Showing posts with label Fusible Applique. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fusible Applique. Show all posts

Friday, July 28, 2017

High Summer Stitching

Doesn't look like a lake, does it? That's Lake Ontario, looking southwest down the length of the lake from Bluffer's Park in Toronto. We've had some wonderful high summer weather this week, and I took my camera out for a drive.

Here are the Scarborough Bluffs, with lovely puffy white clouds (aka source material):

And the marina, with puffy clouds and shiny boats:

A good day! Some memories to re-visit when it's below freezing this winter.

Inside, I finally finished edge stitching the fusible applique blocks that I last shared in June, here and here. They are for my quilt "El Camino SoCal," based on the cover quilt from Nancy Rink's book El Camino Real. And even though summer is still in full swing, you can see that my sunny patch on the wall is getting narrower:

After considerable thought, I decided to top stitch the flowers as if they had individual petals. It was a lot easier to run straight and pivot, rather than inching around all the inside curves.

I want this quilt to have a bright, casual feel, so I just stitched the petals by eye.

I did the same thing on the smaller "forget-me-nots."

The yellow (and citron) centres are reverse applique, which is why the top stitching is only on the purple.

Here's the whole block stitched:

And the last block of the five I've done so far:

They remind me of poppies.

I think this block benefited quite a lot from the top stitching. It really helped to separate and define all the light coloured leaves.

And I'm still happy with my choice of dark red thread for all the edge stitching. It shows up well on every colour.

These blocks have been lying flat on my sewing table for two months, because I didn't want to fold them until they were stitched. I've had to move them every time I sew. Now I can finally put them away!

I feel like I'm at a bit of a crossroads now, and I'm not sure which project I'll pick up next. It's been nothing but this project and Technicolor Turkey for two months, so maybe it's time to give some love to some of my other projects!

And the next Ad Hoc Improv Quilters challenge is to use words in a quilt, which is right up my alley. You can read about it here. I have at least three wordy ideas that I've been sitting on, and I thought it would be easy to just pick one. But...I'm feeling the need to be more spontaneous. So we'll see what happens!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Sunflower Block

With all the ups and downs I've had on this project, this is the block that kept me going. I love sunflowers. And I have to say, it's very satisfying to finally see them coming to life!

The block is fused, but not stitched. The project is my adaptation of Nancy Rink's "In Remembrance," from her book El Camino Real.

Rink's blocks finish at 14" x 18" (36 x 46 cm). I have enlarged mine to finish at 20" x 24" (51 x 61 cm). This changed the proportions of the block to make it relatively a little wider. But, since there is no full size layout in the book, you have to figure it out yourself anyway. So, I decided to make it work better for me.

About a year ago I started to needleturn this block in the original size, and I found my prepped middles in the box with my fabric:

 I didn't get very far, only one is sewn! But, I liked the colours, so I used the same fabric combinations for my enlarged, fused, version. I put these back in the box for now. Maybe I will make a pillow later.

Anyway, that's five of nine now fused. You may click here to see all the previous posts on this project. Now there are four more vase arrangements left to do. It is a heap of fun!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

El Camino SoCal

And Not Wordless Either

I thought I was ready for my summer break, but, it turns out that I'm not. Last week I shared the start of this project, an adaptation of Nancy Rink's quilt In Remembrance, from her book El Camino Real.

I had a long list of challenges with this quilt, from how to make it to what to call it. "El Camino SoCal" is the best name I could come up with, a) to reference the book, and b) to capture the bright, flat, almost neon colours of the applique.

There has been a lot of private, offline hand wringing about how to approach this quilt. The first plan was to needleturn all the applique. But, it turned out that the Laura Gunn Painters' Canvas fabrics are pretty heavy for hand applique. So, I thought if I enlarged the pattern it would be easier to turn smooth curves. But, then I waffled about whether the quilt was for use, or for art. For art, it would be too big, and for use, it was going to be a lot of hand stitching for something that would have a reduced lifespan in the washing machine.

When I realized this year that I had to learn to fuse, this project suddenly transformed into something both feasible and practical. And I have to admit, fusible applique is probably a much better fit for me anyway. My favourite part of the process is the start -- designing or revising someone else's design, choosing the colours and fabrics and seeing how they work. A long slog once all the decisions are made is not something I enjoy.

So, as you see, two more blocks are already redesigned and fused. And, the first two are now stitched. I'm using the same straight stitch edging as my Aunt Millie project. This time I'm using 28 wt Aurifil cotton in dark red:

I had hoped that the heavier thread would make a heavier line, but honestly, I think I would get the same effect with 40 wt thread, and a more balanced stitch too.

I am quite happy, though, with the "exposed seams" look of the topstitching. You will laugh, but it reminds me of all the Issey Miyake designs that I used to love in the 1980s. Between the stitching and the neon colours, the 80s are strong in this quilt!

It is only for a few weeks a year that we get the setting sun shining up on the wall like this, so I am glad to take advantage of the light! It's nice when everything works out. :D

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!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Stash Sale

This weekend a nearby guild had a big stash sale. One of their founders, Marcie Lane, lost her fight with cancer last year, and they were selling her stash to raise funds for cancer care and research. Personally, I really like the idea of continuity in a stash sale. The room was packed, and every person there went home with a little of Marcie's legacy. I sincerely hope that when I am gone (you know, 40 or 50 years from now), my guild will sell off all my fabrics too.

Among other things, this bag of red and white fabric caught my eye:

When I lived in the States, I thought my obsession with red and white quilts was because I'm from Canada. But, here was a whole room full of Canadian quilters who had no problem walking right by this bag. So obviously, it's just me. Looking closer, I could see there were several applique patterns on freezer paper ironed onto the red fabric.

A red and white applique quilt, I thought. Nice! I added it to my pile, and sat down to wait for the checkout line to get shorter. I had a nice chat with Marcie's mom, who was also a Bob Ross fan. But the line didn't get any shorter, and I decided that I wasn't going to be able to wait. I put it all back and headed home.

While I was driving, I could not stop thinking about this quilt. I was sure that I could fuse the red to a light pieced background, and that would be nice. So, back I went! Almost one hour in line, but quilters always have plenty to talk about. ;)

At home, I opened the package and pulled out the other blocks. They started to look familiar:

That is such a distinctive block, and I realized that it is actually Aunt Millie's Garden by Piece o'Cake Designs. Fortunately, I already had the pattern:

A red and white version of Aunt Millie, I thought! But, now I am pretty sure that the big red squares were just the backgrounds, same as the original quilt, and marked in silver pencil for the placement of the applique:

And all that white fabric probably wasn't part of the project at all. There were 11 blocks in the package, so I think Marcie had already started one, and that ended up separated from the rest. It is funny that I assumed that Marcie was making it the way that I would want to make it, even though that was not the case at all!

But I still had to try my idea. I took off all Marcie's freezer paper, dug out an old roll of Steam-a-Seam, and covered the back with the fusible. Then I carefully cut out the applique following the silver pencil lines:

Snip, snip, snip...
The fabric is a thick, rich red hand dye, so fortunately there is no wrong side, and the fabric is very stable. My fusible, however, was old and not sticking very well, but I kept the mat underneath at all times, and I got there.

I laid it out again on my fabric, and fused it. My plan was to straight stitch the edge, rather than satin stitch or blanket stitch. Over at Indigo Threads, Sharon recently shared a photo of a quilt she'd made this way. The fabric frays a little at the edge after washing, and I really like the soft look it has.

I considered a matching red thread for the stitching, but then I decided orange would have more character. The stitch length is fairly short, about 1.75 on my machine, and I usually piece at 2.

The Aunt Millie pattern has little pieced circles in the centres. While I was cutting, I was reminded of how Hawaiian quilts are made, and I decided to fold and free cut the centre in a similar way. It is like a "maker's mark." Mine turned out fairly wonky...

...but I think it sets the right tone. I will try some different cuts on the other blocks. But for now, here's the finished block:

The red is so rich that it looks like velvet against the prints. I'm happy! I think I'll make 9 all together, and set them on point with alternate pieced blocks. It's all planned!

Since fusible applique is probably my future, I am glad this came together so well, and that I have eight more blocks to practice with. It was just the right degree of challenging, and I am interested to see how the next ones will turn out.

Now I have to find room for it in my project drawers... Just when I had it all neat and organized, a new project comes along!

(N.B. I went back to put in the link to the Bob Ross post, and I see that post links to the Piece o'Cake blog! Isn't it funny how some things seem to stick together?)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Red Centre - Month 9

I can't believe it's been almost two weeks! My apologies, but I think you'll find the wait was worth it today. Here are the latest photos of Valerie Giles' Australian Aboriginal version of Sedona Star. Valerie has approached the applique months in a completely different way:


I love that background fabric! I asked Valerie how she made these. She tells me that she started with a chalk outline on black fabric, and then fused the patches of Aboriginal fabrics onto that. Isn't it great the way she maintained the continuity of the fabric pattern across the different patches? On the wombat the fused patches were finished with a hand blanket stitch, but on some of the others she did a machine satin stitch with variegated thread:


Then the black background was embellished by hand with running stitch, back stitch and "many, many French knots" in No. 5 perle cotton. The whole applique was then stitched to the background with a machine satin stitch in black thread.

I really love these, and I think it would be fairly easy to apply this technique to other shapes. Some of the animals are adapted from a book by Julie McKenzie, and some are Valerie's own design.

So here's the whole quilt all the way through Month 9:

The Red Centre

It's looking great. Thanks so much, Valerie, for sharing your work!

Related Posts:

Click here to read last February's post about Valerie's inspiration for her version of Sedona Star

And click here to read about the original Sedona Star designer Sarah Vedeler's inspiration!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Another Dead End on Sedona Star

There are now some 800 quilt blogs that claim to have taken the "process pledge," where they commit to showing their works in process and occasional failures as well as completed quilts.  Are they all doing that?  I'm not sure, I haven't surveyed them all.  But I doubt it.  I am not even sure that people want to read all that.

But, loyal readers, you all know that I am now about 20 posts in on Sedona Star, and it has been all process and no completion, so I should probably add my blog to that list!  Today I have yet another dead end to share on Sedona Star:

These are some 1.25" practice dots (from Months 1 and 2) that I set up a while ago to practice my machine satin stitch.  Then back in May I thought it would be a great idea to do all the seam treatments by hand in chunky perle cottons.  This is the result.  Not what I was hoping for at all!

The dot on the left was embellished with #5 perle cotton, and the one on the right used #8.  The purpose of the experiment was to try out the template I made to mark out the star shape in the embroidery.  You can still see the white pencil dots.  But, I learned right away that it is impossible to get the needle threaded with the #5 perle through the fusible-backed applique!

I was just able to sew the #8 through the fusible, but it put a lot of strain on my hands.  And frankly, I am not happy with the result.  I could monkey around with the fusible and cut away the centres before I fuse them to the fabric so that only the edges are fused, but I just don't think it will be worth it.  The edges of the applique still show through the perle embroidery, and I really don't like that.

At one point I had considered combining machine and hand embroidery, but now I think I'll just stick with machine satin stitch on all the applique and leave it at that.  And the hand quilting plan is out the window too.

So for now, this really is the last Sedona Star post until the air conditioning gets turned off in the fall.  Now that all the indecision is (hopefully) behind me, I'm hoping that the months will fall like dominos once I get started again.  Fingers crossed!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

New Direction

I apologize for the radio silence that's been going on here for a while now.  Recently I've been doing a lot more thinking than sewing!  And a bit of experimenting:

As I mentioned a while ago, I was very inspired by Sandy Lawrence's fusible appliqued and machine embroidered quilt.  I particularly liked the way the thread was a design feature of the quilt.  And I really loved the way she used more than one colour on the edges of the appliques.

I, however, do not have an embroidery machine, or even many decorative stitches.  But I did think that with careful sewing I would still be able to get some interesting multicolour effects.  You can see that I had mixed success with that!  There are some good bits, but there is no room for error.  This is all 50 wt thread, and my plan was to use 30 wt for the "blanket" stitches so they would show up more.  But it turned out that my local quilt store was closed for the Creativ Festival the day I went to buy the 30 wt thread.  So I had more time to think!

The other thing I've been investigating is quilting techniques for both machine and hand.  I came across this website where she hand quilts big stitches with pretty perle cotton thread.  I've seen this before, but this time, with Sedona Star on my mind, the whole thing instantly jelled into a plan.  I can do both the seam treatments AND the quilting with some nice colourful perle cottons!  My sewing machine does a decent satin stitch, so I will start by satin stitching all the appliques, and then embellish them by hand.  It will also allow me to throw in a little embroidery here and there within the shapes as well.

I am VERY excited about this plan!  I can finally see how the whole thing is going to come together.  And I am pretty sure this will be a unique approach!  Right now I am waiting for my threads to arrive, but there is plenty of piecing to do in the meantime.  Happy sewing!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Time to Get Over Myself

Do you know that I have now done 15 posts about Sedona Star, and I have yet to completely finish any of the months?  The sticking point all along has been the fusible applique.  Well, I am over it!  And I have this brilliant quilt to thank:

Go! Bedazzled

Isn't it beautiful?  This was made by Sandy Lawrence of Phoenix, AZ.  It is another Sarah Vedeler design.  Sandy was lucky enough to take a class with Sarah when she made this quilt, and another class with Diane Gaudynski for the quilting!  As you can see by the ribbons, the quilt won First Place for Machine Embroidery and Best of Show at the Arizona Quilter's Guild show in 2012.  No surprise!  You can click the photo to see it larger.

What I really love about this quilt, and what has finally converted me, is the way Sandy has made the machine embroidery into a separate design element of the quilt.  The embroidery is not just a way to hold the appliques down.  For instance, most of the hits of turquoise that you see in the quilt are thread.  Imagine the quilt without it!  I love the Southwest colours she has used.  If you look at the large photo, you can see areas where more than one colour of thread was used around the edges of the appliques.  Sandy has also done embroidery within the shapes. 

There are so many great ideas here!  Even with my basic machine I can think of some interesting combinations to try.  Now I am so keen to get started again!  Alas, I am still waiting for my new iron, so it may still be a while.

Now it looks like I won't be paper piecing Month 2 after all!  But I'm still glad I did it, because it made me very aware of how the dark fabrics show through the light appliques.  I will have to do some careful trimming, I think.

Sandy, thanks so much for the photo, and all the inspiration too!

Related Posts:

Paper pieced practice block

Adjusting the template for paper piecing

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sedona Star Month 2

Since December, when I decided to commit to the TQS 2012 BOM, Sedona Star, I have been debating how to handle the points in the Month 2 blocks:

The instructions call for raw edge, fusible applique, but I don't much like raw edges, or fusibles either.  My applique plan for the quilt has been to use Beth Ferrier's technique for turned applique by machine.  I have a comprehensive review of that technique coming up! 

The centre point on the Month 2 block is very sharp, though.  I know I could do it by hand, because you would sew one side first, and then stuff all the seam allowances against it as you stitched the second side.  But there are nine large blocks!  I thought about machine sewing part of the point and hand sewing just the end, but it seemed very complicated.

I briefly considered converting the block to paper piecing, but I saw problems with that.  However, one of the other TQS members, FLAero52, did it, so I was inspired to try too.  It is NOT EASIER.  There is a lot to figure out, and I did it a little differently than FLAero52.  Here is my practice block:

There are a few problems with it, but they are fixable, so this is how I'm going to proceed. I am very happy with the points.  Another benefit of paper piecing is that the dark blue background fabric won't show through the light appliques.  I love that fabric - it's actually a blender from the Elvis on Tour collection!  The white dots are spotlights.  :)

I'll show you how I revised the template to accomodate paper piecing tomorrow.  For now, though, here's some of the problems that I need to address:
  • My white fabric applique at the base is fairly sheer, and the yellow and orange fabrics show through, so I need to trim the seam allowances from the points.  Also, the "Template F" lettering on the template shows through, so I will have to mask that from future copies.  The placement of that applique is also a little off, but that is easily corrected next time.
  • You can see a dark shadow on the right side of the top point.  That is the blue fabric showing through the light green, where it got caught in the centre seam.  I will have to trim those blue seam allowances before I sew the two sub-units together.
  • The yellow fabric from the centre point also goes too far up in the centre seam, which adds bulk and which will make it hard to applique the final dot.  I just have to trim it before I stitch the seam.
  • I used my Clover plastic pressing tool to press the seams, but for this block I think a hot iron will be better.  The long background pieces are a little loose, and so are the long light green pieces.  And what did I do today?  I broke my iron!!  Disaster!!  So it will be a few days before you see any more of these.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Sedona Star - Reading Month 1

The instructions for the first month of the 2012 BOM Sedona Star were posted on The Quilt Show website yesterday.  After giving them a quick read I proceeded to think hard for several hours!  I knew I was going to have issues just from reading the Introduction last month, but I wanted to wait and read the first month before I finalized my plans.

The thing is that I have very basic equipment.  Nothing will be done "in the hoop" on my twentysomething Janome that even then was marketed as a basic machine.  It does eight stitches.  But I don't mean to complain about my machine, because it does very well.  For me it all comes down to designer Sarah Vedeler's coy instruction to "applique using your preferred method."  My preferred method is needleturn by hand.

Given that one of Sarah's other key instructions was to leave the paper in the quilt until the end (there is a lot of paper piecing), this created a challenge.  Hence the several hours of deep thought:
  • I don't want to use fusibles at all.  I am vain enough to want my quilt to have longevity - at a minimum the 50 years that could be left in my own lifetime.
  • I could give up the hand applique and instead use Beth Ferrier's instructions for turned applique by machine.  I pulled out her book - More Hand Applique by Machine.
  • Beth's method would still involve some glue, as well as TWO layers of paper to take out at the end.
  • I could use wash-away applique paper and leave it in.
  • But how will I machine quilt an 88" quilt on my little Janome with its 7" throat if the paper is still in the appliques?
  • Then, a new issue occured to me.  Where will I keep the paper lined quilt for the whole year it is in progress?  I don't have a studio where I can leave it on the wall for a year.
  • I could keep it in pieces until the end.
  • But even then it would be a couple of weeks to assemble it.  Plus, the satisfaction of monthly progress will be greatly reduced, possible jeopardizing the whole project.  I have to be able to put it away each day.
  • If I take the paper out I can hand applique, but how will I keep the big pieces accurate enough to sew together neatly?
  • When I used to sew a dress or jacket I had big curved pieces that still fit together accurately.  How?  I cut a wider seam allowance and marked and pinned the matching points carefully.
  • AHA!  I will make it like a dress and just give myself nice wide seam allowances.
Problems solved.
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