Thursday, June 21, 2018

Block of the Month 10—Sweet Pea

Thank you for your interest in our Flora and Fauna blocks! They are no longer free but will be part of a future quilt pattern.

It's hard to believe that we are already on Block 10 of this series! My husband and I (Kara) just passed our one year anniversary of being in Germany; however,  since we didn't move into our house until July, I am still discovering new flora and fauna on our walks. One of my latest finds were sweet peas growing wild.

At first, I just saw one patch and thought that maybe they were a bit of someone's garden that the birds or wind brought by, but then I started seeing them everywhere. They have a lovely fragrance and grow with abandon on the hillsides. I knew that they would be this month's block—especially since I had just made some for a different project.

Cotton Block 

I have always been a fan of William Morris and a long time ago had bought a William Morris Brights layer cake. In there, I found two colors that would be perfect for this block. The green tone on tone print, a little bit of silk ribbon, and some Weeks Dye Works pearl cotton rounded out the supplies.

Back-basting is our appliqué method of choice, so I got the petals and bud back-basted and appliquéd first, followed by the two leaves.


To make the three-dimensional center petals, I drew a 1.5" circle on the lighter of the two pinks and then cut it out, with about an 1/8-inch seam allowance.

Cut out with seam allowance

1.5" circle

Play with the gathers until you are happy with the shape
and then knot off.

I then did a running stitch all the way around the drawn line and pulled in the gathers gently until I had a gathered circle. 

Gathering the small petals

Once I was happy with the shape, I knotted off and turned the circle over so the gathers were on the bottom. I then took my needle and ran some gathering stitches through the center. 

    Once you have gathered the center, take a back-stitch
  to secure the gathers, and then attach it to the other petal.

Adding the leaves and the embroidery were the last steps. I used a green silk ribbon and a ribbon stitch for the bud and the flower in profile. A stem stitch and back stitch made up the stem and tendrils, respectively. 

Finished cotton block

Stitches and Threads Used (Cotton Block)

Stem and tendrils—Weeks Dye Works #8 perle cotton, Emerald; stem stitch and back stitch
Calyxes—Thread Art silk ribbon, color #240, ribbon stitch

Wool Block

One of the things we love about hand-dyed wool is the variation in color you can get from piece to piece. On this particular piece, one side was a darker pink than the other, so I used one side for the back petal and the other side for the front petals.

You can see the two different shades in the one piece of wool.

Sometimes we will use fusible to back our wool, but most often we prefer to use staples to hold our pieces down rather then mess with the fusible. 

Stapled and ready to stitch

I stitched down all the pieces and then began to add the embroidery. Embroidery can add so much to a project, and I tried a few different stitches to highlight the two smaller petals, but in the end what looked best was a simple stem stitch. I used two strands of a variegated floss around all the petals, and it was just what was needed.

A simple stem stitch

I used a stem stitch for the stem, this time in a #5 perle cotton, and a fly stitch for the leaves.  The silk ribbon worked well for the calyxes and in hardly any time at all, this block was finished.

Finished wool block

Stitches and Threads Used (Wool Block)

Stem —Weeks Dye Works #5 perle cotton, Dried Sage; stem stitch
Tendrils—Weeks Dye Works floss, two strands, Dried Sage; back stitch
Calyxes—Thread Art silk ribbon, color #240, ribbon stitch
Sweet pea—Weeks Dye Works floss, two strands, Love; stem stitch

Sweet peas are symbolic of appreciation and tenderness. Giving a bouquet of sweet peas to a host is a gracious way of thanking them for a good time and saying goodbye. Maybe you could make this block as a hostess gift for someone! While we will be assembling these blocks into a quilt, there are many other ways they could be used. What will you do with your blocks? We'd love to hear your ideas!