Thursday, May 15, 2014

Scissors and Appliqué

Those of you who looked at this blog yesterday may notice that my post is missing.  I really goofed up the sequence of events for building my Rhapsody quilt so I deleted that post and am starting this phase over.

TIP:  Don't beat yourself up too much when you make a mistake.  Wish I could learn that one! Do as I say, not as I do.

The next step in my Rhapsody quilt is to get out the paper scissors and cut apart one of the full size, freezer paper designs.  The pieces must be carefully marked in order to tell what pieces will be used on what fabric.  We each have our own sense of organization and each of us will mark in a way that makes sense to us.  I keep everything pinned on my design wall when I am not using them.  I also pin the small version with fabric glued to it onto my design wall.  

After carefully cutting the pieces I iron them onto the RIGHT side of the fabric, and cut it loosely about 1/2 inch around the freezer paper.  I mark the registration lines in the seam allowance.  Now I pin my fabric to stabilizer and stay stitch about 1 needle width outside of the freezer paper.  My stabilizer of choice is Stitch 'n Ditch, and more than one layer can be used if necessary.

After the stay stitching is complete I cut away the excess fabric to a scant 1/4 inch.  At first I got really fussy and measured this, but decided it was a waste of time so now I eyeball the seam allowance.  I can remove the freezer paper now and use it for the next piece.  I needed a total of four of each piece.

Now comes the real fun of designing appliqué to dress up this quilt fit for a king.  I get ideas from books, shapes around me, doodles, Zentangles, Dover Books, Internet, Art, clothing, nature and my garden among other things.  I draw my designs on tracing paper in a very large tablet.  From my large reference copy of the background I trace the shape of an individual background piece.  Then I doodle and draw until I have an appliqué that I like.  I cut it out to the shape of its background piece and pin it to the big reference copy.  Eventually I can see what it all looks like together, and will make changes as needed.

In this swatch you can see the background pieces onto which the appliqué is sewn
(pink, dark blue, light blue, green).  Those seams won't be sewn until the appliqué is placed and sewn.

This is an example of one motif finished on the quilt.  The flower is simple, the curves are fairly open and the points are not too sharp.  I also did some feathers in appliqué.  I had planned to quilt feathers there, but I chickened out because I didn't feel my quilting skills were up to the task.  Ultimately, I had a lot of practice quilting on this quilt and it improved my competence beyond measure.

TIP:  Appliqué designs can be simple or complex, but they need to be sewn down to the quilt top so don't let them get too complex for reality.

TIP:  I love tracing paper because is soft to draw on with my pencil.  It is easy to erase.  It is easy to trace mirror images if necessary.  It can be set over both the paper copy and fabric to visualize the final result.

TIP:  Think ahead.  Some parts of the motif in the above photo are awfully close to the seam line.  I have learned to make adjustments so the appliqué is a bit smaller and allows more leeway at the edge.  This reduces anxiety when it comes time to sew the seams together.    Easy though: too small is not aesthetically pleasing.  


  1. Wow this is coming along beautifully... You go girl!

  2. This is going to be so stunning. What awesome tips you've provided. Thank you!

  3. I really love the clear way you provide your tips, I think it's gonna be an inspiration for my blog.