Lori includes a pieced block with 4 leaves to represent farm crops in her book. However, I am customizing my quilt with a leaf-y border. Instead of piecing 100 leaves, I decided to hand applique them next to pieced stems. The applique borders of the quilt are my current take-along project. Since hubby and I are traveling, hand applique is perfect for quiet evenings in hotels.
An explanation for piecing the stem: My border is 6 1/2″ wide, unfinished. I cut the green print 1″ wide and sewed it between two white strips, each cut 3 1/4″ wide. I pressed the seam allowances toward the green stem. This means I will not have to push the needle through the seam allowances when appliqueing, and it also means my stems will puff with a bit of dimension after quilting.
Preparing the leaves: The leaf template included a generous 1/8″ seam allowance. I cut out about 4 leaves from each fabric and worked on placing/pinning leaves on all four borders at once to evenly distribute the fabrics/colors. I considered using a ruler to measure the distance between the leaves and to make sure the center “veins” of the leaves intersected the stem at 45 degree angles. This proved too fussy! Instead, I eye-balled the 1″ distance between the leaves and simply made sure to orient them at a quasi 45 degree angle, pinning them 1/2″ from the edges of the white border fabric. I overlapped by 1/8″ the section of the leaves that touch the stem.
Appliqueing the leaves: Since my leaf is a simple shape, I elected the “needle turn” method of hand applique. (Sometimes I use freezer paper or pellon stabilizer as an aid, but not this time.) I did not need to clip around the leaves since the curved bias edges naturally result in a smooth finish. Selecting spools of thread that most nearly matched the fabric colors of the leaves, I began stitching the leaves to the borders. It was easier to maintain the orientation of each leaf if I began at the point that touched the stem. I folded under 1/8″ so as not to sew through the leaf and the stem and continued bit by bit, tucking the seam allowance under and stitching all around the leaf.
I can’t wait to attach the borders and pieced corner squares to the quilt’s patchwork center!
If you’d like to learn more about needle turn applique, I recommend the Craft University class, Sew-on-the-Go with Needle-Turn Hand Applique taught by Deanne Eisenman.