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...