Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Figuring Out the Best Appliqué Prep

Do what you feel in your heart to be right for you'll be criticized anyway.

~Eleanor Roosevelt

Quilting


Whenever I appliqué it seems to need different methods. There are two older but excellent machine appliqué books in my personal library: Mastering Machine Appliqué by Harriet Hargrave and Traditional Quilts Today's Techniques by Debra Wagner. 

Two books on a green cutting board
Machine appliqué instruction books


I drafted my patterns on graph paper then looked for something to reinforce it. The plastic on hand is either too thin or too small. But... there's a whole bunch of file folders from my shredding summer. Woo hoo. Doubled up with some glue, these are quite strong and the supply is almost limitless. So I can trace lots of leaves without compromising the edges of the design. 

Next issue is appliqué. What to do?
  • I actually have {needle turn} appliquéd an entire bed-size quilt {top} but that was years ago. 
  • When appliqué was required for some early t-shirt quilts, the backs are stabilized with fusible interfacing and then they are stitched with a narrow zigzag. Quick and easy. The knit fabrics limit fraying unlike wovens. 
  • Quilty365 circles started as needle turn but quickly changed to the "gathering around a template method." 
I chose needle turn but quickly realized that wasn't great for machine work. And there's no way I'd get this finished if handwork is involved. 

I tried gathering around the template which doesn't work well unless it's a circle. 

hand basting gathers the seam of an applique leaf around the cardboard template
Gathering the seam around a template 

Next I glued the turned edges to the template which worked okay until trying to remove them. Result: A quick way to ruin paper or cardboard templates.

Applique seam is glue-basted to the template
Glue basted applique

Now I'm simply turning the seams under and basting in contrasting thread to help me identify the correct one when it's time for removal.

Applique seam is turned and hand basted with red thread for easy identification
Thread basted applique

Three down; 197 more leaves to go. 

Monthly FUR (Fabric Use Rate) 

No quilts completed in November. Not that I'm sad since I'm working on this massive project again.  
YTD = 159.5 yards.

Reading

Most evenings this month I've been reading Underland: A Deep Time Journey by British nature writer Robert Macfarlane and it's finally finished. Caves, mines, tunnels, and crevasses reveal geologic time, prehistoric art, funeral practices, and nuclear waste storage for millenia into the future. Robert spans the globe taking us to different sites and showing what they hide. At times claustrophobic but definitely mind-expanding. 



Happy Thanksgiving! Wherever you are, I hope you and your family are well and staying safe. We're all looking forward to better holidays in future when we've gotten ahead of this terrible disease.

Enjoy the day, Ann

26 comments:

  1. ONLY 197 to go??? Egads woman!! Well you have a lot of patience for sure..but I'll wager it'll be so beautiful when you've finished them...
    I love ER's quote--so true and very apt for these troubled times...

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours also--we will be just the two of us here--no gatherings for our family--staying safe...hopefully next year this will all be behind us...hugs from afar Julierose

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    1. It's a big quilt so it takes lots of pieces to fill it in.
      Wasn't Eleanor a marvelous person! Humanitarian first and a stellar First Lady.
      Happy Thanksgiving!

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  2. Yes, I've dallied with different applique methods as well. I also used gather round a template to do my Quilty 365 project which I enjoyed so much. But I tend to rely most on freezer paper. Anyway, loads of leaves to make and so much fun. Happy Thanksgiving!

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    1. I like simple circles best, too, because they are so easy to create. These are fiddlier although they are still simple compared to some shapes I've seen. Stay safe, Jocelyn.

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  3. Have you tried the method Theresa Rawson at Fabric Therapy uses for applique? Print your templates on freezer paper and press to the right side of fabric and then fold and glue the edges to back of fabric. She has tutorials on her blog. I've never used it (have done very little applique so far), but it seems like it would be easier than needle turned or basting around templates and removing them.

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    1. I haven't heard of this before but will check it out over the holiday. We're having a quiet meal at home so there's lots of time. Thanks for the information, Gail.

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  4. I've used dissolving thread in the bobbin, and stitched 2 leaves together, turned & pressed. Then you wet them and they come apart - edges on both turned under. Or you could hand baste with dissolving thread.

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    1. That's so smart. I had some dissolving thread but cleared it out this summer because it hadn't been used. Darn. I'll have to get some more and try it. Two for the work of one sounds just my style. Thanks, Sally.

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  5. I saw a Sarah Fielke video class on applique where she used foil to turn edges for applique. (Lay down a piece of foil, then your fabric face down, then the template on top. Fold the foil up and over the edges, flatten, and press both sides with an iron) I've used it for circles and it works really well, but I don't know how it would translate for more complex shapes like your leaves. (Though now I'm so curious that I'll probably try later today)

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    1. I've seen that, too, and tried it. Kay Buckley's Perfect Circles work better for me. When I tried it, the foil doesn't work as well with concave shapes like parts of these leaves. Let me know if you managed it better, Gayle. It's fun to figure these techniques out.

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  6. I am a die hard freezer paper gal....you can use it on top of your fabric & needle turn or under your fabric with the shiny side out so you can press edges to the shiny side & they stick. A gentle tug is all you need to remove the paper and it is reusable for a few more times til it won't stick anymore. Also, cutting curved shapes with pinking shears makes those curves lay flat. No clipping.

    Plastic file folders work great for templates. Useless for actual filing as everything slides out! Love your posts! Happy Thanksgiving!

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    1. I melted the shiny side of the freezer paper when I pressing the edges. Grr. Thanks for the pinking shear tip. I have a pair that don't get enough use these days. And thanks also for the tip about plastic file folders, Cindy. I love using stuff that's hanging around the house. My folders were on their way to recycling when I realized how well they would work for template.

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  7. What a project! I can only equate the work ahead of you to the work I have dealing with my scrap pile. I have a feeling you will have yours done before I have mine done!

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    1. Scraps are great but they sure are hard to use up. I only keep a small bag but it seems to hold an endless amount. What do we have but time right now, Patty? It's certainly relaxing to keep my hands busy in the evening. Funny that. I sew on the machine during the day but hardly ever at night.

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  8. I have those books, too. Very helpful. After referring to them many times, I've settled on the freezer paper method and starch. That way I only need one template to draw on the paper side of the freezer paper and iron to the wrong side of the fabric. Look forward to seeing your quilt some more.

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    1. Several people use this method. I'll have to try it again. I kept messing up. Years ago I was taught needle turn and it's still the method I try first although it's not very good with machine applique. Thanks for the encouragement, Angie.

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  9. you should try spray starch and then iron the fabric around template. may save handwork and should hold that seam allowance for machine work??!!

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    1. The templates softened too fast when I did that, Deb. Perhaps I used too much starch or my seam allowance wasn't large enough. I certainly need to practice more.

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  10. I see comments about using foil on the paper templates. I wonder about cutting templates from drink cans. I've cut cans up for other things, so they do cut easily. Maybe they'd be too sharp and easy to get cut fingers though?

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    1. I already cut my fingers enough so drink cans wouldn't be a good choice for me. Ha! But this might be a good idea for someone else. Thanks, Gail.

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  11. That's an awful lot of leaves Ann!! They will be worth all the work when you have them on the quilt. On the subject of Quilty 365 and the circles, I passed on this because of all the turning under but now I see there are rings specifically for making circles, Applicots is the name I think. I saw a video on Instagram by Kathy Doughty from Material Obsession and I'm thinking I might get a hold of some.

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    1. I've heard of those new rings and they seem like an improvement over other methods. Too bad they won't work for the leaves. Let me know how you like them.

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  12. I have attempted applique once or twice, I think. Clearly lot to learn and practice (insert eye roll emoji here). Therefore my question comes from a place of ignorance. What are your opinions on invisible thread and blanket stitching the pieces down? I ask also because needle turn technique gives a very neat appearance but it requires more patience than I can comprehend.

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    1. I have done that and found it much easier, too. This time I wanted a more formal style although now I'm wondering why I bothered. Since my technique is not that great, the end effect is not very formal. Insert eye roll emoji here, too.
      Applique works in many places so it's a good technique to master.

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