Plum pudding

Filed Under Hand appliqué, Holiday | Comments Off on Plum pudding

When my husband, Dana, was a kid, his mother fixed plum pudding every year at holiday time, steaming it endlessly in a pan on the stove and topping it with gobs of homemade hard sauce. Young Dana did not care for that hard sauce at all, so just mention “plum pudding” to him and see the trials of childhood in his eyes.

Later in life, when Dana found out that “hard sauce” was “frosting,” plum pudding became much more tolerable. One year I wanted to make soft hanging ornaments for my friends, so I asked him to draw me some holiday-like shapes. Guess what issued from his pencil… a fat plum pudding, replete with dripping hard sauce!

When I pulled together my book of holiday designs, I made sure to include that plum pudding! Here’s my version, hand appliquéd on a patched background.

Until next time,

Poinsettias mean Christmas

Filed Under Embellishment, Holiday | Comments Off on Poinsettias mean Christmas

I have a book of designs called A Merry Little Christmas to Appliqué that’s filled with festive designs in incremental sizes that play nicely together. Since it’s now a week until Merry Merry Day, I’ve decided to post a bunch of those Christmassy appliqué quilts between now and then.

Pam Crooks made a beautiful repeating poinsettias quilt using rich batiks. When she was planning this project, she emailed and asked how I felt about fuchsia. I replied, “Gotta love the fuchsia!” so this elegant wall quilt was born.

Karen Garret made an apron to wear at holiday time and decorated it with the same poinsettia pattern. She did a neat stylizing thing with it, and added sew-on decors. There wasn’t room in the book to show the whole apron, so we just showed the poinsettia.

Until next time,

You’ve never seen it all

Filed Under Borders, Embellishment, Fusible web, Machine appliqué, Raw edge, Threads | Comments Off on You’ve never seen it all

Mistress of machines Janet showed me a border she’d made for a round robin. I couldn’t believe it. Yet another edge treatment for fusible appliqué!

At first I thought Janet had used the machine embroidery technique that I’d seen on her pieces in the past. I asked her to describe how she’d done this beautiful stitching. Here’s what she told me.

Usually, when machine embroidering, Janet hoops the fabric. This time, since the oak leaves and acorns were fused onto the background fabric, there was enough stability so that she could skip the hoop. Instead of stitching back and forth a little at a time to simulate three strands of embroidery floss, Janet did a free-motion stitch traveling in one direction all the time, and went around each motif two or three times close to the edges. The veins on the leaves were done the same way. She used variegated Star cotton thread from Coats & Clark, which is one of her favorite threads for her machine work.

Here’s the project so far, with just the center and Janet’s fabulous appliquéd border. Janet told me I could put this picture up, but shh! don’t tell the person whose center that is, or we’ll get busted. :)

Until next time,

My new favorite way of embroidering tendril-thin stems is to couch a full six-strand length of embroidery thread in place. I use one strand of a lighter shade for the couching stitches to add a little interest.

Here’s a twisty vine that I did this way.

This is about the extent of my skill as an embroiderer!

Until next time,


Filed Under Hand appliqué, Improvisational appliqué, Machine appliqué | Comments Off on Positioning

What are some ways of positioning appliqué motifs on the background fabric?

• Freestyle

This is where you don’t worry about matching the pattern too exactly, and just place your pieces where you like. Maybe you’re not even using a pattern, just creating a design as you go!

• Eyeballing

Referring to the pattern, place your motifs on the background so that they look enough like the original for government work. Again, this is an admirable, freeing mentailty, and probably gives the blocks that attractive vintage look.

• Creasing the background

If an appliqué design is set on the diagonal, you can fold and crease the background to provide reference lines for positioning the motifs.

• Tracing paper overlay

Now we’re getting to my territory (I have the curse of the precise. It’s not that much fun.) You can trace the pattern onto tracing paper to create a placement guide. Use vertical and horizontal centering lines to line up the guide with the background square.

• Vinyl overlay

The Piece O’ Cake gals advocate using upholstery vinyl to make a placement guide. They’ve even started offering their own Quilter’s Vinyl by the yard, and there are instructions on how to use it, on their website.

• Light box

This is good for tracing the placement guides, of course, but is also an direct and ingenious way of placing motifs for machine appliqué. Once you’ve gotten all of your pieces fused and cut out, put your pattern on the light box, put the background fabric over it (lined up with centering marks) and place all of the pieces for the block at once. Carefully transfer to the ironing board for fusing.

For dark backgrounds, you’ll need to use one of the overlay methods.

Okay quilters, what other ways are there to position your appliqué? There’s something about a lightweight interfacing overlay… help me out. I’ve heard of it but don’t know too much about it.

Until next time,