Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Graceful Over Under Applique

There are 4 blocks in the Ocean Waves Opportunity Quilt (I've started calling it Tropical Twist) that have at the top of the design a ribbon bow. This can all be stitched out of a single fabric (easiest method), or two fabrics - one for the top loops and the other for the legs & center knot (easy), or two fabrics "twisted" to depict the ribbon bending (not EASY but fun and very elegant). Many applique artists use this design element in their quilts to depict bending leaves or twisting ribbons. The results are beautiful. Visit Mary Sorensen's site or Nancy Pearson's site for lots of gorgeous examples of patterns and quilts that incorporate this technique.

For the adventurous followers of my blog that would like to try this Over Under technique, below are the step by step instructions for use with the Template Free applique method.
1. Stitch BOTH the Over and Under fabrics in place basting exactly on the stitch line.
2. From the back insert a pin across the marked line that indicates where the Over Under clip will occur. 3. Using the pin as a guide, mark on the front where to clip the top fabric.

4. Make the clip right to the stitching line.
5. Pull back the top fabric to expose the seam allowance of the fabric underneath.
6. Mark the Under fabric to indicate where the clip needs to occur and clip to the turn line.
7. Carefully remove the basting stitches surrounding the Over Under clipping so that the seam allowances can be positioned as needed.
8. The two seam allowances will interlock at the clip.
9. Here is an example of the technique on a ribbon bow applique shape. Note that after the two seam allowances were fit together the stitch line was re-basted. This is helpful or very small or intricate shapes or to avoid fraying if the entire piece will not be finished in a single sitting.

10. Here is the finished over under edge. Notice that the lighter blue fabric edge closest to the view is UNDER the darker blue fabric. But, the lighter blue fabric furthest away from the viewer is OVER the darker blue fabric. Here is another view of the same applique shape. From this angle notice that the lighter blue fabric edge to the left of the needle is UNDER the darker blue fabric and the lighter blue fabric to the right of the needle is OVER the darker blue fabric.
Happy Stitching!
Mercy in Ft. Lauderdale - AKA The Savage Quilter

Monday, October 20, 2008

Birthday Roses - too pretty to not share

This has absolutely nothing to do with applique or quilting but I had to post because the photos are so pretty. These are the birthday roses Jim gave me on the 7th of this month. This is what they looked like on the 14th. I didn't have to throw them away until last Friday the 17th.
Happy Stitching,
Mercy in Ft. Lauderdale
AKA The Savage Quilter

Baltimore BOM – Block One - Split Leaves – Tips & Tricks

I finally finished the appliquéing the split leaves on the first block of our Baltimore Block of the Month. I did use the Template Free Method (also known as Back Basting) but did prepare the leaf fabric by machine. As instructed in class, I took 3-4 inch strips of the leaf fabric and sewed them by machine using a very short stitch length. I then pressed the quarter inch seams open. I trimmed the seam allowances to a scant eight inch and positioned the strip down on my background fabric. I then basted the leaves from the back and trimmed the appliqué shapes using the basting lines as a guide; all the usual steps.

BUT when I got to the points there was just way too much bulk. Just like trying to get into Levi’s between Christmas and New Year’s Day – 10 pounds of fat into a 5 pound sack. Arrghhhh!!!! Tip # 1 – I trimmed the seam allowance to almost ZERO where the two leaf fabrics join. It will never matter if the fabrics come apart in this area because it is all turned under and the leaf edge is securely appliquéd down. I angled the cut sharply so that the seam allowances right where the edge turns is only a scant eighth inch is but the very edge is zero. The leaf point turned like a dream with almost no extra bulk in the point. If only ALL extra bulk could be as easily discarded!!!

After the leaves were all appliquéd down it was time to do the embroidery. This was not as easy for me to master as the bulky points. We were instructed to try either the reverse buttonhole stitch or an elongated lazy daisy stitch. I quickly eliminated the reserve buttonhole stitch because it made the leaves look like cactus. I made a mental note that if I ever decide to make a Cowboy Album quilt this is the perfect stitch for desert plants! So now I’m left with lazy daisy stitches. I had several false starts where I ripped all the stitches out and had to start over. They just looked awful! I elongated them more and they looked odd. I shortened them and they look even odder. And to make it worse, even after all the effort to complete the embroidery, from 2 feet away you couldn’t even see it. I was just going to skip the embroidery altogether and call it a day when I had my Ah Ha moment! Tip # 2 – the color of the embroidery thread makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE in the world. At first I was using a dark blue green embroidery thread in the same color family as the background (my PERFECT background that is) and the leaf colors. It was dull, added nothing to the block, and because I was using only one strand, disappeared right into the background. The eye just blended everything! Of course I was using all my color tools and following all the RULES – the way only a kid who went to Catholic school for 16 years and only got 1 demerit could do – yes 16 if you count collage! Fortunately, my husband was a bold fresh kid that did not bend to the will of the nuns and he suggested - “try another color – ANY color – that looks so boring”. Trembling, sure I would be punished; I selected embroidery thread in a dull gold color that was in one of the leaf fabrics. WOW!!! The block just popped!

The photos don’t do it justice but in person you can really see how it adds just the right spark to the block. I just KNOW somehow, somewhere my punishment for breaking the rules is lurking. But my block is coming out to pretty I don’t care – la di da....
Once the color was right it was easy to figure out Tip #3 – proportion matters! Using only one strand of floss, the elongated lazy daisy stitches were definitely the way to go. But at first they looked a little odd and I thought it was because the slant of the stitch was off. Not so! It was the proportion between the length of the stitch and the width between the stitches. If I kept the width between the stitches about the same as the height of the stitch they started to really look nice. And then I discovered that I could gradually reduce the size and width between stitches so I could make smaller stitches at the point and even adjust the slant of the stitch. I’m sure the embroidery police would have a field day finding flaws in my stitches. I guess they can get in line behind the color police!

Until next time, happy stitching!
Mercy in Ft. Lauderdale
Aka The Savage Quilter

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Fabric Folding Fun - No Origami Experience Required

Here I am attempting to fold one of THREE pieces of PERFECT background fabric. I had just pulled it out of the dryer and asked Jim to help me. He agreed to help but only if I let him take a photo. It took him a while to get the shot because at first he was laughing so hard he couldn’t look through the viewfinder. Then I had to wait for him to find the wide angle lens. Then I had to wait for him to laugh some more. Anyway, one end is by the front door and I’m up on the first landing. The fabric stretches across the dining room, living room and up the stairs. Feel free to contact me if you can recommend a tractor trailer slip cover pattern that doesn’t have any buttons or a zipper – you know how I hate to sew!

Oh boy, the second class of the Baltimore BOM is this Saturday and I only have about a third of the leaves stitched, Yikes! I do have an excellent excuse – work – you know that thing to do so that you can have enough money to do what you REALLY like to do. It’s been crazy and the only way I could catch up was putting in extra hours in the evenings and on weekends – my prime time stitching hours. But I have good news and I have better news. My employer is graciously awarding me COMP time in exchange for my extra hours AND I will be putting these hours to good use by traveling to scenic Lakeland, Florida to take 3 days of classes with Sharon Schamber . Yippee! She and Diane Gaudynski are my quilting inspiration. I’m taking a second class with Diane next year but that’s a story for a different blog.

As of this week I caught up at work (so back to my usual 50-60 hours a week) and have been happily working on my projects. Jim promised to take some photo for me this weekend so I can share them with you along with tips on Over Under Appliqué (for our Opportunity Quilt) and Split Leaves (for the Baltimore BOM).

Until next time, happy stitching!
Mercy in Ft. Lauderdale

Aka The Savage Quilter

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