Friday, December 24, 2021

It's all about applique!

I did little in the cleaning department yesterday. Too many other more exciting things, but I did some more laundry, and I'll share the story of a quilt tomorrow. 

Here's a couple of exciting things about applique. Yes  -- I'll share my progress on Enchanted Autumn later today. 

I'm notorious for keeping small bits of things. They WILL come in handy one day - I know they will! So I saved bits of fusible web, and one day, I sorted through my fusible web bits. All the larger pieces were stacked in the cupboard, and all the bits got put into a bag. 

When it came time to work on the Enchanted Autumn quilt at a retreat at K&A Quilt Studio in August, I took the pattern and the bag of bits and traced almost all the pieces from those bits. I don't know how many different brands there were in the bag, but definitely, there was Steam a Seam and Heat and Bond. There were probably several different weights as well. 

I'm almost done, and I've not had any issues with the needle gumming up. I've heard horror stories from others that they couldn't even stitch through their appliques. I've never had that issue -- I wonder why? I don't use a special needle; this is the same needle I would piece with. I use an open-toe applique foot to see into all the nooks and crannies. 

Two days ago, I noticed some gumminess on my needle. It's hard to get a picture of it as it's so tiny, but it's actually picking up small bits of thread.

A bit of thread link sticking to the needle

And here's more -- it seems that the thread lint was getting stuck to a bit of gumminess on the needle rather than the glue itself, which is usually what I get. 

More thread lint on the needle

It did make for a slightly messy edge on some of the pieces, but this quilt is so busy that I doubt anyone will notice. 

A slightly messy edge of the applique

This edge is much cleaner. 

A much cleaner edge

Hmmm -- I need to go back and do some experimenting to see which product worked the best. Seriously, all products worked just fine, but one of them was a bit worse than the others. It could also depend on the product's age, as I bet some bits had been there for quite a while. 

Most of the bits are used up!! And going forward, I'll keep on top of those bits. 

Circles are very time-consuming, and there were a lot of circles on this quilt! 

Circles appliqued in place

I have access to many toys for the sewing machine, including the machines themselves. If you are a lover of applique, here's a couple of things that you'll love! If you're in the market for a new machine, you might want to check these out. 

There is a LOT of pivoting required for applique. Whether around curves, inside points, or outside points, or wherever. It's rare that we only work on straight edges with no bends in them. 

Getting the points and corners nice really makes the applique shine. So if you have the Exclusive Sensor System on the machines from SVP (PFAFF and Husqvarna Viking -- not all levels!) and use the needle down feature, your machine will stop with the needle in the down position (in your fabric). The presser foot will raise ever so slightly so you can pivot HANDS-FREE!! 

There is NO need to touch the presser foot lever because there isn't one! My "grown-up" embroidery machine (HV Designer 1) introduced me to this technology over 20 years ago, and I LOVE it. 

All the function buttons are right on the machine, right above the needle. 

BUT -- they've gone one step further. Most of those functions can be programmed into the Multi-Function Foot Control (MFFC). YES!!!!  

Programming the Multi-Function Foot Control

This is a HUGE foot pedal that is heavy, so it stays put. At first, I thought I wasn't going to like it and would end up pressing the wrong function or pressing a function when I didn't want it. But as you can see, without your shoe, there is loads of room on that foot pedal. 

Lots of room for your foot

OK --- so here's what I did and why.

I have scissors on my sewing machine, but I do NOT use them for applique. Why? Cutting with the scissor function results in a short bobbin thread, and you can't control it. I'll come up and get mixed with the top thread and leave a white or black blob on top. I prefer to cut the thread tails myself, so the bobbin thread is LONG, and I bring that to the top when I start. Then I can trim it off close to the start of my stitching when I'm done. 

I almost always use my FIX function at the start and the end of a line of applique stitching, and I programmed that into the left-wing of the MFFC. Instead of touching the function panel, I swing my foot left. 

Then I programmed the Stitch Restart into the right-wing of the MFFC. Because I don't use the scissors, the stitches will just end and not necessarily at the end of a stitch sequence. The Stitch Restart will take it back to the beginning of the sequence. Totally INVALUABLE. 

I still have one last position on the MFFC. I programmed the Presser Foot Up into the heel section. Now when I want to raise the bobbin thread to the top, I tap the foot pedal lightly ONCE, and the needle goes down, as does the presser foot. Then I tap lightly once more, and the needle comes up, bringing the bobbin thread with it. You MUST hold the top thread for that to happen. 

Then I need to get those threads to the back of the work UNDER the presser foot. A wee bit of pressure on the heel of the MFFC, and the presser foot raises up so I can tuck the threads behind the foot. 

It's so seamless with the MFFC and all I have to do is steer the fabric and keep track of the threads. So using that MFFC for applique is HUGE. 

I switch the functions around for other things, but this combination works amazingly well for applique. Best of all, I'm actually ENJOYING the applique process. WOW!!!!

Here's a photo of going around a point that can be tricky with a buttonhole (blanket stitch), but I've done miles of it in my life, so it's super easy for me. And even easier with the new tools!

Going around a point

OK -- so the MFFC isn't new, but the way I used it lately is new to me. The best part is that it's programmable, so it'll work for you for whichever project you want to tackle. And I just like the fact that it's large and heavy with a rubber surface on the back, so it doesn't travel along the floor. 

I have threads all over the table, and I'm not putting them away until this quilt top is DONE. Actually, I want to finish my Kimberbell pillow as well, and then I'll put the threads away!

Threads used for applique

And now you want to know the status? Well, one more block is done!! That leaves THREE blocks. And Christmas is almost here. 

One more block for Enchanted Autumn

WAIT --- I got one more block done last night. Yeah!!!!! That leaves TWO blocks. And I've been wise and leaving the smaller blocks to the end. So there's a possibility that it'll get done BEFORE Christmas. 

A second block for Enchanted Autumn

I don't know what happened, but I've been trying to book tickets for the cinema on Christmas Day. Ten days ago, I could see the showtimes, then I couldn't. But after talking about it with Ronda yesterday and I double-checked, the darn theatre times were back! So we now have tickets to the VIP for Christmas Day to see - well, you have to wait for that. But NO Food. I don't think they are serving anything in the theatre, not even in the VIP lounge. Sigh........................

I fired up the long arm yesterday and got a customer quilt done! That leaves TWO left to finish this year. 

Customer quilt - DONE

And this is Murphy's version of TV, although she does love to watch actual TV as well. What a goof. It does irk me (OH GOSH  -- here I go again!) when people decide to walk their dogs RIGHT behind my fence. There is NO path there, and even when my girls go crazy, the person continues to amble through the woods. Let's just say the person and I had a discussion about it. Like -- there's a path, and why wouldn't you walk on the path instead of traipsing over roots and sticks and crap?? 

Murphy keeping an eye on the backyard

I also got all my documents downloaded. YEAH!!! Now it's time to answer some e-mails today - long-overdue confirmation for some classes and events. 

I sat down last night with my notebook -- yep -- I found my UFO book and made a list of goals for 2022. Wow -- I'm excited to see those goals on the list, and yes -- I'm still a bit behind, but if things go well, I can have FOUR more UFOs off those lists by the end of the year! I'm determined, and next year, I'm going to focus a bit more so I can try and get caught up! Oh yes --- I'm on a roll!

Working on Enchanted Autumn through the UFO group has shown me that I CAN get these big labor-intensive quilts done. That's a huge motivator, and I did most of the work when I was incredibly busy with work. Oh yes -- bring on 2022!!!! I'm ready. 

Don't forget there is a Virtual Retreat on December 26th. We'll start at 10 AM and go until whenever. I'll be working on a different UFO!!!!

Join Zoom Meeting Meeting ID: 816 2315 9049 Passcode: 799934

And that's it for today! 

Have a super day!!!!


1 comment:

  1. Oh my goodness, Elaine….That is a lot to get done in one day! Well done!!!
    I’m sure some day I will be in the market for a new sewing machine. My current one is a “no-bells-and-whistles” Janome Sewist 625…which I love (bought pre-quilting but with the hopes that I would learn to quilt)…but I have nothing to compare it to other than my Kenmore that I bought when I got married. Do you have any advice to offer in regards to what I should purchase next…once I’m in the market to do so?