Tu-Na Quilts: Fall into a QAL Block One Released Today

Today is the first day of the block release for the Fall into a QAL.

QAL button

This QAL is brought to you by Partners in Design: Where Friends and Fabric Meet. Who wouldn’t like that?

Partners in design

It’s the same group that brought you last year’s I Wish You a Merry Quilt-A-Long.


Doesn’t this bring back great sewing memories?

Can It Get Any Cuter Than This?

We have 11 more blocks to release, so you’ll have to just wait to determine that for yourself. In the meantime, grab some fabric and cut and stitch this little guy.

tunaquilts 2a

Meet Spotty the Hedgehog.

Vanda at Quilting with Vanda designed the first block for the Fall into a QAL. You can find the free pattern here on her website until November 13, 2018. Don’t delay, download it today.

Join this Quilt-A-Long

You can join in anytime. Each 12.5″ (unfinished) block will be released every other Tuesday with the last one scheduled for release on October 16th. You are free to make these blocks any way you want. However, if you are wanting to enter the contest, be sure to read the rules found in the Enter to Win section below to make sure your entry counts. The final finished top containing all 12 of these blocks (it doesn’t have to be quilted) link up for the mega giveaway is November 13th at 11:59 EST.

I’ve chosen spots and dots to be my fabrics for this QAL. I wanted to liven fall up a bit.

tunaquilts 6a

I chose these fabrics for Spotty. Tu-Na Helper advised that Spotty needed different fabric for the ears (after I had them placed on the background but not ironed) so I switched them for a lighter brown dot. That’s a good tip: I use Lite Steam-A-Seam 2 (no affiliation) which means I can place the piece on the fabric and it sticks but is still moveable and removable until I heat set it with the iron.

I bought a few new dotty ones, raided by stash for spotty ones, and discovered some leftover freckled ones in my scrap basket. It’ll be a fun challenge and hopefully, won’t become a lesson in what not to do. You can get a glimpse of more of my fabrics on my Intro post here. I am excited to return to North Dakota for the summer especially after Nancy at Grace and Peace Quilting reminded me that I might find more spots and dots in my stash there.

Making Applique Easier

I am no expert on applique, having only used that technique on two other quilts, but I do have a couple of tips that I’ve started using which might make it easier for you.

Preventing Stiffness

One of my readers commented on another post of mine regarding an applique quilt that she had made that was so stiff it could have stood up by itself. If stiffness is what’s stopping you from doing applique, here’s what I did for this block to make sure it stays soft and cuddly.

I trace the pattern onto Lite Steam-A-Seam 2. I am frugal and traced the head inside the spikes to save on the Lite Steam-A-Seam 2 as it is expensive.

tunaquilts 7a

I will save that leftover Lite Steam-A-Seam 2 and use it for smaller pieces in another project. I just have to remember to do so or else my frugality is for naught.

Then I cut out the pieces. Notice my hand-drawn broken lines in the spike and head pieces in the pic above; these are my inside cutting lines. Yes, I cut away the excess, leaving about a half an inch from the edge on the inside and leaving some around the outside, too.

tunaquilts 8a

After removing the backing of the Lite Steam-A-Seam 2, I place the pieces on the wrong side of the fabric, press down, and cut around it leaving some fabric exposed.

tunaquilts 5a

I do this with all the larger pieces. The small pieces I treat as one piece and keep them grouped.

tunaquilts 9a

Then I place the pieces between two Teflon pressing sheets (no affiliation) so I don’t get any sticky residue on my ironing board or iron. 

tunaquilts 10a

Yes, my ironing board cover has seen some serious pressing. But don’t fear, I have a replacement ready.

tunaquilts 11a

A brand new, never used ironing board cover was a great find. It not only looks like my old one but it was 50% off day making it only a dollar.

Using a sharp scissors, I cut out the pieces following the outside lines. I’ve found that turning the fabric while I cut (holding the scissors in place) makes for smoother and rounder circles and curves rather than moving the scissors around the shape. One has to concentrate to do this as the natural tendency is to cut and move the scissors around the paper.

After all the pieces are cut, I remove the paper from the Lite Steam-A-Seam 2 and arrange them on the background one at a time. Vanda’s pattern is very clear which one to start with. Using Lite Steam-A-Seam 2 makes it very easy to reposition these pieces until I get it just right! Placing the block between two sheets of Teflon pressing sheets again, I use the iron to press and heat set them in place.

tunaquilts 1a

Preventing or at Least Reducing Block Shrinkage

Blocks ending up too small or blocks that shrink in size is another common complaint/concern that keeps quilters away from using applique. I think this is more prevalent in machine applique than by hand. I start by making my background piece about 1/2″ larger to begin with. Then I can trim it down when the appliquéing is complete.

tunaquilts 4a

Once the pieces are heat set in place, it is ready for your favorite method of appliquéing. I chose to machine stitch it down using a blanket stitch (number 1329 on my Bernina). 

To prevent or at least reduce the amount of shrinkage of the block, I carefully and slowly stitch the piece in place keeping my needle very close to the outside edge of the applique piece. Rather than moving and turning the block with my hands to keep the needle close to the edge of the appliqued piece while the machine is sewing; I stop my machine, lift the presser foot, move the whole block to adjust it so the edge of the applique piece is lined up straight with the needle and myself, lower the presser foot,  continue stitching, and repeating as needed.

Yes, it is a slow process and sometimes I only take one or two stitches and need to reposition the fabric. My blocks hardly shrink at all! I believe the shrinkage happens from moving and turning the fabric while stitching resulting in fabric bunching up and being stitched into the blanket stitch or other decorative stitch. Stitching one piece that way may not amount to much shrinkage but multiply it by the number of overlaid pieces and it could be significant enough to produce a block that is now smaller than it should be.

tunaquilts 2a

After I have stitched all around the pieces, I pull the two layers apart separating the background from the animal. Using a sharp scissors (I prefer the small Karen K. Buckley Perfect scissors) and working from the back of the block, I carefully cut away the background fabric from the underside of the block inside the stitched area. I keep my finger or my purple thang in between the scissors and the front fabric as a protection to prevent cutting into it. (If you haven’t read my hilarious but true purple thang story, you can find it here). 

tunaquilts 3a

I don’t bother cutting away the fabric inside the smaller pieces. I thought that would just be too risky.

It really is surprising that doing applique this way reduces the stiffness of the block and keeps it soft and cuddly. 

Enter to Win


If you are the lucky winner that is picked for making this block, you will receive a free PDF pattern of your choice from Quilting with Vanda and 4 half-yard cuts of assorted Boundless Fabric Solids by Craftsy.

Entering is as easy as 1, 2, 3.

  1. Everyone (You must be 18 to be able to enter to win prizes) gets to participate because International entries are welcome! You do NOT need to have a blog to enter. Hosts and designers are not eligible to win.
  2. Make a block using Vanda’s pattern. Take a picture of it. Slight variations of the pattern are ok such as embellishments but keep your block true to the designed pattern if  you are entering the giveaway. The block should definitely be recognizable as one made from this free pattern. Deviating too much (or substituting a different block entirely) will cause your entry not to be counted. If you have questions if it’s allowed for entry into the giveaway, please ask me before you cut.
  3. Post a picture of your block before 11:59 PM EST May 28th either on the linky party found on Vanda’s post here, on the Facebook page, or on Instagram #fallintoaqal.

Winners are drawn from the eligible pictured blocks and prizes awarded every other week with a mega grand-prize at the end for a finished quilt top (it doesn’t need to be quilted or bound) using all 12 of the block patterns.

See These Hosts for Inspiration and Tips on Making the Hedgehog

Thank You to Our Sponsors


Come on Back for the Next Block Release

Join me on May 29th at 12:00am EDT for the release of the second block designed by April Adams of JANDA Bend Quilts. (Update: View my version of April’s block (Block 2 of the Fall into a QAL)–the Harvest Basket here which was released today, May 29th and find the link to her free pattern.)

Don’t Miss out on My Previous Fall into a QAL Posts

Tu-Na Quilts: Big Announcement!!! (QAL introductory post with a schedule of when the blocks are released and a sneak peek at the fabrics that I’ll be using.)

(Update: View my version of April’s block (Block 2 of the Fall into a QAL)-the Harvest Basket here which was released today, May 29th and find the link to her free pattern.)

What I Learned Today:

  1. Long product names are cumbersome to type. Lite Steam-A-Seam 2 is a very long name for a product. It’s a good thing I really like it!
  2. I really do not like the taste of Strawberry Cheesecake Coffee Creamer. There really are not many things I don’t like and I am very surprised by this one since I love strawberries and cheesecake, just not in my coffee.
  3. Asking for Tu-Na Helper’s advice can be very helpful.
  4. I hold my breath when snipping out the excess background fabric inside the appliqued piece.
  5. Fall used to be my second least favorite season because it meant that my least favorite season was about to happen.
  6. Fall is becoming my favorite season as it means that time is growing closer to our returning to “Winter Camp for Seniors” and our Arizona home.
  7. The key to retirement living is flexibility.

Question: Have you done applique? Do you prefer hand or machine applique? Share any tips that help you.

Thanks for stopping by and do come again.


Tu-Na Quilts, Travels, and Eats

At this time Tu-Na Quilts, Travels, and Eats or Tu-Na Quilts is not affiliated with any businesses , services, sponsors, or products. I mention them only because they serve me well.

Linking to:

Linky Tuesday at Freemotion by the River

Let’s Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts

Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication

Can I Get a Whoop Whoop? at Confessions of a Fabric Addict

Finished or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts

Friday Foto Fun at Powered by Quilting

Main Crush Monday at Cooking Up Quilts

Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt


23 thoughts on “Tu-Na Quilts: Fall into a QAL Block One Released Today

  1. Leslie Schmidt

    Your little hedgehog is so cute! I like your idea of using all dotted fabrics. That is a very creative approach to the projects. You had some good advice for doing the appliqué. Have you ever used a stabilizer on the back to help reduce any puckering or shrinkage? I have done both hand and machine appliqué, and while I would prefer to do things by hand, it takes so much time that I end up using the sewing machine.


  2. dezertsuz

    Wonderful tips! Thanks so much. I’ve already been over and downloaded my pattern, but I probably won’t get to work on it until Friday. Boohoo! Yours is a great example. I use a fusible that is no longer made, and when I run out of my bolt, I’m going to be so sad! It’s practically weightless, easy to use, and just wonderful stuff. I don’t know why the company stopped making it. I don’t cut out the backs, because it’s already soft! I really prefer hand appliqué, but it’s hard to find the time, and all those points would be a little bit of a pain, anyway. I use the blanket stitch on my Viking with a 60 wt thread and really like the way it looks. Your polka dots are going to be so much fun!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. rl2b2017

      Hi Susan! I never thought of using a heavier weight thread for the blanket stitch. That’s a great idea, and it would make it look even more like hand appliquéd stitches! ~smile~ Roseanne


  3. rl2b2017

    Hi Karen,
    What a great post today! I am so surprised that this QAL is starting already, even though you told us recently. It still snuck up on me. Your little hedgehog is so darn cute! How can he not be with the fabulous dot fabrics you selected. I am wondering if Vanda gave this guy a name? I’m calling him Harvey the hedgehog until I hear otherwise. What a fun QAL – some great designers have come together again for this one. Thank you also for your tips, especially the stiffness one. I have found that sometimes I don’t use the Lite Steam at all and am just daring with my placement. That doesn’t always work though! And stitching slowly and lifting the presser foot is definitely helpful when appliquéing so it doesn’t stretch. ~smile~ Roseanne


  4. piecefulwendy

    That is a really cute block and, of course, now I’m wondering what’s in my stash and if I could get one made. I have projects I need to stick with, so this may go on the to-do pile. Strawberry Cheesecake creamer does not sound good, at all. I take my coffee black. Oh, that purple thang story (giggles). I may have to go back and re-read it, just for fun!


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  7. My Sewful Retirement

    You hedgehog is so darn cute — love your fabric choices! I also trim my fusible while doing applique. I buy in bulk — I sell personalized baby items on Etsy – so I do machine applique almost everyday of the week — sometimes I use fusible interfacing – it depends on what I’m making.


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  9. Susan Shaw

    I can only imagine your trepidation at trimming the fabric behind the applique. Be still my heart! I love polka dots, so you had me from the beginning. As soon as I get things back in some semblance of order, I am going to get back to quilting. One of my first projects is to probably needle turn applique folksy flowers onto a background and make it into a queen quilt. I thought I could just add more blocks. However, the way the blocks are assembled, it would be huged, so I’m increasing each by 50%. I thought it was 100% and did that and realized how big the petals are. Anyhow, I plan to use fabrics with dots. Some are prints that have tiny dots that circle to make a flower petal. I found a stripe with polka dots between the stripes. It sure added some interest for my project. I love that you used all true polka dots. I wish I had the courage to do that. I just bought a piece of orange fabric yesterday. I think I only have one piece of orange dot in my stash before that. Now I don’t think I’m going to get through all my email today. Your my second bloglovin’ entry and I’m on a rabbit trail from each. It’s fun and vicarious quilting. I’m hopeful to see more and more of your QAL. Glad you are anxious to get back to home, whether it’s first or second. Susan


  10. KJ

    Love Dotty the hedgehog. Absolutely adorable. I do a lot of applique using Soft Fuse and have never had an issue with the bulk. It also doesn’t unstick if you leave the heat on too long like others I’ve tried.


  11. Connie Kresin Campbell

    What a precious little hedgehog and your fabrics are the perfect choice Karen! Thanks for sharing.


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  14. Brenda~Songbird Designs

    Karen, this little guy is adorable! Thanks for the link to the pattern. One of my twin grandsons will absolutely love this. The other one is really into pandas!!


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