Vibrant Wild Birds: Applique Quilt

Inspired by the incredible applique of Kim Mclean, I set out on my own vibrant wild birds applique journey. Her pattern that put me on this path was Lollypop Tree. (You can grab the original Kim Mclean pattern at Glorious Color.) It is an amazing quilt that I’ve enjoyed since I first saw it years ago. My design is a much simpler, plainer version with birds and a splash of asymmetry.

Starting the Applique Design

I’m not much of a hand-applique person, but I thought it might be time to give it a whirl. Recently working on a challenge quilt, which I’ll blog about shortly, I dipped my toe into hand-applique designs.

This project completely started out as a bright-colored, hand-applique improvisational experiment. Lots of adjectives just to say, “I wonder if I can make a block?”

I’m happy to report, that this quilt is made entirely from fabric scraps from my own stash. My scraps are sorted by color into ziploc bags, and holy smokes, there’s lots of ziplocs.

After watching endless videos on applique, I ended up trying the Appliquick method to prepare my shapes. In a very basic nutshell, here’s what I did:

  • Trace shapes onto fusible interfacing
  • Fuse to wrong-side of fabric
  • Cut fabric 1/4″ – 1/8″ larger than interfacing
  • Use tools and glue to fold edges around applique
  • Press

I ended up choosing shapes I liked and making many of them. Next, I’d store them in an unused 8″ pizza box to use them as I randomly created each block design.

To my surprise, the little birds turned out to be a favorite design. Luckily the bird body and bird wing were interesting shapes in themselves. You’ll see them in the blocks, used in many different arrangements along side leaves, bias tape and circles.

Improv Applique Quilt Blocks

For each block, I would start with a 15-1/2″ x 15-1/2″ woven cotton fabric background. Press a center fold, then press three fold lines perpendicular to the vertical center. I don’t know what will be applied to the lines, but they’ll help keep things balanced and symmetrical, if need be.

This isn’t a pattern release or free tutorial. I’m simply sharing a project I made from an incredible inspirational source. To see each block larger, click on it. If you end up making these blocks, that’s cool, but I do not have a paper template or design.

Finishing The Quilt

This quilt has quite a bit going on. There’s bias tape; there’s embroidered beaks, eyes, and feet. There’s circles and layers. I’ve never made anything this colorful, I don’t think.

In an efforts to go full on “MORE IS MORE,” I cut 3-1/2″ squares for a patchwork sashing.

Each block finished up at 15″ square which means I would need 20 small sahsing blocks around each applique. Add a dash of math to get the cornerstones, and I’m all set.

Ok, yes. This will be A LOT of color. Once I had all the sashing on the wall, and after confirming with my art guru, we decided to add some white applique shapes sashing in an efforts to calm the color slightly.

More is more!

Custom Quilting

The backing is pieced fabric from my stash and the batting is Fairfield Hi-Loft Poly. The thread is White Glide 40wt, Magna Glide 60wt Bobbin, and I’m using my HandiQuilter Avante, free-motion/hand-guided to quilt.

Quilting this was a blast. I outlined each applique shape/unit and filled in the background with all sorts of designs. Swirls, pebbles, and little feathers are featured in most of the space.

I added spine-less feathers in the patchwork sashing. Though you cannot see every quilted stitch, it does make a cool texture.

The white shapes are also outlined, though nothing is stitched inside. I wanted those areas to appear “puffed up.”

Vibrant Wild Birds

With the quilt completed, I just need to add a hanging sleeve on the back so this little baby can be entered into the Greater San Antonio Quilt Show in September.