Sunday, February 14, 2016

Hearts Aflutter! A Splendid Tutorial

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.




Make the Base


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
This method is described in detail in all of my books. (Okay, well, not the coloring book! *wink!*)



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.

Then, from the wrong side of the block place applique pins all the way around the shape as shown below. Hold the block up to the light to make sure your applique fabric covers the lines with at least 1/8" to 1/4" leeway at all the line edges.







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.






Ta-done!






Only 99 blocks to go! Wasn't that fun!?




Happy Splendid Stitching!
Joan Ford

73 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  2. My first new technique, thanks ; - )

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  3. A different way to do it for me. Thank you.

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    1. This method was a game-changer for me and applique. Tally ho! ;)

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  4. Thanks! I have been wanting to try new techniques for applique!

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    1. Let me know what you think . . . Applique is now one of my favorite things to do when I'm in quiet stitching mode.

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  5. Why do you advice to let the stitches rest for a while?

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    1. You know, you don't have to let it rest a while, but I have better results when I do. Those running stitches create the little holes in the fabric - the perforations - and they settle in a little bit when you let the stitches rest in place, even for just an hour. That means the applique edge will turn under a bit easier on that line of needle holes, when it's time to secure the applique edge to the background. Make sense?

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    2. Yes, thanks

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  6. muchas gracias por esta explicación!!! nunca hubiera pensado hacerlo así, lo voy a intentar.

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    1. I think you'll enjoy this process! Enjoy!

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  7. Wow I love the instructions for this heart. Makes turning so much easier. Thank you so much for taking the time to post this! Worth a million.....

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  8. My quilting challenge for this year is to learn applique, so this is a good start. I'll try it today. Thank you!

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    1. Indeed, a good start. Let me know how it works out!

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  9. I've never seen this technique demonstrated before. Now I'm eager to give it a try! I'm so over using freezer paper and starch. Thanks for the clear instructions and excellent pictures.

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    1. I tried the freezer paper/starch method before this, it was okay, but messy. I think you'll be very pleased when you try back-basting. Keep me posted.

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  11. What an interesting way to do applique! I am fairly new at needle-turn hand applique so I will give this a shot! Thank you very much for sharing!

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    1. You are very welcome! Let me know what you think!

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  12. Great instructions! I enjoyed learning a new way to applique; thank you.

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  13. That's certainly a method I haven't seen before. I look forward to giving it a try. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Happy to share. Let me know how you like it!

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    2. Happy to share. Let me know how it works out!

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    3. It worked out well Joan. A little more time consuming than my usual applique method but it was my first try at needleturn applique! I have a picture of my block here: http://quiltybitsandbobs.blogspot.com.au/2016/02/a-splendid-sampler-first-block-hearts.html

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    4. Your block is wonderful! Thanks for sharing the link!

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  14. I thought I had tried every applique method, but this is new to me. I have heard of it but I really didn't know how it was done. I may give it a try. (I still haven't pulled most of my fabrics yet and some need washing). I have your free label block pattern; it looks like a great one.

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  15. Thank you for this wonderful tutorial. Making the first block was fun because of the clear instructions. Learned so much and a new applique method. I really like it and was pleasantly surprised at how easy,.

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    1. It's all good stuff! Thanks for your comments!

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  16. Wish I had read this before I cut out the heart. I started hand stitching and needle turning but did not like the result with a double strand of hand quilting thread so started searching different techniques. I want to try this.

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    1. Plenty of opportunities ahead. . .Enjoy~

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  17. thank you,,, I can hardly wait to try,,, I am a few days late on starting this project... need to get my fabric sorted in my mind,,,,

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    1. The post is here when you are ready for it. No one is keeping score or timing your progress. Enjoy!

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  18. I've never handsewn before... but it's all about learning, isn't it?
    So I tried your technique and it was fun. The heart is a little wobbly (and I'm not quite sure why, but like I said, it was my first handsewn applique, so hopefully it gets better).
    Thank you for your great tutorial and the new experience!

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    1. You are very welcome. The more you do, the better you'll get, like anything else, right?

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  19. I have never seen this applique technique. I'm running a few days late but I will definitely be trying this! PLUS, you just got yourself a "new follower" for your blog!

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    1. Aww, thanks! I think you'll enjoy this applique technique. Keep me posted!

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  21. This is a new thing to me. I think it will be a game changer for my applique. Thanks Joan Ford...

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    1. It was a game-changer for me! That's why I love sharing this method.

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  22. Thank you so much for sharing this technique Joan, clear instructions, can't wait to use this technique again.
    Sue x

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    1. Just a hunch (wink!) but I suspect that opportunity will present itself!

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  23. Gracias! Es un aprendizaje su tutorial. Desconocía esta técnica de aplique.

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  24. looks like a great technique to try - I'm only new to needle turn and I have trouble getting the fabrics to turn under so your method might just be what I need - thanks for sharing :)

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    1. I know exactly what you are saying. I think you'll like this! Keep me posted!

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  25. As several others have mentioned, I too have never seen this method before and I am going to give it a go in my second heart block.

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  26. Thanks! I've never seen this technique and can't wait to try it.

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    1. Keep me posted! I hope you like it as much as I do!

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  27. Thank you Joan, I hadn't seen this method before! Unfortunately I have already started to use a different method but will try this the next chance I have.

    Barbara x

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    1. You will have plenty of opportunity to try it, I'm thinking! *wink!*

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  28. Why do you need to do the basting stitch from the back? Wouldn't it be easier to do it from the front?

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    1. Great question. You make the basting stitches from the back because that's where the shape lines were drawn. From the front, you have no idea where to put the basting stitches. Once the basting stitches are in place, that becomes your road map for the trimmed shape and for securing the applique along the basting line (which was the drawn line. Make sense?

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  29. Muchas gracias Joan, la primera vez que veo este método, lo voy a probar, luego te cuento y te envío una foto. Un beso grande desde La Plata, Republica Argentina!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  30. Wonderful Instructions - Thank you. :-)

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  31. What a great way to applique, I have never seen this way before. Like you, I was more machine less handwork person, until this sampler. Now I am trying all ways to do things, including hand embroidery. Thanks for great tips

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  32. Sounds like a great idea if you want a soft cuddly quilt, especially good for babies and children or elderly with sensitive skin. :)

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  33. Hah I love it. It makes total sense to me. You are a genius Joan. I love you:))))))))))) I want to do an all appliqué quilt by hand and I am so happy you shared this tutorial:) I love the pond BTW. See you on the 28th of July:)

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    1. I'm not a genius, I'm a quilter! You are coming up for the Meet-Up? How cool!! :)

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  34. Yes Joan coming for the meet up🙂🙂🙂ok quilting genius😀😍😀😍

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  35. Oh My GOSH! That turned out so perfect! I will most definitely try this method! Did you do this for the squirrel block also? Have you found a time when this wasn't the best process? If so, what was the issue and what process did you change to? Gee! I am excited to try this! Thank you so much for the demo!

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    1. Hi Donna. Yes, I used it for the squirrel block. With those narrow tree branches, it's just important to keep the seam allowances trimmed really close (no more than 1/8") after you baste the shape. I haven't found an applique pattern that this method doesn't suit.

      I will say that it's helpful if the pattern has the motif arranged for the final block - as opposed to a pattern for a snaowman (for example) that has the body, head, nose, and eyes laid out separately in the pattern, but even that is do-able with some planning.

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  36. Thank you Joan for reintroducing me to this method. Your instructions are so clear and easy to follow.

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    1. You are so welcome, Rosemary. I use this method for nearly everything applique! Love it!

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  37. Oh I am definitely trying this. I only wish I had seen it when the first block came instead of at the 91st. It seems like more work but I have come to dislike the heaviness of Heatnbond kind of fusible.

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    1. Great! I would rather do 'more work' and enjoy every bit of the process, than do less work on something I don't really care for any day! Tally ho!

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  38. I too wish I'd seen this method of applique much earlier! I was going to embroider the sewing machine as I'm not keen on (small), applique. But I tried this method and I am so impressed. Thank you for sharing.

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