applique

So much easier …

by Helen on September 17, 2014

A few days ago I blogged about the trials and tribulations of making Miss Matilda Catkin.  Fortunately not every project presents as many challenges as Matilda.

Today I am delighted to present to you my Woodland Deer applique which took from start to finish probably less than 6 hours ….

Plus a bit of thinking time beforehand of course!  I hope you like her and she’ll be in the October issue of the Bustle & Sew Magazine (out next week – eeek!)

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Lovely mellow Sunday ….

by Helen on September 7, 2014

Early September is one of my most favourite times, and this year it’s been especially lovely down here in south Devon with misty mornings, heavy dews and beautiful golden days … so welcome after the horrible grey days towards the end of last month.  The Newfies love this time of year too.  Now the weather’s a little cooler they can go out and about more, and as there are fewer visitors I can relax and let them run free again.  It’s not that they’re unfriendly – no – the problem is quite the reverse, in that they can both (but especially Daisy) be rather too friendly which can be a little alarming if you’re not used to, or don’t particularly like, dogs.

Today we went up to the woods at Woodleigh, about 20 minutes from home.  This collection of four woods is very extensive, and we haven’t by any means explored them all yet.  I’m hoping to find the path down to the river now I’m able to walk longer distances again (with the help of my trusty walking pole).  That’s the River Avon, the same river that I blogged about a couple of weeks ago.

This is the path down through the fields into the woods, which stretch right down to the river along the valley floor.  And if I were to turn round and cross the lane, then I could walk another two or three miles the other way too.  The woods at Woodleigh were the first to be acquired by the Woodland Trust and are grouped on the outer edge of the tiny village of Woodleigh with its twisty lanes and picture-perfect English cottages …

And on the way home there’s the chance to stop at the garden centre, which like so many has diversified and so, after browsing bulbs, bushes and other gardening goodies, it’s fun to pop into the little deli and choose from a lovely array of local  ……

and some not-so-local produce …

Before heading home for a gentle snooze (the Newfies) and some seasonal sewing (me).

Here’s the first two completed projects for the October issue of the Bustle & Sew Magazine and I do hope you like them.

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September’s Projects …

by Helen on August 9, 2014

Just a quick peek ….

The first two projects for the September Magazine xx

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I’ve just finished uploading the patterns from the August issue of the Bustle & Sew Magazine to my store, including one of my favourite projects this month … a Jar for Buttons.

One of my favourite techniques that I’ve used in several designs this month, including this one, is raw edge applique.  I love it as it’s so easy to add pops of colour and pattern to mywork.  It’s also a great way to use up even the smallest fabric scraps as I hate throwing (nearly) anything away!   If you plan to make your own jar you’ll need to choose the fabrics you’re going to use.  I could tell you my exact choices, but as it’s unlikely you’ll have exactly the same fabrics in your stash, and because I use a lot of older, or even vintage fabrics that aren’t always readily available, I thought you might be interested in hearing how I select the fabrics I’m going to use for my applique projects.

Choose a medium weight non-stretchy fabric, cotton, linen or a cotton/linen blend is nicest.  I personally don’t like working with cotton-polyester mix fabric, to me it simply doesn’t feel right and I never achieve good results when trying to use it.  Natural fibres are, in my opinion, by far the nicest to work with and this shouldn’t limit your choice as there are so many lovely designs and collections around these days.   You’re going to do a lot of surface work on your fabric, so if it’s too lightweight then it will be difficult to keep it in shape, leading to possible puckering and distortion.     If you really absolutely have to use a lighter weight fabric, then consider interfacing to give it sufficient body to work with.

Your background fabric can either – obviously – be plain or patterned.  Whichever you choose remember that it is just that – a background.  It’s not the main feature, and you want it to showcase your applique work, not fight with it for attention or, perhaps even worse, blend too seamlessly with your applique fabrics so that they sink into the background and all your hard work goes unnoticed.  I find that as my applique designs are usually flowing, curved organic shapes, then geometric patterns in just a few colours often work well as the base fabric, providing a good contrast to the applique design.  The background pattern should as a general rule be on the same scale, or a little smaller as the applique – so don’t choose an enormous check pattern and position some tiny applique birds on top – it will just look silly.

You also need to take into account the colour of your background.  Look at it carefully and consider it together with the fabrics you’d like to use for your applique.  You may need to tweak your choices a little.  Consider if you’re going for a harmonious look – choosing colours and patterns of the same tonal strength as in my Jar for Buttons, or if you’d prefer more of a contrast – like Nelly the applique elephant (above) Either will work well, but each will give a totally different feeling to the finished piece of work.

I always begin with the background fabric as I find it’s more difficult to get right if I’ve decided not to use a light coloured neutral.  The fabrics for the actual applique shapes themselves are much easier as I have two large boxes of scraps in my workroom, dating back many years – and almost never throw any fabric away – even the smallest pieces can be useful, for example the baby owl’s chest is only ½” wide! Choose light or medium weight fabrics for the applique shapes for this project as you don’t want to add excess bulk or weight to the jar lid.    In general it’s best to avoid large scale bold prints, choose smaller scale prints that won’t draw the eye away from the shapes themselves.   For this project a quilting weight cotton is perfect as it is light enough to mount in the hoop without excess bulk, and is also strong enough to hold your applique work.

I like to use small stitches worked at right angles to the applique shapes to secure them to the background fabric and may choose either a contrasting or complementary colour floss.  In my True Beauty Peacock I used a complementary colour that worked well with all the different fabric scraps I used for the peacock’s feathers and kept to the same colour for the whole tail to bring the different fabrics together in a harmonious whole.  Using diferent colours would have given a “bitty” effect.  I also (unusually for me) used feather stitch to add an additional decorative element to the design.  There are a lot of vintage feedsack scraps in my peacock applique that I chose from a limited colour palette and small repetitive patterns that I feel work well together.

And finally … you don’t have to restrict raw edge applique to purely decorative items.  Most recently I’ve used the technique for my Woodland Alphabet Quilt.  A combination of securing the shapes with Bondaweb and then covering the edges with a closely-spaced zig-zag stitch worked in invisible thread means that although this quilt has already been washed several times it’s standing up well to the wear and tear imposed by an active baby boy!

 

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