We knew that it had to be fun. In Quilts Made Modern we wanted to show how to choose the right technique for the design you have in mind. Although the clean lines of Roundabout and the block construction made insetting the circles the best choice for that design, insetting all of the circles on Big Dots would be tedious, especially for a beginning quilter.
So, to our minds, this is the quilt that is made for machine applique. We review the freezer paper method in the book, which is perfect for circles, and we auditioned a lot of different kinds of stitches for the applique. I know that lots of people have made a living trying to convince the world that raw-edge applique and fusing is the way to go, but they have not convinced me because I want to be able to wash everything. If someone can show me a raw edge applique quilt that looks good after 10 washes in washing machine, then I’d reconsider but in the meantime, I’m a finished-edges-please kinda girl.
Although the blanket stitch is really great for many machine applique projects, we are aware that not everyone has the pricey machines needed for this stitch. We tried a straight stitch about 1/16″ from the turned edge of the circles but didn’t like the way the edge curled up a bit after washing. So we settled on a narrow zigzag along the folded edge of the circles that keeps the edges in place but doesn’t look as heavy as a satin stitch.
I love the simplicity of the design and its cheeriness. This design is infinitely customizable and the perfect project for those quilters that want to make it up as they go along. I may even try to organize a circle swap retreat sometime with a bunch of friends. I think this may be my new go-to design for friendship quilts, where everyone could donate a circle. Or how about a holiday-themed Big Dots?
PS – I have to tell you about the green ceramic creatures on the shelves of our sitting room behind the blue chair. We inherited them from my late mother-in-law. She, an accomplished weaver and humanitarian, was on the Board of the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild was established by Bill Strickland, who later won a MacArthur Genius award for his work there providing after-school arts programs for at-risk youth. The pieces are called Aliens Eating Junk Food and were purchased at a student art show held in the gallery that has since been renamed for my mother-in-law. The aliens both have neckties on. One is eating a Nutty Buddy upside down in one hand and a hot dog in the other. The other alien is eating a bag of chips. They are so charming and I just love them. Mostly I love all of the good things that come to mind when I look at them — my mother-in-law, Manchester Craftmen’s Guild and the creative minds of children. I feel lucky to live with the Aliens.