Awhile ago, Daniquilter wrote:

I really need to see a step-by-step tutorial of you working through difficult parts of appliqué: inner curves, outer curves, points, what to do when a curve is pointy rather than curvy, etc. In other tutorials I see the beginning and then the end of a piece without the process in between. Love your blog!!

First of all, thank you so much Daniquilter for your nice words about the blog! I enjoy writing it.

It looks like you’re looking for information on hand stitching. It’s all here already! Here’s a roundup of past posts that address these very issues:

Clipping of inner and outer curves

Stitching smooth curves

Points

Notches

Remember that you can always use the Categories and Keyword Search function to find information about topics in appliqué. If you’re subscribed by email, you’ll need to click over to the blog itself, so that you can see and use the sidebars.

My next quilt show is in Phoenix, Arizona, January 26-28. It’s the Quilt, Craft & Sewing Festival at the Arizona State Fairgrounds! If you’re in that area, I hope to see you there!

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

When I woke up this morning my mind went back to the illustration I put up yesterday, and my semi-sleepy brain realized that the bumps occur on top of the pleats, not between them. Here’s the revised illustration.

good-and-bad-curve

Thank you, subconscious! You’re a miracle.

More coffee,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

In response to the Call for Topics, Vera wrote, “I cannot get nice smooth curves. I need to know how to eliminate those pointy pleats.”

I wrote a little bit about this in the Back Basting Redux post. I’ll repeat that bit here.

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.

In this illustration, I’ve made an appliquéd heart transparent so you can see what’s happening underneath the turned edge.

good-and-bad-curve

On the lefthand side, the bulk of the turning allowance in distributed evenly and the curve of the stitched edge is smooth.

On the righthand side, the turning allowance is pleated up on itself and is causing bumps and points in the stitched edge.

Just make sure your turning allowance is not too wide and that you work a little at a time, turning and distributing as you go. Don’t reach ahead and pull the turning allowance back towards you as you stitch. Hope that helps!!

In other news…

I just got word from my publisher that Inspired by Tradition is going into a second printing! It hasn’t even been five months! That’s gotta be good, right??

I heard from Kathy Delaney that she had a run on her needle packs after I posted about them last time! How cool cool is that! I’m sure that all the batik hand stitchers are now enjoying their Gold ‘n Glides!

I’ll be in Long Beach for the summer edition of International Quilt Festival once again this year. This is such a fun time, I’m really looking forward to it. Hope to see you there, July 29-31.

And, just received this from Ami Simms on one of my discussion groups:

If you have admired the work of Diane Gaudynski, Sue Nickels, and other celebrated quilters, here’s your chance to own one of their quilts. The Alzheimer’s Art Quilt Initiative is going to be auctioning 20 quilts from our first traveling exhibit, “Alzheimer’s: Forgetting Piece by Piece” in an online auction August 1-10. Details are here: www.AlzQuilts.org

Any help you can give us in spreading the word to quilters, quilt collectors, museums, and aficionados about the auction would be greatly appreciated. All profits fund Alzheimer’s research.

Thank you,
Ami Simms
AAQI Founder & Executive Director

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