Saturday, June 5, 2010

Eeeek! It's the "A" Word!

I like hand work.  Before my daughter was hijacked by the evil forces of Hanna Montana and Company, she wore beautiful hand-smocked dresses that I made for her.  I knew from the start that it was a limited-time offer.  But I loved making those dresses.

I had assumed I would take up knitting when the dresses ended, but I seem to have the knitter's equivalent of two left feet -- two left thumbs.  I like bead-work, but it's difficult to do it in my seat on the couch.  The beads keep spilling.  And the light's not really right.  And, unlike smocking, I have to really concentrate.  So I miss plays.  Football plays, that is.

So I read a lot.  But I'm still missing those plays.  I need some kind of hand-needlework.  I do like embroidery, but it requires more concentration than I'm willing to give it right now.  And hand-quilting is more intense than I'm ever going to get.  Besides, I like quilting on my machine.  That leaves...yep...appliqué.

My hand has some temporary issues, so the needle-turn thing isn't happening right now.  I need a method that makes all the pieces ready to stitch down without a whole lot of finagling.  Quilt Rat mentioned here a technique using dryer sheets that intrigued me.  A lady in the group that is doing this pattern said she uses dryer sheets for hand-appliqué all the time.  And she does a LOT of appliqué.


So I bought a box and used them in the laundry instead of the liquid stuff.  (I would make a joke here about "marking" my territory -- my DH, that is-- but I mark mine with tiny scraps and threads).

I have to say -- these dryer things stink!  They make my eyes water.  So I found a box without all that stench (uh huh, I sniffed 'em whilst I was in the store) and got together a stash of the used sheets.  I know that I'm a little behind the curve on these things -- there are people dyeing and painting them and doing all sorts of fabulous things with them, but since I wasn't using them in my laundry, I wasn't in the loop.

Well, all that has changed now.  They work really well for turning the edges, so all the shapes need is a little stitch around the edge.  The final stitching could even be done quite easily on the machine.

First, trace the shapes on the used dryer sheet.  I used a fine-point sharpie, but I didn't like that I could see the black line after they were turned.  Next time I will probably use a micron pen in a color that is closer to the fabric.  I'm not crazy about using Sharpies on fabric anyway -- they don't have archival ink and who knows what time bombs they introduce.

Then cut out the shape roughly -- make sure that there is at least a quarter inch or so around it -- and pin it to the right side of the appliqué fabric.

Stitch around the shape using a regular stitch and thread that is either neutral or matches the appliqué fabric.  Any areas that will be covered by other appliqué shapes should be left unstitched -- like the base of the leaf that will be covered by the stem. That way it's less bulky under the part that covers it.  Cut around the stitched shape leaving a scant quarter inch -- I left more like a fat 1/8th inch.  Clip corners and points.  Snip curves and inside corners right up to the stitching -- but try to avoid cutting through the stitching.

Slit a hole in the dryer sheet and carefully turn the shape.  It's helpful to have a turner of some type (I got mine at a shop that went out of business, sigh).  Press it, rolling the edge under with your finger so the dryer sheet is no longer visible on the top.

I traced the pattern onto a piece of parchment and, using tweezers, placed the pieces on the fabric using the parchment on top as a guide.  Then I hand stitched them down with thread that matched the appliqué fabric, not the background fabric.










Any of these pictures can be clicked on for a closer view.



Next:  more tips on placing the pieces on the background and the very cool new tool I discovered for making turned bias strips.  Hint:  it's not a bias strip maker...

4 comments:

Kaye Turner said...

Aha.. interesting process!

Quilt Rat said...

SEE........It does work! Especially great for making nice circles, curves and tricky points.

Looks like yours is coming along very well.
I have that very same turner thingy (technical term)

Beth said...

I've used this same technique with a light weight interfacing... I don't do dryer sheets... so I'm really out of the loop.

Sandy said...

Nice. I'm applique challenged. Thanks for commenting on my blog.