Wednesday, November 01, 2023

Progress on Swirling Leaves 3 for Free Motion Mavericks

Hi and welcome to week 454 of Free Motion Mavericks. I hope you had a safe All Hallows' Eve! It was uneventful here except for the snow on the ground in the morning. Of course it was all melted by the afternoon! I guess we know what's coming! ⛄ 

Swirling Leaves 3

I am making a third edition of Swirling Leaves for Danielle, my daughter's friend who got married on the weekend. 

Final (?) leaf placement

After making the first two, I wanted to see what would happen if I used a lighter background. I was a little nervous about it, until I attached the leaves. Since colour value is relative, I'm not sure that not having dark neutrals in the background made a difference since the mid-tones are dark next to the light neutrals! Here is the background, before adding the colourful leaves.

Swirling Leaves 3 background

This is what the two previous Swirling Leaves wall hangings look like.

Swirling Leaves 2

Swirling Leaves 1

As you can see, this third one is quite different - which was the point. I have to keep learning and let's face it, colour values is a huge topic and makes such a difference in any piece.

Making the leaves

I took out my many maple leaf templates and found some amazing colours in my container of hand-dyed scraps gifted to me by Elaine Quehl. What a treasure! 😊

Hand-dyed fabric scraps for the leaves

I was planning on using about the same amount of leaves that I used on Swirling Leaves 1. After cutting the leaves out and placing them on the background, I made a couple more, for a total of 8.  

Making the leaves was also an experiment. It doesn't look like I used iron-on adhesives on my first two quilts' appliqué. I've become more confident since using it more lately. Most of the leaf templates were on freezer paper, so I ironed that onto the fabric. Then, I added a backing of iron-on adhesive.  That was the simplest method. No extra drawing, and I only had to cut through all of the layers.

Ironing on the freezer paper template and
then the iron-on adhesive to the back.

I did draw the leaf onto the iron-on adhesive but only when my template was not on freezer paper.

My first batch of leaves

To choose the placement of the leaves, I just pinned them to the background. It took me a while (and 8 photos) before I was satisfied with it. Here are a few images to show you my thought process. 

In this image, the top pale leaf and the bottom orange leaf (both circled) are blending into the background.

Leaf placement - not quite right

This was getting a little better but the pale leaf is still blending in, and there are too many red leaves on the left side of the piece. The bottom red leaf was put over the brown fabric that stands out a little too much. It's still not quite right.

A better placement

The red leaves are still mostly on the left side but bringing the bottom red leaf up a bit has made a difference and the focus is drawn from the top red to the bottom red leaf. The very dark leaf has moved closer to the centre while the bottom red leaf is over that annoying gold block. Because the bottom leaf is also partially over a very pale block, it stands out more and stops fighting with the gold block.

Final (?) leaf placement

Of course this could change as I iron the leaves down, but they would likely be minor changes.

What I learned
  • Since I've been doing improv piecing fairly regularly for the last two years (with the monthly Table Scraps Challenge), I've become much quicker at putting these together. 
  • It still surprises me that value is always so present in creating. My improv fabrics are not as dark as the previous two quilts, but since I also used lighter fabrics, the mid-tones do appear darker.
  • I'm very happy with how my leaves stand out on this lighter background. Is it better? I'm not sure, but it is different and good 😊
  • Finding the fabric for the borders went so quickly, especially compared to Swirling Leaves 2. I went directly into my Civil War reproduction fabrics basket and the inner border cried out to me! Danielle is a lover of country music and this had the right vibe. After that, only 2 fabrics were auditioned for the outer border. Yeah! I love painless decisions.
  • After making the background, I re-read all of my posts on making both Swirling Leaves 1 and 2. There are a lot of learning there. I do wish that I had read them before, because I would have made the outer border strips larger to be able to use them instead of binding. However, I do have many strips cut for the binding, so it shouldn't be any trouble.
  • I'm also going to apply another of my lessons learned - I'm not going to attach the appliqué leaves today because I'm getting tired and the post is fine with just the pinned leaves on 😁. I also have to post this today to make it in time for The Joyful Quilter's ABC (Table) SCRAPS Challenge. The October colours were light neutrals. It will eventually be Quilted (letter Q).
Related links
Linking parties

Wonderful news! Swirling Leaves 3 was featured on Midweek Makers. Thanks Susan 😊
I'm joining the Tips and Tutorials on the 22nd linking party. 

Free Motion Mavericks

Last week Donnalee made three more table toppers for her guild's upcoming quilt show in May. Here's to fabric being used! 

Three more patriotic table toppers by Donnalee

Gail participated in the Sew It – Show It: Monster Mash Blog Hop with her pumpkin front door hanging. It got lots of swirls and twirls!

An improv pieced pumpkin by Gail

It's now your turn!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


  1. I was going to say that I liked #2 best, then I seen #3.

    1. LOL, thanks Marsha. Two isn't bad, it's just not quite as good. I had 8 photos in the process of choosing!

  2. You really transformed those Light NEUTRAL scraps into something special, Andree!! Thanks for linking up with the ABC (Table) SCRAPS Challenge. It's always a pleasure to see what you learn with each quilt project!

    1. Thanks so much Joyful :-) I was amazed how quickly this one came together. I don't think that I could have done better if I had taken days to decide!

  3. Je trouve aussi que ton 3e placement est très réussi. C'est un bel exercice que tu fais là, avec les valeurs de tissus, bel ensemble !
    Bises, et merci pour le partage !

    1. Merci bien Frédérique. J'ai hâte de prendre le temps de coudre les appliqués et le quilting. Bientôt j'espère. Bises et bonne semaine!

  4. When I first heard about making quilts in a series, I thought why? Now I get it. There is something to learn from each iteration and always something else to try. Your post exemplifies this perfectly.

    1. Thanks Gwyned, I totally get it. It's only those quilts that I get inspired to do differently that become a series - I just don't have the patience for it! I'm even thinking of a 4th one with different kinds of leaves...for next fall!

  5. All of your Swirling Leaf quilts look great. It's always fun to see how changing the colors/values affects the final quilt. Happy stitching this week.

    1. Thanks Kate. I love seeing those differences when a group makes different versions of the same quilt. This is a great learning experience and since I love this quilt and making improv blocks, it's the perfect quilt to experiment on...and it's not huge!!! Thanks for dropping by.


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