Janice Vaine’s beautiful book The Art of Elegant Hand Embroidery, Embellishment, and Appliqué goes to Lea Rae Kuntner! Congratulations Lea Rae! Enjoy.

Happy holidays to you, all the other commenters, and to everyone who reads All About Appliqué. I appreciate sharing an enthusiasm for appliqué with you so much!

Quiltmaker magazine is having a fun Countdown to Christmas over on their blog, Quilty Pleasures. It started on December 3 so be sure to scroll back and catch all the very fun articles they’ve posted full of quilty holiday goodies. I’m pleased to report that you’ll see my Plum Puddings in the countdown!

After I posted Goofy Santa, many of you commented that you felt Dana could have a second career as an appliqué artist. I’ll share with you that back in the day, before I learned computer illustration, I used to ask Dana to draw things for me sometimes. He drew the scene that won me an Honorable Mention in the 1996 Keepsake Challenge!

It’s the one in the middle, with the cat on the sofa. It reads, “Quilts are the next best thing to cats” and “Cats are the best thing next to quilts.” That’s a Dana-ism. :)

Dana also drew the plum pudding for me. There’s a story there. Dana’s mom always made plum pudding for the holidays, the kind you steam on the top of the stove. Dana never thought he liked it because it had hard sauce on top of it. A few years went by and then he found out that hard sauce was “frosting.” All of a sudden plum pudding wasn’t so bad!

Holiday cheers,
By Kay Mackenzie

I’ve been waiting and waiting for this one to come out!


Our featured book this month is Barbara Burnham’s Baltimore Garden Quilt from AQS Publishing.

My maiden name is Burnham so I’ve often wondered if Barbara and I are long-lost cousins. After all, Burnham is a good old “up east” name (my dad is from Massachussetts) and Barbara is a charter member of the Baltimore Appliqué Society, but alas we still haven’t figured that out LOL.

Today I’m turning the blog over to Barbara to tell us all about her stellar new book. It’s quite something!

Barbara M. Burnham, author:

“My dear husband thought I was crazy to buy that old worn quilt I found in 1999. “But it really does have potential,” I told him. “Try to imagine that quilt as it looked in 1848 when it was made.”

M.E.C. 1848

M.E.C. 1848

“So he smiled and said “Whatever you want, dear.” (Love that!) I wanted to reproduce the quilt and make those designs come alive again. When the quilt arrived, we had fun looking over all the appliqué, some completely gone from age and wear, and dense quilting with florals in between all the appliqué. This is the quilt that became the new “Baltimore Garden Quilt.”

M.E.C. Remembered

M.E.C. Remembered

“Flowers on the antique quilt had been stitched on one petal at a time –- one flower had almost 50 petals! But I devised a method of appliqué to do those flowers in layered sections. Over the next ten years, I traced the designs and appliquéd the blocks. (Not that I’m so slow, but also working a full-time job). Meanwhile, my friends at the Baltimore Appliqué Society cheered me on to publish the patterns.

I kept a journal noting techniques, drawings, problems, and solutions. I wondered what the original quilter might have been thinking about her world in 1848, and what she grew in her garden to inspire these flowers. Techniques on her quilt include buttonhole stitching, woven baskets, embroidery, inked signatures, and tiny cross stitched initials.

Those techniques and more are described in my book using today’s tools and methods. The companion CD includes all the patterns for appliqué blocks, border swags with 40 florettes, quilting designs, alternate sets, and an 1848-era cross stitch alphabet.

Finally, I must give credit to my friend, Marty Vint of Dogwood Quilting, for her masterful machine quilting of all the original designs from the antique quilt. The Baltimore Garden Quilt, or “M.E.C. Remembered,” will be displayed in the Author’s Row exhibit at the American Quilter’s Society shows in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Paducah, Kentucky.”

I asked Barbara to tell us more about the intriguing topic of her appliqué methods.

Barbara: “My favorite method for hand appliqué is freezer-paper-on-top with needleturn (blind stitch). I leave the freezer paper on until the piece is stitched. I don’t mark the applique fabric or background. But this quilt required a LOT of techniques! All my techniques are in this book, plus:

• A new technique for creating symmetrical multi-layered flowers
• No-mark placement
• Buttonhole (blanket stitch) and iron-on fusibles
• Reverse applique
• Embroidery stitches
• Several ways to make a woven basket
• Bias stems
• Tricks for handling small pieces like berries and bird’s eyes
• Back-basting on the sewing machine
• How to trace designs from an antique quilt
• How to find just the right fabrics, including Turkey Red
• All the quilting patterns that appear between the applique
• How-to’s for adapting quilting motifs for your quilt
• Marking quilting motifs
• How to assemble the quilt (joining blocks, joining borders and adding corner swags)
• Backing and batting, basting the “quilt sandwich”
• Quilting by hand or machine
• Preparing your quilt for machine quilting
• Binding
• Signing and dating your work, ideas for labels

Included Patterns:

• Twenty-five 15-inch appliqué blocks
• Border Double Swags and 40 Small Florettes to join them
• Quilting Motifs from the antique quilt
• Alternate Set for arranging the blocks
• Cross Stitch Alphabet from 1848

Here’s who will enjoy this book:

• People who enjoy or collect antique quilts and patterns; Baltimore style quilts, red-and-green quilts, appliqué quilts and antique quilting patterns.
• Beginning appliquérs who could learn techniques with a simple tulip block.
• Advanced appliquérs who will enjoy the more challenging and complex designs and techniques, or modify them for their own quilts.
• Quilters searching for unique border designs and ideas.

I do hope you enjoy the book!”

Thank you, Barbara! All I can say, is WOW. I mean WOW. How much more could an appliqué enthusiast ask for??

Courtesy of the publisher, I have a copy of Baltimore Album Quilt to give away to a lucky reader. To enter the drawing, leave a comment here on this post before 7:00 p.m. California time on Sunday, March 11.

The fine print: Contest open to U.S. and Canada mailing addresses only. Do not reply to your email feed; instead, click over to the blog itself and leave your comment at the bottom of the post. Good luck!

Until then,
By Kay Mackenzie

In the recent Call for Topics, Marcia wrote, “Inspirational shapes… I see your wonderful designs, and the beautiful shapes you appliqué, and I am inspired to try to draw some designs myself (isn’t everyone). But then you begin to draw and you realize your shapes aren’t perfect… so you stop. Where do you come up with your perfect shapes? How do they become perfect? Do you have a collection of shapes? What is the process of drawing a design? Are you drawing by hand, computer… help us create new designs please!”

Christy chimed in as well. “I’d like to join Marcia in asking for more information on how/what you use to design your projects. There are so many appliqué quilts that I’ve tried to draft on my own and I get so frustrated with my lack of drawing ability.”

Marcia and Christy, thank you so much for your nice words about the appearance of my designs. You’re going to laugh when I tell you the honest truth… I can’t draw worth two cents!!!

With my HAND that is.

Several years ago I sent in a pattern for the newsletter of The Appliqué Society, and when the editor saw that I use the computer to render my designs, she asked me to write an article about it. I’m reprinting that article here. It’ll gives you some insight into how this particular designer goes about it.


Designing on the Computer
by Kay Mackenzie

I cannot draw. That’s the truth… put a piece of paper and a pencil in my hands and I can’t draw a stick figure as well as a first grader! Yet I’m an appliqué designer. How can this be?

Computer illustration came to my aid. Somehow, being able to use the drawing and modifying tools on the computer circumvents the hole in my brain where sketching ability is supposed to be. Computer illustration handed me a career.

edna-broke broke

You certainly don’t have to be a professional designer to use computer programs to draw appliqué patterns. Anybody who’s computer-friendly can give it a whirl!

Here are some of the things that I can do with ease on the computer.

• I can draw perfect circles, ovals, spirals, squares, rectangles, and triangles, and move them around. I can align shapes just right. I can make shapes bigger or smaller, with thicker lines or thinner lines, or tweak a shape any way I want to.

• I can play, experiment, mess around to my heart’s content until I’m satisfied. Thank goodness for the heavenly “undo” feature! If I don’t like something I’ve done, I can make it go away instantly.

• I can take my own photo and use it as a template.

• I can drag and drop, duplicate, rotate my shapes, or turn them mirror-image – even keep the original the way it is and make a copy that’s bigger or smaller, rotated or reflected.

• I can easily add text to a drawing.

• Once I get a block drawn, I can make it an 8” block, a 9” block, or any size block with just a couple of clicks.

• And, most importantly for appliqué, I can create graceful curved lines! This last feature is the key to appliqué design on the computer. With this ability I can render any curvy motif.

scotty little-scotty

If all this sounds fun and intriguing to you, then maybe you’d like to take up computer illustration too!

In considering a computer program to use for appliqué design, what you want to look for is one that includes vector drawing tools. Vector graphics create smooth controlled curved lines, which are what you want for appliqué. Another term that’s used in vector graphics is “Bézier curves”… that’s the name of the curves that the vectors are defining. The great thing about vector shapes is that they do not “pixelate” or become blurry, no matter how much bigger or smaller you make them.

The program I use is Adobe Illustrator®, a high-end professional program with a steep price and a steep learning curve. In Illustrator, the Bézier tool is called the pen tool. It’s the hardest but most important tool in the whole toolbox. The freehand drawing tool is called the pencil tool. That one gives you less graceful shapes right off the bat, but they can be edited.

There are several other programs that include vector drawing. CorelDraw is a very good program, and from what I understand, more affordable than Illustrator.

The quilting-dedicated programs Quilt-Pro and Electric Quilt also have vector drawing tools, equivalent to the ones I use in Illustrator. These programs designed for the quilter also have some handy features that a general illustration program doesn’t include.

I contacted Quilt-Pro to ask about appliqué features. Their answer gal Linda responded with the following information: “Quilt-Pro has both the freehand curve and the Bézier curve. Quilt-Pro also features the Patch Stamp tool, which has over 50 predesigned appliqué motifs including flowers, leaves, stems, flower pots, hearts, stars, fruit, grape & leaves, birds and butterflies. You can also add your own motifs to the patch stamp tool to use over again.

“The program comes with a manual and what we call the Quilt-Pro Assistant, a help tool built into the program. It’s very useful. We have a message board to pose questions, plus email support and phone support. “

During a Quilt Market trade show, I stopped by the Electric Quilt booth to chat about appliqué drawing. EQ has the same equivalent tools, and also a companion lesson book available called EQ6 Appliqué Drawing by Angie Padilla. Here’s a blurb from EQ advertising about the book: “No prior drawing experience required. Start a beginner – end up an expert! Learn to draw vines and leaves, invent appliqué folk art, import photos to trace… draw a wedding cake with flowers and so much more!”

All of the programs have built-in help functions that explain how each tool works.

I got my start in digital media classes at my local community college. That’s another great way to dip your toes into the exciting world of computer illustration! I didn’t even have to own a copy of the program in order to learn the basics of how to use it.

sm-r-basket little-rose-basket

However you get started in computer drawing, just remember that it takes three things to succeed: Lessons, Practice, and Determination. The lessons could be simply reading and following the print or on-line manual, or purchasing one of the many third-party tutorial books available. The practice part is true of anything new. The determination is something that I pass along to you from Sue Nickels, who gave this advice in a machine quilting class when we were struggling to achieve anything like her masterful work.

It could be that you already have one or more of these drawing programs on your computer. Or maybe now that you’ve read more about computer appliqué drawing, you’re ready to choose the program that’s right for you.

Whatever program you try, learn those vector tools! My best piece of wisdom is this: Strive for the smooth curve afforded by mastery of the pen tool.



Interesting and very geeky, no? I do have a weird combination of interests in my strange brain that makes computer illustration perfect for me. It’s not going to be for everyone, though. At this point I’d like to issue an invitation to anyone out there who draws their own original appliqué designs by hand. Come on down and do a guest post for us! Give us the flip side! Contact me at kay at kaymackenzie dot com.

Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie