge.  There is NO BASTING! which speeds things up in a huge way, but the best part is that the pieces are in the exact shape as the template.  It's kind of amazing just how exacting it is. So much better than basting, then sewing!

I stitched my first block. It went together remarkably well, I have to say.

I listened to an excellent audio book while I worked. Audio books
and hand appliqué go together like peanut butter and jelly!

And here is my second block, the Magpie.  Only 23 more to go and I'll have enough to make a quilt!

I have more fabrics to find, not such an easy task here in the 'Burg. But this quilt will be a work in progress for some time, I suspect.  Good things come to those who wait,... or to those who can't find the fabrics locally that are just right and must search for them far and wide.  For someone who loves instant gratification, and that's me!, it is such a lesson in love to take the time and to somehow find the patience to search out the perfect materials to make this quilt as spectacular as I envision it to be.  


  1. Wow! That is going to be gorgeous......now I'll know what you're working on at guild! Looking forward to watching the progress!........K

  2. Love your birds! I just found your blog through Pinterest.