Like most this year my family had some celebrations planned. My son’s 18th in the first lockdown, our Silver Wedding anniversary in July and then, my own big 5 0 in the second lockdown. This time last year I would never have believed we would be putting off big celebrations until 2021.

The advantage is that it now gives me time to make some of the free Celebrations Block Hop patterns from the wonderful Bloggerati who have designed some brilliant creations for us all to enjoy.

The block I have created is a simple one that can be made quickly but has the capacity to be enhanced. Bonded appliqué balloons with embroidered strings. I do love to hand finish so I went for hand worked Blanket stitch around the edges of the balloons, a Stem stitch for the strings and the small detail of a couple of Chain stitches to act as the tie at the base of the balloons. You could, of course, finish with a machine stitch of your choice – Blanket or Satin perhaps?


Hand Blanket Stitch

I used standard embroidery floss, 2 stands, for the Blanket stitch but for the strings, in a dark grey, I used a linen thread. I came across this some years ago. Spookily enough the lady who supplies this actually lives in the same village as me. I met her at a couple of quilt shows and got talking. I’m building up a collection of this linen thread and have found it beautiful to work with. Slightly thicker and with a matt appearance I have found this to be perfect for a bolder stitch work on my embroideries and quilts. They do have a fabulous collection of embroideries and threads on their website along with the tale of how the threads were found in old warehouses in Sweden from the 1960s. The company is called Linladan.

The template for the balloons can be found here but is really very simple. Download the image, print and trace onto the paper side of your Bond-a-Web or similar product. If new to this – these are bonding agents, effectively a layer of glue with a paper backing. Trace the pattern on the paper side. Cut out roughly. Place the glue side to the back of the fabric you want to appliqué, in this case your balloon fabric, and then iron to fix. Then you can cut out the shape on the lines. This is done to ensure that the adhesive covers the whole shape, right up to the edges.


Stem Stitch with Linen Thread.

You can then position in place on a background square, mine was 12 1/2”. Remove the paper backing (you can use a pin to score the paper which makes is easier to remove) and, once happy with the position, iron to fix in place. The edges can be finished with an embroidery stitch, this is where I used Blanket stitch, but you can do a raw edge appliqué finish by simply sewing by machine a couple of millimetres inside the edge. This will, over time, fray a little but it does give a folksy feel.

Chain Stitch Detail

You could personalise this block by using ribbon, rick rack or cord for the balloon strings. Perhaps strip piece fabrics to make the balloons or add letters or numbers to personalise. However you wish to make this block the opportunities are endless. Have fun and hopefully we’ll be back to celebrating soon! Stay safe.

Not sure Merlin is impressed!