Thursday, August 2, 2018

Block of the Month 11—Bellflower

A field of wildflowers just for the bees!
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.

We are coming up on almost a year of stitching the flora and fauna that I (Kara) see over here in Germany! It has been so interesting to see what new wildflowers pop up along the way; or what insect or bird emerges as the landscape changes through the seasons. I am learning new things every day as I walk through the countryside. Something I recently discovered was that some local farmers wait to cut the hay until the wildflowers have finished blooming in the orchard fields. Why? Because it gives the bees more time to collect what they need from the flowers. In more than one location, I have noticed entire fields of intentionally-planted wildflowers. This careful consideration of the bee population is wonderful—and certainly needed.

As spring and summer have rolled along, the stitching choices have been plentiful. It is hard to pick what to stitch each month! This month I chose the bellflower, as it has been on display in a variety of forms. Some varieties are quite large, while others are delicate but hardy.

Along the forest path
A close-up 

A different variety, found bravely growing on a mountaintop castle

Cotton Block

This month's block is simple in its design and will focus on a couple of new stitches for the stems. It will also give you a chance to work on those pesky inner and outer points. Gathering the supplies for this block was not too difficult, as I only used one piece of fabric—a piece of hand-dyed, marbled fabric was perfect. Some silk ribbon, hand-dyed wool, and perle cotton, and I was ready to get started.


The flowers are appliquéd and my embroidery lines are drawn.

For the calyxes of the flowers, I used a 4mm silk ribbon and made 5 ribbon stitches on the flower and two straight stitches, horizontally at the top of each flower. 

To keep my ribbon straight stitches straight, I put my finger or a pencil
in the loop to keep it smooth before pulling it all the way through.

The two straight stitches at the top are on top of each other.

Using a #5 perle cotton, I created the main stem with the Palestrina stitch. (Click here for a great tutorial by Mary Corbet.) I placed my knots close together to get a nice thick line.

The Palestrina stitch

Use a stem stitch to attach the flowers to the main stem.

The finished block

Stitches and Threads Used (Cotton Block)

Stems—Palestrina stitch and stem stitch; Oliver Twist Fibres, blue/green, hand-dyed, #5 perle cotton
Calyxes—Ribbon stitch and straight stitch; Thread Art, 4mm silk ribbon #629
Petal Lines—Stem stitch; Painters Threads wool, Kirchener

Wool Block

For the wool version of this block, I used a light purple scrap piece that I had laying around. The ribbon for the calyxes was a beautiful hand-dye from Thread Gatherers. Since I was going to use an interlaced chain stitch for the stem (tutorial here), I needed two different thread colors—a light green, #12 perle and two strands of dark green floss.

I began by stitching down the wool flowers, and then I marked my stem lines. The interlaced chain is done by making the stem with a chain stitch in one color and then interlacing the chain stitches with a second color—first going down one side and then the other.

Interlacing the right side

The effect here is subtle but it adds a nice dimension.

Once the stems were finished, I added the petal lines with two strands of floss in a stem stitch. After that, I made the calyxes in the same way as the cotton block, and just like that, the block was finished.

The finished wool block


Stitches and Threads Used (Wool Block)

Stems—Interlaced chain stitch, chain stitch, stem stitch; Weeks Dyeworks, Juniper, 2 strands, Painters Threads #12 perle, Turner
Calyxes—Ribbon stitch and straight stitch; Thread Gatherer, 4mm silk ribbon, SR4 O25
Petal Lines—Stem stitch; The Gentle Art, Blueberry, 2 strands

As you can see from the previous photos, this flower comes in all shapes and sizes and is a lovely pop of blue/purple in the landscape. Hopefully, you will enjoy stitching this simple little block, and you will give the new stitches for stems a try!