Circle of Fractured Hearts

On Monday’s post, I showed a photo of one of the quarters of the applique I had done over the weekend.  Last night, I finally got up my courage and sat down at the sewing machine to stitch the four quarters together.  I was, as usual, practically breaking into a cold sweat at the thought of having to make sure my sewing was this precise, as my sewing machine skills are less than wonderful.  But, thanks to the fabulous lines that one can use as matching points, with a little careful pinning I was able to stitch the four quarters together and now have a circle of fractured hearts.   I didn’t have to frog stitch any of the seams!

The back shows just how perfectly the lines matched up.  I don’t know that I’d want to try this with anything other than the shapes printed with Inklingo, though — as I doubt I could trace anything with this kind of precision.  In fact, I wouldn’t even want to try.  But now that I’ve got this block under my belt, I think I’m going to try one of the Celtic applique designs that are available in this collection.

One of the things I really loved about this applique block was that I set the size. I could have printed a 4″ block, a 6″ block, a 8″ block but I chose to print the design in quarters and then have a larger block that finishes at 14.5″ but I didn’t have all that fabric bunched up in my hand while I appliqued.  That’s an added value for me, as my hand will begin to hurt very quickly if I’m having to hold a large piece of fabric.

I have an idea for the fall fabrics I showed a while back using Winding Ways blocks that’s begging to be made.  I’m trying to resist but it’s getting more and more difficult.  I have so many projects on the go and so many others in the ideas book that I’d like to finish at least one before starting this.  Whether I can continue to resist the siren call of those Winding Ways blocks remains to be seen!

Lester was curled up asleep on the couch, showing us the paw pads on one of his feet.

While Smudge had taken over my desk chair.

Back-Basting Tutorial — Lots of Photos

Lester is intently watching as we go through the steps I take when doing applique using the back basting process.

For back basting I use both a larger needle and larger thread.

When I do any applique, my method of choice is back basting.  I’ve found a few tricks that really help me.  First of all, I use a larger needle.  In the above picture, the top needle is a #8 straw and the bottom one is a #12 sharp.  I use the #8 straw for back basting with a thicker thread, as shown below.  And I always wear a thimble when doing this as getting that needle through some fabrics, particularly a batik, requires some protection for the finger!

The thread on the left is the normal heirloom 80 weight thread I use for piecing and applique.  The thread on the right is 30 weight DMC thread I use for backbasting.

With the applique design printed on the back of my background fabric, I pin a piece of fabric that’s large enough to cover the shape to be appliqued on to the right side of the background, with the right side of the fabric to be appliqued facing up.  Then, from the wrong side of the background and following the lines, I baste the pieces on to the background fabric using the large needle and large thread and taking relatively small stitches.  Here you can see all the pieces on the quarter block basted down.  If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you’ll see the basting stitches quite clearly on the pieces to be appliqued.

This is the back and it shows the basting following along the lines of the shapes that are printed on the wrong side of the background.

What this picture doesn’t show, and I wish I had taken one after this next step, is how flat it sits after I run my nail along the lines of basting to relax any gathers that have occurred as a result of pulling the basting thread a bit too tight.  Running a nail along the stitching line is all that’s needed to ease out those little gathers.

I’ve found that leaving a piece that’s basted overnight before starting to applique it makes the next step a lot easier.  The next day I pick up the piece and clip the basting  thread at about every 5th or 6th stitch as seen in this picture.

This next step is where the magic of this technique appears. After clipping the threads, I pull out the first one or two sections. Take a look at this picture and you’ll see the perforations in the fabric to be appliqued where the basting line was.

The fabric folds along that perforation line so easily it’s always amazing to me. With my needle, I fold it under and start to applique. I don’t look at the back again where the lines are until I finish all the applique. And every time my applique stitches are close to being perfectly on the line. The reason I leave the basting stitches in overnight is that I’ve found that it makes that little perforated line really do its job. Think of it like a piece of paper that has some perforations to make it easier to remove. I think the basting line does the same thing but, in the case of fabric, makes the fabric easier to turn under.

I begin to applique, pulling out a section or two of the basting thread as I go along.  The basting thread also serves to hold the fabric being appliqued in place.  So no fighting with pins, no freezer paper to remove, no overlay to try to keep out-of-the-way and no lines that might show on the front if the applique isn’t right on the lines of the design.  Just needle, thread and fabric.

In this picture you can see how closely my applique stitches are right on the line of the design.  It also shows the lines of another shape, which I chose not to add to this part of my applique block.

Again, another picture showing how closely the applique stitches follow the line of the design.

Everyone has their favourite method, but I hope this little tutorial gives you the information you need if you’d like to try the back-basting method.

Smudge is hoping you found this relaxing and informative.

A Little Applique

This is clearly a work in progress, but it’s one I’m thrilled about.  I haven’t really done much applique at all in the past few years, partially because tracing lines with any sort of precision is … well, difficult.  My hand cramps up after a minute or two and it becomes such a chore that I give up.  But now?  Now I’ll be doing a little applique again because there are a couple of Inklingo applique collections with the promise of more to come.  At the moment, there’s a free collection found here and a Celtic applique found here.  The Celtic applique is by designer Scarlett Rose and is called San Kamon.  I’ve always been fascinated by Celtic applique and, as soon as I can settle on a fabric for the applique, intend to make one of the San Kamon designs.

My favourite method of applique is backbasting as it makes it so easy to get perfect placement with no overlay or pins or freezer paper.  Just needle, thread and fabric.  With Inklingo printing the lines on the back of the fabric, it makes backbasting a breeze.  You could also print your lines on the front of the background fabric, and use that for placement if desired.  Or print the shapes only on the applique fabric with or without turn-under allowance.  All the options are there.  I chose what size my block would be.  The picture I showed is one-quarter of a block that will finish at 16″.   My plan is to add a small border, and have a small table topper.  With a wide-format printer, one could print larger backgrounds.   I love the idea of having the choice regarding what size my finished blocks will be.

The other benefit for me is that by being able to make a larger block by using smaller quarters of that block, my left hand won’t cramp up when holding it to do the applique.  I know that’s not an issue for everyone, but it has been a real stumbling block for me.  Holding a 16″ block while doing the applique is not something I can handle.  But a quarter of that?  No problem!  This week is looking rather overwhelming again with work, but I’m hoping to stitch the four quarters together — by machine, no less — and have it ready to show sometime this week.

It got very cold here on the weekend.  They’re saying there may be frost all around us overnight tonight.  I suppose the only good thing about that is that we may well have a real colour show on Thanksgiving weekend, which is the traditional weekend for people to go for drives north of the city to see the leaves.  I still can’t quite believe that Thanksgiving weekend is this coming weekend for us.  It seems like yesterday it was still warm and  felt like summer.  It always surprises me just how quickly the temperatures go from hot to cold in the fall.

Lester was relaxing on the pink loveseat.

Smudge spent some time on the windowsill.  The fall seems to be his time for the window as he loves to watch the leaves swirling around on a windy day.   There are still lots of green leaves on the trees, but a fair number have turned colour and fallen.

A Wallhanging for Spring

This is a pattern I bought last weekend. The iris was my father’s favourite flower and we had loads of them in the flower beds in the backyard.

I plan to get the pattern for the applique traced on to the background this weekend and will have it back basted and ready to stitch down hopefully by the end of next weekend. Once that’s done, it will go together very quickly.

I’m thinking of amending the borders to include flying geese — as the Canada geese flying north in that V formation and the sight of an iris or two in a flowerbed are both signs of spring to me. At this point, with our weather, I’m hoping spring will arrive sometime! It’s still pretty chilly here and there are still enormous snowbanks!

The three spots for the Pay It Forward challenge have been taken. Joan at My Quilt Life, Lisa at Miniature Quilter and Christine at Liberty Star Farm have joined. Now to figure out just what I’ll make for each of them!

The first of the 9-patch units made with these stars is now done. Once it’s pressed, I’ll post a photo. This is going to go together quite quickly, I think. I love making the stars — they go together so quickly!