Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Straight Stitch Edging


Yesterday there were a couple of comments asking how I manage to keep the stitching straight on the edge of my fusible applique. There was some trial and error involved, but I thought that post was already getting long. But I do have a photo of the "error," and the second block is done too!

The only clear plastic foot that came with my straight stitch machine is the hopping foot/darning foot that I use for free motion quilting. I know that art quilters like Melinda Bula and McKenna Ryan use free motion stitching to hold down their fused applique, so I was game. Leaving the feed dogs up is supposed to give you more control, and I did that too. It was not successful:


The hopping foot actually jerked around the fabric, and it was impossible to stitch straight. Thinking about it now, I am pretty sure that in her TQS show Melinda Bula goes off the edge of the applique when she stitches. And, since she is making an art quilt for the wall that will never be washed, that is just an "artistic touch" and in no way a problem.

But, I need to wash this quilt, and I need the stitching to stay on the applique, so I needed to see where I was going. I tried out the zipper foot, and it turned out to be perfect for the job:


As you see, my zipper foot can be adjusted to the left or right of the needle, and it is possible to fine tune the placement so the edge of the foot lines up perfectly with the needle. Then I just line up the edge of the foot about 1/8" inside the edge of the applique, by eye, and stitch normally. At every corner I stop with the needle down, lift the foot, pivot, drop the foot, and stitch to the next corner. With the short stitch length (1.75), I rarely have to hand crank the machine in the corners.

On curves I've also found that it's better to keep stopping and lifting the foot to pivot every few stitches, rather than trying to twist the fabric under the foot. Again, I can thank TQS for that tip, from Pat Holly's show.

So, it's not like I'm zooming around. It took me about two hours stitching time to go around today's block. But, compared to hand stitching, it is fast. And with the machine going so slowly, it is very easy to hear the TV, or a podcast, or a book on tape.


I am finding the process is completely addictive. I like cutting out the applique -- it reminds me of early art classes in school, but still takes a lot of focus. And I like the slow pace of stitching it down too. You get into a rhythm -- stitch, stitch, stitch, lift -- and it gets easier to judge where to stop in the corners. The whole thing is definitely a "flow" experience. As soon as I finish one, I am looking forward to the next.

So it's a good thing that my applique wishlist is long. Suddenly all those "someday" applique projects are looking a lot more today!

14 comments:

  1. Zipper foot = great plan. Mine switches left to right, too. And thanks for the tip about the time. I do like to finish each step in about 10 minutes. That had some adverse effects on my work. I'll slow down now.
    I tried my regular foot, the walking foot, and darning foot. With the last two feet my stitches looked awfully similar to your photo 2. Ha. Thanks for working this out for us.

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  2. Thanks for the tip, very beautiful block.

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  3. wold never have thought to use the zipper foot, now mine might get used sometimes thankyou for haring this in such detail with us I will certainly have a go

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  4. Great post. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks, Jacqueline! You know, Gmail never sends me a notification about your comments -- they don't like your ISP. If I've missed some, I'm sorry!

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  5. I'm glad you found a solution: I absolutely love how this looks!

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  6. Great idea! This is going to be a beautiful project!

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  7. Great tip, Monica. Makes so much sense. I must play a bit more with the various feet on my machine. I tend to use mine in purely utilitarian ways - and quickly. This opens possibilities. Thanks again.

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    1. Thanks, Jillian! I still haven't tried a couple of the feet that came with my machine either. But you never know what might come in handy!

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  8. I wouldn't have thought of trying out the zipper foot! Your results are terrific! Finishing that complicated block in two hours was zooming!! You know how quickly I'm stitching these days. I think we could have a "race" of the turtles! Seriously, I commend you on your progress!

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    1. Two hours stitching, with breaks in between. But yes, I'm feeling highly motivated with this project, so the time flies by. And you know, the turtle won the race in the end!

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  9. Wow! What an improvement with the zipper foot! It does get easier and better as the eye/hand coordination improves with practice. Is this turned edge or raw edge applique?

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  10. Hi Monica, another informative interesting post. You are clever to figure out the zipper foot would work so well and this is going to be a great work. The colours are striking.

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    1. Thanks, Jocelyn! I'm so happy with how it's coming together. Everything has just fallen into place!

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Happy stitching!

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