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...


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.