Butterflies and Wild Roses

Julie Yonge © 2011

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Since we kind of have a theme of “summer” for our July issue, flowers definitely come to mind. This block has one of my favorite flowers to do in silk ribbon; it is the wild rose. I just really like how you can play with the ribbon, adding layers of Japanese Ribbon Stitches to get a nice plump little rose with the yellow, French-Knot stamens showing on the open blooms. You can hardly go wrong with whatever you lay down since the wild rose is not as formal as the Rolled Ribbon rose. Now, I admit I am taking a little bit of artistic license here because more often than not, wild roses have just five petals.

But, as you can see in the pictures, this rose has a very nice look to it and I don’t think too many people will actually be counting the petals.

First, lay down several Japanese Ribbon Stitches; about three to four across, horizontally (I normally use 4mm silk ribbon). These will form the back of your rose. Then add the stamens right on these stitches with thread. The stamens are Straight Stitches with French Knots at the top which will peer out of the inside of the rose when it is finished. Having the Straight Stitch below the French Knot will give some dimension (or a little padding) to the center of the rose once you add the next layer of Japanese Ribbon Stitches and it holds those first Japanese Ribbon Stitches firmly in place as well. Now, add a horizontal row of three to four shorter Japanese Ribbon Stitches letting the stamens peek over them. At this point, you basically have two rows of Japanese Ribbon Stitches. A back row and a shorter front row with the French Knots in the middle. To finish forming the cupped rose shape, add a Japanese Ribbon Stitch to each side of the rose. You want to let these side stitches overlap the outside stitches on the front row a bit as you can see in the picture. In other words, when you begin your side stitch, come up at the bottom middle of the far right and far left stitches on the front row. Petals on a rose are naturally offset so that the outside petals don’t line up with the adjacent row to the inside. Note that you will not bring your side stitches all the way up to the height of the back row; but just a tad higher than the front row of stitches. This is what gives the rose the cupped shape with the petals surrounding the stamens. You can either leave the rose like this or add some additional stitches all along the bottom of the rose, leaving them loose and puffy so they appear to be the first peeled back petals of the rose. Don’t forget to add a bit of green ribbon at the bottom the rose for the calyx. I like to have the roses facing different ways, different sizes, and of course, with a few buds sprinkled in amongst them.

Now, as you have no doubt noticed, this block and article are titled “Butterflies and Wild Roses”. A summer theme would also invoke thoughts of beautiful butterflies emerging from cocoons and flitting amongst all the flowers beginning to bloom. On this block, I wanted the butterflies to really stand out. I found a piece of fabric that actually had these butterflies printed on it.

I painstakingly, as you can imagine, cut out the butterflies I wanted to use. I wanted them to really pop and be three-dimensional in some way. In order to get the colors more vibrant, I painted the butterflies with Twinkling H2O paints. These paints have a bit of mica added to them and they are a translucent paint more than opaque so I knew the details printed on the butterflies would show through and the paints would just add some color depth. Once I was happy with the colors I had added, I decided to edge them with a gold leaf pen. I knew if I wanted them to have a three-dimensional look, they would have to have more body added to the light weight cotton they were printed on. Since this block would never be washed, and the hand of the fabric did not matter in this particular case, I decided to coat the butterflies with matt gel medium. This gave the fabric the body I needed for the wings to actually stand up a bit when the center body of the butterfly was stitched into place with black thread. For an added touch of whimsy, as you can see in the pictures, I put hot-fix crystals on the bottom wings of each butterfly.

You know what we say in the crazy quilt world – embellish, embellish, embellish; you can never have enough embellishment!

I hope this will spark some ideas for your summer or flower-themed crazy quilt work. It is definitely a lot of fun experimenting with new ways of adding dimension. Be sure to share your creations with us!

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