Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Civil War Bride and Clover Black Gold Applique Needles

Civil War Bride Block One

Hi gang!  As you read this entry I hope you and yours are all doing well and looking forward to a Happy Christmas and Chanukah!  Like you, I am happily swapped with holiday preparations but I wanted to take a minute and share my latest completed block - Cival War Bride - Block One.  The fabrics are a mix of BOM from Honeybee Fabrics and my stash.  It't taken me most of October, November and December to stitch this block - sometimes only stitching half a leaf an evening - but I never surrendered to work/life schedule and got my daily 15 minutes in every chance I could.

Clover Black Gold Applique Needles

There's been quite a buzz lately about new applique needles by Clover.  The buzz is because 1) they are fabulous and 2) they are EXPENSIVE.  The 6 pack pictured here run about $5.50 US; almost a $1 a needle.  Regardless of price, I had to try them because very accomplished, award-winning applique artist claimed that the needles improved their stitch.  To my amazement, they really did improve my stitch!  Oh great!  Just what I needed, more expensive toys!  So I went back to my stash of classics - Roxanne, John James, etc. and as soon as I picked up the needles I could see my stitch suffer.  CWB - Block 1 was stitched almost exclusively with this size 12 Black Gold needle. Click on the photo above to see the block in a bigger view.

Here's my theory as to why they seem to improve most appliquer's stiches.  They are coated in a black substance making the needle shaft matt and non-reflective.  When I work with the needle, the tip and shaft are very easy to see because there is NO reflection from my light source.  I can SEE exactly where the needle tip enters and exists the background.  One tip - wipe new needles with a soft piece of cotton to remove any residue before using on your project.  
Close up of Clover Black Gold Applique Needles
Now back to Christmas preparations and my Cottage Garden project!

Best stitches,
Mercy in sunny Miami - expected high temps today - 81 F

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Speedy Handwork

Fused applique finished with hand embroidered stem stitch
Speedy Handwork? I know it sounds like a new oxymoron; such as Jumbo Shrimp or Genuine Imitation. Actually, its a method I use to give the handwork touch to fused applique projects.  I happened to mention during a yahoo group exchange that I finish the edge of fused applique with a hand stem stitch.  Since then I have received several email asking me to show how I do this.  You ask, I answer.

I prefer the stem stitch to the blanket stitch because 1) it's much faster and 2) you can vary the length to accommodate a tip or inner corner without it being noticeable. 

I begin with a fused applique project.  I then select embroidery thread; variegated colors are my favorite.  I tend to stick with DMC floss because it's good quality, inexpensive, and readily available.  Typically, I use two strands of floss.  Sometimes I use 3 strands if I want to make sure the edge is completely covered. 

Referring to the diagram in the link, stem stitch., stitch A comes up through the background and fused fabric.  Stitch B goes down into the background only and then comes up at point C through the background and fused fabric. 

I'm using this technique to finish one of my UFO's, Baltimore Row.  I could finish the project on the sewing machine using a blanket stitch or satin stitch, but with all these tiny pieces, I just can't imagine dealing with all the color changes and re-threading.

Until next time...

Best stitches,
Mercy in Miami