A year's worth of Splendid Sampler™ tips!
I'll be making the Spendid Sampler™ blocks all year long. To help you on your Splendid journey, I'm providing my take on each block, and tips I used in the process. Typically, this content won't be repeated anywhere except the Good Migrations weekly eNews delivered each Thursday to your email in-box. Don't miss a single tip! Subscribe here. And you'll get a free pattern just for fun!
The Back Story - Featuring Back-Basting Applique
When I first started making quilts not all that long ago, I never, EVER imagined that I would want to do any sewing by hand. I was in love with using the sewing machine. Boy, was I ever wrong! These days, I love sewing at the machine, but equally appreciate the opportunity to step away from the sewing machine with some quilty handwork.
The first block in the Splendid Sampler™ Sew Along, Hearts Aflutter from Pat Sloan is a perfect opportunity to combine a few of my favorite machine and hand sewing techniques.
Not to confuse you, these batik scraps and precuts inspired by Sandpiper, a recent pre-cut group from Hoffman California Fabrics, are my stash-grab for the year-long sampler project.
The tutorial that follows is made from a mix of traditional lines from Moda. So 'my' block and the 'tutorial' block will look a little different.
Back to Hearts Aflutter, the first featured block in The Spendid Sampler™. We start with a basic four-patch block. Since the block will have an applique shape placed over the center, I want to avoid bulky spots in the piecing, so I furled the seam intersection. Click here for more details on furling. I use this technique ALL the time! Love it!
At the stitch-and-flip corners, I opted to leave the bottom layer of the block intact and only trimmed the middle layer to reduce bulk at the corners. I know I'll be sewing this block to something eventually--another block or sashing or who-knows-what at this stage--I want to know that even if my stitch-and-flip corner was placed a little wonky, I can rely on my well-cut, well-pieced four-patch base fabric to be the proper size.
Ready for applique?
I've tried lots of different applique methods, and my favorite, by far, is the back-basting method, also known as the template-free method. Included with the many benefits of this technique:
- It is extremely accurate. If your initial shape is traced accurately, there's a good bet that your applique will be accurate
- No fusibles, freezer paper, glue, extra chemicals are needed. Not even an iron. A sharp pencil, a light source or a bright window, needle, thread, and scissors are all you need along with your pattern and fabric
- Based on the above, it's perfectly transportable
Before you begin, double-check the inch marking printed on your pattern to make sure the applique page you printed is the correct size. Remember, your applique will be as accurate as your drawing, so we might as well start with the correct size, right-o?
The patterns will already be reversed in all the forthcoming Splendid Sampler blocks, but hearts are the same backwards and forwards, so no worries.
Place the reversed applique shape on your light source (tape it to a window, or place it on a small light box) and trace the shape onto the BACK of your base fabric.
Place the applique fabric on the right side of the base with the wrong side of the appilque fabric facing the right side of the base fabric.
On the front, you won't see the shape, only the rough outline of the shape made by the pins.
With a larger needle (I like sharps, size 7) and heavier thread in a contrasting color (I like glazed cotton quilting thread - YLI hand quilting thread is my absolute favorite!), start on a smooth part of the shape WITHOUT making a knot in the thread, and sew a tight running stitch from the back of the block directly on the drawn line. Make sure a well-formed, tight running stitch goes through all the fabric layers all the way around the shape.
Turn the block to the front, and trim the applique fabric about 1/8" away from the stitching.
Let the stitches rest a bit. At least an hour or so. I usually let it sit overnight or longer. The longer the better, IMO.
Working from the front of the block, start at the basting thread end and pull out a few stitches at a time. With a finer thread, (I like 50 wt. cotton in a color that matches the applique fabric) and needle (Sharps, size 10 or 11), turn the applique fabric under. You'll find that the applique fabric turns easily because the tight running stitches left a series of perforations in the fabric. So it folds on the lines like a check in a check book.
The applique stitches are teeny-tiny. And they only grab the very fold of the applique shape and a tiny bit of the base fabric. Pull out the the basting running stitches a little at a time, try not to get too far ahead of your applique stitches.
At the point of the heart, snip the fabric to the stitching line, so you can turn under one side of the heart, then start up on around the other side of the heart.
View from the back.
Only 99 blocks to go! Wasn't that fun!?
Happy Splendid Stitching!