Modern Sunbonnet Sue's Musings

Musings from the mind of a modern day Sue:
Pa dnau Snail house Heart Block

The next installment of the Applique Club heart quilt is complete. Just in the nick of time, as well, since next week is our guild meeting. Some club members will be happy to only have one block to complete. As the quilt has progressed, the blocks have become more challenging. This block uses reverse applique, which will be a new technique for many club members. I have done very little, myself. The stitch is the same as traditional applique, but the design is drawn onto the background fabric. Then, the background fabric is placed on top of the motif fabric and the two are basted together. The shape is cut out of the background fabric leaving a seam allowance, which is turned under and appliqued to the motif fabric.

The Pa dnau heart design is a traditional pattern of the Hmong people of Laos. They brought their stitchery traditions to American when they immigrated following the Vietnam War. Many have settled in southeast Michigan. You may remember the Clint Eastwood film, Gran Torino, in which the Hmong are represented. I purchased a coin purse many years ago at a quilt show that was made by a Hmong woman. I'm sure that many of you have seen them at major quilt shows. To complete the snail house channels, the fabric was cut down the center of the drawn lines and the seam was turned under along both sides, exposing the motif fabric underneath. Snips were made in the cutting areas before basting the background fabric, so that the fabric underneath was not accidently snipped.

Here is the completed quilt block. You can see why the pattern calls them snail houses. The word pa dnau is prounounced "paj tnaub" and translates as flowery cloth.

I enjoyed making this block and would like to do more of these patterns. The easy curve of the heart made the turn under seam easy to manipulate. The exes in the lower part of the heart were more difficult and I would leave them out the next time. I notice in many pa dnau designs that small dots of stitches are worked along the snail house trail. This addition would hold truer to the original Hmong designs I am seeing.

The next two blocks for the Applique Club also involve using the reverse applique technique. The blocks are a Mola heart block, which uses multiple colors, and an Hawaiian heart, which I began some time ago. Need to get stitching my alternate folk-art block for my class sample. It's being made with wool and, as some of you may recall from past folk-art blocks, is completed on black flannel for the background. More on that block to come.

Happy Stitching!

Published Wed, Feb 15 2012 3:25 PM by Pamela


# re: Pa dnau Snail house Heart Block@ Wednesday, February 15, 2012 3:38 PM

I love this block! I've never done reverse applique. I've only done reverse counted cross stitch.


# re: Pa dnau Snail house Heart Block@ Wednesday, February 15, 2012 10:57 PM

Interesting block. Would work well for wool.

# re: Pa dnau Snail house Heart Block@ Friday, February 17, 2012 12:48 PM

i love this block, nice work