Monday, April 22, 2013

Little Block Embellishment - block 2

My students often tell me they have a little trouble deciding what threads and stitches to use to embellish their applique.  This is the second in my 8 part series of how I embellished the blocks for my new bucket.  I hope this gives you some ideas for your next project.

The background of this block was pieced from 2 Japanese cottons and freezer paper templates were made using the same method as outlined on an earlier post.  Here's a tip when making your templates:  Note that the two large leaves on this block are mirror images of each other.  Just draw 1 leaf and then fold your paper so you have a double layer, with the shiny sides together.  Cut on the drawn line and you have both templates with just one cut.  I confess that I hurry through every step possible so I can get to the fun part - embellishment.  I will sometimes cut through 8 layers of paper rather than drawing the shape 8 times.  Before cutting through a lot of layers, staple close to the outside of the pencil line to keep the layers of paper from shifting as you cut.

I began embellishing this block by using Chartreuse Sea Grass to Back Stitch around the base (green part) of the flower.  Next, I added Bullion Stitches using Size 8 Valdani Pearl Cotton, color M37 on the outside of the flower and along the top of the cotton print.

Above the cotton print, Lazy Daisy (detached chain) and Straight Stitch create the leaves and stems of the flowers.  Silken Pearl in Berry Spritz was used for the Bullion Loop flower blooms and Straight Stitches inside the leaves.

Valdani Cotton Pearl, Size 8, Color M26 was used for the Whipped Back Stitch that outlines the large leaves as well as the Feather Stitch in the center of each leaf.  Colonial (or French) Knots were added to the Feather Stitch with the Berry Spritz Silken Pearl.

Using a straw needle with cotton thread, randomly stitch seed beads along the top of the green flower base.

After all my blocks were finished I sewed them together for my new bucket and added stitching and an assortment of buttons and charms to the strips between the blocks.  I hand-painted large ric-rac and appliqued it above the blocks, then Back Stitched with Sea Grass on both sides.  Buttons were layered and stitched on top of the ric-rac.
You're probably thinking, "hand painted ric rac???".  Don't be too impressed, it was easy and here is how I did it:
  1. Lay out a strip of freezer paper, shiny side UP to keep paint off the table.
  2. Mix Fabric Medium and acrylic paint, both available at craft stores, and thin down with water.  I didn't measure anything, just squirted it in a paper bowl and mixed with the paint brush.  It is better to have it quite thinned down with the water as you can always add more color but you can't take it away.
  3. Mix up a few colors that you like.
  4. Now just paint it on white or tan ric-rac, blending the colors together where they meet. My ric-rac was polyester or some other type of synthetic. 
  5. See the dark blotches above the bird and dragonfly?  That was little globs of paint where I hadn't mixed it enough but I like the way it turned out.
  6. Let dry and then "set" colors with a hot iron.
  7. I only painted one side.

This is the 5th bucket I've made and I love every one of them.  Patterns for the Country Bucket and City Bucket are available in my Etsy Shop along with the handle kits.  If you would like a pattern for the Little Blocks I used in my new bucket just email me at and I will send them to you for free.


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