From the Sewing Room: Dandelion Wishes Mini Quilt

Dandelion Wishes mini quilt appliqueThe Dandelion Wishes Mini Quilt: a Handiquilter group homework exercise

At our last Handiquilter meeting we were given not one, but two homework exercises!! We are allowed to combine them if we see fit, but I have had no inspiration in this direction. So I am doing them separately. The first mission, should we choose to accept it, is to do a small whole cloth design using changing thread colours as the main design element. I have put this exercise on hold for now.

The second homework exercise is to participate in a project for the upcoming SA Quilter’s Guild Festival of Quilts. The organisers of this project are asking for small modern quilted pieces of 23″x16″ in size. The theme is “modern” and the edges don’t need to be finished. The organiser has a plan to extensively trim and then finish the pieces to make an interactive display.

I have decided to participate in this second project. It gives me a small inexpensive project to do, with a deadline. Perfect for my current mission to actually do more quilting practice, and do it without breaking the bank. Hopefully, I will be able to tell you more about the project after I’ve seen it at the quilt festival in a few weeks. At the moment I am a little short on details, and I’m not sure about how much is public knowledge for sharing. So you’ll have to wait for the whole story.

In the meantime, you will have to settle for a free appliqué template of the Dandelion Wishes mini quilt I made…… I know, it’s tough right?

My Dandelion Wishes Mini Quilt concept

“Modern” to me means lots of negative space, bold (probably solid colours), improv piecing and/or heavy on the geometric shapes. I am not doing any piecing for this project. (Just a tactical decision, I quite like improv piecing.) I have decided to appliqué a bold, colourful word (the pretty kind of colourful, not the other kind!!) in the centre of a neutral coloured background. There is a clear need to confine the design to the centre of the mini quilt, due to the aforementioned trimming plan. So lots of negative space also allows for this.

The word I have chosen is “wish”. My mini quilt will have the word “wish” raw-edge appliquéd such that the “i” is the stem of a stylised dandelion clock, and I’ll have several seeds escaping, blown from the stem. Not a totally original meme I know, but I will be drafting it from scratch, and it will be 100% the way I want it.

Here is the scan of my concept drawing:

My Dandelion Wishes Mini Quilt process

Dandelion Wishes design:

I scanned my original sketch and used Inkscape software to outline the shapes.

Dandelion wishes mini quilt applique outlines
My Dandelion Wishes mini quilt appliqué design

If you would like the pdf to print this design for your own use, you can download it here: Dandelion Wishes appliqué pdf.. Don’t forget to reverse the shapes when you trace them to produce a readable design! I do ask that you use this design only for personal use, or for small-scale production of handcrafted items for sale with acknowledgement of the design source. I know quilters love to share! If you share this file, please share it unaltered, including copyright and source information. Many thanks.

Fabric choices:

In my current stash I do not have any large pieces of neutral fabrics I would consider typical for a modern background. I am definitely more a batiks and brights girl. I did find one mottled grey batik that might have sufficed, but in the end I didn’t think it would be right.

Reverse side of fabric
Using the reverse side of a fabric if it suits is a valid choice. 

So, being short of shopping time, and trying not to buy fabric for quilting practice, I have had to think a bit more laterally. In the end I have decided to use the reverse side of a fabric that I am not overly fond of. The front is a wispy gold brown colour with white roses printed on. However, the reverse is a light cream colour with a sort of dreamy, wispy quality. Not a solid, but I think quite appropriate for the wishes theme.

As for the appliqué…. again, there not many solid colour scraps in my house. I have settled for bright printed fabrics.

auditioning fabrics for the dandelion wishes mini quilt
Auditioning fabrics for the Dandelion Wishes mini quilt

Appliqué pieces:

I generally print appliqué shapes in reverse onto sticker paper (rather than tracing them by hand straight to fusible adhesive). I do this to save time. Once the fusible adhesive is ironed onto my fabrics, I just stick the sticker printouts onto the paper backing of the adhesive and cut through all three layers. Fabric, adhesive and sticker. When I peel off the paper backing for the adhesive, the stickers are removed too.

Use of stickers for applique
I use stickers for printing out appliqué shapes when I am not in the mood for tracing.

Free-motion Appliqué:

Once all the appliqué pieces were ironed into place, I layered the mini quilt top over scrap wadding, pinned it and free-motion stitched 4-5 times around each appliqué shape. I added a stitched spine to each leaf, thread painted the dandelion parachutes and seeds and signed my name. Then I added a backing, ready for quilting.


thread painted dandelion seeds
Thread painted dandelion seeds


So, by this stage, I am not at all sure that this design particularly fits the “modern” theme anymore. I only used one solid fabric in the whole thing, ended up substituting the stylised geometric triangles on the dandelion clock for a more traditional pictorial representation by thread, and didn’t improvise a thing. So I have decided just to quilt it however I want. I have chosen a wavy line design occasionally broken with circles to emphasise the dreamy quality of the background. Is this modern? I don’t know, it matters little.

This design wasn’t as easy as I assumed!

I thought this quilting design would be quick and easy, but today I am having trouble getting a nice even stitch length. I think it is a combination of tiredness (the whole family was sick last week) and the long stretches of stitching. Normally I quilt motifs that change direction frequently, so the quilt doesn’t travel far in any one move. So the awkwardness of this was a bit of a discovery, and more “practice” than I had anticipated. Which obviously is a good thing, after I have moved on from the mild frustration of suddenly wishing I had a stitch regulator on my HQ Sweet Sixteen….

Dandelion Wishes mini quilt
Be careful what you wish for…. I don’t really wish for a stitch regulator, what I really want is not to need one!

Anyway, it is now all finished and trimmed to size. Obviously, if I was finishing this as a normal mini quilt, it would need a binding of some sort. Or I could turn it into a cushion…..

Dandelion Wishes cushion pillow
The Dandelion Wishes appliqué design fits nicely on a throw pillow.

So, there you have it. If you make something with the Dandelion Wishes pattern on it, I would love to see it. How will you make it your own? Perhaps you can make it more “modern” than I achieved!!

I wish you much success! Until next time – keep Quilting Your Own Story!

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