Thursday, February 18, 2010

Different Ways to Applique

I have found a fabulous blog for those who love traditional applique- I mean the turned under edge, hand-stitched kind.

Check out One Piece at a Time, written by Erin Russek.

Erin has beautifully photographed tutorials of her template drawn, running stitched, brush-starched, perfect applique techniques.

Oh, yeah---and she can piece pretty well. She has been offering a step-by-step tutorial for piecing a feathered star. That is a rather intimidating traditional quilt pattern, but I think we could all make a perfect one following these instructions.

For me, I have usually avoided the A-word, unless we're talking raw-edged. I will fuse, machine-stitch, or raw-edge embroider by hand using ladder stitch a la Pamela Allen.

I have been dutifully stitching down the projects for my current online class with her. Having the Olympics on TV is a perfect opportunity for handwork. I use a very large doll-making needle, three strands of embroidery floss, and a ladder stitch to attach these free form, scissor-cut shapes to the background fabric and batting. Here is a bit of the Lesson 2 project under way:

You can use matching or contrasting color thread, depending if you want to emphasize the line or not. Usually I try to blend with the background pieces.

Here is a sneak peek at a detail of my secret Lesson 1 project. I made trees from a black twill fabric that was discharge-dyed with bleach, and used black hand-stitching to add some character to the trees. Machine quilting added some more slender trees and branches, some bark features, and some background foliage.

Here is an entire quilt where you can see the additional line added by the contrasting hand stitching. The striped look around the flowers is black crochet thread that was used to attach both both the outer white and the inner black portions of the petals. The same for the centers of the leaves, which remind me of coleus.

BTW, this quilt was a lesson in value using only gray, black and white fabrics. For a bit of rebellion and surprise, look what I did on the back:

You can see that I added a lot of hidden picture shapes while machine-quilting. Do you see a cat, bird, fish, and pine tree? Lots of fun!

And here is the weirdest quilt I have made in a Pamela Allen class: The Green Man. It took a long time to stitch down all his leafy parts by hand. Come to think of it, he was a fore-runner of the Cubist experiments from the current class, wasn't he? Look at those eyes!

And yes, leaving the fabric edge raw does sometimes give a frayed edge, but often that is desired in an art quilt. Bark, leaves, hair, all lend themselves to this technique.

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