Friday “Finish”

It’s good to be back to blogging after a long absence due to computer issues.  They seem to be fixed and, thankfully, without having to buy a new laptop (yea!).  However, despite my grandest plans for the summer and getting more things accomplished, etc., it just hasn’t happened.  My summer days have seemed to fill up with all kinds of stuff, but not much sewing to speak of.

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I have, however, managed to finish the quilt I’m working on for a client—or at least I’m 98% finished.  I still have almost two sides of binding left to go (I’m doing that by hand, so it’s taking some time), but the quilting is finished, so I’m counting it!

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The pattern on top is a basic chevron, and I just followed the fabric, quilting in the ditch.  I love the pattern it creates on the back.  My client is hoping for this quilt to be reversible for when her little boy grows up, and I think this definitely fits the bill.  I love the backing fabric she chose.

I’m off now to finish up the binding, wash it, and I hope to be able to take pictures of it tomorrow before it’s shipped to its new home on Monday!

Mallory’s Quilt

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I finally have another quilt finish for 2013!  I’ve been doing so many swaps lately that actual quilts have been put on the back burner for a while.  This quilt was commissioned by the mother of the little girl I babysit after school during the week.  They’re moving this summer, which means she gets a new room and can choose new colors.  She chose teal and orange, and her mother had her choose the quilt pattern as well as the fabrics.

The pattern comes from a fairly new book, Modern Quilts from the Blogging Universe’ target=_blank>Modern Quilts from the Blogging Universe , I bought a few months ago.  I really liked several quilts in this book, so I think it was a good investment.  I love how fast and easy this quilt was.  It really was fun to make, and it gives a more complex look even though the blocks were really simple to put together.  They’re a lot like a Bento Box block but a bit more organized.

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While we were looking on Pinterest for quilt patterns, Mallory also saw a baby quilt with an appliqued name on it.  She loved it and wanted to know if I could put it on the back.  She wanted the quilt to basically be reversible, so if she did turn it over, the name would be at the foot of her bed.  I think it came out well, though I made a mistake in basting, and then name was significantly off center.  So, I unpinned everything and started over.  Somehow I ironed the name on too far to the right, despite double checking the center—no clue how that happened.  At least it was salvageable, though, because there is no way to get that name off without doing some serious damage.  I just had to cut it super close instead of leaving myself room for shifting when quilting.  Luckily nothing shifted.

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I skipped labeling the quilt since she wanted it to be reversible.  If I had those cool little woven labels that can be sewn into a seam, I would have put one of those in the binding, but since I don’t, I settled for putting my initials and the date very small in the quilting in the lower right corner. 

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For the quilting, Mallory just wanted “squiggly lines.”  She has seen me stipple before and thought the “crazy quilting” was really cool.  It was to stipple again since I’ve been avoiding it since the first of the year in an effort to branch out into new techniques.  This was nice and simple and quilted up in less than two hours.

This quilt is a twin size, and it was my first time pin-basting since the very first quilt I quilted on a machine.  On the first one, I had a few issues with pleating on the backing, but this time I made sure to stretch my fabric with painter’s tape, and it worked quite well, and there are no pleats at all.  However, I must say that I really do prefer spray basting.  It’s SOOOO much easier.  It’s easier and faster to baste, to quilt, and there is much less chance of puckering/pleating as you quilt.  The only drawbacks are that it’s expensive, and of course it puts chemicals on your blanket.  The latter doesn’t bother me too much, though, because I don’t imagine it’s any worse than what’s already on the fabric from the manufacturing processes.

Anyway, pin basting worked this time, but it was a pain to stitch around the pins or stop to pull them out.  I would have sprayed, but I didn’t have it on hand and didn’t want to run to the store.  In the end, it was a good thing since I had to re-baste to center the name.  I could have pulled it apart if I had sprayed, but then I would have wasted a can for nothing.  So, I might use the pin method in the future on small projects, but I doubt it will ever become my preferred method!

Woven Quilt

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I’ve been slowly working on this quilt (pattern from Moda Bake Shop) for several months now.  It was the first project I started after my baby was born.  I chose it because it was pretty low-key, and it wasn’t intended for any purpose, so there was no deadline.  I pieced the blocks, and then once my Christmas sewing began again, I put them away for a while.  Now that Christmas is over, and the new year is here, I’ve begun evaluating my UFOs (unfinished objects) in an effort to get them finished in the first months of the year.

I sewed these blocks all together relatively quickly.  It’s a large twin size, and since the seams are all straight, it went together pretty quickly.  Now I just have to decide how to quilt it.  Honestly, I’m kind of stumped about that one.  One of my goals this year is to avoid stippling everything as I have done in the past, but this quilt is one of those that I’m not sure what else to do because the top will overwhelm any sort of fancy quilting design.  I’m considering one wavy line down the middle of each “stripe,” so it would create a criss-cross pattern of wavy lines.  I personally don’t like heavy quilting for bed quilts because it makes them too stiff for my tastes.  I prefer a cuddly quilt, and I’m hoping the wavy line design would do just that.  What I don’t like about this option is that I see it taking much longer than it would to just stipple.  I’m also not sure I’m keeping this quilt for myself, and many non-quilters really do like the stipple design better than others. 

Any suggestions?

linking up to Freshly Pieced WIP Wednesday

Yellow and Gray Chevron Baby Quilt

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You may remember that I posted Wednesday about working on this gray and yellow chevron quilt.  Well, it’s now finished, and I just love it.  I only had enough of the yellow backing for a baby quilt, but I’m hoping I can find something similar in the future so I can make a nice lap-size quilt for our sunroom.  Since I don’t have any baby girls to give this to, it’s going on etsy whenever I get the nerve (and the time!) to start listing some items.  I think it’s a little too girly for my boys since it has that flowery background, or I would be sorely tempted to keep this.

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I also don’t yet have anything in the trendy gray/yellow color combination, and now that I’ve decided I like it (I fought against it for a while), I’m itching to have something like this while I’m still so in love with the trend.

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I measured carefully and found that I did, in fact, have enough leftover yellow fabric for a bias binding, so I went with curved corners instead of squared ones.  I thought that would contrast nicely with the sharp chevron points.  The back is nice and swirly, so it echoes that, and it makes the whole quilt have a bit of a softer look.

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I love how the hand-quilting makes such a nice soft quilt.  While machine quilting is much faster and probably quite a bit sturdier, hand quilting can’t be beat for a soft cuddly sleeping quilt.  I used yellow crochet thread for the stitches, and it shows up nicely on the front to bring a little color to the gray and white pattern.  It mostly blends in on the back, which is also good since the back has such a vibrant pattern to it.  While I do hope this sells, part of me will be sad to see it go if it does.

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Works in Progress

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Now that I’ve had a break from the frenzied Christmas sewing (which I actually did enjoy, but I still need a break once in a while!), I’m able to pick up some projects with no deadlines again.  One of these projects is this gray chevron baby quilt.  I loved the yellow fabric for the back but only had a yard and a half, so that meant I had to make it a baby quilt.  However, I love it, so if I stumble across a good yellow backing fabric again, I’m going to get enough for at least a good lap-size couch quilt.  I decided to hand quilt this because I can use colored crochet thread for a nice pop of color that makes the stitching stand out and adds a bit of interest to the rather plain front.

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I finished quilting yesterday (I only had a few rows left) and have started trimming today.  Hopefully I’ll finish binding this week.  I think I’m going to use the same yellow fabric for the binding.  I have just about the right amount left for that, hopefully—I’ll need to measure to be sure!  I wanted to round the corners, but that would mean a bias binding, and I’m not sure there’s enough fabric for that, so I may have to leave it squared off.

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Below is my other stack of items waiting for attention.  These are just plain fabric baby blankets.  The owl one is backed with a bright blue minky, and the others are backed with a striped blue flannel.  All they need is a simple crochet edging.  I’m trying to find a good boy-friendly crochet edge pattern, but those are hard to come by as most are very lacy.  I plan to use the owl blanket for my own little boy, and I’ll either sell the others or give them as gifts.

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One of my major goals this year is to open up an etsy shop.  Well, technically my shop is already open, but there has never actually been anything in it, so my goal is to fill it up with stuff.  I do have a few things laying around already.  It’s the photography part that has me scared.  It seems like etsy listings have the most beautiful pictures, and I’m just not sure I can get pictures that are good enough, but eventually I’ll give it a try.

Christmas Quilt

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I’ve had a Kate Spain “Flurry” panel hanging around ever since January.  I bought it on clearance after Christmas, pieced the top over the summer, and finally got around to finishing the actual quilt, just in time for Christmas!

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I cut up each of the little prints/pictures within the panel, mapped it all out on paper so I would know what sizes to cut the sashing, and then went to work.  I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out, but it’s not as cool as I’d hoped it would be.  I’m honestly not quite sure how to use a panel.  I suppose I could have left it whole in the middle of the quilt and then put a couple of borders around it.  It would have been more of a wall hanging size, though.

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Still, I love the colors, and I’m happy to have a Christmas quilt to bring out every year.  I used some of the snowflake fabric on the back.  I also found that on clearance, and snowflakes are my favorite Christmas theme, so it was perfect!

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I love Kate Spain’s “Joy” fabrics this year.  I already have two charm packs, and I’m hoping to pick up a little yardage after Christmas when everything goes on sale.  I wouldn’t mind having a second Christmas quilt for our family room or the sunroom.

A Puppy Baby Shower

Recently I got to help throw a baby shower for a friend from church.  We didn’t have a clear theme since her nursery is green and brown circles/dots.  I had her check out my stash since I was planning to make a baby quilt, and she picked out a light blue dog print.  She loves dogs, so thus was born our theme.  I and three other ladies from church contributed to the shower, and it turned out quite cute!  The pictures aren’t the best since the lighting was iffy.  It was held at a community center.

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My contributions were cupcakes and cookies.  Although I had visions of little dog faces on the cupcakes with fondant floppy ears, I kept it super simple and made cupcake toppers on the computer.  My goal was easy this time around since I was so close to having my baby.  I made these two weeks ahead and froze them just in case something happened.  This way, one of the other ladies could have come and picked up both from my freezer.  Luckily, no baby came, and I was able to attend and help with the shower as planned.  I made half white and half chocolate cupcakes all topped with the same buttercream frosting.  The recipe I used called for coffee creamer as part of the liquid.  I used white chocolate mocha flavor along with some vanilla extract, and I must say it was pretty tasty.  I sprinkled the tops with blue sanding sugar and white nonpareils to make them a bit more interesting.

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I made the cookies using a dog bone cutter and the same frosting that I used on the cupcakes.  Royal icing looks much neater/prettier, but I’m not a fan of the taste compared to buttercream, and since I was making buttercream anyway, I decided to forego looks in favor of taste.  They still look okay, but definitely not as good as they would have in royal icing.  I packaged these up two per bag and placed them in a jar labeled “treats.”  I already had the big jar and cut out vinyl letters using my cricut.   I loved how it turned out, and it was a great way to display party favors.

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For the rest of the food items, we used stainless steel bowls (supposed to be reminiscent of dog dishes).  All of the bowls were ones I already had, but the other ladies made all the other food as well as the paper table topper.  I made the banner using my cricut, and I thought that turned out really well, too.  I borrowed a couple of cartridges from a friend, but I’ve decided I need a banner cartridge of my own.  I would definitely use that for future kids’ birthday parties and for showers in the future.

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This was an early picture of the gift table—it filled up much more after more guests started to arrive.   We used our inspiration dog fabric for a table runner of sorts.  This is all I have left after making her gifts.

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And speaking of gifts, here’s what I made:  (please forgive the picture quality—I took these indoors at night)

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A baby quilt, of course.  I’ve been trying to use up this fabric anyway, so I was thrilled that she chose it.  I used it as a backing in an effort to use more.  I started with over six yards of this fabric (leftover from a crate cover for a very large dog that I never made).  The stripe on the back was made from leftovers from the front.  This is the second baby shower quilt I’ve made from this fabric in two months.  I probably still have about three yards left, but at least it’s dwindling!

Since I had extra time (and extra fabric), I decided to also make some coordinating gifts.  I made a set of two burp cloths and a matching diaper clutch.  The burp clothes are just fabric rectangles sewn to towels the same size, turned, and topstitched around the edge.  They’re so easy that you really don’t even need a tutorial.  I bought two hand towels from the dollar store to use for my terry cloth.  Unfortunately, they didn’t have the color I needed in the bath towel, or they would have been really cheap to make!  Dollar store terry cloth is actually perfect for burp cloths.  It’s very thin, and you don’t want it to be too thick for a burp cloth—just enough to be a little more absorbent than the standard cotton fabric. 

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I also printed out tags and sewed them on to both projects.  I thought it needed a little something extra, and tags just kind of make a project look finished.  I printed out several other styles and plan to add them to almost all my future projects.  In this case, I made the tags coordinate with the dog theme since I was printing new tags out anyway, but I also printed off some nice plain ones that should go with anything in the future.

The tutorial for the diaper clutch below can be found here.  I first pinned the tutorial on pinterest, and it’s very easy to follow with both a video tutorial and printed directions.  I did change a few things.  First, I decided I liked the look of binding around the edge rather than sewing it right sides together and then turning it.  I think it gives it a more finished look, but it might also have been easier, too, although it requires some hand sewing.  I like some hand sewing, so it didn’t bother me in the least.

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I also decided to skip the button/elastic closure in favor of velcro.  I thought velcro would be easier to close one handed in a hurry, and tools for a mom should be all about convenience.  I did line the inside with a clear vinyl, so it’s easily wiped down, but I don’t think this would really be necessary.  I’ve had very few diaper leaks with my son, and when I have, it wouldn’t have been difficult to throw it in the wash when I got home.  I might make these in the future and use a laminated cotton on the inside.  It would be a little less stiff than the clear vinyl, but both would be fine, I think.

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The clutch features fold in pockets for diapers and wipes.  I put little dog appliques on the pockets just because I thought they looked cute and trimmed the pocket edges with matching binding to make it a little more colorful.  These steps are purely decorative, though, and could easily be skipped.  I also added a tag to this project but set it off with some black fabric to give it a more finished look.  Without the button closure from the original tutorial, it looked a little naked on the front.

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Overall, I’m quite happy with the way these all turned out.  I had been thinking about making diaper clutches as shower gifts for a while and wanted to test one out.  I think I’ll make a few modifications to the next one, but this was a very successful trial run.

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I also love that all the gifts coordinate.  I don’t know if I’ll do quite this much for every gift recipient (I really like the mom-to-be), but the burp cloths were so easy that I might add those to my standard repertoire of gifts.  I usually make a quilt, but I’ve been considering branching out into other blankets/accessories instead.  It seems like so many ladies at our church crochet, etc. that the mom gets TONS of blankets, so it might be a better idea to branch out in another direction.  This was especially true this time.  She got two quilts, including mine, and at least four crocheted blankets—the baby will never be cold!

Bennett’s Quilt

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I’ve had this quilt finished for a few months now but haven’t gotten around to taking pictures of it.  It matches the other bedding I’ve already posted about here.  Once his room is finished, I’ll post more pictures of everything all together.   My husband is sanding the wood floor in the baby room as I type, and it looks like we should have the floor finished within a couple of days.  That’s the last major step, so once the finish cures for a day or two, we should be able to start moving furniture in, hanging curtains and pictures, etc.  It will definitely be nice to have things more together than they have been.  We’re really cutting it close on this one—my due date is two days away.  However, with my luck, the baby will go late (ugh), and we’ll have things ready and waiting.  At this point, I don’t even care what’s finished and what’s not.  I just want this baby OUT!

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Onto the quilt—I chose a chain-link type pattern.  There are several patterns for sale, and the one that I followed most closely for mine was from Cluck Cluck Sew and can be found here.  I did not buy the pattern because I wanted to make several changes to it for size and visual reasons, so I thought it would kind of be pointless since I wouldn’t be following the actual pattern anyway.  I first saw this type of design in a very different quilt on flickr, which led to some googling, and this quilt was born.

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For the back, I had hoped to be able to make it work with just one width of fabric across the quilt, but it turned out to not be quite enough, so I added the polka dot scrap strips down the middles.  I like the look, though, so it probably worked out for the best anyway.

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For the quilting, I again went out of my stippling comfort zone and did right angles intersecting each other in box shapes.  I thought this mimicked the quilt top better, and I’m very happy with how they turned out.  However, since I don’t have the skill to do right angles (and keep them straight!) with the free motion foot, I had to use the walking foot, which involved LOTS of turning, which was soooo not fun.  However, I’m happy I suffered through it because I love the end result.  Maybe one day I’ll be good enough to do that with the free motion foot, which would make things a lot easier.

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I bound the quilt in a gray matching print, and I haven’t added the label yet.  I think I’d like to make one with his name and birth information on it, so I’ll just sew that on later.

September Bee Blocks

This month I was quite behind on the bee blocks.  I haven’t been feeling the best during my last month of pregnancy, so I just kept putting them off.  Finally, today I just decided to get them over with, and luckily they were all fast and easy, so I wish I had done them sooner and not worried about it all month long.

We Bee Learning

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This block was supposed to have burgundy, gold, and forest green.  I had the burgundy and gold from a blind scrap bag I had bought a while back from my local quilt shop.  All of these colors are not my normal style, so I was lucky I had even those two already.  I did have to buy the forest green solid, but I only needed 1/4 yard and didn’t buy extra since I don’t see myself using it again.  It was 66 cents with a coupon, so it definitely didn’t break me!

Stash Bee

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For this block, she asked for bright, modern, happy colors, which suited my stash perfectly since that’s what I usually buy myself.  This whole block was made from my scrap pile (I love it when that happens!), and I really like the way it turned out.  The colors are pretty bad in the photo, but it’s cheerful and should fit well with the three samples she posted.  In retrospect, I kind of wish I had chosen a scrappy type block instead of my tree block.  I love my trees, but some of the scrappy blocks I’ve been seeing are AWESOME!

99 Bee

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I really liked these blocks as well.  They were very fast and easy to sew up, and sometimes that is definitely not the case with the blocks from the 99 book.  It was really a good thing for me that the blocks were simple this month, or I might have been very late, depending on when the baby comes.  As it is, they’re all packaged up and ready to mail as soon as I can make it to the post office.  In this block, I loved the purple chevron fabric and the flower square.  I would love to see this quilt all put together with the different blocks.  It’s definitely scrappy, but I think it would look great all together.  I’m still deciding what I want my block to be for this bee.  Luckily, I don’t have to decide until January. 

It’s hard to believe I’ve been in all these bees since the beginning of the year.  Time really flies.  These were my first bees, and I think next year I might do things a bit differently.  First, committing to a bee for an entire year (or two years for stash bee) is really a big deal.  I’m not sure I want to do that again.  Most months I love doing the blocks, but on months like these when I have other major life events going on (baby this time, but it could easily be something else), I just don’t want to deal with it.   I think I might prefer the month-long swap things where you sign up month to month.  It’s easier to plan around a schedule that way.  I have had fun and have learned a lot through these bees, but I’ll probably think more carefully before signing up for a long one again. 

Of the three, my favorite has been the 99 bee.  Wee Bee learning is very simple—sometimes a little to simple to be interesting, but it’s designed for beginners, so that makes sense.  Stash bee is unpredictable—half of the blocks I’ve loved making, and half not so much.  Also, some of those blocks are out of my comfort zone, which has been difficult to get used to.  So far I’ve been able to handle everything, even if I’ve procrastinated due to fear, but some blocks are definitely something I wouldn’t take on unless forced.  I’ve learned a lot, though, so I really shouldn’t complain.

99 Bee has some paper-piecing doozies, too, but at least there is a book with instructions.  Also, I tend to like the finished products better because the blocks are, by nature, more modern, and the participants have so far sent more modern fabrics, which have mostly been to my taste.  While this isn’t really that important, for some reason it does increase enjoyment for me.  I like getting to sew with pretty fabrics I like!

Anyway, at least they’re finished for this month.  If I can, I’m going to try to get October’s done as well before the baby comes.  I’m due on the 2nd, so this may or may not happen, but I’ll give it a good shot if I don’t deliver on or before my due date—which will probably be my luck anyhow.  I’m so ready to get this baby out!

Trapunto Applique Tutorial

I fell in love a little over a year ago with this quilt found on Michael Miller’s Blog:

I decided to loosely recreate it, but I wanted the airplane motif to really stand out, so I decided to use a trapunto effect to make it really pop.  There are several ways to do this, but mainly trapunto consists of adding extra padding or stuffing to make a design pop up more than the fabric around it.

Appliques can be sewn on in many ways—a common method is to use fusible web and then machine sew around the edges.  While I do use that sometimes, I tend to like the look of hand appliques better.  For some reason it seems to look more professional and finished to me, so that’s how I did this one.  It was relatively simple since it’s all straight lines.

First, I made my pattern.  There’s a downloadable pattern here, but since I didn’t find it until after I had already finished the applique, I made my own.  I blew up the airplane portion of this quilt in word (hence the pixellation in the pattern), printed it out, and cut out the design.  I then cut the fabric 1/4” larger on all sides.

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After that, iron the edges under, pin in place on your quilt, and hand-sew the applique on (or use fusible web if you choose that method).  Once that’s finished, cut a piece of batting that is a little larger than your appliqued design and pin it on the back of the quilt.  Make sure it’s secure because you don’t want the batting to shift around while you sew from the front.

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Flip the quilt over and sew around the edges of the applique from the front.  I did not sew on the actual applique—just very close in the ditch.  If you were using fusible web, you could sew right on the edge of the applique at this point.

Once it’s sewn down, trim the excess batting from the back.  Be very careful not to cut your quilt top.  Go slowly, and it also helps to pull the batting back so you can see the fabric easily and be sure it’s not going to get caught in your scissors.  To be extra careful, you can use a pair of blunt tip scissors.

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For now, you’re finished until you actually quilt the top.  It pops up a bit now from the extra padding, but once it’s added to the quilt batting and back, it will really stand out.  If you quilt over top of the trapunto, it will flatten it out quite a bit, so I outlined the applique while I was free-motion-quilting, and then quilted around it, and it stands out nicely.  It really helps draw more attention to the applique.

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