Bricks in Bloom

Last July, my brother and sister-in-law adopted my niece Molly. They received a phone call from their adoption agency on Friday, and went to pick up their one-week old daughter on Saturday! All the frustration, disappointment, heart-break and waiting were replaced with over-flowing joy and gratitude for them and our whole family. Because I am a mama to a boy (whom you will meet at the bottom of this post), living in a world of way too much cute girly fabric, I sew for Molly. The fabric in this quilt, from Oz by Sanae, with its cheer, sass, and bright whimsy, suits her and this Spring season perfectly.

My name is Tracey Jacobsen, I blog over at traceyjay quilts, and I hope you enjoy my first Moda Bake Shop Recipe. If you are new to, (or scared of) appliqué, then this is the quilt for you.  Great texture, fresh colors, subtle movement, and simple piecing make this quilt easy to love.

The pink and green fat quarters from an Oz FQ bundle
The yellow dots fat quarter
The large focal print fat quarters for appliqué section
2 ½ yards Moda Bella solids in Natural (for backing and appliqué section)
½ yd your choice of Oz print for binding (I went scrappy)
Assorted coordinating Perle Cotton in No. 8 for hand quilting

Neutral thread for piecing and appliqué
Fabric pencil for making letters and marking quilting lines
Various appliqué tools: Freezer paper, Heat ‘n Bond Lite, Heavy Starch and/or (not pictured) glue stick

¼ yd Moda Bella solids in Brown (for name appliqué)
Coordinating brown thread
PDF file of letters (Lucida Handwriting is the font)
(Thank you Julie for converting this!)

Fat Quarter cutting diagram
 (all four rows are the same)
4 ½” x 
4 ½”
4 ½” x
6 ½”
4 ½” x 8 ½”

*not to scale

Line up your fat quarters on your cutting mat, making sure you have a full 18″ height (If you do not, then make your bricks a tiny bit smaller; it will not impact the design so long as you are consistent with the width of all the bricks)

As shown in the diagram and photo, cut 4 strips at 4 1/2″ each.

You will then sub-cut those strips in to three different sized bricks: small (4 1/2″ x 4 1/2″), medium (4 1/2″ x 6 1/2″) and yes, you guessed it, large (4 1/2″ x 8 1/2″)

Each FQ will give you four small, four medium, and four large bricks.

For the next step, after cutting, all the greens went in to a bin, and all the pink went in to another.  Because I didn’t want the vertical seams of my bricks to line up, I graphed a random lay-out with the different sized bricks (see below).  

Following the graph, I picked up the bricks for each row in to a stack and sewed them together. If you could have heard my inner dialogue during this process, it would have sounded something like this: medium pink flowers, medium pink stripes, large pink packed flowers, small green packed flowers, medium dark green dots, large green flowers.  

I found working one row at a time was easier for me, because after each row was sewn, I used it for comparison in selecting the bricks for the next row down.  This way I did not have to lay out all the bricks for the whole quilt before sewing, and yet I was happy with the way the fabrics went together, and didn’t have too many of any one design bunched together.

Because the vertical seams did not line up, I pressed my seams open; I find it helps make the quilt top lie flat.  If you prefer to press your seams to the side (saves time after all), either direction is fine.

Line up your rows after pressing seams, and sew them together.

Here you can see the diagram I used for the lay-out of the quilt.  Each square on the graph equals 2″ finished on the quilt.

The appliqué section:

For your center appliqué section, use your Bella solids in Natural, a few bricks from the yellow dots fat quarter, and a couple of the light green dots if you’d like.  Cut three 4 1/2″ x WOF (width of fabric) strips from the Natural, and sub-cut them in to small, medium, and large bricks.  Sprinkle in a few yellow dots and light green dots bricks as diagrammed, or as suits your fancy.

Sew these three rows together; however, it is important that you do not yet sew these rows to the top and bottom pink/green sections of the quilt.  If you attach this to the main portion of the quilt, it will be more difficult to stabilize and maneuver your fabric as you appliqué.

Now for the fun part!

Go back and grab the fat quarters with the large focal prints.  Look at them and decide which parts you like best and may want to use on your quilt.  I left out most of the large leaves and/or any of the flowers that looked too jungle-y.  Do not cut until you have decided on your method of appliqué.

If you are new to appliqué, like I still consider myself, then I recommend you follow Natalia’s starch appliqué tutorial (Natalia from Piece ‘n Quilt). With this method, you simply starch all the areas of the focal fabrics you plan to cut out (and remind yourself how badly you need to make one of these), starch the base fabric, cut out and arrange your pieces, glue or pin on to the base fabric, and then sew them down.  (Make sure you sew the pieces on the bottom layer first, and stack up).

There are other methods of appliqué which are also effective; feel free to use whatever method you prefer.  On my blog, I’ve written up a few notes for newbies that are meant to help you get through this section of the quilt.  

After my pieces were starched and arranged, I lowered my feed dogs, attached my darning foot and free-motion stitched around them.  I had to go back in a few places where I had failed to catch the fabric, but I found this method much faster than pivoting and turning my fabric over and over.  Some of the pieces had very small curves that made it difficult to blanket or straight-stitch.  I did use a blanket-stitch to go around the letters, because I wanted them to have a nicer finish.

All the pieces in the original quilt were done with raw-edge appliqué.

After you have sewn on your appliqué pieces, attach all your rows together, and your quilt top is complete!

For the back:

Cut a piece of the Bella solids in Natural about 60″ long.  You will then sub-cut that piece in to a large top portion, and a smaller bottom portion.  It works out to about 28 inches on the top (finished), and 12 inches on the bottom, (the extra is important if you plan to use a long-arm quilter.)  Cut four 1 1/2″ x WOF strips for sashing in between the bricks.

For the pieced section of the back, use your extra bricks and separate each of them with a 1 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ strip of sashing.  Sew the three rows together and join to the top and bottom solid portions.
To finish:
Make your quilt sandwich, and baste.  To quilt, I drew lines with my pencil at 4 1/2″ apart on a 60 degree angle, then used my walking foot.  I did not quilt over the appliqué pieces when I came to them with the walking foot.
To add more texture and that very hand-made feel, I hand quilted the appliqué pieces using Perle cotton in No. 8.  If you are unfamiliar with hand-quilting, I have a few notes for newbies who are trying hand-quilting; hopefully my trial and error will save you some time.  My stitches are not close to perfect, but I love the overall effect they give to the quilt.
Lastly, don’t forget to bind, label, and enjoy!

A 50″ x 54″ quilt perfect for any sweet little girl in your life.

(This is my son, Steiger, pictured here… Just breaking it in for Molly…)

And here is the sweet little recipient herself! 🙂
If you have any questions, please hop on over to my blog, and ask!  I’d also love to hear what you think of Bricks in Bloom.