Tuesday, 17 May 2011

My Production Process

How I Create Multiple Blocks

Having looked over the 4 blocks in Block 4, you may be feeling daunted with the task ahead of you.
I’d like to take a moment now and share with you what I think is the most time effective way to create multiple blocks.
I spend the most time actually selecting fabrics, so if you have your fabrics chosen - the time saving right there shouldn't be underestimated!
I look at the block, pull out some fabrics that I think would work and I start there.
I first dissect the pattern in easy shapes. So, for instance, I think leaves are an easy shape - I usually start with them, and I trace and number all the leaves.
I then decide on light and darkness contrasts in the leaf (or shape) and immediately sort the shapes by colour choice.

Then I cut them out and position / iron them onto fabric with freezer paper.

Then I trace all the stems, and so on.

Basically I create production lines based on shapes – all the leaves, all the stems, etc.

I multiply freezer paper sheets x 4, staple the sheets together and then cut 4x of everything in one cutting.

My routine starts off with spending a day on just leaves and stems and getting them cut out and assembled.

Lastly, I will tackle the flowers. I mark my pattern piece with dotted lines to determine which areas will over ‘over’ and which areas will be ‘under’ so I don’t have to think which is an under tucked shaped or a top lying shape.

Then I sort the shapes by numbers: fabric 1, fabric 2. Fabric 3, etc and put these shapes into envelopes. I stitch a swatch of the fabric on the envelope for easy viewing.

I always photocopy the block and colour in or number each segment,. That way when it comes to assembling, I can glance at my block and glance at my envelopes and know very quickly, what belongs where.  As I cut in multiples of 4, as I am cutting the fabric I position numbers straight into envelopes.

Everything is done in this kind of assembly line.

Once everything is cut out and prepared into x4’s, then I place a base pattern of the block on my light box. Over this I place my background fabric. Then I start putting the block together like a puzzle. I use light dabs of Roxanne Glue and I start with the stems and thorns first, then the vase and blooms last. The visibility is so clear that there is no guessing, everything simply slots into place.

This stage is the most satisfying as all the pieces come out of their envelopes come together.

Basically, it takes preparation and attention to detail along the way. You don’t want to waste time during the last stage of putting the puzzle together to decide to re-do a leaf or bloom because it isn’t up to standard.

Once you have positioned and glued the pieces into place, you can then hand or machine stitch into place. When this is completed, I usually add embellishments or embroidery if needed.

If I’m productive enough, creating all 4 blocks takes me a week, working 6-8 hours a day. Obviously I get distracted, have to cook, you know, the usual housewife /mother stuff I get to around here. I am one of those people, when something has to be done, I get really focused and don’t want to stop until it is completed. The great thing about this process is that whether you have a day to work nonstop or whether you work in small consistent segments, this method of producing the block lends itself well.

Of course, if you do it differently and it works for you, I’d love to hear how you do it.


  1. Thanks for this post, Esther. I'm really new to this type applique (HARD CORE) lol! and haven't made my other four blocks, but this WILL help me to get what feels a bit frightening a task, DONE! Your work is that of a master...and watching you make the blocks is really awesome. Thanks again for sharing your talent, time, and patterns.


  2. Esther, you are so generous with your time, knowledge and talent! I have saved all the BOMs but haven't had time to make any yet, but I love following your blog and admiring the beautiful work of yourself and your followers. Many thanks from Anita (Blackburn, Melbourne)

  3. Thank you so much for visiting my blog,your works are beautiful:)

  4. I did this method to some degree like yours last month. As you say it is really helpful to have all the fabrics picked out. Assembly line fashion also seems to make things easier as you don't have to reorient yourself on the next block. It all flows.

  5. I know this method but always forget to do it this way . These multi layered flowers are beautiful--cottonreel

  6. Hi Esther, it is wonderful to see how you put a block together. I love your work and collect your patterns, but life is getting in the way a lot lately. I look very much forward to doing them. Your work is sublime :)
    Hugs, Sharon


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