Updated: Jul 8, 2022
Hope you’re having a lovely springtime (or splendid autumn to friends on the other side of the world.) It is so lovely to have you along, and share this months block with you.
Inspired by our little feathered friends’ who put so much care and effort into nest building, weaving twigs, moss, and feathers together – it reminds me of the loving care which goes into making our quilts.
Sampler Block Four – “Nest” can be made using a quick and easy fusible machine applique technique (shown in the tutorial)
Or if you prefer to sit in the sunshine and handsew, the block can be made using the needle-turn applique technique. Templates for both methods provided.
Block measures 10 1/2” square before joining to other blocks.
So let’s begin making our nests...
Materials you'll need:
11” square Off-white or Low volume fabric Moda Bella Solids 9900 200
8” x 6” (20cm x 15cm) plain brown Moda Bella Solids Taupe – 9900 310
2 or 3 Fat Sixteenths in blue and brown Caroline prints
5” x 5” pieces in pinks, peaches, green, blue for the buds, blossom, eggs
Gutermann Sulky Cotton (30 weight) col. 4001 – Parchment for hand-quilting
For fusible applique you'll need:
8” x 12” (20cm x 30cm) Paper backed fusible webbing (Bondaweb or similar)
For needle-turn applique
Gutermann Cotton (50 weight) col. 919
Equipment: Sewing machine; Iron, ironing board and pressing cloth.
Notions: Clover water erasable pen (or similar), Small sharp scissors, thimble, small fine quilting needle, safety pins.
Optional: Stabiliser – If using a lightweight fabric for the background, for instance Pima cotton, use a stabiliser on the wrong side of the background fabric, to prevent puckering when machine appliqued.
If you plan to Quilt As You Go*, you’ll need an 11” square of wadding, and depending on which QAYG method you use, an 11” square of backing fabric. (*For more information on the QAYG method, please read through Quilt Construction notes)
So let’s begin:
Depending on the applique method you’re using print out one of the following templates:
Fusible machine applique templates [2 page PDF] Shapes have already been reversed, ready for tracing onto fusible webbing.
Needle-turn applique template [2 page PDF] You can find tips on the needle-turn technique over on Block 2 tutorial – a spring basket for you x
If you prefer print the full tutorial below including Fusible applique template [9 page PDF], or read on….
Prepare the background
Using the Fusible applique template (the shapes have already been reversed – ready for tracing onto fusible webbing.)
Cut out the circle template, fold in half then quarters. Next, fold the 11” background off-white square in half, then quarters, creasing lightly to mark the centre. Match the centres of paper circle and fabric square.
Draw round the circle template, using a water erasable pen or similar – to make a guideline for placing the nest design and feather.
Prepare the fusible applique….
• Place the paper backed Bondaweb on the PDF template, paper side up. Trace twigs, buds, blossom and eggs.
• Cut out, leaving approx. ¼” margin around each of the traced shapes.
• Place each twig, fusible side down (with smooth paper side up) on wrong side of the taupe fabric.
• To bond the fusible webbing to the fabric, place a pressing cloth on top, and press for a few seconds, using a medium heat, no steam.
• Using a pair of sharp scissors, cut out the twigs.
Then peel away the paper backing, by making a fold near one edge, the paper backing should begin to separate.
• Repeat for the birds – tracing the birds, their wings and the chest patch separately.• Fuse the baby birds body and wing, and the chest patch to the blue fabric.
• Fuse the bigger birds body and wing to the brown fabric – each time checking the rough side of the webbing is placed on the wrong side of the fabric, before pressing.
TIP: When peeling the paper backing from the birds, peel from the tail end, so the beak stays sharp and doesn’t fray.
Keep the paper bird shapes, as these can be used to mark position to sew the eye (page 5.)
Repeat for the remaining shapes – buds, blossom, leaves and eggs.
Once the fusible pieces are cut, position them on the background, using the circle as a guide.
• Place the twigs in the lower half of the circle, roughly matching the curves of the twigs to the outline.
• Next place the birds bodies, adding the chest patch to the big bird, and the wing to the little bird. (The wing on the big bird is added after the body and chest have been machine appliqued.)
• Using an erasable marker trace the position of the legs.
• Continue slowly building up the picture, adding the buds, blossom and little eggs. Check the design elements of the block fit inside a 10” window, so when blocks are sewn together, the design isn’t affected.
• Once you are happy with the placement. Press, to bond the shapes to the background.
• Avoid pressing the circle guideline drawn on the background, as heat makes some erasable pens permanent.
Now you’re ready to machine applique….
For the block shown in the photos, I used a basic machine presser foot (the same one I use when doing any straight line sewing, piecing or general sewing) Set stitch length to 2mm. To pivot at corners and tight curves, check your needle is in the down position before lifting the foot to pivot.
If you prefer you can also use an open toe foot (feed dogs down), or darning foot, whichever you feel most comfortable with.
So lets’ stitch…
• Stitch just inside the edge of each shape (approx. 1/8”). Proceed slowly where you need to be precise – for the few stitches around the beak I took my foot of the pedal, and used just the hand control.
• Stitch the legs, going down to the foot, then doubling back again to the body.
• Machine around the body shape twice or more, don’t worry if the line of stitching is wobbly it will give a sketchy feel to your design.
• Position the big birds wing, press to fuse and hold in place. Stitch as above.
• Pull loose threads through to the back – knot and weave into the line of stitches, so the dark grey thread ends don’t show through to the front of the block.
• Use the paper backing from the birds to help when marking the position of the eye. Then using dark grey thread and a satin stitch, hand-sew the eyes onto both birds.
• Remove the erasable guideline from lower part of block and press.
Your nest is now complete, just one more thing to add…
Preparing to quilt
• First trace the feather motif, using a water erasable pen – Place page 2 of the template on a lightbox, or tape to a brightly lit window.
Position the block on top of the template, so the feather is in the upper half of the block.(see photo)
• Use tape to hold the block in place while tracing.
If using the Quilt As You Go (QAYG) method
• Layer your block, using an 11” square of cotton wadding, and an 11” square of backing fabric, if following the 3 layer sandwich method. (For more information on QAYG, please see Quilt Construction notes.)
• Secure layers using safety pins, or preferred method of basting.
If using Quilt As You Go method 2, leave a small margin un-quilted inside the 10” design window, to make it easier to peel back the layers when joining blocks.
Thread a small fine quilting needle with Gutermann Sulky cotton 30wt. This is a thicker thread than used for applique or piecing. The ecru colour is not too dark, and doesn’t show through the light coloured background.
• Beginning at the bottom of the feather sew a line of evenly sized running stitches up and down the shaft (marked yellow in the diagram).
• Then beginning at point A continue the evenly size running stitches to point B.
• Now insert the needle at point B into the quilt sandwich and push through beneath the surface till it reaches point C.
Repeat for each plume – burying the thread (marked green below) to move from the end of one plume, to the next, so avoiding lots of knots.
Once hand-quilted remove markings with a little water, you’re nearly there. Finally in preparation for joining Sampler block to Irish Chain blocks, trim a sliver of each side of the Sampler square, till it measures 10.5” square, to match the other blocks.
Congratulations your Nest block is now complete !
We’d love to see the Sampler blocks you make, so please do post them on Instagram or Facebook using the hashtag – # SweetestThingsSampler.
Have a lovely springtime, and happy sewing x x
Dawn (Honeybee Cloths)