The trials and errors of applique
Ah Sunday. Ability to get in car, drive to parents house to steal their internet and type a blog post with a keyboard rather than one finger on a mobile phone! The one benefit of no internet is that I’ve actually spent time I would normally spend on the internet sewing! Well, the sewing part hasn’t been extensive. Think more cutting out, testing, tossing and trying another technique. In the quilt I just finished the only applique was raw edged applique. In the case of the squirrel and the doves, I was lucky enough to get Kim from Applicuts to use her laser to cut them and this seals the edges and they don’t fray as much. In the case of the little gecko I had to fussy-cut him and then blanket stitch him within an inch of his life by hand so he didn’t fray. So I decided to give ‘needle-turn’ applique a go. Who knew there were so many ways of doing it?
A little internet research shows you that many people do needle-turn applique using freezer paper. Some use freezer paper in combination with starch to crisp up the edge. Any technique which involves cutting out shapes, ironing them, stitching around them, only to then have to leave a hole and fiddle with tweezers to pull out the bit of paper, seems a bit… well… annoying. Pull the paper out? Bugger that! I wanted a method I could leave the ‘template’ in.
I tried just using an iron to turn my edges. Fail.
I tried using a basting stitch on the machine. My little wisp of fabric got eaten by the feed dogs.
I traced my shape on the fabric and before cutting it trying the basting stitch… it wasn’t the smoothest and too time consuming!
I ended up using a method pretty close to the one described by Rachelle Denneny in a demo DVD I got at the newsagency. (I’d give you a link to her website, only I can’t find one!)
I deivated a little, but not much.
- I used the Floriani leave in fusible wash and wear interfacing that she used. This is going to sound strange but I found it both stiffer and softer than vliesofix – and the backing doesn’t seem to edge itself away from the glue piece with repeated handling.
- I ‘pleated’ my outer curves with a palette knife rather than a cuticle stick (there are more art supplies in my house than nail care implements).
- I did cut my ‘notches’ on the inner curves to ease it in first because I put the glue on the back of the interfacing, rather than the bit I was turning.
- I didn’t assemble my pieces as a ‘whole unit’ with glue like she does, I put them down one by one. This was probably due to impatience on my part as I hadn’t cut every bird feather at the beginning – I didn’t even know if it would work!
- Rachelle has a masterful skill in machine qpplique and free motion work (she has won awards for her quilts in Australia shows as well as in Houston). I’m guessing that she has had thousands of hours practice. I’d be struggling to notch up 2 hours, so I hand slip stiched my feathers down!
The best part about this for me was being able to use a palette knife and a glue stick to turn the edges rather than an iron. I’m a bit of a gumby and had already had a few moments of ‘quickly dancing’ fingers as I got too close to the iron.
Of course when I fronted up at dress-making class with my creation, my incredibly knowledgable teacher quickly produced an alternative to all my tracing on the curves.
Using bias and bending them into shape would have been easier.
‘Oh I did think of that’, says I defensively. ‘It wouldn’t work because my pieces are different widths at different points and I didn’t want to have a seam at the end for the spade shaped piece.’
Of course, this is Bev. She has decades of experience. She had an answer for this one too!
Well then you just make bias as wide as the widest part of the bulb and then cut it back.
Hmm. I’m not sure how good an idea it is to tell a woman who has spent considerable time drawing curved shapes that it would have been easier to just bend them in. Then again, this is Bev. She’s nearly always got a better way. (We just don’t tell her that too often).