Archive | 7:05 pm

The Bee, The Snail, The Ladybird and the Dragonfly.

7 May

I am remaking one of my own quilt designs and it occurred to me that it is rather a long time since I did the last tutorial on machine applique and someone might benefit from a rerun.

The first was on dragons if you want to recap.

I always do satin stitch applique as that is what works for me. The following tips reflect that fact.

First you need a pattern. Some come just as a template and you have to trace the pieces off yourself. They also need to be reversed which is a pain as this involves tracing the pattern through the pattern sheet onto the back before being able to trace each individual piece. The reason for the reversed pieces will become apparent as we progress. The patterns I design and Daughter Number One drafts are designed to remove that hassle. They include both a template and reversed pattern pieces. Who said ‘no pain, no gain’? A bit of extra work on the part of the designer can save much heartache and stress and many UFOs.

Template to the left, reversed pattern pieces to the right. 'Simples'!

Template left. pattern right.

The reversed pattern pieces are now traced onto fusible webbing. Trace onto the smooth, paper side. I use a light box but I have done it without. The printed pattern is dark enough to see through the webbing. All my patterns are only printed on one side so that a light box can be used without  the other side of the sheet showing through. A window can also be used as a light box.

Pattern and fusible web. Pattern clearly visible through the web.

Pattern and fusible web.

For the next bit unless you want all future ironing to end up fused to your ironing board use an old cloth or pillow case to protect it as fusible webbing contains glue that is designed to melt when heated.

The squared fabric is a pillow case I no longer need.

The next stage is to cut out each piece roughly leaving a small margin around the piece and iron onto the WRONG side of the fabric to be used.

Now cut these out acurately with a small sharp pair of scissors.

As you can see the pieces are now the right way round with the glue on the back.

I peeled off the paper on the back of the black stripes leaving the paper on the yellow body and then pressed with the iron to attach the stripes. If you also took the paper off the yellow the whole thing would now be fused to the ironing board as the heat melts the glue and fixes it to whatever surface it rests on.

You now need a piece of baking (greaseproof) paper or an applique sheet. I find the paper much easier to use. Place the paper over the template of the design you want to create.

Very Important stage.

Whatever you do DO NOT try the next bit without the baking paper covering the template. I have been there and I had the advantage of being able to print a replacement pattern. You may have paid a lot of money for yours and attempting to remove bits of fabric from your template makes life harder than it needs to be.

Remove the paper from each piece and lay the numbered pieces on their corresponding piece on the template. ‘Tack’ each piece with the point of the iron to keep it in place but still moveable if necessary. When you are happy with the arrangement quickly pass the iron over the design. It is now fused together. When cool remove from the baking paper and lay in place on your background. This method makes it easier to place the appliques as they are fully formed.

When you have placed the applique where you want it press with a steam iron. This fuses it to the background and stops it moving when you stitch it. I have done it without until I learned otherwise. Believe me you do not need the aggravation.




A couple of bees on the body of the quilt to carry on the theme.

A dragonfly.

The next stage is to attach the pieces to the quilt with satin stitch.

First place some stabiliser on the back. You can do it without but it is much easier with.

Next you need to choose your threads. I use machine embroidery threads as I can match the colours perfectly. You can use any threads but you need to try them out before attempting to work on your actual quilt. Whatever you use make sure it does not let down the quality of your applique. You will help your sanity greatly if you  use a proper bobbin thread. Bobbin thread is  used in the bobbin and is finer than ordinary sewing thread and makes it so much easier to do perfect satin stitch.   Reduce the tension to 3 or less and practise and adjust until the bottom thread does not show on top but the threads underneath are not loose. I use Superior Threads ‘Bottom Line’ bobbin thread as it is available in many colours and just makes sure the blending is perfect. It isn’t essential but it makes life a bit easier. Also practise on curved and pointed shapes until you are happy with your control.

This is where the picture begins to take shape. It is also the fun bit.

Try to complete sections underneath first and then any pieces that go over the top. This makes it easier to hide the start and finish points and blend the whole.

Metallic thread emphasises the delicate wings.

The ladybird is a good example of a design with several different layers. the temptation is to do all the black then red etc. The best way was to do the black body, red wings, green stalk  then black spots and arm.

At this point you should be very pleased with yourself and ready to complete your project. Applique looks daunting but as long as you know what to do it is just a matter of practice. Have a go and surprise yourself.