My current favorite brand of paper-backed fusible web is SoftFuse.

I carry it on my website and I take it with me to shows.

Yesterday I made a new little visual demo of how to use the product, to lay on the table for those who are unfamiliar with raw-edge fusible appliqué.

I thought, aha! I can take photos as I go and stick them up on the blog!

First trace the shape onto the paper side and roughly cut out, leaving a small margin outside the drawn line.

Cut right through the line and trim away the center of the template, leaving a ring of fusible in the shape of the motif.

Put the cut-away part with your stash of fusible scraps, for future use on a smaller motif.

Fuse the floppy shape to the back of your appliqué fabric, meeting the cut ends together.

Now cut out the shape on the drawn line, through the template and the fabric together.

Remove the paper backing, fuse to the background fabric, and stitch.

The flip side. I used a small blanket stitch and buried the thread tails under the line of stitching.

That’s the basics!

Until next time,
Kay

Okay that makes it sound like I have a football team standing around in my kitchen getting ready to peel me a grape. The truth is, there are only two hunks in my life, my (actually rather skinny) husband of 23 years, Dana, and our strapping young tuxedo cat Max.

Being an appliquér, most of the pieces of fabric in my stash are little, just odds and ends that are perfect for making flowers, stems, teapots, birds, pie, cake, and whatever else is cooking in my brain at the moment. When I embark on a project I usually have to go out shopping for yardage for the background and/or borders and backing. But I do have a small, very untidy stack of what I think of a ‘big hunks’ stuck in the very corner of my stash. A big hunk to me is anything a yard or longer. (I know, I know. But they take up too much room in the tubs with the smaller pieces.)

My next-door neighbor at Festival in Long Beach was DeNiece of DeNiece’s Designs, inventor of the Fabric Organizer. This Texas gal was a hoot and a half and we had a great time being next to one another all weekend long. I decided to bring home some of the organizers to see if I could wrangle some sort of better order into my big hunks.

I got eight of the Small size, 5″ x 14″.

It was fun folding and wrapping the lengths onto the organizers, which BTW are acid-free. The organizers have push-out tabs to secure the leading edge of the fabric. By folding the fabric into eighths, (5-6 inch widths), I was able to get two onto an organizer, and secured them with rubber bands.

A lot better now, don’t you think? And these little almost like mini-bolts fit right back into that little wedgy space in the corner of the stash! Now I can see what I have without rummaging. Very satisfying.

There are a lot more uses for the organizers, and different sizes to fit different needs. You can find out more at TheFabricOrganizer.com.

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

Fran V. wrote:

I have found that there are a lot of assumptions made when it comes to actually stitching the pieces together and in what order. For some blocks it is rather obvious, but for others not so much, especially in more complicated blocks. Some direction here would be nice.

Fran, there are two ways of thinking about what a pattern should provide. Some patterns come with little numbers all over them indicating stitching order of the pieces. To me they look like they have the measles LOL. I’m in the other camp. You know that old expression, “If somebody’s hungry, you can give them a fish, or you can teach them to fish.”

numbered-roseRose block from Easy Appliqué Blocks.

The same process applies whether the pattern is simple and the order is obvious, or when the pattern is quite complicated and has many pieces and layers. Take charge! Just look and see which pieces are partially behind others, and start with them. Build from the back to the front. If it helps you, you can jot down your own measles on your master pattern. :)

Fran also wrote,

Also some hints on deep curves and points would be nice. Could you use your wavy blades to cut these out to eliminate the fray while you work with them?

We’re covered points, notches, and curves in previous posts. As for the wavy blades… wow! Now that’s a thought! A scary one! It’s a good thing Clover makes microserrated scissors with this very idea in mind. They’re like teeny tiny pinking shears. I carry them on my website in the 5″ hand-scissor size, on the Kits & Notions page.

scissors

Karen Kay Buckley also has her own brand in a larger and a smaller size on her website.

Miscroserrated scissors don’t exactly eliminate fraying. I don’t think anything can — it’s cut fabric after all — but they do make the cut edge less prone to fraying.

Hope this helps! Thanks for your question Fran! So glad you are enjoying the blog.
Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

My pal Cathy sent me a link to one of Bonnie McCaffery’s vidcasts. The Tentmakers of Cairo are artists I had not heard of. Their story is fascinating and the work they do incredible. And so fast! Check it out. It’s a big wide world, and it isn’t really tents any more.

Over at The Quilt Show, Sharon Pederson has been giving a series of lessons. There’s one on easy padded machine appliqué that’s really cool. You do not have to be a TQS member to watch the video.

Until next time, enjoy the show!
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

During Spring Market, I stopped by the Colonial Needle booth and introduced myself to Pepper Cory. It was a great conversation starter to lead with the fact that I am a fellow native North Carolinian LOL!

Pepper was hanging out with Colonial Needle because she has really gotten into the Big Stitch way of hand quilting and has put together a special pack of needles just for this style.

When Pepper learned that I was an appliqué enthusiast, she asked me if I ever worked with batiks. I told her that I do have a small tub of batiks, but for hand work, not so much. She handed me a needle sampler pack that was put together by appliqué artist extraordinaire Kathy Delaney.

needle-sampler

needles-back

Since batiks have a very tight weave and a sort-of crispy finish, they’re a bit tougher to needle by hand than regular quilter’s cottons. On the back of the pack, Kathy says that for stitching batiks, she uses John James Gold ‘n Glide needles. They’re coated to slide through fabric even more easily than regular appliqué needles. I’ve heard of Gold ‘n Glide needles for years, but hadn’t ever tried one. I decided to give them a whirl.

I chose the Spring Basket block from my Inspired By Tradition. Here’s the one that’s in the book.

blog-spring-basket

I pulled out my rather sparse stash of batiks and batiky-likes and chose some fabrics for this new version. The light green and dark purple are hand dyes and the brown is a Moda Marble. The other fabrics are all batiks. I didn’t have anything to use for a batik background, so I decided to keep with the spirit of the challenge and use a creamy white-on-white. Sometimes stitching through these can feel like punching your needle through dried latex paint.

batik-fabrics

Look at these funky scraps! They’re left over from the Keri Duke workshop.

green-scraps

Here’s a photo of my usual hand appliqué needle, John James milliner’s No. 10 (below), and a John James Gold ‘n Glide No. 11 from the pack. When I first picked up the No. 11, it did feel a little strange in my hand since I usually work with the next size up.

2-needles

The sampler pack included both regular straw needles and Gold ‘n Glide straw needles, No. 11. (BTW, straw needles and milliner needles are the same thing.) I stitched the hand dyes and the printed marble elements first and got those out of the way. Then I started on the dark green batik leaves. I did the first one with the regular needle from the pack. The needle felt grabby and squeaky going through the fabric, kind of like eating undercooked green beans. For the second dark green leaf, I switched to the Gold ‘n Glide needle.

Did I feel a difference?

You betcha! The catchiness and squeakiness was gone! What a relief. I stitched away, glorying the in glidiness of this golden-eyed needle. I tell you what, if I ever embark on a whole hand-appliquéd batik project, I will go out and get myself a pack of Gold ‘n Glides. But probably in a Size 10… I did have significantly more trouble threading the needle, even with the gold eye.

Here’s my Batik Spring Basket.

batik-spring

If you’d like to try them, Kathy offers the sampler packs and regular packs of all of her favorite needles on her website.

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

At Market, I picked up a sample packet of a product called Retro Clean.

retro-clean-card

The instructions say that this product “safely removes yellow and brown age stains in vintage and antique washable fabrics, linens, and laces.”

Ooh, I couldn’t wait to try it out! When I got married 22 years ago, I asked for and was given several pieces of old family furniture. One of them was a humongous chest of drawers that I remember being at the top of the stairs in one of the houses I grew up in. It actually came from the generation before, from my grandparents. The family called it the ‘highboy’ but my husband refers to it as ‘the sarcophagus’ and every mover who ever had to lift it uttered things like “Jimminy Christmas.”

A couple drawers in the highboy were filled with old linens. Nothing fancy, nothing valuable, but, you know… they’re family linens, and they have sentimental value. I bet you have some of those too.

All these years those linens have stayed in the drawer. A lot of them look like this.

old-linens-1

old-linens-2

old-linens-3

Okay guys, you’ve waited 22 years, now you’re going to get soaked!

The sample pack contained about 5 tablespoons of the powder, so according to the formula I mixed it up with a gallon and a half of warm water. I gave the linens a quick wash and rinse in the sink and dunked them into the solution. You’re then supposed to stir and soak in direct sunlight for two days, so I set the tub out on the patio.

soak-patio

For the next couple days, every so often I swished and turned, swished and turned. After about 48 hours I dumped everything out (including the dead bug, oh well, he died clean) and gave the linens a quick wash and rinse in the sink.

O…M…G and a half! Check it out!

linens-3a

linens-2a

linens-1a

I’d say that’s one big improvement! Especially in those rusty old white damask linens. You better believe I’m ordering a regular package of Retro Clean.

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

alex-anderson

I just discovered that Alex Anderson is offering a series of videos on hand and machine appliqué over at The Quilt Show website.

If you’re not already a member you do need to register but no $$ involved, the classes are free. Check it out at the appliqué classroom page and follow Alex through many hand and machine techniques. A great resource!

Cheers,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

I finally get to write about something I’ve been wanting to get to since January. Now that my quilts for the new book are finished and safely arrived at the Martingale offices, I can actually pick up my head and look around!

Before the Road to California show in January, I received a very nice invitation from Darlene Christopherson, esteemed appliqué artist and Marketing Developer for the Pellon Quilt Division. Pellon was having a booth at the show, and Darlene invited designers to come by and receive a sample of Pellon’s new Legacy brand battings.

Naturally, I was happy to do so. I was presented with a sample pack of 15 different battings. Wow, that’s a lot of styles! I’ve been itching to stitch up some samples to share on the blog. What came to mind are some ancient appliquéd hearts that have been marinating in unfinished-land for you wouldn’t believe how many years. Let’s just say that when you see some of the fabrics you may take a trip on the hot tub time machine back to the 80s. Apparently when I was a young green quilter I thought I would appliqué a heart out of each fabric in my stash, onto bleached muslin. Well you can imagine how long that lasted. Sigh, the naiveté of youth.

Gentle quilters, I didn’t take the time to hand quilt any of them, just whizzed them up on the Bernina with some swirlies. Some of the swirlies are more “interesting” than others and I make no claims about my machine quilting. Sorry you can’t feel these But I hope there’ll be some useful information here.

batting-1

batting-2

batting-3

batting-4

batting-5

batting-6

batting-7

batting-8

batting-9

batting-10

batting-11

batting-12

I did the poofy poly and wool ones too, though these probably aren’t the styles you’d choose for machine quilting.

batting-13

batting-14

And last but not least, how about this dramatic back batting?

batting-15

I like a low-loft batting myself, and all of the first 12 were fine and dandy for what I do. It’s very interesting the different fibers used… you can choose from cotton, poly, linen, flax, bamboo, soy, rayon, and blends of more than one. When I first started quilting there was Mountain Mist and Mountain Mist. We have so many choices now!

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

Yesterday I had the chance to try out the Superior windfall.

This is an old block originally called Wandering Foot. That name was thought to bring on the wandering foot to youths who slept under it, so a new name was given to it… Turkey Tracks. Much more attractive, don’t you think? :) It’s also called Iris Leaf when it’s green on white.

Fused and unstitched.

Fused and unstitched.

After some investigation on the Superior website, I discovered that the Holy SuperBobs are Bottom Line, a line of thread developed by Libby Lehman. It’s 60-weight polyester. I perused the rainbow and picked out the color that matched the best.

iris-thread

Wow, you can hardly make it out! It really is whisper-fine.

I fired up my Bernina and adjusted the blanket stitch down a few ticks, reasoning that a very fine thread should be given a pretty small stitch. A few minutes later, and voila! The block was stitched, and looked great! My machine liked the thread, which I used in both the top and the bottom, and Mother Superior says it’s not linty like cotton.

stitched-iris

How’s that for blending in? From a short distance you can’t see the stitching at all. This thread might be a nice choice when you really want to mimic hand appliqué while still using your machine, or when using the turned-edge blind-hem stitch method of machine appliqué (which BTW I am not adept at).

stitched-detail

One thing I did note is that the edges of the appliqués feel a little “crispy” compared to when I use cotton thread.

On to MasterPiece. MasterPiece thread is 2-ply 50-weight cotton, favored by the Piece o’ Cake gals and by Alex Anderson.

A simple forget-me-not.

Fused and unstitched.

Fused and unstitched.

My choices from the rainbow.

forget-thread

I adjusted the blanket stitch to my usual setting, just a couple ticks down in width and length. Away I went!

forget-stitched

I like it, my machine likes it. I wound a bobbin for the green, but for the dabs of yellow and blue I used bobbins I already had wound with DMC. Worked great! They really are equivalent in weight so that’s a plus for me that I can mix and match at this stage of evolution in my thread stash.

forget-detail

Now on to hand appliqué. I just happened to have a block in the queue that I needed to stitch up twice, to use as an example in the new book I’m working on for Martingale.

Here are the threads I chose.

Poly on the left and cotton on the right.

Poly on the left and cotton on the right.

I started with the polyester first. I was really excited about trying out this thread for hand appliqué. In the past, when I’ve tried other brands of poly thread, it went around in circles, kinked up, and raveled at the end. I’m delighted to report that Bottom Line stays straight. It sinks right into the turned edge of the appliqué and hides itself really well, and I was not plagued with knots or kinks. Yay! The one thing I did notice is that since it’s more slippery than cotton thread, my thread tail kept shortening up on me and I lost the thread out of the needle a couple times. I guess this just takes getting used to coming from the fabric of our lives.

poly-dogwood

I was on a roll watching the chocolate challenges on Food Network, so I plunged on ahead to the second version, using MasterPiece cotton. Excellent on all counts.

cotton-dogwood

Can you tell the difference in the completed piece? Neither can I, so I’ve been keeping sticky notes on them :) .

These pink dogwood blocks may seem kinda pale, and that’s on purpose. I’m going to embroider around the edges of one of them to illustrate how you can better define the edges of your appliqués when you want to use low-contrast fabrics.

Well, thanks guys! I got a lot done yesterday!

Chime in! I’d like to hear from others who use Bottom Line or MasterPiece. How do you use it, why do you like it?

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

On The Quilt Show website, there’s a link for a series of Bernina Educational Videos that are free for the watching… you don’t have to be logged in.

I found this one on invisible machine appliqué that shows the freezer-paper-template-and-glue method for doing turned-edge appliqué with the blind-hem stitch. The link starts up the video right away.

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

Sarah Vee ordered some Mistyfuse right about the time we were discussing fusible web without a paper backing. She has checked it out very thoroughly and put up a product review on her Sew Joy blog. Lots of practical tips and hints from her extensive testing! Thanks Sarah!! Great information.

Until next time,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

More fusible web! I stopped by the June Tailor booth at Spring Market and noticed one of their new products… Ink Jet Printable Fusible Web. They gave me a package to try out.

package.gif

The package says, “Use any pattern that you create, scan, or download onto your computer.” I would add a caveat… the pattern has to have templates that are separated from one another. The reason is that when you cut out the shapes, you need to leave a little bit of product outside the line, so that when you cut out the fused motif, you’re cutting fusible and fabric at the same time. That gives a clean edge.

Being a designer, I have tons of appliqué patterns on my computer, but I don’t normally design with all templates separate. To try out the printable fusible web, I took one of my simple patterns from Easy Appliqué Blocks, Moon and Stars, and moved the shapes apart. I also reversed them, which is what you need to do for fusible appliqué. (Didn’t need the centering lines just to print the templates, but I forgot to remove them.)

moon-stars-reg.gifmoon-stars.gif

I took all the paper out of my printer tray and loaded one sheet of fusible web per the instructions. On my printer, the printable side is down so that’s how I loaded it, with paper side down. Then I sent the print job. Well, the sheet crept out of the printer slower than a snail’s pace. I couldn’t figure out why, so I checked my print settings… yep, it was set on Quick. Then I remembered that the package said to use a ‘plain paper’ setting. I rechecked my settings and changed the paper type from automatic to plain paper and tried it again. Voila! It printed on out like I thought it should. On automatic, my printer detected that this was some sort of weird stuff moving through its interior and did the best it could to interpret how to print on it. This was a case of RTFM. If you don’t know that term, it’s short for Read the Fabulous Manual. (Sort of.)

Here’s the printed sheet.

printed.gif

I cut the templates apart.

cut-out.gif

Then cut the centers away.

no-centers.gif

Fused to the backs of my appliqué fabrics. (Note: the package says to use no steam, and really, you’ll need to use a dry iron. In case you left any of the lines at all, let’s just say that steam and inkjet do not play nicely together.)

fused.gif

Here’s what the glue looks like after it’s been fused to the motif. Kinda shiny-like.

shiny.gif

I positioned and fused the shapes to the background fabric. The instructions again say to use no steam. Normally I would use steam at this stage, because my understanding is that that’s what activates the glue. But I used a dry iron, and, after an initial press, “glided” it as the instructions said to do. Worked fine.

all-fused.gif

I stitched with my usual small machine blanket stitch and all went well. There was no gumming of the needle.

stitched.gif

The product performed quite well for me, and acted just as it said it would. Something to think about is that if you mess up a template, it isn’t going to be all that easy to reprint just one template.

And, all this product was left over. That’s not going through my printer again. I guess I’ll save it and try using it in a future project the old-fashioned way, by tracing.

extra.gif

So, if you see June Tailor Ink Jet Printable Fusible Web and you also have appliqué templates in electronic form (original, scanned, or downloaded), pick up a package and try if for yourself! It costs more but you may enjoy the time saved and accuracy of not having to trace your templates.

Until next time,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

As I was roaming the aisles of Spring Quilt Market with my eye attuned to everything appliqué, I was stopped by a display wall of product. “Fusible Web” jumped out at me. This was the Bosal Foam and Fiber booth and the nice gentleman there gifted me with a package of their paper-backed product for me to try.

bosal1.gif

Here’s what the fusible side looks like.

bosal2.gif

I used it to stitch up a new block.

bosal3.gifI’m happy to report that the product worked quite nicely for me. It’s a bit heftier that the Wonder Under that I normally use, but since I cut out the centers of my templates, the finished block was not any stiffer at all.

On a couple of the pieces, the edges of the fusible were wanting to separate from the template, but with careful handling I didn’t have to redo anything. Once fused and cut out, the edges of the motifs were crisp, with almost no fraying. Yay! (Note: this may have more to do with fabric choice than with fusible web choice. I’m just sayin’.)

bosal4.gif

One thing I like is the really good explanation on the back of the package about the variables involved in getting a successful bond. “Time, heat, and pressure are the three key elements,” it begins, and goes on from there with some very good information about these variables. Note: it refers to ‘interfacing’ throughout, which to my mind is a different product from ‘fusible web.’ Maybe they use the same info on their interfacing packages, or maybe the company refers to fusible web as interfacing? In any case, it’s good information for either.

I contacted the Bosal company to learn more about the product, and received a prompt and comprehensive reply. I’ll just quote most of what Drew Serbin, Director of Operations, wrote me.

“Bosal is pronounced Beau-suhl. Our website is www.bosalonline.com and it is quite comprehensive, including information about all interfacings produced by Bosal Foam and Fiber as well as the myriad other craft products we produce, including urethane foam, bonded polyester battings, polyester fiber fill, and vellux craft kits.

If quilters go to our website and go to the “Where to Buy” section, they will see a list of distributors and high-volume retailers. If they click on the “Map” link they will actually see a map of the United States and can click on individual states to find a retailer.”

I clicked on the Bay area on the map and came up with Beverly’s, which we have right here in Santa Cruz. I’ll have to check it out next time I go.

I asked whether polyamide is the same fusible that’s used on other brands, and Drew told me that yes, it’s the same adhesive that’s used on nearly all fusible web, including Wonder Under. My needle didn’t gum up or anything like that, worked fine.

Drew also sent me some great information about other types of Bosal products. These things are beyond my personal ken but they may be of interest to all you crafty people, so I include the info here. Over to you, Drew.

“I would also add that Bosal has one of the most extensive lines of quilters’ fleeces in the market, including two weights of sew-in, scrim supported fleeces, the heaviest-weight fusible fleece in the industry, plus cotton/wool, Bamboo, Bamboo/Cotton and Soy Silk/Cotton fleece.

In addition to the fleeces, your readers might also be interested in our extensive line of embroidery stabilizers, which are available rolled on board or slit rolls in popular hoop sizes. The embroidery stabilizer line includes three water solubles, two tearaways, two cutaways, and a flame-retardant perforated for childrens’ wear.”

Here’s something that sounds interesting for those of you who make your own garment or handbag patterns.

“About eight months ago we launched Bosal Create-A-Pattern, it is a nonwoven tracing material that is is packed in a 46″ wide by either 5 or 10
yard roll. The beauty of Create-A-Pattern versus Swedish tracing paper or the like, is that it is a nonwoven, therefore you can crunch it up into a
ball and it lays right back down flat. Additionally, unlike traditional pattern papers and tracing papers, these goods will not tear and can be pinned. Thus it can be used over and over again without damaging the pattern.”

Thank you Drew for all of the info. If you are a machine appliquér and you see Bosal Fusible Web, you might want to pick up a package and give it a try for yourself. Another one for your appliqué bag of tricks!

Until next time,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

Sometimes I do a little hand embroidery on my appliqué blocks when some really fine details are needed, like whiskers or tendrils. It’s not truly a part of my skill set, and I just kinda sorta go for it.

birdbath.jpgI was so grateful when Anne Sutton of Bunny Hill put up Embroidery 101 Part One and Part Two on her Bunny Tales blog. I had had a block stuck up on my wall for awhile, waiting for some embroidery that I was putting off. Anne’s post inspired me to get to work on it… my stem stitch is now so much improved!

Appliqué patterns can often be used as embroidery patterns as well, so go read Anne’s fantastic primer and then you’ll have a whole new use for them!

Until next time,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

Today I’d like to pass along a few little tips about how to wrangle your fusible web… the kind that comes on a bolt.

My web of choice for raw-edge fusible machine appliqué is Pellon’s Wonder-Under, regular weight. Your mileage may vary. I’ve kind-of got it down now, but it was not always so. When it comes to paper-backed fusible web, I suffer from separation anxiety. As in, the web separates from the paper backing before I get a chance to use it. Arggh!

In the past, I’ve tried passing an iron over it on top of a teflon appliqué pressing sheet in an attempt to stick it back to the paper… what a mess. Now I just chuck it when I find that’s it separated.

Here’s what I do now to alleviate the separation issue.

First of all, don’t let the clerks in the store roll it up for you. You know what happens, say, if you place one towel on top of another and roll them up together? The top one ooches along and ends up sticking out farther than the bottom one by the time you get there. I don’t know which law of physics makes this so, but the same thing happens with fusible web and its paper backing. Rolling the product encourages separation. Just ask them to fold it loosely for you.

Then, as soon as you get home, cut it into squares. This is information that I got from my pal Pam Crooks, who got it from the estimable Sue Nickels, machine appliquér extraordinaire. I keep a separate rotary cutter for cutting paper and this purpose. The width of the product is 17″, so if you cut it into 8 1/2″ squares that’s just right, and the squares fit perfectly into a gallon-size zippy bag.

fusible1.gifNot only are they flat and happy and much easier to work with than a big floppy hunk, keeping the squares in a bag prevents them from drying out, another culprit in the separation issue.

fusible2.gif
I keep scraps in an old box lid that fits into the zippy bag when not in use.

As I work on a pattern I start with the smaller pieces and only start a new square when there’s a motif that’s bigger than my biggest scrap of fusible. It’s soooo nice to reach into that bag and pull out a nice fresh, flat sheet in such a manageable size.

Here’s another tip for working with paper-backed fusible web: trace the smaller pieces inside the larger pieces. I learned from Sue Nickels in her book Machine Applique: A Sampler of Techniques to cut out the center of the fusible-web templates. This strategy reduces stiffness in the quilt, and it can save product too if you use that cut-out area to make another template.

flower-basket.gifLet’s say we’re starting with a pattern like this.

fusible3.gif
The leaves will fit inside the basket with enough room to spare to cut everything out roughly.

While you’re at it, go ahead and trace the flower center inside the flower.

fusible5.gif

fusible4.gifUse a circle template tool to trace nice round circles. Use a size that is a little bit bigger than the circle. (When you trace, the circle shrinks.)

The arrow is my attempt at telestration in Photoshop.

Last tip for working with fusible web: the smallest, itty-bitty pieces like flower centers are too small to cut the center out of. Then it can be hard to get the paper backing started to peel it off when you’re ready to fuse. I tried the ‘scratch it with a pin’ technique but somehow was never skilled enough to do it without fraying a thread or two. My new favorite strategy is that, once the motif is rough-cut, I peel up one side of the paper, going into the motif area a little bit.

fusible6.gifThen I lay the paper back down and cut out the motif on the drawn line. When I’m ready to take the backing off, part of it has already been started. In this case, separation is good. :)

Okay, that is my most sage advice for fusible web management. I hope it proves to be of use to you.

Until next time,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

Being the ever-curious appliquér, I picked up a package of Ricky’s version of freezer paper.

package.gif

Here’s what the package says:

  • Large, ready-to-use sheet — more than twice as wide as standard freezer paper rolls
  • No cutting or taping needed to fit a full width of quilting fabric
  • Softer and more flexible than other brands
  • Lies flat, reusable
  • Use for piecing, appliqué, or ANY freezer-paper technique

  • Here’s what it looks like when you take it out of the package. This is only a portion of it.

    unfolded1.gif

    I cut out a hunk of the regular supermarket freezer paper and a piece of Ricky’s. Ricky’s does feel softer, thinner, and more flexible. I hope you can see a difference in this photo.

    compare.gif

    Personally I end up chopping my freezer paper into little pieces for the type of appliqué that I do, but I can see where this product would come in mighty handy if you’ve been taping together sections of freezer paper to use with large patterns in other techniques. For instance, what comes to mind is designing and marking swag borders, where you use a piece of freezer paper that’s the same dimensions as your border, then fold it into sections for the swags.

    I went ahead and tested it out for the freezer-paper-on-top type of appliqué that I know.

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    Note the cardboard underneath. The firm surface helps create a better bond when ironing the template onto the fabric.

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    I’m a baster… can’t abide pins when I’m trying to stitch.

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    Works great!

    It strikes me as amusing that Ricky would need to call this product by a name that’s not what it’s intended for (wrapping meat for the freezer) so that it will be familiar for quilters!

    C’mon gang, chime in. What use would you make out of extra-wide freezer paper?

    Kay
    Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

    Designer Susan Brubaker Knapp has posted a wonderful photo tutorial on her blog about how to use Karen Kay Buckley’s Perfect Circles™ templates to make prepared-edge circles for hand appliqué.

    I have a set of KKB’s templates tucked away in my appliqué bag of tricks. The circle templates come in a whole lot of different sizes and they come with a ring so you can keep them all corraled.

    Be sure to visit Susan’s website also, Blue Moon River. Susan has some beautiful patterns there, including stunning block-of-the-month appliqué patterns.

    Thanks Susan!

    Until next time,
    Kay
    Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

    When it comes to stems or vines, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. (Just an expression, I’ve had three cats for seventeen years and haven’t skinned any of them yet :) .)

    Here’s a photo tutorial on stems and skinny stems, two ways each. That’s four stems! In all cases this is hand appliqué, however, they can be adapted to be sewn on the machine.

    Here’s how I was first taught to do stems.

    Cut a bias strip 1″ wide or wider and press it in half, wrong sides together, lengthwise. Mark the stem or vine on the front of the background fabric.

    Sorry if you can’t see the pencil mark too well… there’s a big storm in California today and there’s no good natural light.

    Place the folded bias strip over the marked line, kind of averaging its position. Fold over the raw edges to where they fall short of the other side and crease to give yourself an idea of the stitching line.

    Stitch the vine to the background fabric using a small running stitch (left side of picture). Then roll the folded edge over the stitching, covering the raw edges of the other side. Appliqué the fold down (right side of picture). Disregard the position of the needle in this picture; I laid it down in haste.

    To make a skinny stem the same way, just stitch much closer to the fold.

    Trim away the excess, very close to the stitches. Roll and sew the same as before.

    A pretty good skinny stem.

    Now, on to the method I use most of the time now, with my trusty green gadget, the Clover® ¼” bias tape maker. Cut a bias strip that is 5/8″ wide. Yes, just 5/8″! Cut the top so that it angles upwards to the left — it seems to feed through better this way.

    Poke the strip right-side-up into the wider end of the gadget until you can see the fabric in the slot at the top. Use the tip of a pin to pull the strip through the slot until it sticks out the narrow end. Pin the strip to the ironing board. Use a glass-head pin, so you don’t have to worry about melting a plastic pin.


    Using a hot iron and plenty of steam, pull the gadget along the strip in one smooth, fairly rapid motion, following it closely with the iron. Don’t stop part-way through, or try to back up. Smoothness is key.

    Important: Hold your iron so that the steam vents are not directed at your fingers.


    You can make bias strips fusible by applying thin strips of paper-backed fusible web. I do this as a second step. I actually cut the strip of fusible in half lengthwise to make a very thin strip, which I find is enough. The product comes on a roll and is found alongside the bias tape makers.

    Using a dry iron, press the fusible strip to the back of the bias strip. Remove the paper backing and steam-press the stem over the marked line. Then it’ll be ready to stitch.

    To make a skinny stem this way, make another bias strip with the gadget, and press one side out flat again. Trim along the crease.

    Get out your glue stick and run it along the wrong side of the strip. Pick up the strip and pinch the raw edge back over to the center. It should stick with cheerful obedience. It if doesn’t, use a little more glue or make sure the glue stick is fresh.

    If you prefer to skip the gluing, you can use a hybrid method! Appliqué the folded edge first, then tuck under the raw edge on the other side as you stitch.

    All four, placed improvisationally on the background and, for some strange reason, from bottom to top!

    I hope this has helped you if you were looking for information on how to make stems or skinny stems. There are other methods too… remember those cats I mentioned?

    Over at the Quilter’s Newsletter website, I did a quick search and came up with several tutorials on how to make skinny stems. Check them out as well!

    Until next time,
    Kay

    I posted a little photo tutorial over on the Quilt Puppy Show & Tell Center about making lollipops using fusible interfacing.

    The fusible interfacing method is great for big, simple shapes. The edges are turned, you can use any kind of machine appliqué that you like, and the the product only fuses to the background, not to the motif, so it can be trimmed away after stitching and does not remain in the quilt.

    It’s another method for your appliqué bag of tricks!

    Until next time,
    Kay

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