In 2011 I designed and made this small "Fly Free" wall quilt.
It was a response to some deep seated regrets I had in my life, and a statement to myself that it was time to fly free of them.
Recently my husband and I have been reflecting on the unwise paths we've traveled and how the 'fruit' of those decisions can be quite bitter. We could feel ourselves sinking into a muddy river of regret and sorrow again, even though those decisions took place a very long time ago.
Times of inner examination of the past usually trigger a slide into depression, and that's exactly where this led me once more. But something is different these days.
I am aware of depression's bony fingers reaching into my mind and emotions and though they still gain access, it is only temporarily. I acknowledge the depth of my grief and pain, and I allow myself to feel it...and then I get angry at it. Really angry...the kind of angry where you hope your neighbours aren't home to hear your long and aggressive rant at the uninvited intruder, Depression.
I cry out to God, I cry out to myself, and then I just cry.
This week Depression left within a few days, gratefully his visits are much shorter than they once were.
I'm not going to tell you that facing Depression head on the way I do now is going to help you the same way, because I know for some people it's too hard and depression overpowers them, leaving them crushed and powerless for the longest time.
What I can tell you is that when you're out of the pit and experiencing 'normality' surround yourself with things that lift your thoughts higher, and inspire you to take hold of life and love it for all its worth. God gave me a key to help myself through the darkest times, and He is faithful to carry me when I can't carry myself. This design, though it may look difficult, is actually quite simple and can be changed around to suit what you have on hand and your skill level. The key is very personal to me, my symbol of being free from the cage that life had me trapped in.
I hope as you make it that you fill your heart with it's message ~ FLY FREE dear friend.
Finished size: 13 x 16 inches
When the idea formed for this wall quilt I gathered trinkets and lace, beads and ribbon, and favourite fabrics; then I played around with them until I knew what I would use...see what you have that can come together for your version of "Fly Free".
Here's what you will need to make it like mine...
· 1 fat quarter of pale blue rose tonal fabric
· 14 x 17” rectangle of backing fabric
· 1 fat quarter deep rose tonal fabric (bird body and binding)
· 1 fat 16th rose on cream floral fabric (bird wings and tail)
· 3” square cream/brown floral fabric (padlock)
· 2 metres (yards) 1¼” wide decorative beige lace
· 1 metre (yard) pale blue silk ribbon
· 1 olive green tassel
· 1 pre-made 1” diameter deep pink rose with leaves
· 1 pre-made crochet lace butterfly
· One, 1¼” diameter doily flower
· One, 1¼” pearl vintage button
· One pair of tarnished-look gold wings (can be found in craft stores)
· One ¾” crystal tear drop
· One, 10mm pearl bead
· One, 6mm pearl bead
· One, 4mm pearl bead
· Six, pearl seed beads
· Two, rose seed beads
· Anchor stranded embroidery threads, 1 skein each of Medium Beige (831), Dark Beige (832), Rose (896)
· One, 15 x 18” rectangle of fusible Pellon
· One, 15 x 18” rectangle Whisperweft, Weaveline, or preferred fusible fabric stabiliser
· Vliesofix for fusible applique
Applique & Embroidery:
NOTE: If you have never done this type of applique before please watch my step by step tutorial HERE before proceeding.
1. Trace the reverse bird templates, and the reverse padlock template to the smooth side of your Vliesofix, leaving ½” between each of the shapes.
2. Cut around each traced piece of Vliesofix leaving ¼“ buffer outside the drawn lines.
3. Fuse the padlock shape to the back of the 3” scrap of brown/cream floral fabric.
4. Fuse the wing and tail shapes to the back of the cream and rose floral fabric.
5. Fuse the bird body to an edge piece of the deep rose tonal fabric.
6. Cut out each fused shape on the traced line.
7. Lightly draw with a pencil a rectangle, 13" x 16” in size, onto the centre of your fat quarter of blue floral fabric. You will have to imagine another border inside that of 1¼” all round as this is where the lace will be towards the end.
8. Using the photo of “Fly Free” for placement, peel the Vliesofix off the traced shapes and lay in place within the rectangle. When you are happy with them, fuse in place.
9. Trace the key from your pattern sheet to sit ¾” below the right hand edge of the birdcage. Again, see photo for placement. Trace the sun beams and the wording.
Fuse the Pellon behind your prepared quilt top.
10. Blanket stitch around the bird’s body and wings with 2 strands of Anchor 896 (Rose).
11. Using your pattern sheet and the photo below for reference, draw the bird’s eyes, beak and legs onto the body using a white pencil.
12. Using 2 strands of Medium Beige (831), make French Knots for the eyes, satin stitch the beak, and backstitch the legs.
13. Lay the block over the birdcage shape on your pattern sheet, and draw the birdcage just behind the bird. See main photo for
14. With 1 strand of Dark Beige thread, backstitch the outline of the birdcage and the sunbeams.
15. Blanket stitch around the padlock with 2 strands of Dark Beige (832). Using a fine brown pigma pen draw a keyhole for the padlock, using the pattern sheet for reference. Backstitch around the shape of the keyhole with 1 strand of Rose thread. Satin stitch inside the keyhole with 2 strands of Dark Beige.
16. Using 1 strand of Dark Beige (832) chain stitch around the decorative top of the key. Using 2 strands of the same thread, backstitch around the traced line of the key shaft; then satin stitch inside the key shaft.
17. Using 2 strands of Rose thread, chain stitch the words, ‘Fly Free’.
18. With 2 strands of Rose thread, satin stitch the little circle above the key shaft.
19. Stitch a pearl seed bead in place with 1 strand of Medium Beige (831).
20. Stitch the green tassel down at the top of the key with a few stitches in matching sewing thread. Carry the tassel across to the left and sew in place ½ way along with a few stitches in a matching sewing thread. Sew the bulb end of the tassel in place from behind with a few strong stitches.
21. Sew the rose in place over the edge of the tassel. Stitch from behind.
22. Sew a seed bead into the centre of the top 3 rings of the birdcage hanging chain. Sew the crystal in place using a pearl seed bead for anchorage, and add the 6mm pearl bead above it.
Note: I tea dyed the butterfly before using it because I wanted an aged look to match the scene of Fly Free...
23. Secure the butterfly to the right of the crystal on the birdcage by sewing the rose seed beads at the end of the antennae of the butterfly, two more pearl seed beads at the bottom of the wings, and some hidden stitches at the top of the wings and through the body.
24. Make a mark in the middle of the bottom edge of your rectangle. Make another mark 3¼” up the left and right hand sides from the bottom corner of the rectangle.
25. Starting from the top right hand side and left across the top, pin your lace in place inside the drawn line of your 13 x 16” rectangle, mitring the corners as you go. Pin the lace down the left side until you reach the pencil mark and mitre the corner before bringing the lace down to the middle bottom marker. Pin it here at the middle.
26. Repeat the process up the right hand side and finish where you began.
27. Gather the lace at the middle bottom edge with a couple of stitches.
28. Hand stitch the lace to the quilt top along the inside edges using a running stitch and a sewing thread that matches the colour of the lace.
1. Fuse the backing fabric to the rear of the Fly Free quilt block.
2. Trim the block along the 13" x 16” drawn border.
3. Make your binding by using three lengths of 2¼" wide strips from the fat quarter of deep Rose tonal fabric (same fabric you used for the bird body). For instructions on making and attaching binding please see this tutorial of mine.
4. Sew the binding in place around the block, mitring the corners as you go.
5. This is the time to add a hanging sleeve. You can use the leftover binding strip if you like, or use a wider piece of fabric if you're going to hang the quilt using dowel and not a wire hanger.
Fold in the ends of a strip, fold in half lengthways and press, sew in place along the middle top back of the block.
6. Turn the binding to the back of the quilt and slip stitch in place with a sewing thread that matches the binding fabric.
7. Sew the gold wings in place securely.
8. Sew the pearl button over the top of the wings.
9. Sew ribbon bows in place at the sides (as seen in the photo), and the small doily flower with a large pearl bead in the centre at the bottom point. I used very aged ribbon, perfect for this project.
You can download all the pattern pieces here, and in response to your comments the other day I've added the entire tutorial to the pattern.
Just out of curiosity, would you make this for yourself, or is there someone you care about that "Fly Free" would be perfect for?
I'm sending each of you a very BIG hug today,