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Flame ON!

Good morning quilters and welcome to Swan Amity Studios here in the beautiful Sonoran Desert! There are few places in the world more unique and rewarding to visit. My studio faces my lovely backyard, filled with native plants and all of the northern mountain ranges ringing our valley haven.

We love to plant torch cactus in our yard and in the summer they stun us with flowers often larger than the plant itself. Those gorgeous blossoms were part of the inspiration for my block creation. Often the blooms are so incredible they almost appear to be artificial.

Today we’re going to bebop into the studio and take a peek at how to turn your Living Flame block into a lovely 16 inch decorator pillow.

When making my block, I start with choosing a background and marking the centering lines. Then I choose a color palate. In this case, I wanted those bright reds and orange-yellows I like best in my yard. I paired them with two shades of green. Today I’m working with fabrics from Hoffman’s 1895 Bali Batik Watercolors.

I love how many shades their colors are available in and how easy it is to find them in quilt shops around the country.

When choosing colors, I like to cut out my pieces and then lay them out to test and see if I should make any changes before I start preparing the pieces and stitching. I also lay examples of the fabric on the background and test to see if any pieces need a lining fabric in order to stay bright and beautiful in the final piece.

Since I used a black background fabric, I decided to make lining fabric pieces for all of the orange-yellow pieces to help them maintain their full value of color.

With a tracing of my pattern positioned underneath my background, I use a Wafer Lightbox from the Daylight Company USA to position my pieces. The Daylight lightbox is strong enough to allow me to see my pattern lines through the black background fabric. The layering of the leaves and petals makes it easier to start from the outside of the block and work my way into the center.

Here you can see how the black would discolor the orange-yellow fabrics if we didn’t add the liner fabric you see ready next to the piece. When the lining fabric is positioned inside the piece it prevents the darker background from showing through.

Once I have completed my block and squared it up to measure 12 ½” x 12 ½” I am ready to cut the materials for my pillow.


From the Darker Green, cut 2 rectangles 1” x 12 ½” and 2 rectangles 1”x 13 ½”.

From the Lighter Green, cut 4 rectangles 1” x 13 ½”.

From the Black, cut 2 rectangles 2 ½” x 13 ½” and 2 rectangles 2 ½” x 17”.

From your pillow back material, cut two rectangles 12 ½” x 16 ½”.

Directions for making the pillow top:

1. Stitch the 2 rectangles of the darker green measuring 1” x 12 ½” to either side of the block. (I like to piece with a seam guide to assure a perfectly accurate quarter inch while stitching.) Press toward the added border.

2. Stitch the remaining 2 rectangles of the darker green measuring 1” x 13 ½” to the top and bottom of the block. Press toward the added border.

3. With a hot, dry iron press the rectangles of lighter green fabric in half lengthwise to make a flange.

4. Pin 2 of the pressed green flanges (raw edges to raw edge) to either side of the block and stitch into place using a scant quarter inch seam.

5. Pin the remaining 2 flanges to the top and bottom of the block and stitch into place, again using the scant quarter inch seam. The result is a center that looks like you made tiny seams without all the fuss of actually making tiny seams!

6. Stitch the two rectangles of black measuring 2 ½” x 13 ½” to either side of the block (returning to a true quarter inch seam. Press toward the black border.

7. Stitch the remaining two rectangles of black measuring 2 ½” x 17” to the top and bottom of the block.Press toward the black border.

8. Cut a square of backing material 18” x 18” (any scrap fabric will do) and a square of batting 17 ½” x 17 ½”.

9. Sandwich the pillow top with the backing material and the batting.Pin as necessary.

10. Quilt your pillow top as desired.I chose to use free motion in my domestic machine, ditching the applique shapes, making bubbles in the black around the flower, and adding some green leaves to the border.

11. With the quilting completed we are ready to trim the block to measure 16 ½” x 16 ½”.

12. To make the back of the pillow fold over one long side of each of your backing rectangles two times, pressing with each fold.

13. Stitch two lines along the length of the fold to create a stable hem. (Here you might be able to see that I should have adjusted my bobbin tension with that second line of stitching.)

14. Pin the backing to the pillow top with right sides together. I’m choosing to stitch with a matching red thread.

15. Stitch around the entire project with a ¼” seam.

16. Reinforce the seam with a zig zag edge if desired.

17. Turn the pillow right side out and stuff with a 16” pillow form.

This pillow is a fabulous addition to any living space or reading nook. I plan to put mine in my favorite reading chair and use it to boost my book in my lap while I’m reading an exciting new novel. What will you do with yours?!

As we wrap up our day in the Studio, the sun is setting and the yard is turning a lovely shade of gold and red just like our completed pillow. I’ve enjoyed our time together and I’ll wave from the drive as you hit the road to discover your next adventure.

If you’ve enjoyed this project and want to win a kit of everything you will need to make this block and the pillow (pillow form included) head to Swan Amity Studios on Facebook, like our page, and comment on and/or share the blog post. We will enter you into a drawing to win a complete kit! We will draw not once but TWICE and our second winner will receive a free copy of Quiltmaker’s 100 blocks issue with all of the fun patterns from every participating designer.

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