Quilt Baltimore Album style—a beginner’s guide (+ giveaway)

Ruched flowers from Baltimore Blocks for BeginnersMore than a dozen books written, over 686,000 books sold, and more than 30 years of know-how—if you want to learn how to appliqué, get to know Mimi Dietrich. Mimi’s back with a beautiful new book about Baltimore quilting—Baltimore Blocks for Beginners—and she has a fun story to share as our guest blogger today at Stitch This! But if you’ll indulge me, I have my own story to share about Mimi.

A few years back I had an opportunity to design a quilt for a magazine. I wanted to hand appliqué Minky fabric and slice the appliqué shapes into quarters. I woke from my design dream with a start when I realized that if I sliced up my hand appliqué, my stitches would certainly be sliced up too. Realizing my design had major flaws, I knew exactly what I had to do. I had to get in touch with Mimi Dietrich.

Quit It for KidsI’d met Mimi at various Quilt Markets over the years. Aside from being an appliqué genius, she is funny, friendly, and completely approachable. So I emailed Mimi. She quickly replied with an oh-so-simple solution. An insanely clever solution that would have never crossed my mind. I tried her idea. It worked. And that little quilt of mine made it on the cover of that magazine! I have Mimi to thank.

No matter what kind of appliqué you love, Mimi can teach you how to make yours shine. And if you love the traditional beauty of Baltimore blocks, you’ll love Mimi’s new book and the story behind it. Take it away, Mimi—and thanks for sharing your how-to-appliqué expertise with me.

Mimi DietrichI love to appliqué. Thirty-some years ago, my first quilt was a Sunbonnet Sue. Making that quilt was like painting a picture with fabric!

I was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and have lived here all my life. When I first saw antique Baltimore Album quilts at the museum in Baltimore, I fell in love with them. I loved the idea that the quilts were made in my hometown, and I loved the colors and variety of the designs in the appliquéd blocks.

My First Baltimore Block by Mimi Dietrich
“My First Baltimore Block” from
Baltimore Blocks for Beginners

I’ve been teaching appliqué and Baltimore designs for more than twenty-five years. To get students prepared for a year-long class I teach on the subject, I start with an introductory class called My First Baltimore Album Block. Students work step by step on the appliquéd pieces that are basic for most Baltimore style projects: stems, leaves, flowers, buds, and birds. It’s a great beginner’s class because we concentrate on appliquéing one element at a time, rather than trying to do a whole block in one class. Baltimore quilts are traditionally red and green, but I love it when students make the quilts in their favorite colors, making the quilts their own!

Mod Dots by Mimi Dietrich Free Bird by Mimi Dietrich
"Mod Dots" and "Free Bird" by Mimi Dietrich

This year I was awarded a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council. The Maryland Traditions program partners a master artist with an apprentice to work together for a year, to pass on a traditional art. I used this year to stay closer to home and concentrate on my own work as well as work with my apprentice, Emily Pelton. “My First Baltimore Block” was a fun project for Emily. She has two young children and a job, so taking our time with the appliqué pieces worked well for her.

Bluebird of Happiness by Emily Pelton
“Bluebird of Happiness” by Emily Pelton

This class also inspired my latest book, Baltimore Blocks for Beginners! I worked on the book this year, and just before it was finished the editors needed one more quilt for the gallery. Perfect timing! Emily finished her quilt (above) and it is included in the gallery. Hopefully we will be seeing more of Emily’s work!

Although I use a variety of appliqué techniques in my classes, students often ask me why my favorite appliqué techniques use freezer paper. Long ago I taught a class where we appliquéd hearts using a variety of appliqué techniques. Always—the hearts made with freezer paper were smoother, more symmetrical, and nicely shaped. I also like to use freezer paper when a shape is repeated several times. The pieces look very consistent. The finished appliqué pieces look perfect!

My latest project is inspired by Baltimore–Album appliqué techniques but was made possible by taking a class with another Martingale author, Mary Lou Weidman. Her work is very different from mine, but I love her whimsy and fun. My “Baltimore Hometown Girl” (below) looks very different from most of my quilts, but if you look closely the appliqué has many of the elements used in Baltimore Blocks for Beginners—flowers and buds and birds and even some dimensional ruched blossoms and flowers.

Hometown Girl quilt by Mimi Dietrich

So if you’ve ever wanted to appliqué, I hope that the step-by-step directions in Baltimore Blocks for Beginners will lead you on a journey to a Baltimore Album quilt—or the appliquéd quilt of your dreams!

Mimi, you’ve inspired me over the years to reach for my appliqué dreams—thanks for your story, and your new book too!

So, tell us your latest appliqué tale—what have you been stitching? Share your story in the comments and you could win a copy of the Baltimore Blocks for Beginners eBook! We’ll choose a winner one week from today and let you know by email if you’ve won. (You can also purchase Mimi’s book here, and if you do, you can download the eBook for free right away.) Good luck!

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Thanks to all who entered the drawing! The randomly chosen winner is Kathy, who said:

“I feel like an appliquer on meth! Currently I’m trying to finish two older applique projects. One, a 1800’s reproduction applique quilt and the second a fall throw that instructed me to use fusible applique, but hey, what’s the fun in that. In addition I have already purchased “the Ghastlies” fabric for a very clever applique quilt inspired by a quilt I saw at Broadbent’s in Lehi, UT. I am almost finished with several wool appliques–penny rugs for a class I may be teaching in September. What’s wrong with me?”

Kathy, we’ll email you a special coupon code for your free eBook. Congratulations!


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