Aren’t these just the bees knees? When I saw them over on Tiramisues blog I just had to have a go. I survived 30 years in Africa, amongst other places and whilst there were a couple of close calls and not all the memories are happy ones, I have always had a fascination with some of the artefacts, particularly masks and I am always looking for different embroideries so these definitely appealed. I don’t think they are all necessarily African masks but that matters not a jot.
If you do any amount of machine embroidery you will know that not all digitisings (is that a word?) are equal. Some stitch out beautifully and some, what can I say – don’t. These particular ones come into the category of ‘beautifully’. They start with a line of stitching which frames the design and in effect tacks the fabric to the background.
This was an added bonus for me because it meant I could hoop stabiliser and float the fabric on top without worrying about it moving during the stitching.
This meant I didn’t need such a large piece of fabric because I didn’t need to allow for the hooping nor did I have to work out why the machine was telling me the designs were bigger than they were. (It was telling me an untruth.) It also gave me a use for the absolutely ginormous hoops that came with my machine. Having had them for over two years without using them I was glad to find they aren’t wasted. The frame is literally just a tack down and it is loose so that it can be removed after stitching.
The colour charts look as if they have lots of colours but in fact you can use as many or as few as you like. I averaged about 5 colours but you could really go to town on the psychedelics if so inclined. If you have never done any machine applique before it may appear a bit daunting but all you have to do is read through the charts before starting and all becomes clear.The charts supplied make it easy to understand.
I used the diagram printout produced by my software to trace pieces roughly the size needed but as long as the fabric covers the trace line stitched for each shape it doesn’t really matter unless you are trying to preserve fabric.
For each applique shape the pattern stitches an outline onto which the roughly cut fabric piece is then placed. You can see the stages in the chart above. Look at the main head shape and you will see there are four stages to its completion. The first is to define the shape, the second to stitch the fabric in place the third defines the path the satin stitch will take and the fourth is the satin stitch itself.
Defining the shape.
Placing the fabric.
The fabric is then trimmed close to the line, preferably with a pair of duckbill scissors like these. They make the trimming so much easier and with less likelihood of snipping the threads. This is obviously done without removing the fabric from the hoop as you need it to stay in the same place, although you can remove the hoop from the machine to make it easier.
Ready for Stitching. Ignore the fact it is a different mask. the same principles apply.
The next stage may be the satin stitch that fixes the piece permanently to the background or this stage may be done later with other satin stitch, depending on the design.
I did a test firing so to speak to see how the designs and colours work so I used roughly the same colours as the originals so that I was only worrying about one thing at a time. I shall probably end up doing several versions now I have the measure of it. If you want to see how they all look on a plain background go over to Tiramisue’s blog (link in the first paragraph above) or her Etsy Page where you can see the whole range and buy the designs if you want to.
This was the first one I tried with a plain background on a stiff fabric so that all conditions were ideal.
Isn’t he a handsome fellow.
Closeup of the stitching .
I have done the rest on a print to show a different way. I chose a fabric that reminds me of the threatening sky of a tropical thunderstorm. I kept the black for the base of the masks to stand out from the busy background.
Here is the first one with the tacking frame still on. This could be a good guide to square up the blocks too. The design allowed for another piece of fabric in the central part of the design (see the chart above) but I decided just to outline it with satin stitch. With the blue one with the big horns below I have added the extra layer of purple fabric.
Here is a close-up.
An even closer up showing the ”beads’ on the alternative version of this mask.
Imagine the fun you could have making a wall hanging and adding beads and jewels and 3D bits and pieces.
If you fancy a set of these as pictures or a wall hanging or quilt you can get the designs from Tiramasue’s Etsy page.
Check your hoop capabilities as they are all large designs.
Here is the finished article.