October 16, 2007

A couple of months ago, I set out to make an appliqué project where I would challenge myself in two ways. I would use no pattern, and I would finish no edges.

Both of these precepts were new territory for me. Ever the one to follow the pattern was I, in the last few years particularly so that the samples I made would represent the patterns I created. And, I’ve always been a “neat and pretty” girl, turning the edges when working by hand, or finishing the edges with a buttonhole stitch for machine appliqué. Now I wanted to shake off those constraints and make an improvisational piece.

I selected a stack of fabrics and ironed paper-backed fusible web to chunks of them in advance. (If you’re wondering, I’ve found that regular Wonder Under works the best for me.) I got a piece of black fabric to use for the base. I put this on my table and stood over it, scissor-cutting freeform flowers, stems, and leaves.

The process went on for several days. I had to guard the work-in-progress from cats and dog wanting to walk over it. Every day I worked a little more at it, cutting more shapes and arranging and rearranging them. (I wish I had taken pictures as things progressed… next time I will.)

At last the shapes were packed as densely as I wanted and everything was in place. I removed the paper backing from all of the shapes and fused the entire project.

Now, since the second part of my personal challenge was to finish no edges, I was ready to skip straight to the layering and quilting stage! I had read about how quilters “finish” the edges of their motifs during the quilting process by quilting close to the edge, and I had seen this many times in quilt shows, but I had always considered myself allergic to the idea. This was my chance to try it for myself.

Here is the result of my personal twofold challenge: Free Flowers.

When I showed this to my quilting friends they could hardly believe that it came from me, so different it was from my usual style. I’m so happy with the result of my challenge to myself!

Here are a few things I learned along the way.

    As Laura Wasilowski advises, use fabrics for fusing where the color goes all the way through. Avoid fabrics with whitish or sketchy-looking backs.
    Use densely woven fabrics. Avoid fabrics that are woven from heavy/ravelly threads.
    Be prepared to relax a little bit about raveling around the edges. Since I chose a few fabrics that were contrary to the above recommendations, I spent awhile giving my quilt a shave and a haircut with a sharp little pair of scissors. If you know how to preclude raveling altogether, please let us all know.
    Black backgrounds, especially batik, attract cat hair with a strong magnetic force.
    I would try this again, and choose my fabrics better. I really am a little allergic to fraying edges.

I highly recommend setting a personal challenge for yourself!

Until next time,


One Response to “A personal challenge”

  1. Introducing the quilt puppy : All About Applique on October 20th, 2007 6:43 am

    […] is a mite off-topic, but it occurred to me after I wrote the post about Free Flowers that it might seem a bit odd that I talk about keeping the dog from walking over my […]