Where It All Started



I had been reading some blogs lately that were doing show and tells with Baltimore Album applique and it reminded me of where all of my madness began.  I had been warned that Baltimore Album was not for the faint of heart and one must have YEARS of experience before even thinking, no less, of doing one. ” Ha!”  I said, “a challenge?  bring it on”.  In all honesty, I get bored with anything “fast and easy”.

Although I have this soccer mom exterior, I am the rebellious type.  Tell me I can’t do it, and I will show you I can even if it kills me.  So having very little and truthfully, non-existent, experience with hand applique, I signed up for a multi-day Baltimore Album applique class through my local quilt shop.  Well let me tell you, I was in my element.  Obviously my skill is not as refined as it is now, but you can see I was already not content to have mine look like everyone else’s quilt/block.  This is where I discovered I could really take applique to another level with detail.  I never looked back.  Oh and I didn’t worry either about my skill level, I knew it would catch up eventually with practice.




So just for you dear blog readers, I have dug up those first applique blocks.  I never completed the set because my mind had already raced on to creating possibilities with my own designs and patterns.  I also was not especially enamoured with my color choices. 

The strawberries and the bottom two corner motifs were added by me to the original pattern of what I thought was a rather plain reverse applique heart.  I don’t like inking details (they remind me of embroidery placement markings left naked), so I did my own details with embroidery, which you didn’t see being done at the time I did these.




 Next I altered a vase block. This is where my trademark tendrils first appeared and I know I added the stuffed berries, ladybug and the bird, other than that I can’t remember without going and looking it up.  Quite frankly, I don’t want my coffee to get cold while I go do that.




I am happy to report that I have greatly improved on all of these types of details. 




I can see I went to town with changes on the cornucopia block.  I added the Iris, butterfly, bee and whatever else that I seemed to get carried away with.  I must say though, I do like my butterfly.  Can I say that?




I know there is a fourth block but I have no idea where it ran off to.  Too ashamed?  Anyway, this is where my brain turned on the juice and saw all of the possibilities for detailing applique with embroidery.  I have only gained more interest and passion as time went on.  As my skills grew, I could do more and more intricate designs and I am still loving it!

I hope you enjoyed my humble beginnings with applique.  Oh and I am not superhuman with a needle, I just refuse to let people tell me what I can and cannot do!  LOL




all content ©2009 Sandra Leichner all rights reserved.

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About Sandra

I am an Author, Designer, Illustrator and a major international award winning quilt artisan. I love working with fabrics and threads and they have become my medium of choice.

6 thoughts on “Where It All Started

  1. What fun to see this! Your work was lovely even in the beginning. (And yes, you can say that about your butterfly 🙂 ) I must tell you how glad I am that you are so passionate about applique & embroidery– hopefully you will continue producing your inspiring, extraordinary creations (and not abandon applique for some other form of art). Thank you for sharing.

  2. WELLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL ! I can’t say that I’m surprised that your first blocks were amazing !

    I can see your eye for great artistry ! From what I have seen of ( needle turn )beginners work , this is quite good.

    I remember how clumsy I felt when I first started.

    It’s so relaxing when you have the skills down pat, but your creativity was there from the start and if you did those today it would still not make them look bad .

  3. I think it really helped that I was taught really good garment sewing skills early in my childhood. My mom, who is an excellent seamstress, was our 4-H group leader and I learned how to sew very well, especially by hand, from her at a young age. I believe that gave me a great advantage when I took up hand applique. I had already been embroidering since I was 12 so there was no learning curve there.

    My mom never allowed me to justify or excuse sloppiness when it could be done right with a little more effort on my part. That lesson is imprinted on my brain. Ya think? 🙂

    Ok so maybe there was this irritating neighbor girl who also was in 4-H and was a robotic perfectionist and driven by her mother to sweep the champion ribbons. She drove me to try and humble her in 4-H competition (I never did). In the process I developed really good skills in that pursuit. Hmmmm, is that a story for the blog? LOL

  4. Actually Ms. Frances, I abandoned Botanical Illustration and watercolor & Acrylic painting for quilting! 😉

    I was talking to my mom the other day and explaining to her that when I see a color, I see all of the individual colors separated like a prism to create that color, instead of ONE color like everyone else. Not all artists transition well to quilting and fabric as a medium. I think this unusual ability to see the separation of color in the fabrics is what makes fabric and thread work for me as my “paint”.

  5. Fascinating. I can’t imagine what it would be like to see colors that way. Do you still paint or do botanical illustration?

  6. I haven’t painted since my first child was born. So far applique has satisfied my creative urge in that direction and only once in awhile (fleeting) do I think of going back to painting. I think it is much more challenging and difficult to use fabric as the paint. The tactile part of it is an added bonus for me. 🙂

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