I just finished a dress for a friend this week. I seem to have a hard time getting to my quilting projects. Saying “yes” to too many things besides quilting keeps me from doing what I love most. Right now I have at least five quilts in progress. That is not to mention all the other ones that I have nearly all the materials EXCEPT the time to do them. I don’t know why it is, but a few years ago I seemed to get so many more done. It seems like years since I have completed something just for the fun of it.
I talked about one phase of applique earlier, so I thought that this would be a good time to talk a little more about it. I have a Book called Applique Mad Easy, by Rodale Books. It is a book I have owned for a long time. In fact I believe it is the first book on applique that I ever bought. It has instruction on many types of applique, and is a great book for beginners. I found it available at this web address: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Applique-Made-Easy/Karen-Costello-Soltys/e/9780875968131
Many techniques of applique can be accomplished with the help of Freezer paper. I do suggest, however, that you stay away from the freezer paper that is marketed especially for quilters. It is much too expensive. I fell for that marketing scheme at one time and found that the only advantage is that it is made in sheets fit a computer printer. It is MUCH less expensive to cut Reynolds Freezer paper to printer size with your rotary cutter and ruler. Purchase Reynolds Freezer Paper at your grocery or hardware store in a roll. In one of my early Blogs, I talked about freezer paper. You can read that post at this link: http://www.annthegran.com/blogs/larue-sews/archive/2008/08.aspx
You can use freezer paper to trace applique patterns for hand applique. Trace your pattern on the paper side of the freezer paper. Carefully cut out your pattern shapes and iron them shiny side down, on the right side of the fabric you plan to use for your applique. Trace around the paper pattern with your favorite pencil that will show on the fabric. With sharp scissors, cut the fabric leaving about an 1/8 to1/4 inch outside the paper pattern. You can use this technique to stitch single layer applique pieces, or you can build up your pieces to add additional shapes to your applique design. Remove the paper and applique the shapes to the base fabric. This link will give you some sites to learn more about freezer paper applique: http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4ADBR_enUS256US256&q=Freezer+paper+for+applique+
Another technique that I use much of the time when I am doing needle turn applique is drawing the applique shapes on template plastic. This works especially well if you have many pieces of the same shape. Just lay the plastic template on the fabric and draw around the plastic. Then cut out your fabric shapes and applique them.
Many techniques are used to stitch the applique to the background. Some people use the freezer paper as a base and then finger press or lightly press with a cool iron, the seam allowance to the wrong side of the fabric before stitching to the background. I find it easier to just turn the fabric under with my needle at I stitch around the applique.
It is helpful to get the help of a good needle-turn teacher to show the finer points of needle turn applique. Though I have been writing this Blog for more than a year and a half, I find that my “words” are inadequate to describe needle-turn applique. I had done needle-turn applique myself after reading about it in a book, but I found the taking a class improved my abilities a hundred fold.
There are many tools that assist in needle-turn applique projects, I suggest that you give some of them a try. Circle templates are a great help, since stitching circles is one of the most challenging shapes to master. If you are attempting needle-turn applique, you might practice with heart shapes of many different sizes. When you look at a heart shape, you see that nearly all of the lines included in other shapes are in a heart shape. Curves, inside and outside points and straight lines are all in the heart shape.
A GOOD pair of small, sharp scissors is a must. Applique pins with glass heads are a big help. They are short, only about 3/4 inches long and don’t catch the thread as much as you stitch. A common round wooden toothpick is a friend of applique stitches. You can use it to push tiny little edges into place. Wet the end of the toothpick a bit and it helps even more.
The best thread I have found for applique is Mettler, Size 60, Cotton Embroidery thread. It comes on a spool with green lettering on the edge of the spool. I like it better than silk thread for applique because it holds the pieces down on the background fabric while silk thread tends to let the pieces pop up, just a bit.
I like a very fine needle for applique. I just recently learned that Straw Needles are good because they are long and fine needle. I use John James, size 10 or 11. They have a very small eye so you may need to start off with a slightly larger size until you get use to them.
These are photos of my current needle turn project. The first photo is the three blocks that are finished. The next two are unfinished. The last photo is the center block that is finished. I LOVE THESE BLOCKS.
I hope you will give needle-turn applique a try. You just might find that is very rewarding and relaxing.
The LaRueSews Block of the month is winding down. I am including two blocks this time. One is easy and one is a little harder, the Love Knot and the Sawtooth Star. This makes a total of thirteen blocks, so far. This is enough for your quilt, with one alternate block. You can arrange them in a pattern of three across and four down. However, next time, I will post patterns for three more alternate blocks. If you wish, you can make a larger quilt of a total of sixteen blocks, arranged four across and four down. Please make note that the LaRueSews-Block of the Month will finish up soon. Get busy and get those blocks made. You will have the opportunity to post your quilt tops on Ann The Gran Gallery, for a chance to win the first place and runner-up prizes. Time is fleeting. Get those stitches stitched!
To download the full size scans click here.
Next time I will post photos of the blocks I have made. At the moment, my sewing room is a disaster zone and the blocks are somewhere in the rubble.
Stitches to you,