This just in! Yesterday I had lunch with my pal Annie Smith. Of course you can’t get together with Annie without being recorded for a podcast, so she cranked up her iPad and we started talking!

Go visit Annie’s Quilting Stash to listen to an interview with moi and have a chance to win prizes!

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Here we are, in the lobby of the Green Valley Grill. The hostess was kind enough to snap the shot of us holding each others’ books. See that one in my paws? You’ll learn more about it soon!

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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Repeat the same process for the heart.

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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.)

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

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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!

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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

I’ve been working like a demon… like a DEMON, on another book for That Patchwork Place. That’s right, the ink is hardly dry on Inspired by Tradition and I’m almost ready to turn in all the materials for another. I love being able to say that :). But man, my right shoulder is killing me from working on the illustrations. Some 60 of ’em! Time to take a break.

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I’m putting out a call for appliqué topics! Leave a comment and let me know what it is about appliqué (any kind) that you would like to see some information on. If I’ve already written about it, I’ll dig it up for you. If I know anything about it, I’ll put it on my list. If I don’t know anything about it, I’ll do my best to find somebody who does.

If you’re subscribed by email, resist the temptation to click “Reply.” Instead, click on the title of the post, “Call for topics,” to go to the blog. Leave your comment at the bottom of the post. That way we can all see what everybody’s interested in!

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

The winner of the drawing for Exploring Embellishments is… Lori Ginsberg! Congratulations Lori! In her comments, Lori wrote, “I am fascinated by the idea of embellishing applique. Just another whole dimension to this wonderful artform.” I agree!

I’d like to take this opportunity to announce another exciting thing coming up. Hey guess what! I’m a cover girl!

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This is Volume 3 of Quiltmaker Magazine’s special 100 Blocks issue, coming out May 10. Lookie! My name’s right there, on the cover! Could this mean… possibly… that I’ve arrived?

And, my block is on the cover too! Can you guess which one it is?

Quiltmaker is conducting a blog hop May 2-6, with bunches of participating designers and giveaway goodness each day. My day is May 5, but make sure you go on the whole tour for the maximum amount of fun.

Here’s a link to the 100 Blocks page over at Quiltmaker. That’ll get you to the links for the hop.

In other news, I’ll be at the Seven Sisters Quilt Show in San Luis Obispo, California, April 30-May 1. I’m really looking forward to this event. It’s at the Expo Center at the Madonna Inn, which is quite storied and is as pink as pink can be. And there are horses pastured where we vendors park our cars! That’s an added treat for me. Full info at aqgc.org.

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

The speaker at my guild’s meeting last night was Rose Hughes!

Rose is the author of Dream Landscapes, which was previously featured here on the blog.

Now Rose has published a beautiful followup book, Exploring Embellishments: More Artful Quilts with Fast-Piece Appliqué.

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I just so happened to have a copy with me last night, which Rose graciously signed for us! That’s right, courtesy of That Patchwork Place we have a fantastic giveaway to a lucky winner of the book personally signed by the author.

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Rose’s lecture was all about color, and about each quilter’s personal color journey. We had the treat of seeing her color-drenched, fast-piece appliquéd and embellished quilts in person as she displayed a trunk show of her work. On her website, Rose has a free Color Discovery Lesson. Check it out!

Exploring Embellishments focuses on the embellishment side of Rose’s work, taking us through all different types of fascinating doodads. Some were a surprise to me! I was familiar of course with buttons and with seed beads and bugle beads, but I never knew about coin beads or pressed glass/lampworked beads. They’re beautiful! Rose also urges us to consider a range of natural materials and found objects. Basically, anything that has a hole in it or that you can get a hole through, you can use to embellish your quilt!

I had never heard of air-dry clay. How very interesting! Rose also has good times with Angelina fibers, chenille sticks, wool roving, and the Mysterious Substance called Lutradur. You’ll see how to use these materials and more to fabricate your own unique embellishments.

Each project in the book is an embellishment learning experience, starting with Fast-Pieced Appliqué to create a colorful, interesting background.

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roses-dogCollectively these darling little quilts are called “The Truth About Cats and Dogs.”

starry-nightThe embellishments create the sparkle and glow of a moonlit “Starry Night.”

wildflower-walkWool-felt and wool-roving flowers.

To enter the drawing to win the book, leave a comment here on the blog before 7:00 p.m. California time on Friday, April 15. The contest is open to U.S. and Canada addresses only. If you’re subscribed by email or feed reader, remember to click over to the blog itself to leave your comment.

Cheers,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

Our Book-A-Round 2 was a blast and a half! I’d like to thank my fellow quilting bloggers who served as stops on our virtual tour. They made it a totally fun-filled zoom around North America!

Here are the winners from the daily drawings for Inspired by Tradition, including Pat Sloan’s winners.

Deb C. of Breckenridge, Colorado
Lisa F. of Rosepine, Louisiana
Linda P. of Hiawassee, Georgia
Mary K. of Buffalo, Minnesota
Akiko K. of West Boylston, Massachussets
Fran C. of Jackson, Mississippi
Kim D. of Mesa, Arizona
Beth T. of Clatskanie, Oregon
Mary K. of Oakland, California
Dolores S. of Toronto, Ontario
Janet R. of Carcross, Yukon Territory
Billie K. of Elgin, Texas
Robin C. of Richmond, Virginia

My deepest appreciation to everyone who followed the tour, took part in the contests, and left such lovely comments. You made my day, each and every day. I wish everyone could have won!

I wanted to let you know that I’ve extended the $2 off coupon through April 15, 2011. Just use the coupon code BLOG2 during checkout from my website.

Willie's resting up from the tour.

Willie's resting up from the tour.

Many thanks,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie