The background in an applique block is the "negative space" that surrounds applique. You don't want your negative space to overshadow the "positive space" - you want it to enhance the applique.
Our next book is titled Applique Outside the Lines. It's all about constructing a quilt with freer lines. Imagine a line drawn with a soft pencil on paper, without a ruler. That line has a flowing quality that a ruler-straight line does not. We want to capture that flowing line in our quilts.
Most piecing is comprised of pieces that are cut with rulers. The sewn lines are very straight, very exact. Take away the ruler and you can cut flowing lines using a rotary cutter. The key is to not use a ruler. You'll learn a whole lot more about this in the book when it comes out in July or August.
Linda and I put a lot of interesting backgrounds behind our applique - it's part of the signature Piece O' Cake look. In Applique Outside the Lines the backgrounds are scrappy and constructed without rulers. I'm constructing the backgrounds for my new quilt the same way. I'll show you pictures of this block as it progresses over the next week or two.