Admin note: This is the same post as last time; somehow in the strange badlands of code, there was a glitch that prevented the Comments from working. I *think* it’s fixed now (fingers crossed, toes as well). Just skip this if you read it before. Thanks!!!

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When I started this blog years ago, I wanted it to become a resource center of information for those who celebrate appliqué or who are interested in learning more.


When I added the capability of subscribing to the blog by email, I found that quilters forgot it was a blog, and thought of it as a newsletter.


The thing about newsletters is, unless you save them all, you can’t refer back to the information that you may have found useful when they came across. That’s why blogs are so nifty! The articles stay there, everything’s indexed, and you can find the info any time using a variety of mechanisms… Categories, Keyword Search, Archives, they’re all right there in the sidebars.

But again, those who receive the contents of each post by email never see the blog itself on the internet unless they click over! (This is done simply by cliking the title of the article in the email you are reading.)


The blog header.


That’s why I’ve decided to start a Sunday drive down memory lane. I’ll be revisiting older articles that you may not have seen if you joined the blog after they were posted, or may have forgotten about if you’ve been around for awhile.


We’ll be looking back at the articles that are the very most helpful concerning appliqué. A bunch of different kinds of appliqué are covered. So relax, kick back, and enjoy the scenery!

Let’s go back to An Early Heart to see what Freezer Paper On The Back is all about.

Cheers,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie
Kay’s Etsy Shop

The winner of Nature’s Beauty in Appliqué is Helen Lebrett! Congratulations! Helen, be sure to reply to my email so that I can get your prize sent out to you.

I subscribe to the Checker News Blog. Checker Distributors is one of the largest companies supplying our independent quilt shops with everything they could need and more. Their news blog is geared toward retailers, but reading it is a great way to see what’s new, cool, and groovy in Quiltland.

Penny Haren, author of the Pieced Appliqué series of books, is a consultant for Checker and does most of the blogging. Recently she posted the story of an old appliqué top that was relegated to the closet for a number of years after the fabrics faded, and how she was able to bring it back to new life. I found this fascinating!

Penny’s Appliqué Repair

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mckenzie

Wow, what a treasure! Over on the Martingale blog Stitch This! there’s a hand appliqué tutorial from appliqué icon Mimi Dietrich.

Mimi is the author of many wonderful appliqué titles. In this illustrated tutorial she gives the “freezer paper on the back” method, complete with stitching tips. Thanks Mimi!

Not only that, Martingale has put her book Mimi Dietrich’s Favorite Appliqué Quilts on sale at 40% off this week. And I was very tickled to see that this sale also includes my book Inspired by Tradition. Now that’s good company!

Cheers,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

Anybody up for some old-school, not-quick-and-easy, very detailed, completely captivating holiday appliqué?

Then I have just the thing for you! Santa’s Loading Dock Quilt by Mary Buvia is this month’s featured book, courtesy of AQS Publishing.


Wow! What a quilt! You can see a closer photo of it on Mary’ website. This is a masterpiece, and accordingly Mary was awarded Master Quilter status by the American Quilters Society.

The book gives you all the patterns and information you’d need to recreate the entire jolly scene; however, Mary encourages you to use whatever smaller elements from it that you like to make a smaller quilt or decorate other projects.

Mary’s appliqué method involves double freezer-paper templates, starch, and glue to create prepared-edge pieces for hand appliqué. The book also gives information for raw-edge machine appliqué if that’s what you prefer.

Many of the templates are given full size; however, some of them you’ll need to enlarge 200%.

So, who’s itching for some exceedingly cute holiday stitching? If you’d like to win this book, please leave a comment by 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 1. Open to U.S. and Canada mailing addresses only.

Holiday cheers,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

P.S. I’ll be in Lodi, California, this weekend for the Tokay Stitch ‘n Quilt Guild show. This is a lovely show put on every other year, and the ladies serve a delightful afternoon tea for all!

Before the lights went out in San Diego, I was tromping up the aisle, and someone was taking a picture of a quilt. Naturally I turned my head, and then I put on the brakes hard. I can spot my teapots at 50 paces! There was the most glorious oriental teapot quilt. I stood there with my jaw on the floor.

Tea Ceremony by Marjorie Kilcrease, 109 x 120

Tea Ceremony by Marjorie Kilcrease, 109 x 120

Most of the teapots are from my Teapots 2 to Appliqué. I got the chance to talk with Marjorie a couple times during the show. She was beaming with pride over her quilt and so was I. Here’s the story of this masterpiece, from Marjorie herself.

When I saw Kay’s book on teapots, I fell in love with it. However, I kept thinking “Are you crazy? This is applique!” I collected oriental fabrics for about two years while I was trying to figure out how to display the teapots. Then I found the center panel with the Geisha holding the teacup.

center-panel

Next, I found the block pattern called BQ2 by Maple Island Quilts and it looked very oriental to me. I was ready to sew!

This was my second appliqued quilt. I used the directions in the book to enlarge the patterns by 150% so they would fit on a 12″ block. I used a freezer-paper method (ironed to the back) with spray starch to anchor the edges down. Then I used the liquid basting to adhere the teapot parts to the block. The final step was machine-stitching the teapots. My husband designed three blocks for me too. The whole project took about four months.

cer-1cer-2cer-3

The quilter, Wendy Knight, did custom quilting. In the black horizontal strips are names of tea or words like ‘happiness’, ‘peace’, etc. The vertical black strips have bamboo quilted in.

I had bought a large backing but still needed to enlarge it to make sure there was enough for the quilter. My husband helped me mimic the front design and we offset the black strips (instead of centering them) and then I used another panel that I found to add a decorative touch.

other-panelstea-ceremony-back

The quilt is for us and will take its turn on our king-size bed. However, all of my friends want me to put it in our will and leave it to them! They’ll need to discuss that with our two daughters though! :)

What Marjorie didn’t mention is that her quilt won First Place in Viewer’s Choice!

ribbon

Congratulations Marjorie!!

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

Tasty precuts make great ingredients for A Baker’s Dozen!

A Baker's Dozen from the staff at That Patchwork Place

A Baker's Dozen from the staff at That Patchwork Place

Most of the staff at Martingale & Company (parent company of That Patchwork Place) are quiltmakers. In this collaborative pattern book they challenged themselves to use the yummy precut assortments available today… we’re talking jelly rolls, layer cakes, honey buns, turnovers, dessert rolls, fat quarters, and charm packs… to whip up a bakery case of delectable quilts.

Note: It isn’t required to use precuts. Each set of instructions also gives fabric requirements for pulling from your stash or from bolts at the quilt shop. But just in case you have been tempted by those luscious jelly rolls, layer cakes, etc., the book gives information on how to handle them, sort them, to wash or not to wash, and what to do about those confusing pinked edges.

Staff from all areas of Martingale contributed to the book, from web manager to the marketing department to customer service and relations, print and production, editorial, book design, illustration, accounting, author liaison, acquisitions and development, and the social networking coordinator, who quilted 11 of the quilts! I thought it would be fun to hear something about the process.

Mary Burns, Marketing Coordinator, tells the story of her quilt Flying Shuttles.

cracker

The Editorial Department put out a call to the staff for designs using precut fabrics or fat quarters. I don’t really consider myself a quilt designer. I think of myself as just your average quilter. Everyone here is so encouraging though—I work with such wonderful and creative people—so I decided to jump in!

I had a fat quarter pack of Kim Diehl’s “Country Haven” and I knew I wanted to do something old-fashioned and folksy to go with the décor of my 1901 farmhouse. I found a traditional pieced block called “Cracker” in my trusty Judy Hopkins book 501 Rotary-Cut Quilt Blocks. I set the blocks in circles and called it Colvin Mill Wheels, after a historic mill near my sister’s house in Virginia.

At the last minute, I sketched out an alternate layout of Cracker blocks in vertical rows—and that’s the one that was chosen. (Hooray for last minute inspiration!) At that point the quilt didn’t have any appliqué, but after I pieced it and sewed on the cream border, it just looked like it needed something. I sketched out a flowing vine, some leaves, and folksy flowers. Fortunately, they were thrilled—but I only had a couple weeks before the deadline for finished quilts— and I was scheduled to be at Spring Quilt Market the first week and on vacation at my sister’s in Virginia the second week. What was I thinking?!

As Marketing Coordinator, one aspect of my job is to get everything ready for our booth at Quilt Market. The month up to and including Market is extremely hectic. I stayed up late every night the week before we left, finishing the pieced borders and machine appliquéing all my vines and leaves, cutting out all my folksy flowers and flower centers and packing them all in my carry-on—didn’t want to risk losing it!

I use freezer paper applique on the wrong side of the fabric, with the shiny side up so that I can press the seam allowance to the sticky side, then cut a slit in the back and remove the paper. I machine-appliqued the vines and leaves and hand-appliqued the flowers and flower centers. I finished appliquéing the centers onto the flowers on the plane; it really made time fly!

When we got to the hotel, I laid the quilt out on my bed and figured out where I wanted the flowers to go. Despite my valiant efforts, by the time Market was over, I still wasn’t finished appliquéing the flowers—how naïve of me to think that I could work hard at Market and still have time and energy to finish the quilt! So off to my sister’s house the two of us went, my quilt and I, with a promise that I’d email a photo of the finished quilt before the deadline. It’s kind of fitting that I finished it in all the way across the country in Virginia, near the Mill that originally inspired me to use the Cracker block.

I changed the title of the quilt to “Flying Shuttles” because the way the Cracker block turns left and right reminds me of how a shuttle flies through a loom. When I showed it to my teenage sons at home, the Cracker blocks reminded them of the old Intellivision game, Astrosmash, and the space shuttles that you had to shoot to win. Either way, I just love how this quilt turned out–and apparently I’m not the only one, because the quilt has been chosen to be in That Patchwork Place Quilt Calendar 2011—I’m Miss November!

So there’s my saga, hope you find it amusing. The hardest part about designing a quilt pattern is that you have to write down everything you do, and have it make sense to someone who’s never done it before. Now I know! It’s not as easy as it sounds!

Cathy Reitan, Martingale’s author liaison, set a personal challenge for herself with her design.

Circles and Chains by Cathy Reitan

Circles and Chains by Cathy Reitan

I have always created with textiles, starting in high school with fashion sewing from patterns and then moving into copying store fashions. As I moved into my 30s and had a family, the focus changed to children’s designs and home dec sewing with a little bit of quilting. With the dawn of children having their driver’s licenses and freedom from being a slave to the car, I began to quilt. You know, the kind of quilting where you plan a project, shop for the items you need, and work on it for significant lengths of time, not just in stolen moments.

I usually use traditional civil war colors and patterns with a lot of hand work. When the opportunity to design a quilt for A Baker’s Dozen came along, I set myself a goal of using colors out of my normal color palette and geometrical shapes that where also not the norm for me. Circles and Chains was the result. I combined the traditional Irish chain block ( just could not completely give up the traditional) with the geometric fast-fused applique circles. I made couple of sample blocks and threw them away because the colors I picked were not strong enough to support the jelly roll I wanted to work with. Back to the quilt store for the brown and yellow solids and another trial block was made. The effect of the deeper color was much better with my jelly roll. I used several colors I love to hate, primarily orange paired with turquoise which is color that I am repeatedly drawn to but matches nothing in my house. Now I just need a child to give up a bedroom so I can decorate with a new color scheme!

Working at Martingale is a great place to inspire creativity and take the next leap of faith because there is always someone to encourage and praise your efforts. There is always someone to bounce and brainstorm ideas with. Of course with so many beautiful samples coming in from authors the list of projects I want to make is always longer than the hours left in my lifetime!

Adrienne Smitke from the illustration department describes the collaborative effort that went into her design.

Ladybugs!

Ladybugs!

This quilt was a team effort, and I think that’s part of why I like it so much. Not only are the colors and motifs cheerful and welcoming, when I see this quilt I think about all the different elements of its construction and how many different hands helped stitch it together.

While I really like sewing, I love shopping for fabric. I could spend hours browsing either online or in the fabric store through the ever changing rows of color and pattern. It is more often the fabric that helps inspire the kind of quilt or project I want to make rather than the other way around. I had been trying to come up with an excuse to work with Momo’s Wonderland fabric line since its release. While browsing for ideas, I took a closer look at the polka-dot print in this fabric line and discovered that some of the dots were actually ladybugs. Inspiration struck and I knew ladybugs would make a cute and easy appliqué design. To compliment the ladybugs, I pulled three simple flower shapes from the print used in the border.

As a technical illustrator I spend a lot of time working with Adobe Illustrator (a vector drawing program), so it was easy for me to draw the full size applique patterns on the computer. This allowed me to easily tweak and size them as I needed to fit the blocks. You don’t need to be a professional designer to use a computer to create your own patterns. Many computers already come with drawing software, or you can simply Google “vector drawing program” online to explore the many options available. It can take a little time to get used to the drawing tools in these programs, however you shouldn’t be discouraged. Like with any skill, practice makes perfect.

Once the quilt design was complete, that’s when the teamwork began. I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish two complete quilts (my other quilt in the book is “Rose Garden,” page 62) in the time available, but my co-workers came to the rescue. Despite that they were all working on additional quilts of their own for A Baker’s Dozen, they pitched in and each took on a part of the process.

While I cut and sewed the pieced blocks, Karen Soltys worked on the appliqué blocks. Karen has a wealth of great tips for how she made the machine appliqué simple and easy. First she traced all the large shapes on fusible web and then, before cutting any of them out, traced the smaller shapes inside the larger ones. She cut those smaller pieces out of the centers of the larger ones, and fused them onto their contrast fabrics. This not only saved on fusible web, but made the finished appliqué blocks much softer and more flexible.

After all the shapes were fused to their fabrics and then to the white background blocks, Karen machine-blanket-stitched around all of the shapes using chocolate brown machine-quilting thread to add definition to the designs. She recommends using open-toe presser foot so that you can easily see where you’re stitching. In addition, she used a 50-weight thread (“regular” sewing thread) in the bobbin, which required loosening the machine tension a bit so that the bottom thread wouldn’t pull up to the top as she stitched.

Karen handed off the appliquéd blocks to Cathy Reitan, who hand-embroidered the beautiful details for the flower stems, lady bug wings, and antennae before assembling the blocks and borders into a quilt top. Karen Burns, who did the stunning machine quilting on almost all of the quilts in the book, stitched all-over swirls in the appliqué blocks to help the motifs stand out, and then added flowers in the borders reminiscent of the flowers in the fabric pattern. Finally the quilt came back to Cathy, who sewed on the binding and hanging sleeve. It was really thrilling to see how all of the blocks and pieces were assembled into a stunning final product, and to know each of us had a hand in it. Now the quilt hangs behind my desk at work and each day I am greeted by its cheerful motifs and reminded of the teamwork that helped put this quilt together.

I really enjoyed hearing these stories, hope you did too. Martingale has supplied a copy of the book to give away, so leave a comment before 7:00 p.m. California time on Saturday, May 8, to enter the drawing to win this delicious collection of quilt patterns. (U.S. and Canada only)

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

Being the ever-curious appliquér, I picked up a package of Ricky’s version of freezer paper.

package.gif

Here’s what the package says:

  • Large, ready-to-use sheet — more than twice as wide as standard freezer paper rolls
  • No cutting or taping needed to fit a full width of quilting fabric
  • Softer and more flexible than other brands
  • Lies flat, reusable
  • Use for piecing, appliqué, or ANY freezer-paper technique

  • Here’s what it looks like when you take it out of the package. This is only a portion of it.

    unfolded1.gif

    I cut out a hunk of the regular supermarket freezer paper and a piece of Ricky’s. Ricky’s does feel softer, thinner, and more flexible. I hope you can see a difference in this photo.

    compare.gif

    Personally I end up chopping my freezer paper into little pieces for the type of appliqué that I do, but I can see where this product would come in mighty handy if you’ve been taping together sections of freezer paper to use with large patterns in other techniques. For instance, what comes to mind is designing and marking swag borders, where you use a piece of freezer paper that’s the same dimensions as your border, then fold it into sections for the swags.

    I went ahead and tested it out for the freezer-paper-on-top type of appliqué that I know.

    cardboard.gif

    Note the cardboard underneath. The firm surface helps create a better bond when ironing the template onto the fabric.

    sewing.gif
    I’m a baster… can’t abide pins when I’m trying to stitch.

    done.gif
    Works great!

    It strikes me as amusing that Ricky would need to call this product by a name that’s not what it’s intended for (wrapping meat for the freezer) so that it will be familiar for quilters!

    C’mon gang, chime in. What use would you make out of extra-wide freezer paper?

    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

    The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Well, that’s what they taught us in 10th grade, but they were talking in terms of abstract geometry. In nature, we don’t see too many straight lines. They’re more of a man-made construct, like boxes, fences, and the sides of buildings.

    Hand appliqué is not a fan of straight lines either. Gentle curves are the ticket, and nothing too perfect, like in nature. It’s when we appliqué houses, or baskets, or stems that are perfectly straight because we’ve simplified them or are interpreting them in a primitive or folk-art way, that we run into the straight line.

    Straight lines are not so much an issue in machine appliqué (though you still have to mark them and cut them straight.) But in hand work, I actually find a straight line harder to get nice than a curve. Here are some strategies for dealing with stretches of the straightaway.

    • The bias tape maker

    Except, don’t use bias!

    Cut straight strips instead of bias strips.
    They wiggle less.

    Below is an example from Baskets to Appliqué, where I used the tape maker and straight-cut strips with just a thin strip of fusible on the back. It looks intricate, but it was pretty easy-peasy to weave the strips, fuse them in place, then hand-stitch them down.


    • Freezer paper on the back


    The pot here, in this design from Growing Heart to Appliqué, is a good candidate.

    Basting the margin over the template helps assure a crisp, identifiable sewing line and keeps things on the straight and narrow. For more information, see my previous photo tutorial about freezer paper on the back. Even if you’re using freezer paper on top or another method, you can mix a little of this in to deal with those pesky straight edges.

    • Back-Basting

    In the back-basting, aka no-template method, the pattern is drawn directly on the back of the background fabric. This means you have the sewing line marked and ever-present as a reference for your stitching. You can flip your work over to make sure you’re passing the sobriety test.

    How’m I doing?

    Pretty good so far.

    I’ll write more about back-basting in the future.

    How do you like to handle straight lines?

    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!

    My appliqué friend Pam Crooks is a member of the American Quilt Study Group (AQSG), a national organization devoted to quilt-related studies, especially the history of quilts, the women and men who made them, and the fabrics they used.

    A couple of nights ago, Pam spread her AQSG study quilt out on the floor for show and tell. Oooh!


    photo tutorial), and hand-appliquéd them in place.


    The completed study quilts tour for two years to various quilt shows and museums. For more information on the AQSG, please visit their site.


    Pam is an appliqué artiste extraordinaire, oui?

    Until next time,
    Kay

    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