Tulips in the Field

My spring project done on my Janome 11000 embroidery machine is finished.

I downloaded the pattern from Sweet Pea Embroidery Designs for this project. I participate in their monthly Facebook group challenge, and they offered a nice discount if you used the coupon code found in the group. As the month of March progressed, I kept seeing all the great projects being posted. I got on board a little late in the challenge to participate for the prize, but did get the discount.

As I have said before, you know when you use a Sweet Pea design with multiple panels/blocks, that it is going to take you some time, but it will come together very well. You may remember my posts about that Knitting bag or the Casserole Carrier from a couple of holiday posts.

I knew before I started where I wanted this project to be hung, and what my size limits were going to be. I selected the 7×7 block and used my 8×8 hoop on my Janome 11000 machine. Hubby and I scrolled through pages of completed projects on the Facebook group, and we both agreed that we liked the projects that didn’t use a white background fabric. We both agreed that a light blue would really make the tulips stand out. Hubby does have a good eye for these things and I like to get his buy-in since we are going to hang this in our home.

There were 8 blocks in the project, and I started by cutting the batting squares for the blocks and making a big stack. Then I dug out my little plastic baskets from Dollar Tree, and started selecting pieces in my scrap drawers. The drawers are arranged by color and I picked a variety of fabrics, for the tulips and the leaves. Once the bits were ironed, into the little baskets they went, ready to be used. Some of my blue back ground fabric came from the scrap drawers and some came from the “yardage” bins. I used 3 different fabrics in my backgrounds. It was fun picking the “right” fabrics for each of the tulips and I did my best to keep the green fabrics straight. The leaves and the stems continue through the blocks.

First two blocks done
Block 1 & 2

Block # 1 & 2 were really the hardest to do. When I am working on a machine embroidery project, I like to “pick my colors” for both thread and fabrics, and keeping them straight for the subsequent blocks was important. The block in the photo above on the left had 3 background fabrics , 3 leaf fabrics and multiple colors for stems. I use a “grid” to keep my threads straight. I label the “name” of the thread and set the spool in the grid box. (My machine might call for “pine green”, and give a number, but I might use something completely different on the first run, so I want to make sure that I always use the same thread when it calls again for “pine green”).

block 3 in progress
Block 3 in progress

Essentially, when you work on this pattern, you start off with a batting square tacked down on your cutaway stabilizer, then you trim to the tack down line. 48 steps later you finish the block. My machine kindly tells me how many “minutes” of actual stitching time. I am set at 600 stitches per minute speed. Almost every block in the pattern had 40+ steps and at least 60 – 70 minutes of stitching time. That doesn’t take into account the time to do any of the trims, color changes etc. On average, each block took 2 1/2 – 3 hours total to create.

Working through a block
3 backgrounds in Block 4

You can see in the photo above, there are 3 background fabrics in this one block, stems that connect with the block above and below, and leaves that connect below as well. All those curvy bits were trimmed after tack down stitches were done. Applique duck bill scissors and those curve tipped snips really help in trimming while the block is still “in the hoop”.

block # 4
Block 4

You can see how the stems look like they go “through the block” in Block 4. The larger tulip has about 5 fabrics in it. (Remember this is a 7×7 block total size). Using scraps for the flower petals was great, and pulling a big variety of colors to start with helped. I starch the scrap pieces pretty well before I cut the size I need for the petal. The starch helps you get a cleaner trim. It was a challenge finding scraps “big enough” to use for the leaves in the first 4 blocks.

It took me 5 days to get this project completed. I worked 3-4 hours each day on it, and found it fun to watch it grow.

First 4 blocks completed
First 4 blocks completed

As I made progress through the blocks, I kept the other blocks laid out on the nearby cutting table and kept in mind the fabric choices made on previous blocks while I selected colors and fabric for the next block. All in all I think I struck a nice harmony. Many of the fabrics make an appearance more than once.

All 8 blocks made
all 8 blocks made

Once the blocks were all stitched and trimmed, the assembly of the blocks took place. The 68 page PDF booklet of instructions had you join them in rows. I did that, but had trouble lining up the vertical stems. I ended up taking them apart and joining them in 2 columns for a better transition.

joining the blocks
Joining the columns

I had better success this way, using pins to locate connection points and easing the pieces in together. There are only a couple of spots where the join isn’t as satisfactory as I would like, but overall I am pleased with the final project. I added a layer of very high loft poly bat between the top and the backing to give it a softer look. (There was cotton batting in each square during the embroidery process). I did “quilt in the ditch” between the rows and down the center, and around the edge to secure the batting and backing. I did deviate from the instructions a bit with the method for backing and binding. I dislike backing that is pulled to the front and used as binding. I am not confident in the method and I chose to make my own binding

Overall, a nice project. I also put a hanging sleeve on the back instead of tabs, and it slid quite nicely on my 12″ hanger. The overall dimensions are 14. 5″ x 28″.

Tulips banner

I decided to stitch out a label for the back on the embroidery machine while I was working on the binding. Of course, I used my favorite method, “Susie’s Magic Binding”. I use that type binding almost exclusively, as I hate to hand sew binding, and I like the piped edge.

Label for the project

I got the label hand stitched on and the hanging sleeve stitched down! Project complete, banner hung!

Tulip wall hanging
Hanging in the archway between the dining room and living room

I love hanging things in the archway between our dining and living room. This was a fun project to make and I love how it turned out. I’m really glad I went with the blue background as well.

Now, for the all important #STASHBUSTER “yardage in / yardage out” count during March. I count this project as 1 yard for background fabrics and backing, 1 yard for the assorted leaves, flowers, binding, for a total of 2 yards. Thanks Carole https://frommycarolinahome.com/2022/03/04/stashbusters-challenge-march/ . Keeping track, one project at a time with using up my stash.

So, I have a fall wall hanging, now a spring wall hanging, and last month I finished my beach project. Must be time to get restarted on that Lori Holt Christmas Quilt project. I have a lot of the blocks made, but have big ideas for a setting and there are a couple more blocks to make to get the size I want. Hey, a project in progress for two years has lots of parts. It’s fun to finish up these smaller projects in under a week, so I feel like I have accomplished something, before I dig in on a long haul project.

What are you working on in your sewing / crafting zone?

22 thoughts on “Tulips in the Field

  1. Hi Mary, what a great project & a beautiful finish!
    Just started using my embroidery attachment on my machine for quilt labels & have a larger (but simple) project lined up. You are quite the inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Cheryl. You can’t go wrong when you get a product from a quality company like Sweet Pea designs. I have several others that do equally good work when they digitize and it makes the embroidery machine a joy to operate. Looking forward to seeing what you are doing.

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    • Thanks for taking time to comment here Nikki. I appreciate your kind words. I don’t often do the monthly projects, but I kept seeing everyone’s projects in March and knew this was one I wanted to do. Finished to late for the monthly drawing but really enjoyed the process and final result.

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    • Thank you Melisa. You get a high quality digitizing product from Sweet Pea, with outstanding directions. Honestly, once I have done one or two of the blocks, I stop looking at the instructions and just follow along on my machine. It has a great screen and I can tell easily what’s coming up next.

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    • Thanks for stopping by. The project is quite a lot of fun, and the beauty of it is that it can be broken down “block by block”. My hubby says that when I turn that embroidery machine on, I get in the “zone”. When it was stitching the stems, I was able to walk away and work on something else. Some people on the facebook group used a single background fabric and a single fabric for the flowers too. Using a nice batik for the flowers that has lots of shading would work, and save a lot of “trimming” and make it go a little faster.

      Liked by 1 person

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