The Beary Colourful BOM: Beginners Tips

bear with button eyes

Tips to help with the Beary Colourful BOM if you are a Beginner or don’t FMQ

Red bearThis will be the last Beary Colourful post for a while (I hope). A few days ago I touched on the question of whether you can do the Beary Colourful BOM if you are a beginner.

Let’s start by saying two important things.

  1. You can do whatever you want! Just because I wouldn’t consider the bears to be a beginner pattern, doesn’t mean that you can’t give it a crack. You won’t know what you can do until you try. 
  2. But…. don’t fall out of love with appliqué if the bear poses too much of a challenge at the moment. There are parts of the bear that call for some experience and quilting is definitely not meant to be frustrating.

So, I have come up with a short list of adjustments/tips that you can make if there are parts of the bear that might frustrate you.

Beginners Tips for the Red Bear

Use Batiks

Use batik fabrics for the applique pieces. Batiks have a tighter, finer weave than most quilting cottons and this means they are more fray resistant. They also are dyed right through, which means that any stray threads are less noticeable. Printed fabrics are usually white on the back, so frayed edges show this white and are more obvious. Using batik for raw edge appliqué is a good idea even if you are not a beginner. I have been appliquéing for much of my quilting career, and I only ever compromise on this point for one thing – if I can’t get a batik in the colour I want! Batiks reign supreme for raw edge appliqué. And I would have said this even  if I had been refused for the 2018 Island Batik team!

batik fabrics
Batiks will give you the edge….. boom, boom! 🙂

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Don’t do the tiny details. Delete the butterfly’s spots, and the shine on the nose. Or add them with a few hand stitches instead.

Simplify the Bear

Remove the bear’s spiky hairstyle.  You can find an altered pdf here that will allow you to make a bear with a smooth head (you will still need the original pdf file as well – available on this post).

Change the Eyes

Substitute the appliquéd eyes for felt circles or buttons. Just promise me you won’t do this if you plan to gift the quilt to a child under 3 years old. Choking hazards should always be a primary consideration if you are making quilts for young children and babies. And always sew buttons on very securely and check them periodically. Drawing the eyes on with a permanent fabric texta is a good option if the quilt is for a very young child and you wish to avoid appliquéing the eyes. I have provided a positioning guide for the eyes in the beginners’ pdf if you choose to use buttons (or safety eyes).

buttons for eyes
I don’t have any really suitable buttons on hand today, but you could explore the huge variety of buttons out there for fantastic bear eyes.

Use a Normal Sewing Stitch, not Free Motion Stitching

Sew the appliqué down with a wide sewing machine stitch such as zigzag or blanket stitch. This should be relatively straightforward if you have removed the hair spikes and eliminated the impossibly small pieces. And sew slowly.

blanket stitch
A sample of blanket stitch around raw edge appliqué

Take a deep breath and believe you can!

I think they are all the suggestions I want to make. If you can think of more beginner’s tips please add them in the comments – that would be very helpful. 🙂

If you haven’t done a lot of raw edge appliqué before I hope you will still give the bears a go. It’s going to be a very fun quilt.

One Reply to “The Beary Colourful BOM: Beginners Tips”

  1. Thanks so much for the email with the PDF, ( I still have no idea why I couldn’t download it) I have traced, and cut around the visoflex pieces, And sorted my batiks. I agree, they are the #1 for applique. On my Bernina, I use the blanket stitch, and when I get to the narrow points, decrease the width as I go round a corner or point, The other stitch I like is the slanted blanket stitch. The best, of all this you reversed the pattern, so it is all ready to go. This, when finished, will be for a friend’s grand-daughter when the little girl has her 2nd birthday in January 2019.So the butterfly is perfect for a wee girl.

Now it's your turn.... what do you think?