Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Cherry Birds and Running Reds

One of my favorite blocks from “Baltimore Garden Quilt”* is this Cherry Bird block. I started this one for teaching a hand applique workshop in Chattanooga, Tennessee, at the American Quilter’s Society’s QuiltWEEK event. Now I can finally finish stitching the rest of this block. Just one little problem...

I do not make any marks on my background fabric, so there are no marks remove; however, by the time a hand appliqué block is finished, it is a little wrinkled. So I rinse the block in cool water, then let it dry overnight laid flat on a terrycloth towel. Once the block is dry, I give it a little spray mist, and press it with an iron from the BACK on a fluffy terrycloth towel. (Never press the front of applique – it flattens the applique, and could cause shiny edges at the turned under seam allowance.)

But, wait! OH NO! Some of the red cherry fabrics ran! See the pink halos around the cherries? (Insert your own words of distress here.)

No worries, I think I can fix this. Back to the basin, fill with cool water and add a spoonful of Dawn dishwashing liquid (original blue Dawn shown in the photo). Swish it around, and let the block soak in that a while, maybe an hour. Then rinse, rinse, and rinse again to get all the soap out. (No wringing or squeezing which could distort the block.)

Let the block dry once again. Hoooray! The pink halos are gone. Back to the ironing board, face down on the fluffy terrycloth towel. Spray a light mist to dampen the block, and the block is ready to press.

Looks good!
Students often ask “How did you do the tiny bird’s eyes?” Here is a photo of the fabric (with a penny for scale) that I used for these bird’s eyes. I seem to collect bird’s eye fabrics. This fabric was also available in white, but it was not handy, so I needleturned the pink under, leaving only the circles.

One of these days, I will blog step-by-step how I stitch really tiny circles. But, if you were in my Chattanooga workshop, you already know!

Keep stitching,
Barbara M. Burnham

P.S. This pattern and more are available on CD in the book "Baltimore Garden Quilt" or in full size printed patterns here: http://www.barbaramburnham.com/

(c) 2015 Barbara M. Burnham. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any kind is expressly prohibited without prior written authorization.


  1. Any tips for squaring up applique blocks?

  2. I was gifted this book by a good friend. I have enjoyed every page! The bird eye fabric is to funny.

  3. I was in your Lancaster workshop, and my favorite tips were tiny eyes and skinny legs - on the quilt block, not my body. Thanks for the tip about Dawn.

  4. So glad you were able to fix the red dye run. Thanks so much for sharing your tips.
    Beautiful block , love the birds. The yellow fabric with the tape measure pattern is awesome.

  5. Gorgeous birds. And your idea for the bird eyes something to remember. Also the Dawn dish washing liquid trick. I have had the halo problem.

  6. Great post-Thank you! Haven't had to panic, yet, but now I know what to do when it happens:)

  7. Great tip about the Dawn. I wonder if it would remove pencil marks?
    Looking forward to the tip about the birds eyes. It would be lovely to take a class from you.


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