Have you ever finished an appliqué block and then had second thoughts about the background fabric you chose?
Maybe It doesn’t look the way you thought it would. Or the appliqués end up blending into the background a little more than you’d like. Maybe the project ended up taking a different direction. Whatever the reason, sometimes you wish that cute block you stitched was on a different background.
Maniac that I am, I have actually twice successfully swapped out the background on a completed block, without starting over!! I’ll show you how I did it, then you can decide if it’s crazy or total genius.
Note: This applies to hand-appliquéd blocks, not fused or machine-stitched.
Here’s the Apples block from my first Martingale book, Easy Appliqué Blocks.
|See, there it is, right on the cover.|
Now, that beige stripey background is okay, but when I was looking for a block to use for this tutorial, I got to thinking, wouldn’t that bowl of apples look nice zhuzhed up on some red polky-dots?
I’ll walk you through the process. You will need to do some basting, some trimming, some tweezering, and some re-stitching. BUT you will not have to restitch everything! Where one motif goes over the top of another one, that part does not have to be restitched. (Except for a little overlapping to secure threads.) Here’s my attempt at telestration in Photoshop to show you those areas.
What you’ll need:
• A new background fabric
• Needle and threads
• Sharp-tipped hand scissors
• Seam ripper
Start by cutting a square of the new background fabric that is the same size as the existing one.
Take a deep breath.
On the back of the stitched block, cut away the background fabric inside each appliqué piece, close to the stitching. Keep the lower blade of the scissors on top of the turning allowance.
Remove the interior background fabric.
Those little lines of background behind the stitching that is going to remain… just leave ’em. Okay, if they really bother you, you can tweezer them out, but leaving them in place will keep the stitches tight, and will not affect the appearance of the refurbished block.
Layer the block on top of the new background.
Baste them together all around the perimeter of the appliqués, a scant ½” inside the stitching lines.
A little at a time, use the seam ripper to remove the previous appliqué stitching. Once you get it started, this is easily done by lifting the edge of the appliqué. The old background fabric outside the perimeter will come loose and you can cut it away in hunks. Tweezers come in handy for removing little bits of thread and background.
Restitch the appliqués to the new background, changing thread color as needed. You’ll find this to be easy stitching! The edge is already turned and creased, and behaves itself beautifully, acting like prepared-edge appliqué.
When you come to a place where one motif crosses on top of another one (as shown in the telestrated example above), sew over the area a little bit to secure the existing stitching, then continue on around the perimeter.
Once everything is restitched, remove the basting.
Inside points, notches, whatever you call ’em, hand appliquér extraordinaire Susan Taylor Propst has posted an illustrated tutorial to stitching these potentially pesky areas, over on the Martingale blog.
And, my pal Cathy put up a post on machine quilting that is hilarious and inspired, with a touch of genius, and at once bittersweet if you are a Trekker or even an MI fan.
Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie
This month, courtesy of AQS Publishing, we have Rebecca L. Campbell’s charming book Plant Your Own Garden.
This little book features a dozen original flower blocks that you can use to plant an appliqué garden. Each design can stand alone in a project of your own creation, or join the others in a sampler quilt.
Rebecca shares with us what inspired her to become an appliqué enthusiast and to develop her own system for pleasing results. Take it away, Rebecca!
I belong to a quilt guild, Quintessential Quilters in Columbus, Ohio. I thank that organization for the opportunity to take classes from an amazing list of famous quilters. Those teachers inspired me in a so many ways. I wanted be a part of the quilting business. but what was I going to offer? A seed was planted and I was searching for my way to inspire.
I fell in love with an appliqué pattern and became determined to learn turned-edge appliqué, but my results left a lot to be desired. I wanted perfect shapes right off the bat and didn’t want to spend time tracing or ripping freezer paper out. I matched up products that accomplished those tasks. I eliminated tracing by using a copier to create a placement guide (June Tailor’s Perfect Piecing) and templates (C. Jenkins Freezer Paper Sheets). If I ironed the freezer paper to the right side of the fabric it could be pulled off once the piece is in place. Print n Fuse ironed to batting enabled me to create trapunto without stuffing.
Now I had a method that worked well for me. Teaching classes was a test to see if it worked for others. Beginners were excited with their results and experienced appliquérs found it increased their accuracy and productivity.
I had a proven method that I titled Innovative Appliqué. Someone suggested I should create an original pattern to teach from. Sixty-one patterns and more in the works are available. All individual patterns are full size.
Designing, teaching, vending and trade shows lead to connecting with America Quilter’s Society to publish a booklet, Plant Your Own Garden. Twelve flower patterns, quilt construction, and Innovative Appliqué instructions are all included. I like to provide lots of pictures to show what I am explaining. The booklet patterns do need to be enlarged 111%. That is something I hope to avoid the next go round.
I hang a sign at shows that says Appliqué is not a four letter word. I think that is so funny.
At a recent Checker Distributors open house, Rebecca filmed a video presentation showing her appliqué techniques.
If you’d like to win this booket, please leave a comment before 7:00 p.m. California time on Monday, October 6. Open to U.S. mailing addresses only.
Good luck everyone!
By Kay Mackenzie
There’s a fabulous hand-appliqué tip from Martingale author Cynthia Tomaszewski on their blog, Stitch This!
Go see What to do when your appliqué fabric frays. This one’s going straight into my bag of tricks. Thanks Cynthia!
Linda Franz is one of my most revered associates in the quilting world. When I first stuck a toe into publishing, I saw that she had produced the fabulous Quilted Diamonds on her own, and I contacted her with questions. Linda immediately became a mentor to me, answering at length and providing the most wonderful encouragement.
I’ve watched over the years as Linda has continued trail-blazing. She is the inventor of Inklingo, a system of printing on fabric that provides a myriad of benefits for both patchwork and appliqué. Recently Linda posted a tutorial on Quilting Hub about back-basting with Inklingo that you’ll just have to go and see. Among Linda’s many skills is photography, and the quality of her photo tutorials is unsurpassed. You’ll also meet Linda’s friend Monkey, who helps demonstrate during the tutorials.
Coming up: Tuesday is my birthday. I have a date with the hubby for dinner-and-a-movie, but I’m also feeling inclined to do some sort of something here on the blog to help celebrate. And, on Christmas day I post my annual Cavalcade of Kittens, so be warned if you are averse to fluffy baby felines.
By Kay Mackenzie
I have a super-sized holiday treat this month as our featured book and giveaway! Landauer Publishing sent me a copy of Janice Vaine’s The Art of Elegant Hand Embroidery, Embellishment, and Appliqué.
It’s truly something special. It’s a great big, hard-cover, spiral-bound book, and with it Landauer also sent me the companion pack of 124 Block Patterns.
If you like hand embroidery and embellishment, you are sure to drool over this fantastic award-winning publication. Go on over to the Landauer website and watch the short video about the book. Click on “Look Inside the Book.”
Here’s an inside sneak peak:
The book and the companion patterns will both go to one lucky reader. If you’d like to win them, please leave a comment here on this post before 7:00 p.m. California time on Sunday, December 9.
The fine print: Open to U.S. and Canada mailing addresses only. Comments left on a different post are not eligible. Replies to an email feed are not eligible.
Many thanks to Landauer for providing us this wonderful resource for appliqué, embroidery, and embellishment enthusiasts. Good luck and happy holidays to all!!
Anybody up for some old-school, not-quick-and-easy, very detailed, completely captivating holiday appliqué?
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.
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!
Oooh, I’ve been waiting to get my paws on this one!
Back at Spring Market in Kansas City, I attended author Angela Lawrence‘s Schoolhouse presentation, because I’m always interested to hear what other appliqué enthusiasts have to say. Angela has been teaching hand appliqué for many years, and for her new book she’s broken down every step and laid it out in a beautiful visual guide. As she made her way through her presentation, I was like, “Check, check, that’s the way I do it, check, awesome.” With one exception, which is our placement method, Angela and I are “like this” when it comes to hand appliqué.
I spoke with Angela after the presentation, and she was delighted to hear that I wanted to feature her beautiful new book on the blog. But guess what? The copy she had in her hand was the only one in captivity! It was an advance copy and the book wasn’t even out yet!
Later in the weekend I stopped by the Landauer booth and made the acquaintance of E.B., the digital marketing person. She was also very happy to have the book featured once it came out. I gave her my card but afterward realized I hadn’t written my email address on the back for her. Argh! Since then I’ve been pondering the best way to follow up. Excelsior! I got an email from E.B. asking for my address so she could send me the book! Thank you Landauer!
I’d show you some more images, and tell you what-all’s in the book, but Landauer has gone to all the trouble, so just click on over to their website and watch the short video! Let me add that there’s a packet of full-size templates inside the back cover for the nine projects.
I have a copy of the book to give away to a lucky reader. If you’d like to enter the drawing, leave a comment at the bottom of this post before 7:00 p.m. California time on Wednesday, September 5.
Contest open to U.S. and Canada mailing addresses only. Remember that you can’t enter the drawing from your email program. You have to be on the blog itself on the internet to leave a comment.
Good luck everyone!
By Kay Mackenzie
At Spring Market in May, I stopped by the Landauer booth to find out more information about one of their upcoming appliqué titles.
I happened to speak with the right person! The staff member in charge of digital marketing was thrilled at the prospect of sharing their appliqué titles with All About Appliqué and handed me a couple to peruse.
One of them was Janet Pittman‘s Appliqué: The Basics and Beyond. I sat down and looked all the way through through the book. It’s fantastic, and I was presented with a copy to take home in my suitcase. Thank you, Landauer!
Janet has really done a comprehensive job of presenting information about appliqué… several kinds. After a section on equipment and supplies, we’re on to the preparing, stitching, and embellishing! There’s paper-backed fusible-web, turned-edge with template and starch, turned-edge with freezer paper and glue, turned-edge with freezer paper on the wrong side and also the right side, faced appliqué, marked-line and thread-basted, you name it, Janet has covered it. And it’s all beautifully photographed and illustrated for you.
One of the really cool things about the book is that it’s spiral-bound inside a hardback cover so it lays flat. What a nice convenience.
The subtitle of the book is, “The Complete Guide to Successful Machine and Hand Techniques with Dozens of Designs to Mix and Match.” In addition to all that appliqué information, there are a bunch of projects with complete instructions. There’s even an index in this comprehensive resource.
If you’d like to win Appliqué: The Basics and Beyond, please leave a comment here on the blog before 7:00 p.m. on Friday, July 7.
Please pay close attention to the following. There are always a few who don’t understand how to leave a comment.
If you receive this blog post in your email, replying to that email will not enter you in the drawing. You’ll need to click on the title of the post, which will take you to All About Appliqué on the internet. Scroll to the bottom and leave your comment there. Open to U.S. and Canada mailing addresses only.
At our last guild meeting she doled out dozens of a cute little cat block that she had designed to those members not afraid of hand appliqué. I took three.
Mickey had already traced the cats with a silver pencil and had provided a measurement-based placement system. I put on my thinking cap and came up with a method that slops into back-basting, except that it’s front-basting! That’s why I call them hybrid cats.
I positioned the cats on the background as directed, pinned in a couple places, then front-basted along the silver marked line. Take out the pins, and voilà! it’s ready to stitch, just as if I had used my favorite back-basting method.
Trimmed to shape, leaving the turning allowance, and a little reverse appliqué to delineate the legs.
Stitching away, removing the basting a little ahead.
Three cats all done and ready to go back to Mickey! I feel like there are more in my future, since there are a whole lotta cats in Mickey’s quilt!
Cat block is © Mickey Beebe. Mickey is a natural-born quiltmaking soul. You can see two of her Road to California ribbon-winning quilts, #6711 and #6712, at the R2CA site.
When I looked at the webpage I was tickled to see one of my quilts on there too! We had a good year!
If you didn’t win a copy of Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks, Volume 5 in last week’s blog hop, I now have it available on my website, on the Patterns page.
Also, if you can’t wait until the Book-A-Round June 7-16 to see if you win one, you can order your signed copy of Scrap-Appliqué Playground now! It’s on the Bookshop page.
By Kay Mackenzie
I’ve been waiting and waiting for this one to come out!
My maiden name is Burnham so I’ve often wondered if Barbara and I are long-lost cousins. After all, Burnham is a good old “up east” name (my dad is from Massachussetts) and Barbara is a charter member of the Baltimore Appliqué Society, but alas we still haven’t figured that out LOL.
Today I’m turning the blog over to Barbara to tell us all about her stellar new book. It’s quite something!
Barbara M. Burnham, author:
“My dear husband thought I was crazy to buy that old worn quilt I found in 1999. “But it really does have potential,” I told him. “Try to imagine that quilt as it looked in 1848 when it was made.”
“So he smiled and said “Whatever you want, dear.” (Love that!) I wanted to reproduce the quilt and make those designs come alive again. When the quilt arrived, we had fun looking over all the appliqué, some completely gone from age and wear, and dense quilting with florals in between all the appliqué. This is the quilt that became the new “Baltimore Garden Quilt.”
“Flowers on the antique quilt had been stitched on one petal at a time –- one flower had almost 50 petals! But I devised a method of appliqué to do those flowers in layered sections. Over the next ten years, I traced the designs and appliquéd the blocks. (Not that I’m so slow, but also working a full-time job). Meanwhile, my friends at the Baltimore Appliqué Society cheered me on to publish the patterns.
I kept a journal noting techniques, drawings, problems, and solutions. I wondered what the original quilter might have been thinking about her world in 1848, and what she grew in her garden to inspire these flowers. Techniques on her quilt include buttonhole stitching, woven baskets, embroidery, inked signatures, and tiny cross stitched initials.
Those techniques and more are described in my book using today’s tools and methods. The companion CD includes all the patterns for appliqué blocks, border swags with 40 florettes, quilting designs, alternate sets, and an 1848-era cross stitch alphabet.
Finally, I must give credit to my friend, Marty Vint of Dogwood Quilting, for her masterful machine quilting of all the original designs from the antique quilt. The Baltimore Garden Quilt, or “M.E.C. Remembered,” will be displayed in the Author’s Row exhibit at the American Quilter’s Society shows in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Paducah, Kentucky.”
I asked Barbara to tell us more about the intriguing topic of her appliqué methods.
Barbara: “My favorite method for hand appliqué is freezer-paper-on-top with needleturn (blind stitch). I leave the freezer paper on until the piece is stitched. I don’t mark the applique fabric or background. But this quilt required a LOT of techniques! All my techniques are in this book, plus:
• A new technique for creating symmetrical multi-layered flowers
• No-mark placement
• Buttonhole (blanket stitch) and iron-on fusibles
• Reverse applique
• Embroidery stitches
• Several ways to make a woven basket
• Bias stems
• Tricks for handling small pieces like berries and bird’s eyes
• Back-basting on the sewing machine
• How to trace designs from an antique quilt
• How to find just the right fabrics, including Turkey Red
• All the quilting patterns that appear between the applique
• How-to’s for adapting quilting motifs for your quilt
• Marking quilting motifs
• How to assemble the quilt (joining blocks, joining borders and adding corner swags)
• Backing and batting, basting the “quilt sandwich”
• Quilting by hand or machine
• Preparing your quilt for machine quilting
• Signing and dating your work, ideas for labels
• Twenty-five 15-inch appliqué blocks
• Border Double Swags and 40 Small Florettes to join them
• Quilting Motifs from the antique quilt
• Alternate Set for arranging the blocks
• Cross Stitch Alphabet from 1848
Here’s who will enjoy this book:
• People who enjoy or collect antique quilts and patterns; Baltimore style quilts, red-and-green quilts, appliqué quilts and antique quilting patterns.
• Beginning appliquérs who could learn techniques with a simple tulip block.
• Advanced appliquérs who will enjoy the more challenging and complex designs and techniques, or modify them for their own quilts.
• Quilters searching for unique border designs and ideas.
I do hope you enjoy the book!”
Thank you, Barbara! All I can say, is WOW. I mean WOW. How much more could an appliqué enthusiast ask for??
Courtesy of the publisher, I have a copy of Baltimore Album Quilt to give away to a lucky reader. To enter the drawing, leave a comment here on this post before 7:00 p.m. California time on Sunday, March 11.
The fine print: Contest open to U.S. and Canada mailing addresses only. Do not reply to your email feed; instead, click over to the blog itself and leave your comment at the bottom of the post. Good luck!
By Kay Mackenzie
Fran V. wrote:
I have found that there are a lot of assumptions made when it comes to actually stitching the pieces together and in what order. For some blocks it is rather obvious, but for others not so much, especially in more complicated blocks. Some direction here would be nice.
Fran, there are two ways of thinking about what a pattern should provide. Some patterns come with little numbers all over them indicating stitching order of the pieces. To me they look like they have the measles LOL. I’m in the other camp. You know that old expression, “If somebody’s hungry, you can give them a fish, or you can teach them to fish.”
Rose block from Easy Appliqué Blocks.
The same process applies whether the pattern is simple and the order is obvious, or when the pattern is quite complicated and has many pieces and layers. Take charge! Just look and see which pieces are partially behind others, and start with them. Build from the back to the front. If it helps you, you can jot down your own measles on your master pattern.
Fran also wrote,
Also some hints on deep curves and points would be nice. Could you use your wavy blades to cut these out to eliminate the fray while you work with them?
We’re covered points, notches, and curves in previous posts. As for the wavy blades… wow! Now that’s a thought! A scary one! It’s a good thing Clover makes microserrated scissors with this very idea in mind. They’re like teeny tiny pinking shears. I carry them on my website in the 5″ hand-scissor size, on the Kits & Notions page.
Karen Kay Buckley also has her own brand in a larger and a smaller size on her website.
Miscroserrated scissors don’t exactly eliminate fraying. I don’t think anything can — it’s cut fabric after all — but they do make the cut edge less prone to fraying.
Hope this helps! Thanks for your question Fran! So glad you are enjoying the blog.
Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie
This just in from my pal Holly Mabutas of Eat Cake Graphics:
I’m SO excited to announce a new project! I’ve teamed up with author Terri Thayer, actually she’s the one that approached me with the project over a year ago. She’s writing an 8 month series of stories called Tales of the Quilt Shop, and I’m creating an applique project to go along with it called Sugarplums.
You have GOT to go and take a look at the first block on Holly’s Blog Sprinkles of Thought. If there were anything cuter it wouldn’t be allowed by law. Way to go Holly! Not only that, Holly includes a link to her glue-stick turned-edge hand-appliqué tutorial.
By Kay Mackenzie
In the Call for Topics, Debbie asked,
I need to know how to tackle (handle the excess background fabric) of an appliquéd ‘whole cloth’ piece — in other words, one design on a large (say 36 x 42) background. Do you start at the top, middle, random, where? How do you keep that background fabric stable? Do you appliqué the vines first?
Debbie, there’s a reason that appliqué projects are usually done in block format LOL! Working on blocks is more manageable than working on a big honking project, with all of that excess fabric to deal with.
If you do have an appliqué project that’s one design on a large background, never fear… it can be done! I’m thinking we’re talking about hand appliqué here, and your question ties in with the recent post Support for your appliqué. The information given there on support for the background fabric is totally relevant to tackling large appliqué projects.
What area to start in? It’s not like machine quilting, where the conventional wisdom is usually to start in the middle and work your way outwards. I use the back-basting method, which ensures that your motifs end up stitched exactly where you marked them, so no worries about migration of pieces. Using this method, I personally wouldn’t be worried about what section I started on, but knowing me, I would probably work all over as opposed to finishing one section and then moving on to the next.
As for what order to go in, it would be the same as any other appliqué pattern. Start with the motifs that are in the back, and work your way forward. Vines are often the first things to go down, because they are usually behind other elements. You’ll need to study your pattern to see if this is the case.
Another tip about handling appliqué projects: Hold the work from the bottom of the target area. Make sure your wrist is not twisted or bent. Fold or roll the project in your non-sewing hand until you can get a good over-and-under grip on the area that you’re working on.
If your project is large, there’s the true challenge. You might have quite a bit of fabric rolled up in your hand, and that’s why the block format is so popular! You’ll need to unroll, reposition, and reroll as you work.
Suzanne recently wrote and asked, “Please review for all of us how you mark the pattern on the back of the fabric w/o using templates. Very interesting approach that I must try.”
Suzanne, go the the back-basting link above and that’ll give you all the information :).
Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie
Maddie asked, “I need help on a good method to keep the appliqué flat when working on large pieces. Currently, I have to keep my piece flat on a tabletop, yet I see other people working in hand. If I work in hand, the final project is not flat.”
Maddie, this is one of my favorite pieces of appliqué information to share. It isn’t something that’s typically covered in appliqué instructions, but I’ve always included it in my books because it’s an important piece of the puzzle in getting pleasing results.
First of all, let’s start with vision and lighting. Bear with me… it all ties in.
For good appliqué results, you have to make sure that your vision is good. Is your glasses prescription up to date? Do you have the proper glasses for close-up work?
Take me for example. My whole life I was so proud of my better-than-20-20 vision. But at a certain point, when we got a new computer system at my day job that ONLY printed out in 10 point type, I had to admit that I needed help. I entered the era of reading glasses.
Now I could read the computer printouts. But the glasses were such a pain! Put ’em on, take ’em off. Put ’em on, take ’em off. Where the bleep are they?? Argh.
I mentioned this to my eye doc and he told me I was a good candidate for monovision contacts, so I went to see the optometrist and got me some. Hallelujah!
Now I could stick the contacts in in the morning and get through the whole day without putting on a pair of glasses! That really improved my quality of life! However, monovison contacts means you have a strong lens in your near eye and a weak lens in your distance eye, and your brain blends the two together. They’re great for general seeing but not so great for very precise, detailed, close-up work. So when I really need to see, I put on reading glasses on top of the contacts! That’s right, I go from two eyes to four eyes to six eyes LOL! Oh well, you do what it takes.
You may have a different vision scenario. You need to be able to see the eye of the needle and the grain of the fabric. What I’m saying is, do whatever it takes to get your vision corrected for stitching, and not just at two inches from your face.
Let’s move on to lighting. Good lighting goes hand-in-hand with good vision. You need to be able to direct a strong light right on your work. It’ll make a big difference!
The reason I bring up vision and lighting is that you need to be able to sew in your lap, not up next to your face. I see it all the time… people bringing their project up close to their eyes, stitching up in midair with the background falling away. This encourages buckling of the appliqué.
Put your feet up on a footstool, sew in your lap, and provide support for the background fabric. The June Tailor Quilter’s Cut ‘n Press is an excellent appliqué aid. The cushioned side comfortably supports your underneath hand and the project as you stitch. I’d show you a picture of mine but it’s ancient and “well-loved” in its appearance.
Maddie, I hope this helps. Let us know how it goes.
Until next time,
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.
Thank you, subconscious! You’re a miracle.
By Kay Mackenzie
During Spring Market, I stopped by the Colonial Needle booth and introduced myself to Pepper Cory. It was a great conversation starter to lead with the fact that I am a fellow native North Carolinian LOL!
Pepper was hanging out with Colonial Needle because she has really gotten into the Big Stitch way of hand quilting and has put together a special pack of needles just for this style.
When Pepper learned that I was an appliqué enthusiast, she asked me if I ever worked with batiks. I told her that I do have a small tub of batiks, but for hand work, not so much. She handed me a needle sampler pack that was put together by appliqué artist extraordinaire Kathy Delaney.
Since batiks have a very tight weave and a sort-of crispy finish, they’re a bit tougher to needle by hand than regular quilter’s cottons. On the back of the pack, Kathy says that for stitching batiks, she uses John James Gold ‘n Glide needles. They’re coated to slide through fabric even more easily than regular appliqué needles. I’ve heard of Gold ‘n Glide needles for years, but hadn’t ever tried one. I decided to give them a whirl.
I chose the Spring Basket block from my Inspired By Tradition. Here’s the one that’s in the book.
I pulled out my rather sparse stash of batiks and batiky-likes and chose some fabrics for this new version. The light green and dark purple are hand dyes and the brown is a Moda Marble. The other fabrics are all batiks. I didn’t have anything to use for a batik background, so I decided to keep with the spirit of the challenge and use a creamy white-on-white. Sometimes stitching through these can feel like punching your needle through dried latex paint.
Look at these funky scraps! They’re left over from the Keri Duke workshop.
Here’s a photo of my usual hand appliqué needle, John James milliner’s No. 10 (below), and a John James Gold ‘n Glide No. 11 from the pack. When I first picked up the No. 11, it did feel a little strange in my hand since I usually work with the next size up.
The sampler pack included both regular straw needles and Gold ‘n Glide straw needles, No. 11. (BTW, straw needles and milliner needles are the same thing.) I stitched the hand dyes and the printed marble elements first and got those out of the way. Then I started on the dark green batik leaves. I did the first one with the regular needle from the pack. The needle felt grabby and squeaky going through the fabric, kind of like eating undercooked green beans. For the second dark green leaf, I switched to the Gold ‘n Glide needle.
Did I feel a difference?
You betcha! The catchiness and squeakiness was gone! What a relief. I stitched away, glorying the in glidiness of this golden-eyed needle. I tell you what, if I ever embark on a whole hand-appliquéd batik project, I will go out and get myself a pack of Gold ‘n Glides. But probably in a Size 10… I did have significantly more trouble threading the needle, even with the gold eye.
Here’s my Batik Spring Basket.
If you’d like to try them, Kathy offers the sampler packs and regular packs of all of her favorite needles on her website.
Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie
Remember this photo, of me and Annie Smith holding each other’s books?
Full disclosure: Annie is a buddy of mine. For years we’ve followed one another’s progression as we strove for and attained career goals. A goal that we each held dear was the publication of an appliqué book. I’m so thrilled for Annie that her wish came true last fall when this gorgeous book came to life.
I’ll start by telling you that this is not the ultimate guide to every method of appliqué that’s out there. It’ something very important, a sourcebook of appliqué design elements and a gentle guide through the process of finding inspiration, encouraging it, recording it when it strikes, and translating it into your own unique appliqué quilts.
Starting with the basics, Annie goes through choosing fabrics, playing with fabrics, employing a focus fabric, and determining value. There’s a comprehensive section on tools and supplies for appliqué.
Then she moves on to detailed instructions for her own favored appliqué methods: raw-edge fusible machine appliqué and Holly Mabutas‘s prepared-edge method for hand appliqué, where freezer-paper templates are ironed to the front and the turning allowance is glued to the back. All through the book there are specific, detailed photographs to help you see exactly what Annie’s talking about.
Then comes a section on the basics of design for blocks and quilts. These are important concepts that in my experience are not covered all the time. A beautiful gallery of quilts follows, to give you even more inspiration. Check out an earlier blog post of mine that shows Annie’s gorgeous coat and accompanying quilt, both of which are pictured in the book.
Following that are several lovely quilt projects to get you started, with pull-out patterns in the back Then comes a whole long catalog of appliqué design elements! A 50 page appliqué shape-a-palooza! Mix and match these as you like!
Many of the elements are given in a variety of sizes, and you can always enlarge or reduce on a photocopy machine. And, you can use any method of appliqué that you like. Another great thing about this book is that it has a lay-flat binding, so you can smooth it out flat for tracing without worrying about breaking the spine. Very cool!
Annie gave me an autographed copy of her book to give away to one of my readers in a drawing. Thank you Annie! If you’d like a chance to win, leave a comment by 7:00 p.m. California time on Saturday, June 4. Contest open to U.S. and Canada addresses only. Good luck!
By Kay Mackenzie
P.S. In case you might not know, Annie does a podcast for quilters. Check it out at Simple Arts.
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.)
“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.
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?
“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.
Rough-cut a hunk of the appliqué fabric that’s bigger than what you’ll need. Lay it in place on the front.
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.
Baste all the way around the shape. This is what it looks like on the front.
Now trim the fabric to the shape of the motif, leaving your preferred turn-under margin outside the basting.
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.
“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.
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!
Repeat the same process for the heart.
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.)
After all the marks are gone and the block has air-dried, give it a quick press. All done!
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!
Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie
So many thanks to those who chimed in about their blog-reading strategies. One reason for doing that last post that I forgot to mention is that sometimes I get messages from readers who are subscribed by email, who don’t even realize that they’re subscribed to a blog, and they think I’m sending them emails!
Erin Russek, who writes the One Piece at a Time blog, recently posted a great photo tutorial showing a very cool template-drawstring-and-starch method for getting the edges pressed under on petal-shaped pieces. Check out her Little Bird Top Knots post. Thanks for a great lesson, Erin!
Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie