The question of the floating shape was resolved by DH who took one look and pronounced it a sassafras leaf. He further researched on google to find that it symbolises choice. Root Beer is made from sassafras and it is the food of white tailed deer.
Great to have someone who grew up in a similar part of the world.
It looks like the quilter used the leaf to fill in blank spaces rather than leave unworked areas.
Happy stitching to all