Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Starch method of applique

My all-time favourite method of applique is using starch with freezer paper templates. Now I like the other methods as well and I find that each has their place. MOST of the applique I do can be easily done with the starch and I am going to share that with you today.

Let's start with the necessary tools. I have collected these over the years as I learn more about applique, however all are readily available.

Applique tools - spray starch in a film canister which sits inside an old starch can lid, a stencil brush, Roxanne's Glue/Baste It, small orange handled Fiskar scissors with curved blade, yellow handled SHARP to the point scissors by Omnigrid, freezer paper and a wooden skewer. Underneath all those items is my scorch resistant ironing pad (from Pearl P. Pereira - an amazing lady who does starch applique)

How to make a freezer paper template - you can use ONE layer of freezer paper. Trace the shape onto the mat side of the freezer paper. If you want a STRONGER more sturdy template - I will take a SECOND piece of freezer paper and adhere that on top of the one that I have just traced. See the left piece - if you look close - you can see the design is between the two UNTRIMMED pieces of freezer paper. You now have a double layer - the top side is MAT and the bottom side is shiny. 

Using the small curved blade scissors, carefully cut out the template. It is not so much to be accurate, but make those edges SMOOTH. They will dictate the smoothness of your applique piece

Put your iron on the HOTTEST setting to adhere the freezer (shiny side down) to the WRONG side of your applique fabric. Sometimes it works on regular, but better adhesion with MORE heat. No steam necessary. 

Using the sharp to the point scissors (I LOVE these scissors - they are NOT cheap, but they are the best). Cut out your applique piece leaving less than 1/4" seam allowance, but more than 1/8". There is no need to trim or clip seams on a shape like this. 

Take the stencil brush and the starch. You can use regular spray starch  or fabric finisher or liquid starch - just spray it into a container and it will be liquid. The film canister has a tight leak proof cap, but there are MANY other small containers you can use as well. I like the stencil brush because the starch does not soak into the bristles and it is easy to clean. 

Paint the starch onto the upper most seam allowance

With the seam allowance that you have just painted with starch away from you, I start to pull the seam allowance down over the freezer paper template with my left hand. I have the iron in my right hand so I can apply heat to set that seam

Move along the entire length of that edge

You will now have a nicely starched and pressed seam 

Rotate the applique piece and paint the remaining seam allowance

Repeat the process turning the seam allowance down against the freezer paper (see how important it is to have a smooth  edge)  DO NOT worry about the points - just let them be.

This is the right side of the applique piece - you can see the  points are  not finished yet - but let them be!!!

Remove the freezer paper template and use the iron to press the seam flat. One of the advantages of this method - that freezer paper can be used MANY MANY times before you would need to make a new one. 

In this picture - you can see that excess on the point (do NOT worry about it yet), BUT the critical thing - you MUST have a well defined point at the end. If this is not pressed well - you CANNOT stitch a sharp point. 

Sometimes we get these little "points" where they are not supposed to be

They are caused by a "fold or a crease" in the seam allowance in the back

To eliminate - I use the wooden skewer to "pull" the crease out and then apply the tip of the iron while the skewer is there to get rid of that crease. 

Here are my four shapes that I made from the one template and the template will be good for MANY more pieces

A couple of notes about the size of the applique shapes. This block is A7 from Dear Jane
When I sew the background together - I sew the first set of patches together and without clipping the thread - I sew the second set (we are making a FOUR patch). Then lay it out on the ironing board LIKE THIS

Flip back the two coloured pieces and press them away from the light. You will see that the seam allowance is under the dark. You have to do this to see how it works, but I ALWAYS press my blocks this way. NOTE - if you are going to twirl your seams on the back - you will have to clip that thread that joined the two sections together in addition to releasing the threads from the upper part of the seam allowance)

Here is the applique shape ready to be applied to the background. OH CRAP - I forgot to make my templates smaller. I told the class and then forgot myself. While the template from the book looks perfect, it does NOT account for the thickness of the fabric around the template. 

There is JUST NOT enough room for the seam allowance. 

Here is my original template and the new one at 96%

Much more room with the new REDUCED template size

I pressed a seam on the diagonal so it would be easier to position the end of the applique piece

Using your Roxanne's Glue/Baste It - apply a few dots (DO NOT put glue at the points) on the seam allowance

Position the points of the applique in the center of the block and the other end goes on the fold. I am going to stitch down these two BEFORE I position the other two pieces that go on the dark fabric. Remember we are NOT worrying about that excess on the points - yet!!!!

Get an envelope and LABEL it and put it with your book for your templates because you will use some of them often. 

No time to stitch it down yet - but I will show you that, deal with those points and also how to make the circles. Hopefully tomorrow I can show you that.

Have a great day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Monday, January 30, 2012

Every quilt starts with a SINGLE block.....................

Why isn't there more hours in the day????    I need about FIVE more hours a day!

As I am buzzing around the studio doing paper piecing, then switching to applique, then something else - I am HAPPY (no ECSTATIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) that whatever supply I am looking for - I can find it. This morning - I needed a scrap of interfacing - went to the cabinet with the interfacings - pulled the drawer open and there was a scrap. No time spent digging through a box of crap in order to find what I wanted. Also I needed a gift bag and some tissue and that was a snap to find in the newly organized storage room. And the beauty of having everything organized you don't live in danger of knocking something over, or breaking your neck as you trip over something. Trust me - I had to HOP over things before. Now I just waltz in - get what I want and waltz back out. It is SUCH A COOL FEELING to walk along the shelves and get what I want.

It was a LONG haul and anyone facing that organization task is probably dreading it (as I did), but now that it is done - it is a SNAP to clear up the room (which I have to do this week as company is coming on the weekend!!) and I can find everything!!!!!!

The only thing left are those books and they need to be done, because I am back to searching through the entire book shelf in order to find books and that is a waste of time. Soon.....................   If I could stop sewing.

I am POSSESSED. I really can't help myself. I could sew 24 hours a day if I could. I can't seem to stop.

But let's get back to Dear Jane. Yesterday I returned the Dear Jane quilt that I borrowed. But not before I took some pictures.

Dear Jane in all it's GLORY

This quilt was done as a kit from Jillybean's Pride (which closed a number of years ago). The owner started the quilt in January 1998 and finished in 2001!!!!!    But she couldn't remember if that included the quilting or just the top. I bet it was the entire quilt. I asked about the batting - she used Dream Cotton - Request which is the lightest weight.

Now most of us would think that the fabrics all came from the same era - civil war or reproduction or something, but have a CLOSE look at what types of fabrics did get put in the quilt..................

A BRIGHT novelty????   (can you spot it in the above picture????)

Millennium fabric!!!!

Orange and black Halloween

Checks, William Morris, strips

Checks and 30's

Orange bright (got to find a spot to put orange in mine!!!)

More millennium fabric

A bright orange - this one you can pick out in the main picture!!!!

I decided that if I was going to start working on mine, that I had better get the fabrics chosen, the design figured out and placement of fabrics and colours, and all that fun stuff.

I started by taking a photocopy of the quilt block diagram on Page 12. I got out my handy Sharpie marker pack and started by colouring the squares.

My Sharpie coloured diagram

Then when I went to lay out the fabrics - I didn't have enough in the colours I wanted so I abandoned this diagram!!!!!

Remember I was playing with the basket of fabrics that I borrowed from Marian.

See - here is the jumbled basket after I rifled through it

Then I got busy and laid out the fabrics to see what they would look like.

This is what the basket of fabric looks like now. Notice how neatly it is all folded!!!!!!    But there is a bit missing and where is it???????

Here it is!!!!!    I started with the green in the center like the original. The next row is yellow like the original. And then I did whatever I wanted. 

THE original - photo from the book. 

I am still missing fabric in the corners and hope to throw in some orange in the corners. It will be from MY stash as by this point, I had taken all I needed from Marian.

So now - it is time to sew. I started with block A6 - Uncle Homer.

Block cut out and ready to piece

Completed block (front)

Completed block (back)

LOOK - the block is the right size!!!!!

And the block (see it way at the top) in the scheme of the quilt

The rest of the fabric - well it went back into Marian's box. I doubt she is even going to notice that I took some scraps from it to make this quilt. You really do NOT need a lot for each block. After all - they are FIVE inches unfinished and there is background in each.

Now these fabrics are laid out on the floor and anyone with pets knows that that is a SERIOUS problem. I gave the girls a lecture this morning about walking, or sleeping on this fabric.

However - look.............................

Hey Mom - look at me!!!!    I am NOT walking on it or sleeping on it. I am RIGHT BESIDE it. 

Ah - if I just stretch out a bit, she won't notice. 

AGH!!!!!!!!    OK - so that means today (they won't come down to the studio during the day as M and DH are both home) when I get back from Monday Motivators, I MUST label each fabric with its appropriate block number and put them away!!!!!     I was going to do that anyway - I can't leave the fabric laying on the floor, but it sure looks cool to make a block and then insert it in the mix.

I started on the next block which involves applique. Although I told the group to make the applique shape smaller, I completely forgot to do that myself and when I was finished prepping the block - the applique shapes were TOO big. Drat - so I reduced the shape to 96% on my handy dandy all-in-one printer. Every quilter NEEDS to have a photocopier (all-in-one) at their disposal - it is essential for resizing applique.

I have a lengthy tutorial on the STARCH method of applique which I will post tomorrow.

The more I looked at the blocks of the quilt, the more I realize that this is a VERY DOABLE project. The key is to MAKE time to get the homework done. That organizing thing saves me enormous amounts of time - what else can I eliminate in the day??????   Oh I would so love to have someone to do the cooking and all the cleaning - not that I do much in that department anyway!!!!!

And yesterday to make efficient use of my time in the car when I was dropping off that quilt - I called Marian who gave me a tutorial (although I was just asking questions) about needle turn applique. I was hoping to get started on my little test block when I got home, but after a couple of errands and then preparing all the homework e-mails for the various groups from Saturday - that pretty much ate up my entire afternoon.

Have a GREAT DAY!!!!!!!!