Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Succulent Garden Quilt

I keep saying that I'm excited, and it's true. I feel like a teenager going to her first boy band concert. (NKOTB forever, yo!)

Waiting for TLC, Nelly, and NKOTB to start this year in Dallas

Today I'll be talking about beginning the Succulent Garden quilt. I've uploaded the pattern for the applique pieces to my Craftsy account as a free download. Click here ---> Succulent Garden Applique
Be forewarned, this download does not include a full written pattern. It is intended to be used with these blog posts in order to create the quilt.

When I try to explain my process to people, it always sounds super complicated. I promise that this is quite easy. Print out your pattern pieces. In order to keep you from having to do a lot of paper taping I have designed this pattern to be printed on LEGAL size paper. If you prefer to use the freezer paper method for cutting out applique pieces, cut your paper to 8.5x14in.

All my pattern pages (4 total)
Use the completed quilt picture above as a reference for your fabric pull. In my original version of this quilt I used bold, modern prints to create my garden. I wanted to do something a little bit different this time and I have a gorgeous stack of Liberty that I won in an IG giveaway from Lynne over at Lily's Quilts  and DuckaDilly Fabrics (@lilysquilts and @duckadillyfabrics on IG). Mix it up and create something that speaks to you.

My initial fabric pull
I find it helpful to write out which fabrics I intend to use on my pattern pieces. I don't find it helpful to color on the pattern because of the method I use to transfer my pattern, see below.

Instead, I like to fold my fabric in to an approximation of each shape and lay it out together. This gives me the ability to audition fabrics without cutting into them or altering my pattern paper.

My initial fabric pull.
When I laid my initial fabric pull out I realized that there wasn't enough difference in value between my Soil and Cactus 3 pieces and that the blues in my Cactus 1 pieces would make it blend into Cactus 2. I pulled multiple different pieces and tried them out and finally settled on the pull below.

Final pull
After ironing my fabric, it was time to transfer the applique design to my fabric. I prefer to use a light box to transfer designs. I don't have a *real* light box, but I do have a clear plastic tote, a small lamp, and a pile of fabric that allows me to create something that functions as a light box.

My tools
The pile of fabric is only used to prop the lamp up so that the light shines as closely to vertical as possible.

not so vertical here, but you get the idea

Then I place the plastic tote over the lamp and, Ta-Da!!, instant light box. I actually really love this set up because it creates a work space that is just the right height that I don't have to bend over too far to trace on the fabric.Yay for back saving work-arounds!

all ready to go
I like to tape the top of my pattern down to the work space. Here I used a decorative masking tape because it was already on my table, but you could use any tape you have hand. Paper tapes (washi, masking,etc) are easiest to remove without tearing your pattern. Then I lay out my fabric over the corresponding applique shape. (This is where it's nice if you labeled your applique. I get easily confused and it keeps me from making huge mistakes)

Love that Cesar Liberty fabric!!!
I should also note that I position my fabric face up. This is helpful if you want to fussy cut around a design in your fabric. If you are having problems hold the fabric steady over the pattern, pin the fabric to the paper at the top and bottom of the design.

Now, use the fabric marking pen of your choice to transfer the applique shape to the front of the fabric. Here I am using a Frixion pen.

This is raw-edge applique, so you don't have to be super accurate. I really wanted the directional print to run vertically on my Cactus 5 piece, but my Fat 16th didn't quite cover it. I'll be missing about a centimeter of pattern in my cut piece, but I can change the position of the layout slightly to accommodate for the shortage.

Don't sweat the small stuff!

When I need to transfer a design to a dark fabric that is difficult to see through even with the light box, I use a marker to highlight the line of the applique pattern. I have found that an orange Sharpie works best for me. I don't see yellow highlighter well on the light box.

Orange sharpie on the outline of my shape

I then use a chalk pencil to trace out the design on my fabric.

tracing, tracing, tracing.
After all the pieces have been transferred to fabric, I cut them out and and lay them out on my fabric base (or the quilt top of your choice). Here I have changed from the natural linen to Essex yarn-dyed in black just to see if I liked it. I may audition some other fabrics for my base. It might also be fun to add a paint wash to my base fabric for added dimension. You could even do some patchwork to create your base. Use your imagination and run with it. Don't worry about securing anything down right now. We're just enjoying the view.

Doesn't it feel good to see it all in place?

That's all for now. We will discuss securing applique pieces and quilting options in my next post. I'm so glad that I have the opportunity to share what I love with you.  Remember, if you decide to give this a go, tag your photos to IG and Twitter with #52Qsucculentquilt.

Post by Raeann - Week #28: 

Raeann is a wife, mom, nerd, nurse, and obsessive creator from Fort Worth TX. She loves reading, wearing glasses, and Nathan Fillion, hates mosquitoes and waiting for Sherlock to return, and is hopelessly addicted to social media. Follow along on Instagram at @jrshules.


  1. Thank you SO much for this, Rae! I've always loved this applique and am stoked to get to do it myself. Your process makes so much sense in my head. This project is going to rock!

    1. Yay! I'm so glad it makes sense to you. Let me know if there's anything I can do to help :)