A Pfabulously Pfun Challenge

Hello Everyone,

Sorry I haven’t been posting much. It’s been a challenging month in more ways than I care to go into. Some challenges were good and others, not so much, but I have made it through in one piece and have something to share.

I don’t usually take part in challenges any more, but one of my stores, The Fabric Shop in Ruston LA is having a block challenge to celebrate Pfaff’s 150th Anniversary. I thought the challenge sounded interesting, so I decided to participate. The challenge seems simple on the surface.Β Pfaff Celebration Logo

All you need to do is take their celebration logo (above) and create a quilt block for the challenge. Sounds pretty simple? I thought so too, until I started working with the logo.

I didn’t want my design to simply be the logo centered on the quilt block. I fall asleep just thinking about how boring that would be. I wanted something more interesting. I wanted something that would challenge me creatively and push the boundaries of the logo.

It took me a few days to come up with a design that I liked, but I think it met all my criteria.

Pfaff Challenge Block 1

I can definitely say it was a challenge.

Pfaff Challenge Block 3

The design repeats itself eight times. For it to fit together smoothly as it needs to, the pieces have to be exact. This was a real challenge, because the pieces are so small.

Pfaff Challenge Block 2

Once all the pieces were made, the applique process could begin. For those of you interested, this is all turned-edge applique.

Pfaff Challenge Block 4

After the applique was finished, I sat back and thought . . . “It looks nice, but it’s still missing something.”

Pfaff Challenge Block 5

My first thought was to embellish the block with beads and sequins, but you can’t do that in a challenge like this. I had to find another way to embellish the block.

Pfaff Challenge Block 6

Since I love embroidery, I thought a few decorative stitches here and there would enhance the design, so I added a few simple stitches.

Pfaff Challenge Block 7

I think it turned out well. It’s not my typical style of work, but if you look at the details, I’m all over it.

I had a lot of fun working on this block. The challenge was interesting and challenging on multiple levels. It was fun to play around with new elements and techniques. Stretching your creative muscle is always fun, so I consider this a win-win. The best part of taking on a challenge like this is the wonderful surprise at the end.

Well, that’s all I have to share with you today. Please let me know what you think about my little block. I always love hearing from you.

Have a FABULOUS day!

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75 Responses to “A Pfabulously Pfun Challenge”

  1. Karen Hillier Says:

    Hi Tom – Your block is beautiful. Can you share the details on the techniques you used to make the design?
    Thanks, Karen H.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Karen, Thanks. I’m glad you like the block.

      Details . . . I use Sharon Schamber’s technique for turned-edge applique. It a foundation style of applique and it provides me with perfect pieces to work with. Once you create the applique elements, they are like paper dolls, so they are easy to move around and position. This gives maximum design flexibility.

      I created a placement pattern and put all the elements into place. Then I appliqued the elements down using monofilament thread.

      After the applique was finished, I started the embroidery. I had dreamed about what the embroidery was going to look like, but it wasn’t a solid vision, so I had to go through my embroidery books to find stitches that I thought would compliment the applique and not overwhelm the design.

      The stitches I used are very basic, but when you stack them on top of, or next to each other they take on a completely different look.

      I hope this is enough information, if not, keep asking questions and I’ll do my best to answer them.

      It was wonderful to hear from you and thanks for the great question.

  2. Jackie Says:

    Your block is gorgeous and the detailed work is amazing. Did you by any chance keep track of how much time it took to complete? I hope with all that is going on with you your taking time to rest and relax, we don’t want anything to happen to our BFF.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hey Jackie, Thank you for your kind words.

      Hmmmmm . . . how much time to complete? I only keep a loose track of my time, so I can’t be exact. I know that certain elements took me 8 non-stop hours to embroidery, others took less and a few took more.

      If I were to estimate, I’d say this block took me around 90 to 100 hours to complete. This is from initial design to final stitch.

      I am doing my best to take care of myself. Sometimes it’s easy said than done, but I’m learning just how important it is.

      It’s always great to hear from you. Take care and have a wonderful day!

  3. Valerie Says:

    Just fabulous! Thanks for sharing. Your appearance on TQS was great also!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Valerie! Thanks. I’m glad you like my block and enjoyed my appearance on the TQS.

      I hope you’ll continue to drop by and add to the conversation.

      I hope you have a fabulous day!

  4. Karen Overton Says:

    This is beyond challenging and simply AMAZING. You didn’t mention the overall size of the design, but judging by the photo and your detailed work I’d say it’s rather small and that makes it just that much more stunning. So – was there a prize that goes along with this challenge? You’re a winner in my books that’s for sure! xoxo KO

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hey Karen! It’s always good to hear from you. The finished block is 12 inches, so that makes my design 11.25 at its widest point.

      The store has multiple prizes, but the grand prize is a sewing machine. I agreed to do the challenge because I thought it would be interesting, but winning a sewing machine would definitely sweeten the experience.

      After reading all the comments about my block, I feel like a winner already. I won’t know until November if I won a prize. Completing the challenge was the goal, so I did that. Everything else that happens is gravy.

      It’s fabulous to hear from you. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to comment on my little block. xxxooo πŸ™‚

  5. deniece Says:

    Simply gorgeous and it just says TOM…

    Now don’t you feel better for participating in the challenge? I know I always feel better when I am sewing or creating.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi DeNiece, It’s soooooo good to hear from you. Yes, I definitely feel better, now that the block is finished. Challenges are great to boost your creative energies and any time spent sewing is a gift to yourself.

      Thanks for dropping by to comment. xxxooo πŸ™‚

  6. Patricia Eaton Says:

    Tom, As always, I LOVE the DETAILS! You did a fine job….your work is always meticulous, in detail and workmanship and, I must say, design and imagination. INCREDIBLE! Good for you, my friend! pat

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Pat! You are too kind. Your enthusiasm almost brings me to tears. I knew you would appreciate the details because we are so much alike. It’s easy to get lost in the little things.

      You are a doll. Much love to you. xxxooo πŸ™‚

  7. Mary Christine Says:

    Oh My Gosh! That is GORGEOUS! I am a new quilter and have made three quilts so far. I also bought some buttons on e-bay and then was trying to figure out what to do with them and I saw your “Embellishments” show on TQS and started following you. Thank you for all your sharing. I am enjoying them very much. mcm

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Mary Christine, Thank you for your kind words and congratulations on becoming a quilter. You have put yourself on a path for many magical adventures.

      I am glad you enjoyed my episode of the TQS. It was a lot of fun to do. Sharing what I love with such a large audience was a wondrous experience and I am eternally grateful for it.

      Thanks for dropping by to add to the conversation.

      I hope you have an extraordinary day!

  8. Frank Figueredo Says:

    A few decorative stitches? It’s stitched to death and it looks wondrous! It is definitely proclaims, “Tom made this beauty.” Congratulations, I hope you do well in the challenge.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Frank, Yep, just a few stitches here and there to kick the design up a notch. πŸ™‚ I’m glad you like my block. Your words are most kind.

      Seeing the block turn out the way I had envisioned was a prize all by itself. I’ll have to wait until November to see how well it does in the challenge.

      Thanks for dropping by to comment. It’s always great to hear from you.

  9. adunham@embarqmail.com Says:

    Tom, Been thinking about you all weekend. Keep up the great attitude! I’m so proud of you and all of your accomplishments over this past (tough) year.


    Sent from my HTC smartphone on the Now Network from Sprint!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Amy, How wonderful it is to hear from you. It has been a long and tough year indeed.

      Bill and I appreciate your kind words of support.

      Thanks for dropping by to comment. It’s always wonderful to see your name pop up.

      I hope you and those you love have a fabulous day.

  10. Sharie - Moss Bluff Says:

    Absolutely Gorgeous……….

  11. lisa hall Says:


  12. Barb Rechtfertig Says:

    That’s what I was going to say, “gorgeous.” I love the way the stitching makes it so unique and beautiful. It is you all over!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Barb, How great it is to hear from you. I am glad you like the stitching. I thought it was a great addition. The block has so much dimension because of the embroidery. I love touching it. I’ll definitely be using this technique again.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. Have a fabulous day!

  13. Norma Hornung Says:

    Your block is absolutely fabulous. I hope you win.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Norma, It’s great to see you comment again. Thank you for your kind words. The block came out as I envisioned, so I’m already a winner.

      We’ll have to wait until November to see if I won anything in the actual challenge.

      Thanks again for your sweet words. It’s always great to hear from you.

      Have a glorious day!

  14. Jo Ann Says:

    This is spot on. Will you be letting us in on the unique technique used in this awesome piece.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Jo Ann, I used Sharon Schamber’s turned-edged applique technique to create all the elements. I sewed the down the pieces with monofilament thread and did all the stitching by hand. It doesn’t get any easier than that.

      If you have more specific questions, I’ll be happy to try to answer them.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I hope to hear from you again soon. Have a great day!

  15. Jayardi Says:

    β€’ β€’ β€’ Very Cool! I’d say you have a winner there. It’s good to see you are able to get some stitching time in with your busy schedule. Love hearing from you.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hey Jayardi, Thanks. You know how challenges are, you don’t find the time, you make it to meet the deadline. I had a short window of opportunity to get this block done, so I took every minute of it.

      Now that this task is done, I’m getting ready to start on something new. I’ll be looking forward to sharing this project with you as well. I think the last quarter of the year is going to be a busy one. πŸ™‚

      Thanks again for dropping by to comment. I always enjoy hearing from you. Have a fabulous day! xxxooo πŸ™‚

  16. Gail E. Thomas Says:

    Hi Tom, Your block turned out wonderful, just love it…great movement, colour and dimension…good luck on the Challenge…love

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Gail, What a nice surprise to hear from you. I’m glad you like my little block. My favorite part of it is the dimension created by the embroidery. I’m glad you enjoyed that too.

      I already feel like a winner, because of all the wonderful comments I have received.

      Thanks for dropping by to comment. I really appreciate it.

      Have a glorious day!

  17. dmooney@positiveimage.com Says:

    WOW! That is really awesome. You are so brilliant and talented. It’s hard to look at what you do and not wish for just a tiny thimbleful of your creativitiy.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Dee Ann, You are too sweet. You are overflowing with talent, so you don’t need any of my creativity, not even a thimble full. πŸ™‚

      Thanks for dropping by to leave a comment. It’s always great to hear from you. I hope you have a fabulous day!

  18. Clai Duvall Says:

    Ok, the stitches look perfect. I think this is done by machine. Is this the Tom Tom machine? I want one. xoxox

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hey Clai, You are too funny. Thanks for making me smile. Yes, the stitches are done on a Tom Tom machine, but they are no where near perfectβ€”but I keep trying.

      You can’t buy a Tom Tom, but I’ll happy show you how easy it is to stitch like this. If it were that hard, I couldn’t do it.

      Thanks for dropping by to make me smile. I really appreciate it.

      Have a wondrous day! xxxooo πŸ™‚

  19. Lynn Kelly Says:

    I LOVE your little block Tom!

  20. Marilyn CLULOW Says:

    Love the piece, but is this what you call a few embroidery stitches here and there! It looks like some pretty intensive embroidery. Amazing!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Marilyn, Yep, just a few stitches here and there. If I made a bigger deal out of it, then someone might think it’s hard to do.

      This embroidery is easy to accomplish and anyone can do it. It only takes a little bit of patience and very little effort. The intensity comes from the combined visual impact of a few simple stitches.

      I’ve never embroidered so densely before, but now that I have seen the results, I’m sure I’ll do it again.

      Yep, just a few simple stitches here and there, pretty much somes it up.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I really appreciate your adding to the conversation.

      Have a glorious day!

  21. Rita Carter Says:

    Wow! What a beautiful, gorgeous, fabulous block! I am so impressed that you work full time in non-quilting and still turn out such wonderful works of art. The embellishment is perfect.


    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Rita, Thank you for your kind words. They brighten my day. I have many friends who work that accomplish far more than I do. The key is to make time to create. If you are waiting to find the time, it will never happen. You have to make creating a priority. Once you do that, many wonderful things happen in your life.

      Thanks again for your kind words and for taking the time out of your very busy day to add to the conversation. I really appreciate it.

      I hope you have a fabulous day!

  22. Tom Russell Pfaffs about · Needlework News | CraftGossip.com Says:

    […] Tom Russell responded to Pfaff’s challenge to create a quilt block featuring the company’s 150th anniversary logo. I think his take on the logo was pretty original to begin with. But he kicked his applique up a whole ‘nother level with an unusual application of simple embroidery stitches. See more views at his blog post. […]

  23. Sharon Kisel Says:

    Really gorgeous! You are so creative. You would definitely have all our votes to win the challenge.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Sharon, Thanks for your kind words and generous support. I turn my block in this month, but won’t hear the final results from the challenge until November. If my block does well, I’ll let you know.

  24. Clara Says:

    Great design! I’m always impressed with your work.

  25. Judy Underwood Says:

    Tom, my darling man, only you would refer to probably a 1,000+, perfect, meticulous stitches as ‘a few decorative stitches’ (lol)!

    I love your interpretation of the logo. For some reason I thought of a lilting Irish jig, light and fast. Then I realized it’s because it reminded me of a beautiful Celtic knot. Lovely and so very imaginative!

    You NEVER fail to surprise and delight!

    Love you,

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Judy, You tickle me. Thank you for bringing a smile to my face.

      Oh, it is you that never fails to surprise and delight. Thanks for making my day. xxxooo πŸ™‚

  26. Jane Hancock Says:

    Beautiful quilt, Tom! Keep it up!

  27. Danielle Says:

    Absolutely stunning. You took a simple design and turned it into a fabulous piece.

  28. Tammy Hempel Says:

    You definitely did a wonderful job on stretching your imagination. It looks great and the effect is wonderful!! I said that already oops!! Hee Hee Keep up with the good work.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Tammy, I didn’t mind that your repeated yourself at all. Your enthusiasm made me smile.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I really appreciate it.

      I hope you have an extraordinary day!

  29. Kerry Dwyer Says:

    Tom…your block is awesome. It was interesting that a friend and I just discovered The Fabric Shop on a trip back to Texas from South Carolina. They were most gracious and welcoming. The day we were there, the electricity was out due to construction in the neighborhood. They welcomed us in anyway and went out of their way to help us, even cutting fabric in the dark. We certainly plan another trip.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Kerry, Thanks, I’m glad you like the block. How wonderful for you, that you got to visit The Fabric Shop. It’s a great store filled with with fabulous things and the staff is everything you say, gracious and welcoming.

      I’m actually going back to The Fabric Shop to do a series of lecture/demos near the end of the month. On this upcoming visit I hope to have a chance to also spend a little time walking around their downtown. It is a fabulous little area that appears chock-full of great shops. Yep, I’m excited about my return trip. πŸ™‚

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I really appreciate it.

      I hope you have a fabulous day!

  30. Susan Acevedo Says:

    You certainly did a great job – and I really like the embroidery details…nice challenge handled really well…but i miss your sequins and buttons.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Susan, Thank you for your kind words. I’m glad you like the design and enjoyed my stitched details.

      You don’t to worry about this block being a sign of things to come. I have millions of beads and sequins and I plan to use them all up before I leave this world. πŸ™‚

      Thanks for contributing to the conversation. I hope you have a glorious day!

  31. Charlotte Betts Says:

    One word……BEAUTIFUL! It’s a winner……and so are you!

  32. Wendy Says:

    No doubt the winning block. Fantastic!!!!!!!!!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Wendy! I’m glad you like the block, but we’ll have to wait until November to see if it’s an actual winner. I feel like a winner already, because it’s done and it turned out as I had envisioned. So, anything else that happens now is just gravy, but I’m still looking forward to hearing the results.

      It’s always great to hear from you. I hope you have a glorious day!

  33. kathydrew Says:

    Absolutely beautiful my dear friend. Just beautiful.

  34. eileenkny Says:

    Tom, it is jaw dropping exquisite!! I would so love to take a class from you.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Eileen, Thanks. You are too kind. I’m glad you enjoyed the block. I had a great time working on it.

      I am starting to get more bookings outside of Texas, so I’m sure there will an opportunity for us to meet up in the future. I’d love to have you in class.

      I hope you have a great day!

  35. Paula Says:

    Absolutely gorgeous result, brilliantly creative solution to the challenge!

  36. Sherry Ford Says:

    Tom, this is so wonderful!!! Your creativity just knows no bounds! Sorry not to comment more often (challenges here, too) but know that I’m reading and, always, incredibly inspired. I love you and your work!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Sherry! How fabulous it is to hear from you. Don’t worry about not commenting often. Knowing you are out, is all that really matters. Love you too. πŸ™‚

  37. Cyn Strang Says:

    You are so creative! I love the close up views showing how you jazzed it up! Just love seeing what you come up with every time!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Cyn, You tickle me. Yep, I jazzed up this little block and had a blast doing it. It’s fascinating how a few simple stitches can transform a project.

      Thanks for adding to the conversation.

      All my love to you and Jeff. xxxooo πŸ™‚

  38. Louise Adams Says:

    The block is awesome and your work is thrilling. The 75 ladies in our Creative club are really excited about the lessons you will be teaching them. So glad to have made this connection with you.
    Louise Adams
    The Fabric Shop in Ruston, Louisiana

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hello Louise, What a wonderful surprise. I am excited about my upcoming visit and really looking forward to meeting the talented ladies in your club. I know it is going to be a wonderful experience.

      I am equally as glad to have met you. See you soon.

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