Hawaiian Inspired Flower Block.

Hawaiian Inspired Flower Block

Another brilliant idea from UKQU – a Flower Blog Hop. A trip from one blog to another but for us quilters with a fabulously free flower block at every stop! What could be better for us than sharing our passion for patterns…

When the call went out for people to take part I couldn’t help but offer. I blog regularly for UKQU, having joined quite early on and more recently on my own website set up whilst in lockdown. As I had time on my hands I had recently finished a sampler quilt I’ve named Doris, as a day a month workshop for those wanting to improve and learn new skills. (See what I did – Doris Day…..I know, little things make me smile!) One of the blocks I decided to include was a Hawaiian block. Hawaiian quilts use needle turned appliqué, usually quite simple with only a solid coloured fabric on a plain background but inspired by the natural flora and fauna of those tropical, Pacific isles.

Hawaiian Block in Doris, Day Sampler Quilt.

I enjoyed it so much, I then began to develop this idea further and created a wall hanging but rather than using tropical plants as my starting point, along with the method of folded design – similar to the way we all make snowflakes with paper as children, I wandered and sketched in my garden. (Which, I have to say, is looking wonderful after I’ve been furloughed for months!)

Then UKQU suggested the Flower Blog Hop, the timing was perfect. I have used an ivy leaf and geranium flowers as my starting point and this simple but effective block was the result.

A couple of pointers when making this block. I love batiks BUT they can be a little stiff and tricky to needle turn. You’ll know when you feel the fabric. I found this the hard way by using one in the wall hanging pattern which was a bit stiff. The advantage of batiks is that they don’t fray so easily as some (usually cheaper) fabrics. If you do wish to use batiks, try washing them before as this will remove the size that creates the stiffness. (Yes, you should really wash all fabrics prior to use but I can’t promise I always do.)

Thread – I love using a finer thread, 60wtg, which disappears into the fabrics, leaving a perfect finish. Grey is my normal choice as you will find that it simply disappears into the background but, for the pink geranium flowers, I did use a pink. The grey actually showed up making it a poor choice. Another tip is to use a darker shade as this will ‘sink’ into the fabric.  I also use shorter lengths than I would normally use.  There is a lot of friction when sewing in this fashion as the stitches tend to be small and take lots of turns through the fabric so a finer thread can break more easily when under this sort of action.  Another tip is to use a fabric conditioner such as Thread Magic, or beeswax. Run it through the wax and it will help stop the thread tangling and knotting.

You can see the needle coming up under the folded edge.

If you are right-handed:

Work right to left.

Using the needle in your right hand, gently turn under ¼” or so.

Finger press this with your left hand and thumb to help set the turn under.

Bring up your needle, just underneath the edge of the fabric fold.

Take your needle into the fold of the fabric that you have finger pressed and then back out the background fabric.

If you are left-handed:

Work left to right.

Using the needle in your left hand, gently turn under ¼” or so.

Finger press this with your right hand and thumb to help set the turn under.

Bring up your needle, just underneath the edge of the fabric fold.

Take your needle into the fold of the fabric that you have finger pressed and then back out the background fabric.

The idea with needle turning is to use the needle as the tool. This is where the advantage of using an appliqué or milliners needle comes in handy. The fine length of the needle helps you to turn in the seam allowance and take tiny, tidy stitches.

Another tip is to use a cocktail stick to help roll the edge under when turning an internal corner. The ¼” seam allowance is a guide, when approaching an internal corner you will find it can drop considerably. External corners may need little snips to help the fabric lie flat.

Don’t worry if it takes a while to get the hang of it. Making a small trial block such as this is perfect for practicing, and improving, your technique.

You can find the full pattern and instructions to download in pdf format… I would love to see your versions of this, and all the other Flower Blogs which you can download from the UKQU shop.

#GFBH2020

 

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