Recently I completed a wall quilt from Kim Schaefer’s Calendar Quilt Pattern. Since this was the calendar quilt for September, the theme was “back to school” and included a large apple with the A, B, C’s.
The design is appliqued, so it’s important to plan each layer of the quilt, starting with the background blocks. I began by cutting out the various blocks called for in the pattern. Next, I laid out the cream colored background blocks and labeled each one in sequential order. (I printed out a series of numbers and then cut them apart and pinned them to label my blocks, which helps me to keep them in order when I piece them together. I have used these numbers over and over again in various other projects.)
Once the background blocks were pieced together, I laid out the apple and leaf applique pieces and then auditioned the various outside border blocks and moved them around until I found a pleasing combination. Then I pinned the numbers to these blocks.
When the outside blocks were pieced around the outer edge of the wall quilt, it was time to quilt the background. I made a giant stipple stitch for this using a roller foot (if you have a Bernina machine, it is foot#55).
To quilt the outer blocks, I digitized an apple quilting design in my embroidery software and loaded it into my embroidery machine. After setting up my embroidery module, I used my machine to quilt the outside blocks. The apple outline was a simple design, but it was important to find the center for each block so the apple design would be positioned correctly in each outer block. I used the clear plastic grid that came with my embroidery hoop and determined the correct layout for the center position and lightly marked the center for each block with an erasable marker.
Next, I carefully hooped a piece of tearaway stabilizer and again used the grid to find the center on the stabilizer and marked it. I carefully cut away the stabilizer from the center of the hoop, leaving the surrounding stabilizer hooped.
I sandwiched the pieced calendar quilt top, batting and the backing and pinned the sandwich together to hold in place. Then I centered each outside block, one at a time, in the cut out center of the hooped stabilizer and pinned each block in place. Block by block, I embroidered the apple quilt pattern on the center of each outside block.
Since you are stitching through a 3-layer quilt, it is not necessary to have additional stabilizer, so that is why it is cut away from the center. You still need to hoop the outer edges in order to provide a secure frame to pin each block as you embroider the apple onto it.
When all the outside blocks were quilted with the apple design, it was time to applique the remaining pieces in place, using various decorative stitches from my machine. It’s a good idea to test each stitch on some scrap/sample fabric first, adjusting the stitch length and width until you get the desired look and size for each stitch you use to applique. It is amazing how much you can change the appearance of a stitch by making some minor adjustments. Write down the stitch length and width you used on the stitch sample for future reference.
And, of course, the alphabet blocks also need to be stitched in place.
And the “core of the matter” as well as the apple seeds…
Once the applique stitches were complete, I cut a 2 1/4″ wide binding and attached it to the outside of the mini quilt, mitering the corners. The final finishing touch was an embroidered label…
Last but not least, I tied and secured all the stitches and pulled them into the batting to hide the ends and the mini quilt was complete. Here’s a picture of the finished project! I can almost hear the school bell ringing; can you?