Monday 22 September 2014

Design Wall Monday–Oriental Applique Motifs


Remember, I mentioned that I wasn’t sure I liked my work in progress on the pattern, Fat Quarter Fizz, applied to Oriental Traditions (fabric range by Robert Kaufman).  Some of the fabrics I really like in this range and some not so much.  I got some really helpful suggestions in the comments on my last post – thanks so much everybody for all your help and encouragement!

_DSF5772Robin suggested not being bound by the pattern and changing it up a bit.  My mum took one look at it and suggested swapping some of the cream squares out for red and Claire dug out two Japanese quilting books and brought them to our Thursday night sewing group.  Since then my head has been spinning.

Claire’s book “Japanese Inspirations” has been very helpful for imagining how to add a bit of red and change it up a bit.  The book gives templates for seasonal motifs that can be used to make stencils for fabric painting, embroidery or applique.

As soon as I saw these plum blossoms in the book, I really wanted to make them and hoped they would add some oomph to the quilt.

I really like the cut out lines and how the parts come together to make the flowers.

I had a red & gold print fabric in my stash, that I bought last year at the Irish Quilt Festival in Galway, and like some of this bundle I wasn’t too keen on it (no idea why I bought it!) but it fits in with the oriental theme and I finally found a use for it!

In the book, the plum blossom is a winter flower and I learned that the motifs anticipate or herald the coming season not reflect the actual season that is in it.

 I’m probably breaking all the design rules here but I picked out a few motifs across the seasons to use. 

I have the cherry blossom for Spring, the Butterfly seems to cross over Spring and Summer and the House Martins are a Summer motif in this book.  They remind me of swallows here in Ireland which are associated with Autumn so I think I have the four seasons covered, at least in my head anyway!


I don’t think I’m going to add any more to it.  5 and 7 are lucky numbers (3 plums, 1 soaring bird and 1 turning, 1 butterfly and the cherry blossom cluster).  The design wall was great for this and helped massively with the applique placement.  I gained an extra foot in width too!  My uncle saw me using it and thought 4ft x 7ft was just a bit too small so last week he arrived up to my house with an extra 1ft x 7ft to bolt onto the frame – perfect!  I am seriously so grateful for this.

Traditional Oriental with Applique-5791

_DSF5827I’m still going to practice free motion quilting in each rectangular block so this will be an on going work in progress and definitely not a quick finish!

To do that though I need a back.  I had some leftovers from the fat quarters used above (4.5” squares) so I put them up on the design wall and thought they’d make a nice back, with maybe Kona Ash on either side?

Then I took a break, made a cup of tea and started reading the second book I borrowed from Claire. 

This is a fantastic book with lots of hand stitching patterns to learn Sashiko.  There are variations on squares, diamonds, circles and some complicated looking patterns and one stitch patterns too.  I think I’m going to have to buy this one!


_DSF5829Of course, reading while sipping my tea, I had another idea!

How about taking those squares and making a chain of 4 patches?

I could then use the blank squares in between to try a different Sashiko design.  It would make a small sampler style quilt, with coloured thread on a warm grey like Kona Ash or a beige.

What do you think – quilt back or Sashiko Sampler?

So that’s the design wall today, the head is still abuzzing with Japanese inspiration.  Think it could be time for another cup of tea!

Linking up to Design Wall Monday and
stitch by stitch


  1. Ah yes! The red works really well. What a handy Uncle you have! I'm a big fan of Sashiko myself :)

    1. PS one of the ladies in my Guild has recently bought a Sashiko sewing machine! Have you seen one? Amazing!

  2. Brilliant, Ruth. I love the first top, and I think the second deserves to be a Shashiko sampler in its own right.

  3. Ohhh, creativity is abundant at your studio! I LOVE the use of the red Asian motif appliques; they really make the quilt "sparkle!" As for the second idea, I do think you should go for the sampler!

  4. Beautiful! I love the red applique!

  5. I think the red appliques added just the right touch! I'd go with the sampler too.... The Sashiko would shine on its own near the red seals.

  6. I love the red. Like really love. You're right - odd numbers are the kings. Perfect choices. :)

  7. The red really makes the quilt top pop. Beautiful. I say you should do what you feel like. :)

  8. The appliqué is perfect. How have you made your design wall please? I seriously need one

  9. Those red appliqués really make the whole quilt pop. Those books look great, and looks like it inspired some creativity on the design wall :)

  10. Such fun things happening on your post! Love the way you thought outside the box and gave your quilt a whole new feel - all yours! Those motifs are perfect :) I'm going to have to look up that Sashiko book - thanks for sharing all these lovelies with us!

  11. The red motifs really make the quilt interesting. Great choices. I have seen the Jane Haigh book in my local library and loved it - but sadly it is impossible to buy now or at least at a reasonable price. By the way, if you have a machine embroidery sewing machine, you can do some wonderful sashiko motifs using that. Not REAL sashiko, but beautiful designs done in the blink of an eye. Got to love modern technology!


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