Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Reverse Applique How-To with Spray Starch

Even though there are endless possibilities with reverse applique, somehow it seems that it is the forgotten method... perhaps for some it's just not a familiar technique, or maybe for others it's just a little nerve racking to cut that hole in the middle of the fabric. Whatever the reason might be, let me show you how fabulous a technique it really is... and that it gets even better when you use spray starch!

This is the current status of my Folk Flower quilt. The block can be found on Creativebug from Anna Maria Horner, in which she essentially uses the reverse applique technique, but per hand. Since hand sewing doesn't even come into question for me, why not use the same approach... but with starch applique?!?

Start by layering two pieces of freezer paper, both shiny side down. Iron together, leaving the steam function OFF. Using a compass, draw a circle in the center of the template, and trim so that there are the same measurements on all sides. For this template, I left one inch on all sides. I'll show you why it is important to do this in the next step. When cutting out the shape, start cutting directly on the line instead of cutting into the template - we'll be using the cut-out for a later step.

Remember how I said that it is important to have the same measurements on all sides? Well, this is because it can be a big help when you are placing the template on the fabric. You can easily measure how far the template is to be placed on the background fabric, so that you end up having the template spaced the same on every block. Place the shiny side of the template on the wrong side of your fabric, and iron in place.

The next step might be a little bit of the scary part for some, and that's cutting a hole in the middle of your fabric. I'm sure we all had those grade school teachers who scolded to NEVER cut shapes out of the center of the paper, but rather from the edges. Well, this is where you get to brush that little voice off your shoulder, and be brave. I usually use about a 1/4" seam allowance.

... and make sure you keep that fabric cut-out, and in all one piece!

For regular starch applique circles, it's not needed to clip along the curve, but it this case it is necessary. Usually you can feel the spots where you need to clip - if it feels like you are having a little resistance for the fabric to wrap around to the back, you most likely need a little snip in that spot. Since I used bias tape on this block, I made sure to cut on either side so I wouldn't have to cut into the bulk.

For the leaf shape, you actually have to make less cuts - just around the rounded part of the template, and in the sharp point.

Begin by spraying starch in a small ashtray or bowl. Wait for the bubbles to dissolve, and using a stiff brush, begin to brush the starch on the seam allowance. If you are unsure about your supplies, then you can read my Top-Ten Starch Applique Tips or visit my YouTube channel.

Use a mini-iron to iron the seam allowance to the back of the template.The starch will hold it it place.

Once you have ironed the fabric to the back of template, you can remove the freezer paper template.

Remember how I told you that you would be needing the center cut-outs from your templates? Well, this is why: Because you can use them as a cutting template for your fabric that will be inserted on the back side of the block. Simply align the cut-out on your selected fabric, and use about a 1/2" seam allowance. Here I use a larger seam allowance to make sure that I can center the shape as I want it.

Use an applique basting glue, apply a thin line along the seam allowance. 

Position the fabric behind the finished opening, so that the fabric is "peeking" through. Once the placement is as desired, iron in place to set.

If there is excess fabric on the back side, trim as desired so that the extra fabric will not be seen from the front side of the block.

There are two ways that you can stitch the block in place: Most of the time I use an invisible thread from Aurifil, and using a straight stitch, sew as close to the edge as possible.

The second way that can be used to finish the block, is to stitch it in place from behind. Simply fold the fabric to the side, and stitch along the pressed seam line. Your thread will not be seen from the front.

Remember how I said to keep the fabric cut-outs from the beginning? This is where you can really bring "waste not, want not" to life - here I reduced the size of my leaf shape, and used the cut-outs for leaves for another project.

I did the same thing for the circle cut-outs, and I really like how they look with the bias tape stripe. I could imagine that these would make a sweet baby quilt, with a good amount of negative space for design interest.

... oh, the possibilies!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Very Berry Applique

After you work so intensively on a project, and the project goal comes and goes, it can be a little difficult to find your way back into a normal rhythm. After returning from Nadelwelt with all my lists checked off, it's been a challenge to figure out what to work on next. I have several deadlines coming up, so what is the best way to get back into your normal flow... work on something completely different, right?

It's no secret that I love applique, but I especially love reverse applique. There is so much potential for this not as frequently used technique. These leaves are actually for three different projects, and since I love the result so much, I had to make a set of blue leaves too... who says that leaves have to be green?

It's that time of year where blueberries are strawberries frequently make it to our dinner table, and evidently they've also made their way to my sewing room too!

I've always loved the looks of wild or mock strawberries... such tiny and petite berries that look good enough to eat. There has been a little discussion recently on Instagram whether or not they are edible. 

In any case, edible or not, this project is still growing and developing. (no pun intended) Just a short and sweet sneak peek for today because it's time to get back on track.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

May Day

My favorite time of the year in Germany has to be April/May... it's when the grey veil finally rolls back, vibrant touches of spring flowers have ushered in the season, and fields of gold are to be seen everywhere you look.The golden canola blooms bring with it the beginning of the best meal that you can find in Germany... Spargel! (white asparagus.. read more about it here)

Living in the country means that such color delights for the eye are just at your back door... literally. I told my husband last week that this field, just a mere matter of steps from our house, is too perfect to pass up the opportunity for a background for a photo shoot. And what could make that field any lovelier, but a quilt in front of it... or is it the other way around that the sprawling blanket of gold is what makes the quilt lovelier?

In any case, Nadelwelt is this week, and in spite of the fact that I've been considerably absent, I wanted to share this quilt top that I finished a while back... perhaps more than that, I just wanted to share the view from my sewing room.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

DIY: Pressing Board

Ask any professional, tradesman, artist, or handcrafter... having the right tools for the job really makes all the difference. One of my most asked questions about my applique, is "how do you get the edges so crisp?"... simple, by having the right tools. I've shared a lot about my favorite starches, irons, paintbrushes,etc. for the starch applique method (found here), but one important tool that is not to be overlooked is a proper pressing board.

While one could argue that a regular ironing board works just as well, let me explain why I use a pressing board instead:
  • A really hard surface, combined with the proper starch and a high heat mini iron, really IS what gives the desired clean and crisp edge.
  • The high heat of the iron and the spray starch have a tendency to slightly "burn" and brown your work surface over time and high use. 
  • With that being said, it saves your regular ironing board cover having to be frequently replaced.
  • Re-covering a pressing board after it's been soiled is a breeze!
  • Lastly, it's small and easy to transport.
Have I convinced you now? So, here's what you'll need to make your own pressing board:
  • Cotton Canvas 16 x 20 inches. (ca. 40 x 50 cm)
  • Cotton Batting 16 x 20 inches. (ca.40 x 50 cm)
  • Plywood Board 10 x 14 inches. (ca.25 x 35 cm)
  • Craft Felt Piece 10 x 14 inches. (ca.25 x 35 cm)
  • Staple Gun & Staples
  • Spray Glue

Layer the cotton canvas, then the cotton batting, and finally the plywood piece on top, as shown in the picture above. Begin on the long side of the board and pull fabric and batting to the back side. Tack with three staples. Rotate the board to the opposite long side, pull fabric taunt, and tack with three staples. Fabric should be taunt but not stretched. Repeat steps with the remaining short sides, but do not staple to the end yet.

After all four sides have been secured, pull the corner batting piece to a point, and cut at an angle for a mitered edge. Repeat for the remaining corners.

Continue stapling along one long side of the board, stopping 1 - 2 inches from the corner, and repeat with the short side until there is a small "dog ear" left as shown in the picture below. 

There are two ways that you can finish the corners, and it is simply a personal preference. The first is to pull the fabric down at an angle. The second is to simply fold it over as shown below. NOTE: Some prefer to also cut out the corners of the canvas fabric to avoid bulk, but my preference is to leave the fabric corners in.

Tack the corners in place. Repeat until all corners are finished. Cut any excess fabric as desired.

Finally, spray a generous amount of spray adhesive/glue to the back side of the felt piece. Position it on the back of the board. This prevents scratching from the staples when working on a table or other sensitive surface.

Now you're ready to go! Be sure to check out my YouTube channel for starch applique how-to videos, including tips on my favorite supplies!

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Making Lemonade

These last weeks have been all about getting ready.... getting ready to print my latest pattern, Whirly Girl... getting ready for my upcoming class in Hildesheim... getting ready for both of my Nadelwelt classes... getting ready for my next pattern release... not to mention finishing the quilt top for the pattern after that... wheh!?!... and what do I have to share? Not much... yet.

Well, how about we start with what's NOT under wraps? This weekend I'm teaching another starch applique class, and for those that have never tried this technique, I usually recommend starting out with a simple block that covers a little bit of everything. Since circles and leaves are a staple in many applique blocks, it's the perfect place to begin.

Once those are mastered, it's time to move on to bigger and better things. A simple heart is an ideal shape to begin with because it addresses the issue of an inward curve. Those are the points that can sometimes be tricky to handle because there's just not much fabric to work with.

Last fall, I made a sample block to demonstrate the starch applique technique when I taught a weekend course with Patch-Yard. She made another appearnace just recently in Patchwork Professional, where I did a little how-to "workshop" along with the magazine feature.

Since I will demonstrate this block yet again at Nadelwelt, I thought it might be time to make a plan for all those sample blocks, not that I get stuck with a bunch of random, orphan blocks that only get thrown into the WIP box later.... so I started a little fabric pull. 

Thinking about it in hindsight, it might have been better to have a plan before I started - connecting these two blocks to each other is not the easiest divide to cross... not to mention that is a color combo that is way outside my comfort zone.

So, now I'm making lemonade out of lemons!

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Instagram Birthday GIVEAWAY!

It's really not intentional, but somehow my quilt pattern releases seem to line up perfectly timed with my birthday. Even though it's no special number this year, it's still fun to explain to people that I've been 35 for 11 years now... so, you wanna celebrate big with me?

To participate in the giveaway then just pop on over to my Instagram page for a chance to win a 3" x 6" Flying Geese ruler from Bloc Loc PLUS a copy of my latest pattern, Whirly Girl!

When I approach a company about sponsoring a giveaway, for me it's about endorsing products that I actually use and am passionate about. I think I've shared before about my general dislike of HST's (half square triangles)... until a friend introduced me to Bloc Loc rulers. Talk about a game changer!?! So, I was really excited to hear that they also offer a ruler for Flying Geese.

 ... and since Whirly Girl has so many Flying Geese units, I thought it would be a perfect pair up for a giveaway.

Remember that my 20% discount in my entire Payhip shop ends on Sunday, March 24th (GMT+1)... just end the Sale Code: Whirly.

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