This weeks block is Dolley Madison Star and it features pattern couching as the technique. This block is directly below Spool, last week’s block. This technique is an adaptation of an old embroidery technique called Or Nue, where a layer of gold thread is laid down and then the stitching is done over it.
Although the technique is not difficult, it is time-consuming and requires accuracy in stitching. In pattern couching, a layer of base thread is laid across the entire stitching area, in this case the base is a metallic. Short, straight stitches in different colors or threads are laid over this thread, creating a pattern.
In this block the background uses a thin thread matching the metallic, so that the overall effect is iridescent. The rest of the block is stitched using thicker threads so there is a contrast in texture.
Threads used in this block are:
- DMC floss 776 (background couching thread) – no symbol over horizontal lines
- Felicity’s Garden #50 (solid color in star) – thick solid lines on chart (in center of star)
- Silk ‘N Color 065 (Desert Dawn) (variegated color in star – thin solid lines on chart
- Kreinik #16 (medium) braid 007 (couched thread, i.e. base) – horizontal lines on chart
PLEASE NOTE: The base thread needs to be thicker than usual for this mesh size because it needs to cover the canvas completely once stitched down. In general going up a size from threads you would stitch with works.
Stitch one row at a time, doing all the stitches in the row before moving onto the next row. Not only does this make it easier to do the couching, but it also makes your stitches more even. Always stitch both the base and the couching in the same direction.
This will accomplish several things. First, it will keep the metallic thread taut. Second, additional rows of metallic will not have to be moved in order to stitch each row. Finally, the next row nicely covers up the bases of the previous row’s couching stitches, which makes for a neater finish.
Needless to say, more than one needle is needed to do this technique. The main pattern of this quilt block is four sections of triangles, forming the arms of the star. There is a center section of squares.
The chart for this block is below. Click on it to see the full-size diagram.
Remember to stitch the border below this block.
Follow the project on-line: