Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Tropical Folk Art Part 4 - Folk Art Appliqué Stitch

I first saw top stitch appliqué in a machine appliqué class a number of years ago.  Since then I have seen a couple of examples of a hand appliqué, running stitch in the "old quilts."  I vaguely remember one that was done using white thread.  It was charming.  I have also seen samples in class with Elly Sienkiewicz where large shapes were appliquéd down using a small running stitch and either silk or fine cotton sewing weight thread.  The stitches were practically invisible and the benefit was that a wreath could be sewn in a single evening. 

I also love Big Stitch hand quilting. That is a technique where a quilt is hand quilted using pearl cotton.  
Instead of making the stitches tiny, the objective is to make the stitches noticable, even, and part of the overall artistic expression/design.  

So I decided to use a hand sewn, running stitch to appliqué my piece and have the stitch mimic big stitch hand quilting.  That way when the appliqué is complete and I quilt the piece, the quilting and appliqué will blend.  If you look closely, the appearance is that I hand quilted a row of stitches about 4 threads from the edge of the appliqué.  

I just love this look!  Very carefree, clean, and casual.  I can dress it up or down by selecting different fibers for the running stitch.  It's also extremely quick and easy.  It incorporates needle turn which I love.
There are no glue or starches which I don't enjoy.  It's completely portable.  I probably would not use this technique on an heirloom quilt or bed quilt that will get lots of wear and washing.  But for my wall hanging, decorative pieces I find it just right!

I will use the same stitch to sew all the leaves at random.  I will continue to post photos of the progress in days to come.  Let me know if you decide to try out this technique and what you think.  

Until next time,
Best stitches from Mercy in sunny Miami

Monday, February 2, 2015

Tropical Folk Art Part 3 - Bigger is Better

So this is my FAVORITE method for adding borders!
First I cut my border strips the length of the fabric parallel to the selvage.  I then lay the two border pieces on top of the background they will be attached to, right across the middle.
I then use my ruler and rotary cutter to trim the borders exactly the size of the background fabric.
I then pin the borders to the background and sew!  Note the ruler was ONLY used for cutting a straight edge - NO MATH WAS USED!!!
Press the borders open and repeat the process for the remaining borders.
Now that's a gorgeous blank canvas to play with ;)

All that is left to do is center the tree shape in the center of the blue block and baste in place.  By the way, this is the only basting required.  
So to recap - 1 freezer paper template and 1 piece to baste.  Oh and no measuring!  This is my idea of stress-free, fun stitching :)
Until next time, 
Best stitches from Mercy in hot, humid Miami

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Tropical Folk Art Part 2 - We're Going to Need a Bigger Boat

So the next step was to cut leaf shapes from each of Jim's fabrics.  I stacked a few layers at a time and just started cutting.  After working on so many appliqué projects over the years I really did not need a template or pattern.  
As the super bowl started, I started cutting.  By the time I got to the last bin of hand dyed fabric I realized the I was going to need more background to accommodate all my leaves.  Hence - the reference to one of my favorite movies, Jaws.  When Brody sees Jaws for the first time his response is "We're going to need a bigger boat."  That was my thought as my pile of leaves kept growing.
I ended up with over 130, 2-inch leaves!
My solution to accommodate my leaves are wide borders.  Tomorrow, I will share an easy way to add borders. NO MEASURING!  

Until next time, 
best stitches from Mercy in Miami 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Tropical Folk Art Part 1 - The Inspiration and Getting Started

I remember in first grade the teacher leading our class outside to sit under a huge, beautiful banyan tree.  We all had paper and crayons and the assignment was to draw the tree.  At the time I was the proud owner of the extra large box of crayons.  I don't know if it was the 64 pack but I remember it was much larger than the standard issue 8 pack.  I can still see the finished drawing in my memory.  I used every color in the box for both the the tree trunk and the leaves.  

This memory is the inspiration for this small wall hanging.  I started by selecting a background and border fabric from my husband's hand dyed fabric stash.  I selected a vibrant, rich tree trunk fabric.  Then came the fun part!  Just as I did when I was 6 years old and used every crayon, I cut a small piece of every single color of fabric my husband hand dyed in 2014.

Appliquing this project by traditional methods would have involved a ton of prep work and lots of stitching time.  Plus, the fussiness of traditional methods would not have yielded the light-hearted, spontaneous feel I was trying to capture.  I'm hoping the Tropical Folk Art technique is going to give me the whimsical feel of a six year old's drawing.  

I rough sketched the tree and some leaves just to make sure the scale was pleasing.  I then traced the tree trunk shape onto freezer paper and cut it out.  

I then pinned the freezer paper shape to the front of the tree trunk fabric and cut around the freezer paper adding a FAT 1/4 inch.  

I then peeled off the freezer paper.
 This is the only template I plan to use for the entire project.  Yay!  Honestly, if I was not worried about scale I would have free cut the tree trunk 👍
Tomorrow's installment is stitching the tree!
Until then - best stitches from Mercy in sunny and warm Miami

Tropical Folk Art

I have been dreaming and imagining a small wall hanging for about 6 months now.  Today I find myself with an entire day to create so I am going to attempt to turn my vision into a reality.  I am going to use a technique I am calling Tropical Folk Art.  It's a very relaxed, easy hand method that I stumbled across a few years ago while working on a friend's round robin quilt.  My plan is to document the technique and share it with my loyal blog readers.  Thank you for sticking with me even when I have been so remiss with my updates.  More to come as I begin this project!
Best stitches from sunny Miami