Hello everyone! Back safe and sound from SoCal. I’m excited… this post has been cooking for over a year now! I met Australian quilter and stitcher extraordinaire Helen Stubbings at Market a couple of times, and we finally got it together for her to do a guest post on her method of appliqué! You are going to love this! Take it away Helen!

Glue stick Applique
By Helen Stubbings of Hugs ‘n Kisses

This easy or some would say ‘cheats’ method of needleturn applique takes the scare factor out of needleturn. Most of the work is in the preparation, leaving the actual stitching as the easy bit.

The method uses two products – Hugs ‘n Kisses Applique Paper and a glue pen – I use the Sewline Water-Soluble Glue Pen.

Method:
Place a sheet of applique paper with the shiny (glue) side down on top of your template or design printed sheet. It is semitransparent so you can easily see the design through the paper. Trace each design or template shape onto the paper – I like to use a Sewline Ceramic pencil which glides on nicely. Note: if your applique design is directional you need to reverse it for this method.


Cut out each shape carefully on the traced lines. This is the important part – be as careful as possible as this determines your final shape.


Fuse each shape to the wrong side of your chosen fabrics. You need to leave a large ¼” between shapes for seam allowances.


If you wish, you can fussy-cut your fabrics by positioning the shapes to suit.

Cut out each shape leaving an approximate 1/8” seam allowance.


Using the glue pen, run a line of glue along the edge of the paper template –- it only needs to be light and right on the edge.


Using your thumb and forefinger, gently press over the seam allowance onto the glue. You want to fold the fabric on the edge of the paper –- but you don’t want to fold the paper as well, it doesn’t take too long to get the feel of the edge of the paper and where to fold to.


If the end of your applique piece is going to be under another piece in the final design you do not need to glue and fold these edges over.

You do not need to clip into outer curves. Our seam allowance is small and often on the bias so clipping is not necessary. Just gently fold/pleat around curves a small step at a time so you do not get points. If you are having trouble eliminating points try trimming back the seam allowance a little further.





If you have tails like on this leaf, just leave those and they will be dealt with later.


Your prepared shape!


You will need to clip on inner curves – but not as much as you may be used to. Just clip where you absolutely need to to enable the seam allowances to fold in nicely. Inner points need to be clipped to the edge of the paper.


Continue glueing until all shapes are prepared.


Position your background fabric over the design sheet. Use a light box if you cannot easily see through the fabric.


Position and layer all applique pieces following the design you can see underneath. Use the glue pen or for larger projects Roxanne’s Glue baste it to secure all pieces at once. Just layer them up until the complete block is ready for stitching.



Now you can stitch all pieces down as you would for your normal applique method. I use Hugs ‘n Kisses applique needles and Superior Bottom Line threads but you can use your thread of choice. When stitching down those tails that are showing, stitch to the point and do a double stitch to hold, tuck under the tail with the tip of your needle and continue in the new direction.

No need to remove the papers – when it is washed they will just dissolve and soften into safe fibres in your quilt project.

All of our Hugs ‘n Kisses applique patterns include the full design sheet along with reversed where necessary templates and applique shapes for tracing. We are considering including pre-printed Applique Paper in our patterns in the future –- so you can just cut out, glue and stitch!

Happy appliquéing!
Hugs,
Helen

Every couple of years, my small quilt group the Nite Needlers collaborates on a project that we donate as a fundraiser to our guild or another worthy cause. This year we hit on a red-and-white basket quilt.

I drafted some basic traditional-looking baskets in my trusty Illustrator program and handed them out with the finished dimensions to all the gals. We’re each making five blocks, and our ground rules are that we’re using turkey-reddish fabrics for the baskets and white-to-cream-with-red for the background. Sticking to the basic basket shape, we can do whatever we like as far as sub-piecing the body, adding appliqué, etc.

OF COURSE I had to do some appliqué. Here’s what I came up with.

Okay imagine for now that there’s some red print on the white.

I had my plan. Now for the execution part. I was presented with some conundrums.

IMO, raw-edge appliqué is for decorative purposes, like wall quilts. This project is going to be bed-sized, so I really felt that my appliqué should be turned-edge. “Hand appliqué!” you might be saying. As well you might, knowing me.

But there were other factors to consider. I knew that Janet, who never does anything by hand being the mistress of the machine that she is, would make her handles using turned-edge machine appliqué. Plus, I wanted to delineate the edges of the appliqué motifs to distinguish between the flower and the leaves a little better, and the machine blanket stitch in the dark red color would work well for that.

So there it was. Turned-edge appliqué with a machine blanket stitch. Hmm….

I reached deep into my appliqué bag of tricks, and even ended up inventing a new trick that I threw back in with the rest when I was done!

First, the handles. I used Holly Mabutas’ glue-stick turned-edge preparation method, where the turning allowance is glued back onto itself using a freezer-paper template on the front as a guide. All went well.

Then the flowers. Another conundrum, factor, wrinkle, challenge, or whatever you consider it to be. These were white flowers on a red background. Can you say “shadow-through?” I wanted to line them.

Thinking cap, thinking cap. I could have used faced appliqué, but I was in the glue-stick groove. Got it! A hybrid fusing/glue-stick method!

I hauled out scraps of my favorite paper-backed fusible web SoftFuse, and made some templates with the centers cut out.

I fused them to some white scrap fabric and cut them out actual size.

I removed the paper backing and fused them onto the back of the red-and-white print for the flowers, and cut them out leaving a small turning allowance.

Back to Holly’s method, except this time I glued the turning allowance over onto the white lining, using it as my template. It worked!

Then I turned to Karen Kay Buckley’s Perfect Circles™ templates to make turned-edge flower centers.

Stick them all together and you’ve got a motif ready to pop onto a basket and stitch.

Here are my five baskets, ready to turn in at the next Nite Needlers meeting, and another thing off my list! Thanks Holly and Karen Kay!

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

If you’re like me you’re always interested in finding out more about how other appliquérs go about things. I was very intrigued to read up on the method that author Lori Buhler gives in her new book from Martingale, Fuss-Free Machine Appliqué: Sew on the Line for Great Results.

Lori tells us, “The quilts in this book are a combination of appliqué quilts and pieced quilts that use appliqué pieces to emulate the look of curved piecing. This technique used for appliqué is a fast and easy method that fits in with our busy lives. It involves using interfacing to face appliqué shapes, making it possible to turn under the edges with perfect results.”

Aha! So that’s how you can sew on the line! It’s all done by machine, stitching on lines that are marked on the interfacing. Very cool.

I’ve done a fair amount of this method with fusible interfacing; Lori uses a non-fusible product and pins the shapes in place for stitching.

Here are some of the stunning results she gets!

French Summer

Chocolate Kiss

Spinning Spools

This beautiful book gives full information on the interfacing technique, as well general quiltmaking and finishing instructions. There are 12 gorgeous projects, all using interfaced appliqué either for appliqué shapes or to eliminate the need for intricate piecing.

Courtesy of the publisher, I have a copy to give away. If you’d like to enter the drawing, please leave a comment at the bottom of this post before 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, August 5. (Can you believe it’s August already?)

Open to U.S. and Canada mailing addresses only. And remember, if you’re reading this in your email program, clicking “Reply” is not leaving a comment. You’ll need to click over to the blog itself.

Good luck!
Cheers,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

Our featured book this month is by none other than Nancy Mahoney, my current technical editor at Martingale!

Nancy has been publishing with Martingale for a long time. Today, thanks to Martingale, we get to explore her Fast, Fusible Flower Quilts.

fast-flower

Like many quilters, Nancy loves to garden as well as quilt. She has created this special collection of 11 quilts that combine a patchwork garden backdrop with beautiful flowers in bloom.

Precious Peonies

Precious Peonies

Like all Martingale books, this one includes quiltmaking basics, and also goes into detail on two ways to prepare your appliqué motifs. Starch-and-template produces a turned edge, and fusible-web results in raw-edge appliqué. Nancy gives detailed, illustrated information about both.

A-Tisket A-Tasket

A-Tisket A-Tasket

Star-Flower Baskets

Star-Flower Baskets

The quilts are so very appealing, aren’t they? As you can see, they’re beautifully photographed in a garden setting. The book includes full flat shots of each quilt as well, along with complete instructions for making them.

Congratulations, Nancy one another great one!

I have a copy of the book to give away in a drawing. If you’d like to win Fast, Fusible Flower Quilts, please leave a comment here on the blog before 7:00 p.m. California time on Monday, April 9.

The fine print: Drawing open to U.S. and Canada mailing addresses only. Don’t reply to your email feed; instead, click over to the blog itself and leave your comment at the bottom of this post. Good luck to you!

Until then,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

In response to last year’s Call for Topics, Donna A. wrote:

I need to know everything! I have a wonderful teacher but she lives a long ways from me. I pretty much just drink in all the information I can get my hands on. Make more books and more patterns — there can never be enough!

Donna, I’m workin’ on it . :)

Donna also wrote that she need to know the pros and cons of glue basting.

Personally I don’t use glue or starch (with the exception of a dab of glue stick in certain specialty situations) but I know that many appliquérs couldn’t live without glueing the edges of their pieces over. It all depends on what you prefer. Myself I’m in the camp of less prep and let’s get to the stitching, but then again needle-turn is like breathing for me. Other appliquérs do not enjoy the edge-turning process and would rather have it done in advance. It’s all good! Whatever gives you the satisfaction in the process and the happiness with the result, that’s what you should do.

Here are the pros and cons of glue from my personal perspective.

PROS

• It’s a prepared-edge method, which means you don’t have to turn the edge while stitching. You just get to stitch away.

CONS

• You get glue on your fingers. Ew.
• You have glue in your project.
• It’s more prep time before getting to the stitching.
• You have to make templates.

If you know of more pros and cons, please chime in!

glue-stick

Here’s a roundup of glue-related posts from the blog. (I got this by clicking on “Glue stick” in the Category list.) I’d pay particular attention to Holly’s method and Laurel’s book.

Glue stick.

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

In other news, Anne Sutton posted about an upcoming on-line sewing competition show called Sliced. Ooooh that has got to be good. I can’t wait!

Reminder: I’ll be at the upcoming Pajaro Valley Quilt Association’s annual show, February 25-26. My booth is #30, the first one on the right as you come into the main building, aka the Crosetti building. Our featured speaker is amazing pictorial quilt artist Linda Schmidt. There’s a fashion show and a quilt auction, a bed turning, door prizes, guild flea market, children’s activities, and a whole lot of fun at our show.

So many thanks to those who chimed in about their blog-reading strategies. One reason for doing that last post that I forgot to mention is that sometimes I get messages from readers who are subscribed by email, who don’t even realize that they’re subscribed to a blog, and they think I’m sending them emails!

Erin Russek, who writes the One Piece at a Time blog, recently posted a great photo tutorial showing a very cool template-drawstring-and-starch method for getting the edges pressed under on petal-shaped pieces. Check out her Little Bird Top Knots post. Thanks for a great lesson, Erin!

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

I’ve long been an advocate of finding your own method of appliqué, one that’s right for you and gives you results you like. That’s not the same for everyone, and I believe there’s no right and no wrong way, only what pleases you. When quilters stop by my booth at shows and make faces at the “A” word, I tell them they just haven’t found their method.

So I was delighted to take note of a new book by Laurel Anderson called Appliqué Workshop: Mix and Match 10 Techniques to Unlock Your Creativity!

applique-workshop

Here’s some information straight from the author herself.

Laurel Anderson:

I wrote this book with the idea that everyone has different design needs and different technique requirements.

The quilter who wants to occupy her time while on a fishing boat or in a doctor’s waiting room will be more interested in hand appliqué or cutting out fused shapes for three-dimensional or fused appliqué. The mother of four with limited time may be delighted with the speed of machine appliqué or the raw-edge technique. The artist who wants creative freedom may mix many methods into one piece of fiber art.

The techniques in the book are grouped into turned-edge, raw-edge and needle-turn appliqué. Each technique has a summery of its best uses. For instance: the Turned Edge with Starch or Glue makes very sharp points on leaves or petals. The 3D Broderie Perse method makes fast and easy daisy petal shapes for wall hangings. It is easier to be creative if you have your choice of many design tools.

Coneflowers by Laurel Anderson

Coneflowers by Laurel Anderson

The book offers ten appliqué methods, two edge-finishing facings, and several different template ideas. As a bonus, there’s a section on color and a chapter on dying fabric for flower quilts. The pullout section gives six full-size, ready-to-use patterns. The instructions teach several techniques for each pattern. If you make them all you will have tried all the techniques!

The book is available from Laurel’s website, Whisper Color. Laurel says to be sure to send her a message in an email telling her who to sign to book to. (There’s a Contact button on the website.) And while you’re on the site, check out the 100% bamboo batting and Laurel’s latest stand-alone pattern, Winter Amaryllis.

Winter Amaryllis pattern

Winter Amaryllis pattern

Isn’t this gorgeous?

Thank you, Laurel, for telling us about your exciting new book. I’ll be directing those face-makers to it!!

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

Happy New Year appliqué enthusiasts!

Hey is anybody going to Road to California later this month? I got a call just a couple weeks ago offering me a spot as a vendor and I said yippee! If you’re going to be at this fabulous quilt show and conference in Ontario, California, in two weeks’ time, please come by and say hello! I’ll be in 806.

matqNow on to our January giveaway, sponsored by Martingale & Company / That Patchwork Place. Sharon Pederson is a Canadian quilter whom I’ve met a couple times, most recently when she came to give a talk at my guild. If you ever get the chance, be sure to go to one of her lectures because it is a highly amusing experience. Sharon’s book Machine Appliqué for the Terrified Quilter is intended for quilters who (like Sharon in a former life) “refer to appliqué as the A word.”

Sharon says that her book is for those who are attracted to appliqué but feel that life is too short to do hand work. Learning that she could appliqué by machine was what it took to make her a total convert! I’ll throw in my 2¢ worth and add that even if you like hand work, it’s great to throw more techniques into your appliqué bag of tricks.

rose-quiltLots of introductory information is given about fabrics, threads, needles, sewing machines, and stitches. Then Sharon takes you step-by-step through two methods: invisible machine appliqué, where the edges of the appliqué are turned and the stitches are unseen, and fusible appliqué, where the edges are raw and the stitches are visible. Reverse appliqué is also covered.

Sharon gives lessons on a variety of machine stitches, including the satin stitch, narrow zigzag, and decorative stitches, plus how to manipulate them in interesting ways. Great closeup photos accompany this information.

stained-glassThe projects in the book are mostly small and manageable, because after all, “you might be just a little bit terrified about the prospect of machine appliqué, so why further terrorize yourself by trying a queen-size project first?”

If you’re more of a visual learner, you might be interested in the DVD, a separate item. A sample lesson from it is available for viewing on the Martingale website.

Whether you’re terrified or not, this is one great resource for those interested in machine appliqué! Leave a comment by 7:00 p.m. California time on Wednesday, January 6, to enter the drawing for the book. U.S. and Canada only, unless you’d be willing to pay the shipping.

eab-cdThe winner gets my book Easy Appliqué Blocks too, with its companion CD that lets you print 50 designs in 5 sizes!

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

I asked Dana which quilt should be my quilter’s choice for the Blogger’s Quilt Festival put on by Amy of Park City Girl. Immediately he said, “Shopping Bags.”

Shopping Bags by Kay Mackenzie

Shopping Bags by Kay Mackenzie

The bag popped into my head a number of years ago whilst tromping the aisles at Pacific International Quilt Festival. It must have been the heavenly combination of quilts, fabric, and shopping!

It took awhile for the concept to get from my head to a design. Yes, kids, each bag has set-in seams in two places. That did not deter me. I used freezer-paper templates and sewed carefully, and they came together just fine.

Shopping Bags detail

Shopping Bags detail

It was gobs of fun rummaging through my stash for fabrics to make the fronts, sides, and backs. For the sides, I chose fabrics where I could use both the back and the front, to add to the illusion of a folding pleat.

After the bags were all sewn together (by machine), I turned over a quarter of an inch all around the edges and pressed. I chose a swirly background fabric and made my best stab at an artistic arrangement. In fact this may have been my very first quilt to come even close to being an “art quilt.” I just wanted them to hang there in space and overlap and float in and out from each other.

Once the bags were arranged, I basted them down and stitched the turned edges like appliqué, changing threads to match or blend with each fabric.

I went to the craft store to get something for the handles. I made my choice and as I was standing in line I saw the manager. Susan!” I yelled. “Whaddya call this stuff?” “That’s rat-tail cord,” she replied. Who knew. I couched the cord into place using one of those curve-bar thingies for placement.

Get this… I totally forgot to leave enough background fabric at the top for the handles. I quickly figured out that the topmost handles were going to stick up off the quilt. A happy accident… I get comments on how creative and clever this is.

Along with a different version of the quilt, the Shopping Bag block pattern was published the Fall 2005 issue of American Quilter magazine.

Hope you like Dana’s choice! Visit Park City Girl every day through October 16 and get a ringside seat for other bloggers’ quilt picks.

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

Liz Hawkins and Beth Hawkins, two couldn’t-be-nicer sisters-in-law who share a name and the company LizzieBCre8ive, have a great machine appliqué tutorial posted over on their website.

The method they detail uses spray sizing to turn the edges of the appliqué motifs before stitching. They say, “It’s easy as pie! Of course, we mean chocolate pie!” (I believe I’ve heard that chocolate plays an important part in their design process).

The tutorial begins just under the video tip they’ve posted about sewing the bottom of their Ooh La La Bag.

Thanks gals!

Until next time,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications.com

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?

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

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

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. If you’re stalling because you don’t have the right needle or the perfect thread, well then there’s a kit available over at Quilt Puppy that has pattern, instructions, fabrics, both needles, and both threads all in it, to give you a jump start on becoming introduced to the method.

Until next time,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

Stitching order is often dictated by the design. Sometimes though, it can be open to interpretation. Take a look at this block design from Baskets to Appliqué.

lemons.png

In this instance, the base of the basket can go over or under the body, and the body can go over or under the inside.

lemon-basket.jpgWhen I made my basket, I put the body over the base, and the inside over the body, as this was an easier stitching situation for hand appliqué. It still looks like the inside.

Until next time,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

To clip or not to clip, that is today’s question.

Quilting professionals have differing opinions on how to handle clipping. Here’s my personal best advice on the subject.

clip-notch.gifNOTCHES
V’s, valleys, inside points, crannies… they go by a lot of names. Whatever you call ‘em, some teachers advocate clipping all the way to the bottom. I clip almost to the bottom. The way I stitch notches, by taking a slightly bigger bite with the needle, then snugging the stitch down, it works out better to have a couple threads to grab.

clip-no-clip.gifCURVES
Inside curves: Again the divide… to the line, or almost to the line. I’m a fan of a series of shallow clips on inside curves. If you’re using a small 3/16″ turn-under margin, you shouldn’t have to clip deeply to get the fabric to turn under nicely.

Outside curves: No, I say, no clip! Again, the scant margin allows the fabric to go under without wrinkling up on itself, causing “the pokies.” If you clip this outer curve, the fabric has a tendency to go loosey-goosey.

In either case, notches or curves, a full 1/4″ turn-under margin may cause you to have to clip where you don’t really need to. Go for the scanter margin. This small margin makes some quilter nervous, but fine work is achieved through this closer trim.

This information applies to hand appliqué. The machine appliqué method that uses freezer paper and glue is not among my skill set, so I’m not sure about best clipping protocols there. And of course, for raw-edge machine appliqué, there’s no clipping ever!

Until next time,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

One of the best books that I have on my shelf, which pretty much taught me how to machine appliqué, is Sue Nickels’ Machine Appliqué: A Sampler of Techniques.

I was lucky enough to meet Sue a few years ago when she came to my guild to speak and to teach a class in machine quilting. I took that class, and I credit Sue with giving me what I needed to actually become an adequate machine quilter. She said that the women she knew who were finally successful were those who were determined to make it work. I said that to myself over and over as I practiced, and it helped me.

But back to machine appliqué! It wasn’t Sue’s topic that visit, but I did buy her machine appliqué book, and when I became determined to learn how to do it in order to make samples a little more quickly, I turned to Sue’s book. Let me tell you, it’s fabulous. I gravitated toward raw-edge fusible appliqué with a small blanket stitch. There’s also detailed information on two other methods — turned-edge “invisible appliqué” and “template and starch” appliqué.

Sue’s book, published by the AQS, is lovely to look at throughout and gives step-by-baby-step details on everything you need to know. There are close-up illustrations of where each stitch should go in each scenario. I’m pretty comfortable with machine appliqué now, but when I was still learning, I hauled out this book a bunch of times to refresh my memory. Thank you Sue!!

Sue has another book on machine appliqué, written with her sister Pat Holly: Stitched Raw-Edge Appliqué. I don’t have this one yet but I imagine it focuses even more on the method I like. Hmm… I’ll have to put this one on my wish list!

Until next time,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

Here’s another block from Growing Hearts to Appliqué. A fun one, yes?

seed-packet.jpgWhen brainstorming on a theme,”growing hearts” or whatever, it’s so wonderful to let your imagination roam free and think up all sorts of notions about how to portray your ideas.

For this crazy design, I used freezer-paper templates on top, and I hand-embroidered the letters. The little black heart seeds are inked on with a permanent fabric marker.

And don’t faint, but maybe you can see that this quilt is hand-quilted. It still happens now and again.

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 found a nice photo tutorial on Liesl Gibson’s Disdressed blog, showing the ladder stitch for hand appliqué. I’ve never used this stitching method, and I learned something. I’ll be trying it out. Thank you, Liesl!

Designer Anna Maria Horner posted a great photo tutorial showing an ingenious way to make prepared-edge circles using aluminum foil! Visit her blog.

Upon graduation from my beginning quilting class (think 1992), I took off like a rocket on my own. I made a big sampler quilt, hand-pieced and hand-quilted, and loved every minute of it.

An early heartHere’s one of the blocks I made using a freezer paper template on the back. This is a good method for a beginner, and lots of appliquérs prefer to appliqué this way.



Step 1For this method, trace the shape on the paper side of the freezer paper.

If the design is asymmetrical, you’ll need to reverse the pattern first.

Step 2Cut out the template on the drawn line and iron it to the wrong side of the appliqué fabric.

Tip: Ironing on top of a piece of cardboard creates a better bond.
Step 3Cut out the fabric, leaving about ¼” beyond the template.
Step 4Turn the fabric over the template, basting the margin to the freezer paper as you go. Clip any notches almost to the template, and sparingly clip any inside curves. (This heart doesn’t have any inside curves.)

Here it is, partially basted.

Step 5All basted-ed.

This is a method of prepared-edge appliqué, as the edge is turned before you start to stitch. However, it’s only roughly turned, and there will be bumps (aka “pokies”) along the edge that you will need to work out as you go.

Step 6
Back view.

Step 7
Baste the motif in place on the background fabric.

Now there are two rows of basting.

Step 8Appliqué the motif, using the needle to smooth and refine the turned edge as you go.

Here it is, all stitched.

Step 9There are three ways of removing the freezer paper. As seen here, you can completely stitch the motif, remove all basting stitches, slit the background fabric, and pull out the template. Here the template has already been pulled out.

Step 10Instead of just slitting the background fabric, you can cut it away, leaving about ¼” inside the stitching.

Or, to preserve the back, you can remove the basting and pull out the template before you have quite finished stitching the block, finishing up the stitching with no template inside.

All doneAll done!


BENEFITS

  • Edge is turned for you

  • Easier to place motif accurately, since edge is turned
  • Freezer paper template provides a crisp, well-defined sewing line
  • Accurate results

TRADEOFFS

  • More prep time (double basting)

  • Freezer paper feels stiff and crackles while working
  • Sometimes you sew through the paper
  • Extraordinary measures must be used to remove template

Every quilter weighs the benefits and tradeoffs of any particular method, and it is up to you to decide which way the balance swings. The “right” method is the one that’s right for you.

Making this heart was a nice trip down memory lane for me. Since I made the sampler quilt I’ve learned a few other appliqué methods. And, let’s just say I’ve also learned the benefits of more quilting in a quilt!

Let’s hear from you appliqué fans about this method. Is this your favorite? Any tips? Did I leave something out? Chime in!

Until next time,
Kay

A blast from the past! When you see these “classic” fabrics you’ll probably recognize the year as being circa 1992. I enrolled in a beginning quilting class at Jordan’s Quilt Shop in Mt. Vernon, Ohio. Little did I know how that class would affect my life. I know you know what I’m talkin’ about.

dresden-plate-block

We made a four-block sampler. I told my instructor, Ann Jordan, that I liked the Dresden Plate block the best. She said some fateful words to me that day… “Well, you just might be an appliqué person.”

Did she shape my fate as a quilter with those prophetic words? It turned out to be the absolute truth.

When I quilted my sampler, I went back and showed Ann how the appliqué stitches in the center circle pulled out a little. She said. “That’s why the stitches need to be really little, and tight.” It was an epiphany. Gone forever from that day forward were the big honking stitches perpetrated on my projects in 8th grade home-ec.

Thank you Ann! I hope you are enjoying your retirement. I’ve since moved away from Ohio, and I heard that Jordan’s now belongs to someone else, though they kept the name.

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