Oooh, I’ve been waiting to get my paws on this one!

Back at Spring Market in Kansas City, I attended author Angela Lawrence‘s Schoolhouse presentation, because I’m always interested to hear what other appliqué enthusiasts have to say. Angela has been teaching hand appliqué for many years, and for her new book she’s broken down every step and laid it out in a beautiful visual guide. As she made her way through her presentation, I was like, “Check, check, that’s the way I do it, check, awesome.” With one exception, which is our placement method, Angela and I are “like this” when it comes to hand appliqué.

I spoke with Angela after the presentation, and she was delighted to hear that I wanted to feature her beautiful new book on the blog. But guess what? The copy she had in her hand was the only one in captivity! It was an advance copy and the book wasn’t even out yet!

Later in the weekend I stopped by the Landauer booth and made the acquaintance of E.B., the digital marketing person. She was also very happy to have the book featured once it came out. I gave her my card but afterward realized I hadn’t written my email address on the back for her. Argh! Since then I’ve been pondering the best way to follow up. Excelsior! I got an email from E.B. asking for my address so she could send me the book! Thank you Landauer!


I’d show you some more images, and tell you what-all’s in the book, but Landauer has gone to all the trouble, so just click on over to their website and watch the short video! Let me add that there’s a packet of full-size templates inside the back cover for the nine projects.

I have a copy of the book to give away to a lucky reader. If you’d like to enter the drawing, leave a comment at the bottom of this post before 7:00 p.m. California time on Wednesday, September 5.

Contest open to U.S. and Canada mailing addresses only. Remember that you can’t enter the drawing from your email program. You have to be on the blog itself on the internet to leave a comment.

Good luck everyone!
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

Maddie asked, “I need help on a good method to keep the appliqué flat when working on large pieces. Currently, I have to keep my piece flat on a tabletop, yet I see other people working in hand. If I work in hand, the final project is not flat.”

Maddie, this is one of my favorite pieces of appliqué information to share. It isn’t something that’s typically covered in appliqué instructions, but I’ve always included it in my books because it’s an important piece of the puzzle in getting pleasing results.

First of all, let’s start with vision and lighting. Bear with me… it all ties in.

For good appliqué results, you have to make sure that your vision is good. Is your glasses prescription up to date? Do you have the proper glasses for close-up work?

Take me for example. My whole life I was so proud of my better-than-20-20 vision. But at a certain point, when we got a new computer system at my day job that ONLY printed out in 10 point type, I had to admit that I needed help. I entered the era of reading glasses.

Groovy granny glasses.

Groovy granny glasses.


Now I could read the computer printouts. But the glasses were such a pain! Put ‘em on, take ‘em off. Put ‘em on, take ‘em off. Where the bleep are they?? Argh.

I mentioned this to my eye doc and he told me I was a good candidate for monovision contacts, so I went to see the optometrist and got me some. Hallelujah!

Now I could stick the contacts in in the morning and get through the whole day without putting on a pair of glasses! That really improved my quality of life! However, monovison contacts means you have a strong lens in your near eye and a weak lens in your distance eye, and your brain blends the two together. They’re great for general seeing but not so great for very precise, detailed, close-up work. So when I really need to see, I put on reading glasses on top of the contacts! That’s right, I go from two eyes to four eyes to six eyes LOL! Oh well, you do what it takes.

You may have a different vision scenario. You need to be able to see the eye of the needle and the grain of the fabric. What I’m saying is, do whatever it takes to get your vision corrected for stitching, and not just at two inches from your face.

Let’s move on to lighting. Good lighting goes hand-in-hand with good vision. You need to be able to direct a strong light right on your work. It’ll make a big difference!

light-bulb

The reason I bring up vision and lighting is that you need to be able to sew in your lap, not up next to your face. I see it all the time… people bringing their project up close to their eyes, stitching up in midair with the background falling away. This encourages buckling of the appliqué.

Put your feet up on a footstool, sew in your lap, and provide support for the background fabric. The June Tailor Quilter’s Cut ‘n Press is an excellent appliqué aid. The cushioned side comfortably supports your underneath hand and the project as you stitch. I’d show you a picture of mine but it’s ancient and “well-loved” in its appearance.

Mary Warner-Stone feels the same way as I do about the Cut ‘n Press, except I use the smaller square one and she uses a longer one. Check out her guest post, Support Your Work.

Maddie, I hope this helps. Let us know how it goes.

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

In response to the Call for Topics, Vera wrote, “I cannot get nice smooth curves. I need to know how to eliminate those pointy pleats.”

I wrote a little bit about this in the Back Basting Redux post. I’ll repeat that bit here.

The culprit in chunky curves is the turning allowance and how it’s acting underneath the appliqué edge once it’s turned. First, make sure your turning allowance is not too wide. A quarter of an inch is actually too much. Trim to about 3/16″ of an inch, and distribute the bulk of the turning allowance smoothly underneath as you stitch. Make sure it’s not pleated up on itself under there.

In this illustration, I’ve made an appliquéd heart transparent so you can see what’s happening underneath the turned edge.

good-and-bad-curve

On the lefthand side, the bulk of the turning allowance in distributed evenly and the curve of the stitched edge is smooth.

On the righthand side, the turning allowance is pleated up on itself and is causing bumps and points in the stitched edge.

Just make sure your turning allowance is not too wide and that you work a little at a time, turning and distributing as you go. Don’t reach ahead and pull the turning allowance back towards you as you stitch. Hope that helps!!

In other news…

I just got word from my publisher that Inspired by Tradition is going into a second printing! It hasn’t even been five months! That’s gotta be good, right??

I heard from Kathy Delaney that she had a run on her needle packs after I posted about them last time! How cool cool is that! I’m sure that all the batik hand stitchers are now enjoying their Gold ‘n Glides!

I’ll be in Long Beach for the summer edition of International Quilt Festival once again this year. This is such a fun time, I’m really looking forward to it. Hope to see you there, July 29-31.

And, just received this from Ami Simms on one of my discussion groups:

If you have admired the work of Diane Gaudynski, Sue Nickels, and other celebrated quilters, here’s your chance to own one of their quilts. The Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative is going to be auctioning 20 quilts from our first traveling exhibit, “Alzheimer’s: Forgetting Piece by Piece” in an online auction August 1-10. Details are here: www.AlzQuilts.org

Any help you can give us in spreading the word to quilters, quilt collectors, museums, and aficionados about the auction would be greatly appreciated. All profits fund Alzheimer’s research.

Thank you,
Ami Simms
AAQI Founder & Executive Director

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

Thanks everybody for the great suggestions for appliqué topics! I’ve got ‘em all down on my list.

I love this from Sharon Decker!

I spent years not doing the “A” word. Why, because I didn’t realize there was more than one method. Once I learned backbasting, I became a convert. I now tell people who are either afraid of applique or haven’t even tried it that they just need to find the method that works for them. “One size does not fit all.” I don’t think people really understand how many methods there are and they just need encouragement to find what works for them.

Right on sister! You’re preaching to the choir!

Most of the questions were about hand appliqué, in fact a whopping 76%!

The easiest way to start is with things I’ve already written about. (Reminder, there are a bunch of categories in the left-hand sidebar. Click on any one of them and it’ll bring up anything that’s been posted having to do with that topic.)

MaryB wrote:

“I would like to know more about back basting. Right now I use glue basting but some times it’s not always convenient to take glue with you.”

Back in August 2008 I posted a photo tutorial of back-basting. Instead of just linking to it, I thought I’d repeat it here, adding in a few new comments in blue to address some of the back-basting questions.

________________________________

Back-Basting Photo tutorial

How about a method of appliqué that gives super-accurate results, yet uses no glue, no starch, no freezer paper, no fusible web, no fusible interfacing, no vinyl or tracing paper. Just fabric, needle and thread, scissors, and a marking implement. Pretty cool, huh?

Clairellen wrote:

“I must be missing something, as I am hearing such wonderful things about back-basting applique, and how it converts you forever from previous methods, but when I tried it (twice so far), it seemed bulky and hard to handle. So a detailed photo-enhanced tutorial would be terrific.”

No glue, no starch, no freezer paper, no fusibles, no overlays, just fabric and thread… what could be less bulky? I hope the following visuals will help you refine your strategies. Give it another whirl!

I promised awhile ago that I would write more about the back-basting, aka no-template preparation for hand appliqué. It’s really quite ingenious and is now my favorite way to work by hand. As I was stitching a Heart in Hand block today I took some pictures along the way to show how it works.

Use a reversed pattern for this method. Start by marking the reversed pattern on the back of the background fabric. I use the blue water-erasable pen. You can also use a marking pencil.

bb1.gif

Rough-cut a hunk of the appliqué fabric that’s bigger than what you’ll need. Lay it in place on the front.

bb2.gif

Pin the fabrics together. On the back, baste the two fabrics together with a small running stitch, exactly on the drawn line. Use a thick or fuzzy thread for this and a big honking needle. I use a size 7 cotton darner.

bb3.gif

Baste all the way around the shape. This is what it looks like on the front.

bb4.gif

Now trim the fabric to the shape of the motif, leaving your preferred turn-under margin outside the basting.

bb5.gif

Clip and remove a section of basting stitches. In this freed-up area, start turning and stitching. Keep clipping and removing the basting a few stitches ahead of your appliqué. The thick needle and heavy basting thread leave behind temporary perforations that help the fabric turn along the stitching line. I use a size 10 milliner needle and DMC 50-weight cotton machine embroidery thread for appliqué.

bb6.gif

Kat wrote:

“Backbasting…I have heard such wonderful things about it but I find that when I clip the basting thread and it is suppose to turn under so beautifully, my holes just disappear and I am left trying to figure out where to turn under! It seems that I can’t get the fabric to behave…like a stubborn child. I don’t find my points nearly as neat as with other methods…. it would be easier to do back basting if I could see what I was doing!”

Kat, is it possible that you’re removing the basting too far ahead of where you’re stitching? Try taking out the least amount of basting possible each time. And, the more you practice, the more you know how much to turn under. You’ll develop an appliquér’s sense of it. Also, here’s a tip… I can’t remember where I saw this, but I did see someone suggest that you could run a chalk marker over the basting stitches before starting to sew. That way, when the basting stitches are removed, there’s a dotted line left on the turn line. Lastly, see the next point in the tutorial. :)

Continue all the way around. Don’t press the block yet.

bb7.gif

Hmm, not bad. A benefit of this method is that you can flip the block over to see how you’re doing. The marking serves as a built-in stitching guide!

bb8.gif

Repeat the same process for the heart.

bb9.gif
bb10.gif
bb14.gif

Christy B. wrote:

“I would like to know more about back-basting curves. I love the method for vines and leaves, but have a lot of trouble getting smooth curves for rose petals, etc.”

Christy, back-basting is actually a preparation method. The ‘smooth curves’ aspect comes along in the stitching part, which is just like traditional needle-turn. The culprit in chunky curves is the turning allowance and how it’s acting underneath the appliqué edge once it’s turned. First, make sure your turning allowance is not too wide. A quarter of an inch is actually too much. Trim to about 3/16″ of an inch, and distribute the bulk of the turning allowance smoothly underneath as you stitch. Make sure it’s not pleated up on itself under there.

Once the block is completed, remove the markings from the back. I dip a Q-tip in water and stroke it along the lines. Let the block air-dry and check to make sure none of the blue has reappeared. (If so, just wet it again.)

bb11.gif
bb12.gif

After all the marks are gone and the block has air-dried, give it a quick press. All done!

bb13.gif

I have really come to love this method, since it gets me on the sofa stitching a lot quicker instead of fiddling around with freezer paper templates at the ironing board. I hope you enjoy it too. Like anything new, it takes practice, so give it a whirl and then another!

___________________________________________

FYI, back-basting is written up and illustrated in my books Teapots 2 to Appliqué, Easy Appliqué Blocks, and Inspired by Tradition, all available at Amazon and my website, By Kay Mackenzie.

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

keri-duke

Last month I had the privilege of taking a class in Hawaiian appliqué from Maui resident Keri Duke.

Keri was here for Pacific International Quilt Festival and came a week early to give a workshop for our guild. She’s snorkeling buddies with our program chair Tracey Brookshier so yay for us!

It was a beautiful day and a great location for a workshop. We were making a traditional breadfruit (ulu) appliqué. As Keri told us, this is usually the first pattern made by a quilter because it is supposed to bring fruitfulness and good luck in life.

keri-+-sample

Cutting out the motif, folded in eighths.

Cutting out the motif, folded in eighths.

big-basting

My big basting stitches. I was the first one done basting; some spent the whole morning just basting, using little bitty precise running stitches instead of big honking toenail catchers. Not necessary, gals. Just throw ‘em in there.

other-colors

Some of the class members chose other colors for their projects.

other-colors-3

It looks good any which way you do it.

After the entire dark-green leaf motif was basted, we did traditional needle-turn hand appliqué. I’m a fast stitcher (well, you know, it isn’t my first rodeo) and I had my block all done for Show & Tell at quilt guild the next night. This type of Hawaiian appliqué is about the most fun, I think. Once you get it all prepped, you just sit and stitch and stitch to your heart’s content.

uluMy Ulu.

The following week was PIQF.

piqf-crowd

The crowd waiting to get in on Thursday morning.

Once I made it inside the doors, I chatted with Keri in her Keri Designs booth, and I was delighted to learn that she and another quilter had curated a special “Colors of Maui” exhibit for the show!

exhibit-sign

hibiscusThis hibiscus was my favorite entry, and come to find out, it was Keri’s!

hibis-descr

If you’d like to go on a tropical tour of the Colors of Maui, there’s a lovely slideshow posted over at The Quilt Show. Enjoy!

Aloha,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

At the Road to California show in January, I had the excellent fortune to sit at the breakfast table with Carol Gilham Jones and Bobbi Finley. Several friends of mine were staying at the hotel, and they were also friends of Carol and Bobbi, so introductions were made–on a first-name basis–and Bobbi was flabbergasted when I asked her, “Are you Bobbi Finley??” That was a very familiar name to me after years of hanging around with active members of the American Quilt Study Group.

Carol and Bobbi had a special exhibit of their tile quilts in the show. Passing these at warp speed as I did the first time, these beautiful pieces have a stained-glass look, but lighter and airier. Bobbi says that a lot of people compare them to stained-glass quilts, but they’re not. Construction-wise, instead of “leading” applied over the raw edges of the shapes, these shapes are finished with turned edges, and the background is left exposed to create the spaces between shapes.


Tile Quilt Revival

Tile Quilt Revival: Reinventing a Forgotten Form is Carol and Bobbi’s fascinating, educational, and inviting book that reintroduces this “unique and somewhat obscure” form of appliqué quilt.

Tile quilts are explained this way:

Traditional tile quilts… are constructed with small pieces of cotton fabric appliquéd in a random manner to a white background, leaving a narrow space between the pieces; this white space serves as the “grout” between the tiles or “mortar” between the pavers or stones.

The books starts out with a brief history of tile quilts, with great photos showing examples from the past. Then comes a section on how to make a tile quilt, reinterpreted for today. When I read the following, the heavens opened up and I heard the heavenly choir!

The tile quilt technique, with its large and simple shapes, creates an ideal showcase for bold, contemporary fabrics. Interesting, large-scale prints are will suited for the tile pieces. If you’ve ever found yourself admiring some of the daring prints now available but wondering how to use them, a tile quilt is an idea project for putting them to good use.

Hallelujah! I have a tub of fabrics in my stash labeled “Modern” that has been… well… sitting there.

modern-fabrics

Now my “daring” prints have a destiny!

The techniques used in the book are so simple they’re ingenious! No need to consider seam allowances, to reverse patterns, or to figure out where to place the pieces. Another really great thing about this book is that it has fantastic appliqué instructions… needle-turn by hand, turned-edge machine-appliqué and fusible machine appliqué too, all expertly explained and illustrated. If you’re reading this blog, you probably like appliqué already, but how about this section where the authors say:

Even if you don’t love to appliqué or don’t consider yourself to be skilled at it, chances are you will enjoy the tile quilt process because it is not exacting. The tile-and-grout form is quite forgiving, and the inevitable deviations from strict uniformity in the grout add to the visual interest and appeal of a piece.

How cool is that?? Get your A-word friends to take a look!

After the appliqué information, there are instructions for several projects with full-size pull-out patterns.

quilt-1

Then there’s a Gallery of Contemporary Tile Quilts. These are fun and inspiring to look at as you see what quilters of today are doing to reinvent the form.

quilt-2

C&T Publishing is graciously sponsoring a giveaway of a copy of Tile Quilt Revival! Leave a comment before 7:00 p.m. California time on Friday, March 5, to be in the drawing. U.S. and Canada only, unless you’d be willing to pay the shipping.

Those subscribed by email, click over the the blog itself and scroll to the bottom of the post to leave a comment.

I wanna start a tile quilt right now, but dang I have deadlines!

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

When I posted my illustrated guide to points back in September, I had some requests for the same type of thing for sharp notches. It’s been on my list and I’ve been checking it twice, so here you go. A very happy holiday to you in all the flavors!

Stitches are exaggerated for illustration purposes.


Clip almost to the turn line.

By Kay Mackenzie


Sew to within 2 or 3 stitches of the notch. There will be very little turning allowance in this area. That’s okay. Use very small stitches and tuck under any loose threads.

By Kay Mackenzie


Turn the project. Tuck under the first bit of turning allowance on the other side of the notch. In this illustration, some threads from the motif fabric are sticking up in the notch. The needle is not stitching; it is behind the motif, ready to sweep the misbehaving threads under.

By Kay Mackenzie


Use the shaft of the needle to sweep across the notch, creating a tiny fold and encouraging any threads to go under. The needle is still not stitching, just sweeping.By Kay Mackenzie


Take the remaining stitches down to the notch. The last one, directly in the notch, should pick up 3 or 4 threads of the motif fabric.By Kay Mackenzie


Sweep again if needed. With the tip of the needle, dig under the motif fabric and insert the needle exactly where the current stitch came out. Swing the needle and come out going uphill for the next stitch. Snug the thread down well to create a sharp notch.By Kay Mackenzie


I hope that whatever Santa you celebrate brings you all good things
this year.

A Happy Christmas to All by Kay Mackenzie (detail), designs from A Merry Little Christmas to Applique

“A Happy Christmas to All” by Kay Mackenzie (detail), designs from
A Merry Little Christmas to Applique

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

To celebrate my birthday on December 17 (not to mention the holiday season), I’m doing a super-duper, extra, extra-special, double-the-appliqué giveaway! Because you see, these things are as much fun for me as they are for you.

I happen to have copies of both Artful Appliqué: The Easy Way from the year 2000 and still in print, and the brand-new Artful Appliqué II: Introducing Scrappliqué and 12 New Floral Designs by Jane Townswick, provided by Martingale & Company / That Patchwork Place. I’m putting them together and giving you guys an opportunity to win them as a package deal. How festive is that for an appliqué enthusiast?

Artful Appliqué by Jane TownswickArtful Appliqué:
The Easy Way

“Having been a die-hard patchwork fan for many years,” begins Jane in the introduction, “I thought there was very little reason for appliqué quilts to exist — until Nancy Pearson’s “Techny Chimes” stopped me dead in my tracks.”

I’m right there with you on that one, Jane. Here’s a page from my inspiration scrapbook. That’s Techny Chimes on the lower right.

techny

“Beautiful hand appliqué is as individual as a fingerprint,” Jane continues.
I really appreciate this sentiment of encouraging individuality and de-emphasizing the need for exact copying and perfection, which IMO takes away from the pleasure of the work.

In the book Jane presents many unusual (to me) and innovative techniques for creating motifs — partial stitching, modified cutwork, and unit construction. (Just goes to show how different brains work differently.) These methods enable tiny, rich details that still have turned edges.

The appliqué information also shows how to achieve precision where precision is important, and individual, artful results where precision is less important.

Leaves don’t have to be green, did you know that? I know that, but I mostly forget it when I reach for my fabrics. You’ll see some stunning results in the book’s gallery of quilts where the quilters have reached past the green box.

The gallery includes many beautiful quilts made by Jane and her students. The author then includes 16 appliqué blocks, each one with complete skill-building instructions. It’s easy to see why this one is still in print after nine years, it’s a classic.

artapp2Artful Appliqué II: Introducing Scrapliqué and 12 New Floral Designs

I just received this one from Martingale so it’s hot off the presses! I can tell from the cover that the floral designs are even more free-form, natural, and detailed. Never fear, Jane takes you step-by-step through her way of mastering this realism. She does advises beginners to consult one of her previous books or another reference book for the basics of appliqué.

In this book Jane introduces Scrapliqué, a technique for creating mosaic-like fabric compositions for your motifs without having to stitch tiny pieces together. There’s also information on unit appliqué, where you can stitch an entire flower before stitching it to the background. Jane explains several advantages to this strategy.

The book has sections on color blending, free-form stems and branches, and a unique way of stitching sharp points. There’s a gorgeous gallery of quilts and 12 floral blocks with step-by-step instructions and photos. You’ll find anemone, camellia, iris, lady’s slipper, pansies, sweet peas, and more! All so detailed you wouldn’t believe it.

artappimage

Martingale recently published an interview with Jane on their blog. Be sure to go and read that for more information on the artist.

Leave a comment before 7:00 p.m. California time on Thursday, December 17 (my bday :) ), for a chance to win this fantastic combo platter. U.S. and Canada only, unless you’d be willing to pay the shipping.

Happiest holidays to you!
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

I met Gloria Foley a couple years ago at my home guild’s quilt show when she came into my booth and spotted my Baskets to Appliqué designs. Gloria is the proprietress of The Victorian Quilter, a traveling quilt-show shop specializing in patterns and fabrics with that romantic, Victorian patina.

Gloria gave me an order on the spot for a batch of the books and told me of her plans to make a sample to hang in her booth. Since that time she has become a wonderful friend and a mentor to me, sharing her knowledge of area quilt shows and giving me great tips. Every time I would talk to her or see her at a show she would tell me that the baskets were coming along. Last spring I saw the blocks, completed but not set together yet. They were just gorgeous… soft and rich looking.

Well, at the recent River City Quilt Guild show in Sacramento, I checked in with her during setup and there was the quilt, finished and up on the wall.

Victorian Baskets by Gloria Foley

Victorian Baskets by Gloria Foley

Wow!!! Look at that red setting. Talk about punch! It looks so different from mine, I love it! Gloria used needleturn appliqué and, instead of a dogtooth border, she used prairie points in the border.

Sixteen Baskets by Kay Mackenzie

Sixteen Baskets by Kay Mackenzie

vq-baskets-3

vq-baskets-4

At the Sacramento show, people had fun walking back and forth between our booths to look at the two versions.

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

Have I got a good one for you this time! December’s giveaway, sponsored by Martingale & Company / That Patchwork Place, is Mimi Dietrich’s classic, Baltimore Basics: Album Quilts from Start to Finish.

baltimore-basicsWhat a delight for the appliqué enthusiast! Mimi, a Baltimore native and lifelong resident, is an authority on this amazing quilt form that has hooked so many of us on appliqué.

Mimi begins by presenting food for thought in planning your quilt, considering options, making decisions, and getting organized. This is not your quick-and-easy type o’ deal. These are more like thoughtful, measured, long-range projects that you should enjoy all along the way.

Next comes a great idea — printed layout mockups! You can photocopy the block thumbnails, cut them apart, and try them out in several pre-printed arrangements to see what you like best. Very cool.

Then there’s a whole beautiful section giving fabric yardage and cutting instructions for a wide variety of sizes and settings. Mimi really helps you design your own quilt.

After giving information on fabrics and supplies, Mimi takes you step-by-step through several methods of preparation for hand appliqué. She encourages you to try them all to see which is your favorite. Then comes detailed information on hand stitching, plus sections on the stems, circles, baskets, and bows that we see so commonly in Baltimore Album. Since Mimi also knows dimensional appliqué, she throws in folded rosebuds and ruched flowers.

Then, of course, there are the 12 beautiful block patterns reminiscent of old, each one accompanied by a color photo of the stitched design.

mimi-block

The book ends with how to sew your blocks together, how to make appliquéd borders, and quilting and finishing your big or little masterpiece.

mimi-back

I get to play Santa! U.S. and Canada only, unless you’d be willing to pay the shipping. Leave a comment before 7:00 p.m. California time on Friday, December 4. The lucky winner will receive Baltimore Basics plus my book Easy Appliqué Blocks: 50 Designs in 5 Sizes.

Ho ho ho!
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

Dana MackenzieMy husband of 20 years, Dana Mackenzie.

Willie MackenzieOur dog of 15 years, Bertram Wilberforce Woofster Mackenzie III, aka Willie.

Pixel MackenzieThe Last of the Mohicans, Pixel, 19 years old and sleeping snugly in the closet with my old Bernina.

Chutney & Maikai MackenzieChutney and Maikai, our two kitty friends of 18 years, to whom we bid a furry farewell this year.

Kay's handsMy hands. I was thinking about this after the quilt show in Sacramento last weekend. Sometimes ladies come into my booth, look around, and say, “I used to appliqué but my hands don’t work any more.” That’s a sadness to me. So I’m thankful that I have my hands. Not many people know this, but I’m what I call a ‘closet arthritic.’ Two major bouts earlier in my life stiffened my joints and crimped up my toes but, very thankfully, spared my hands. I can appliqué.

Illustration from Easy Appliqué BlocksThe above photo is a staging shot that I sent to Martingale for their reference in creating an illustration. Here’s the corresponding figure from Easy Appliqué Blocks, showing how I pinch the turning allowance under ahead of my stitching.

Those are the really big things. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

Susan Brubaker Knapp and I became acquainted through a Yahoo discussion group for pattern designers. Her Blue Moon River blog was one of the stops on my Easy Applique Blocks Book-a-Round in April. In May, Susan and I were able to meet in person during Spring Quilt Market in Pittsburgh. (See my post-Market post.)

We were both as high as kites above Pittsburgh. Me because my book had just come out, and Susan because she had just found out that not one but two of her quilts had been chosen for the 2010 Quilting Arts Calendar, one of them actually being on the cover! That’s right, those stunning citrus slices are Susan’s. Not only that, she and C&T Publishing were hard at work on Susan’s first book due out in the fall.

During the summer, C&T contacted me to ask if I would like to write an blurb about Susan’s book. Would I! They sent me an advance galley copy of Applique Petal Party so I was able to pore over the gorgeous floral designs and the written information. I wrote my blurb and sent it in.

Check out the interview with Susan on the C&T blog.

Now the book is out!

Applique Petal Party is presented in a unique format… a glossy heavyweight sleeve contains an instruction booklet and… get this… 16 full-size patterns! Each block is 13”, so what a convenience. You can make the Petal Party quilt, a smaller wall quilt, or use these designs whenever you need an appliqué block. Click here to see the full quilt on the C&T site..

The booklet gives great hand appliqué instructions plus construction information for the Petal Party quilt that goes from cutting to quilting to binding and labeling. The quilt has scalloped borders so here’s your chance to learn how to do those, including the binding part.

My blurb? It just flowed from my brain through my fingertips to the keyboard. When I got the book, I saw that my quote had made the back cover! In fact, it’s the only one!!! Wow!

kays-quote

Susan has generously sent me an autographed copy to give away in a drawing to a lucky reader. Leave a comment before 7:00 p.m. on Halloween to enter the drawing. (U.S. and Canada only unless you’re willing to pay the shipping.)

Boo!
Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

Today I thought I’d post my illustrations showing how to hand-appliqué points. When I was learning to appliqué, this was one of the biggest mysteries to me, and when I finally “got it” my confidence took a big boost.

To begin with, you’ll want a turning allowance of no more than 3/16″. A quarter inch is just too much bulk to stuff under a point.

The stitches are exaggerated for illustration purposes.



Sew to within two or three stitches of the point.point1.gif



Trim off the folded-under puppydog ear that is sticking out the other side of the point.point1a.gif



Fold the tip down square across.point2.gif



Take the remaining stitches to the point, the last one coming right out of the tip.
point3.gif



Turn the project.point4.gif



Starting at the point, tuck the turning allowance under. Don’t try to start further up and work down to the point. There will be no room at the point for the turning allowance if you try to do that. Work from the very point upwards.point5.gif



When all is arranged satisfactorily, continue to stitch.point6.gif



I hope this is helpful to you if you’ve found pointy points to be a mystery too.

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

All graphics © Kay Mackenzie

I wrote this article awhile ago. I couldn’t get a magazine interested in it, so
I publish it for you here, because I think it’s quite an interesting proposition. This was before I learned back-basting.

Hand vs. Machine Appliqué: A Timed Experiment
by Kay Mackenzie

For quite a long time I was a hand appliquér only. But when I started designing appliqué patterns for publication, I turned to machine appliqué as a speedier way of creating second and third examples of the designs. After all, machine appliqué is a lot faster, right?

Somewhere along the way I became curious about how much time I was actually saving. I decided to conduct a personal timed study to compare a hand method and a machine method. I used a block from A Spin in the Garden, a pattern I was designing.

spin.jpg
The spinning vine block in the middle
is the one I used.

I’ll begin by briefly describing the two methods I compared:

HAND
Traditional needle-turn using bias tape maker, freezer-paper templates, and a tracing-paper placement overlay.
MACHINE
Raw edge, small machine blanket stitch using paper-backed fusible web and a tracing-paper placement overlay.

I used the same block and the same fabrics for both methods. I did not time the initial steps that were common to both methods, including selecting fabrics, cutting background squares, finding my glasses, gathering all materials, supplies, and notions, numbering the shapes in placement sequence, and assigning the colors on the pattern.

After organizing my thoughts and the projects, I set to work, watching the clock and recording the time for each step. I did one method all the way through, then the other. Here are my results.

HAND Minutes MACHINE Minutes
Trace pattern quickly onto tracing paper to make placement overlay. 2 Trace pattern carefully onto tracing paper with a heavy marker to make placement overlay, also serves as reversed pattern. 5
Using front of pattern, trace a freezer-paper template for each shape except vine. Cut out templates precisely on drawn lines. 8 Using reversed pattern, trace a fusible-web template for each shape, including vine. Cut out templates roughly outside drawn lines. Cut away centers of flower and leaf templates. 14
Iron templates onto right side of assigned fabrics. 4 Iron templates onto wrong side of assigned fabrics. 7
Cut out shapes, leaving a turn-under margin outside template. Clip notches. 6 Cut out shapes on drawn line. 8
Make vine using bias tape maker. Apply thin strip of fusible to back of vine. Trace vine placement onto background fabric. 6
Clean and oil sewing machine, change presser foot, insert new needle. Wind bobbin for each thread color. Adjust blanket-stitch setting, test stitching. 8
PREPARATION SUBTOTAL 26 42
Fuse vine in place. Stitch vine. Then, one shape at a time, using placement overlay, remove templates and place, baste, stitch using thread to match each shape. 160 All at once, using placement overlay, remove paper backing and place, fuse, stitch using thread to match each shape (all of one color is stitched before changing thread). Pull thread tails to the back, knot, and bury. 91
TOTAL 3 hours 6 min 2 hours 13 min

hand-spin.gif

Hand

machine-spin.gif

Machine

Click either block for a close-up.

It was interesting to note that the pre-stitching phase took longer for machine appliqué than for hand appliqué. Cutting out the centers of the fusible web templates is not applicable for freezer-paper templates, and ironing time for fusible web templates is longer than for freezer-paper templates. For hand appliqué, I didn’t need to set up my machine, and I could trace the overlay quickly and with less care, since it was for placement purposes only.

The time savings for machine appliqué showed up in the last stage, where the shapes were placed, secured, and stitched. The grand total difference in time represented about a 30% overall time savings for machine appliqué.

There’s a lot to think about when looking at these time results. You may be faster or slower at any of these steps than I am. There are many ways to appliqué, and you may use differing techniques that are slower or faster within either hand or machine methods.

Also worth noting is that when I first took up machine appliqué, I don’t think I saved any time at all, because I made a lot of mistakes. Forgetting to reverse the pattern, neglecting to remove the centers of the templates, having the fusible come apart from the paper backing before I had a chance to use it, fusing to the right side of the fabric (force of habit from hand appliqué), and probably a few other embarrassing ways to get things wrong — mistakes in machine appliqué are not a time saver! Now I am comfortable and practiced at both methods, and the times noted in this experiment refer to a “clean run.”

Time, of course, is not the only factor for choosing one method over another. Personal enjoyment, skill level, preference for appearance, portability, appropriateness for the chosen project, type of sewing machine, these things and more can come into play when choosing an appliqué method.

I’m so glad I decided to conduct this personal timed study. Now I have learned that when either method is equally appropriate for my project, and time is the deciding factor, I’ll be saving almost a third by using machine appliqué.

-the end-

I’d love to hear what you think about this! Did I save as much time as you thought I would?

Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

Today I’m writing about my favorite quilt as part of the Bloggers Quilt Festival put on by Amy of
Park City Girl.

My favorite quilt is usually the one I just started :) but if I had to pick just one, I’d have to say that it’s my Sixteen Baskets.

16baskets.gif

Here are the reasons why:

In many ways I think this is my best work. It’s hand appliquéd, back during the time that I favored the freezer-paper-template-on-top method (before I learned back-basting). The tiniest motifs are machine appliquéd or hand embroidered.

Each of the blocks is my original design… they’re published in my book Baskets to Appliqué. It was an exciting, emotional, fulfilling process developing the concept for each basket, and I still remember that time…. the mischevious kitty, the fat quarters rolled up, the nod to Baltimore, the pastel eggs inspired by Janet’s chickens who gave us eggs exactly those colors.

This quilt is also hand quilted. I took a picture that’s unevenly lit on purpose to try to get the quilting to show up. I love hand quilting and don’t get the chance to do it as much as I used to.

16baskets-detail.gif

I love the soldier blue and the dogtooth border. (Also that it’s called a dogtooth border, because I love dogs.)

So that’s my favorite quilt. Thanks for visiting to see my entry in the Bloggers’ Quilt Festival! Visit Park City Girl every day through April 24 and get a ringside seat for other bloggers’ favorite quilts! It’s quite a show!

Until next time,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

The November 2008 issue of American Quilter magazine, put out by the American Quilters Society, features “Appliqué Your Way” … yay!

Faye Labanaris contributes an article with photo tutorials for four different kinds of needleturn hand appliqué. Suzanne Marshall shares her method for creating bias stems. And Ann Holmes shows how she constructs her pieces for machine appliqué, in which “there’s no sewing until you quilt it.”

Not only is this issue full of great appliqué information, there’s a bagful of eye candy in the form of the winners of the recent Nashville show. Best of Show and Best Hand Workmanship Award both went to Baltimore Album-style quilts :) .

The celebration continues in the next issue with Jeana Kimball’s back-basting technique. Jeana is one of my all-time favorite appliqué idols and I can’t wait to see this article.

Until next time,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

The Appliqué Society has a page on their website called Just Appliqué that offers really fun, useful, and interesting things for appliqué fans.

There are articles on international appliqué, there’s a resizing calculator, there’s a Show and Share section, free patterns, and a wonderful series of articles on the basic appliqué stitch, how to put together an appliqué sewing kit, and some information about the history of appliqué.

These resources are there for you to enjoy whether you’re a member of the Society or not. Thanks TAS!

Until next time,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

Darcy Ashton of Ashton Publications has put up a couple of fantastic posts on her blog recently. This one shows her process of marking and constructing her appliqués (and at the same time we get to see her new two-color bunnies), and this one shows how to achieve those soulful eyes that her animals have.

Thanks Darcy!

Until next time,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

I discovered a very colorful, joyful blog by a young woman named Joanna. She has put up a couple of outstanding tutorials on needleturn appliqué, the first on prep and the second on the stitching.

Joanna marks differently than I do, handles points and notches just a touch differently, and uses glue to stick things down, whereas I’m a baster. Vive la différence! There’s no one right way. Appliquérs find the methods that work for them.

Thanks, Joanna, for your effervescent Appliqué Today.

Until next time,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

The International Quilt Association puts out a quarterly journal for its members. In the latest issue there’s a fabulous article by Rhianna White called Quilting 101: Baltimore Album Quilts.

It’s a great lesson in the origin and history of the popular appliqué art form, and if you’re interested in the history of appliqué you’ll love this article. Renowned experts Elly Sienkiewicz and Mimi Dietrich contribute to the information.

Very generously, the IQA puts this journal up on its website in pdf form for all to download and enjoy. Go to quilts.org, click to enter, then look in the left sidebar for “IQA Journal.”

Until next time,
Kay

Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

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