I am having great fun making beach blocks for a swap I am in. These pictorial blocks are so fun and since I do fusible machine applique, they are also pretty fast. The first set of blocks is a light house. I found this pattern online as an embroidery (noun not a verb) pattern and fell in love with it. I adapted it a bit for applique and here is the resulting block.
The second set of blocks are jelly fish. This was from a coloring page I found on the web. It was just so cute. I often find coloring pages great sources for applique or embroidery. I love to do the machine button hole stitch on the edges and use different color threads to realy enhance the pictures and add details.
I found this background fabric in several colors on my recent camping vacation and thought the jellyfish would love swimming around in this swirly water. You can't really see in the picture, but I stitched the pieces down with variagated gold metalic thread! I wasn not sure if it would work but I increased the tension on the bottom thread and decreased the tension on the top (metalic) thread. Then I used a Metalic needle (it has a bigger hole so the thread doesn't shred) and so far, not a single broken thread. It works great!
The last block is one of my favorites. I call it Flamingo in a hurricane. Now I really didn't intend it to be a hurricane, but when I positioned the palm tree and leaves on the block, it looked like it was in a big wind.Then i realized that the flamingo was too big to stand in the water -- I didn't want him standing on the beach sand -- so I added a puddle for him to stand in and added some ripples around his legs with blue thread. I think I will add some more so it looks more realistic. I pieced and appliqued the background (sky, water, sand) then machine appliqued all the elements on top. The flamingo legs are satin stitch in orange thread with a little extra wide thread play at the knobby knees.
My big tip for machine applique. . . increase bobbin tension and use a stabilizer. My stabilizer of choice. . . . wax paper! Its cheap, easy to get just the right size, and it slides around easily on the machine bed or table making it easy to get around corners or curves. Also, a knee lifter on my machine is the key to success, as i can keep my hands on the work and my knee lifts the presser foot when I need to pivot. If you need a thicker stabilizer. . . use 2 sheets of wax paper. It pulls off when you are done really easily! What fun this was to do!!
Now that my blocks are nearly done I am going to load a charity quilt top on my new long arm, it will be the first REAL quilt I will do on my new machine. I have been practicing on scrap fabric and muslin, now its time for the real deal. I think I will do loopy stars or swirls. I have been practicing both of those. Wish me luck!! I'll post pics of the finished quilt when I get it done.