26 January 2008

Applique answers and awards

Well, I've been out of commision for a while. Paid work and a cold that will not go away, so I've been wating for today to have time and energy to try and
First off : Thank you Wenche for giving me an award :-)

I'm happy to have made your day.
As for passing it on ? I'm not very good at this, so : if you read this, consider yourself awarded. Its always nice to be read, and to know that you read my blog, is making my day :-)

And then, in my previous post Druscilla asked for pointers on applique.

Yes, the Allsorts Applique Album that I'm quilting presently (80/140 quilted, thank you for asking), is all hand applique ... and in case you've forgotten what it looks like here's a picture : Most of them are done with back-basting. Sentimental Stitches has a thorough tutorial with pictures.

My advice on applique are the following :

Use good thread.
And try to match it with the fabric that is on top. I have every colour in the rainbow of cotton-thread, but I have found that I can get by very well with just one, light-grey thread for most applique. You may want to add a dark blue and a soft rose (not pink) to your array of colours. These will, if you take care with your stitches, cover practically all your needs ! I prefer cotton-thread, and usually "make do" with YLI's Select. Others prefer silk-thread, which is very nice too only, I don't have the temper for its slipperiness. If you want cotton with some of the same qualities as silk, YLI's Heirloom thread might be for you.

Use good needles that work for you.
My all-time favourite is Jeanna Kimball's Straw # 11. When I started using them, my applique went from so-so to good ! BUT, you may not work the way I do, and others prefer other types of needles. Try different sorts and sizes, and see what works for you.

Use good fabric !
If you are a beginner at applique, of any kind ! be good to you and start yourself with some batik-fabric. It holds a crease beautifully and has - compared to most other fabrics - hardly any fraying at all. I enjoy shopping with Batiks-plus (no affiliation) but then few shops in this country has a decent selection of batik-fabrics. The down-side of batiks is if you're hand-quilting. They are tightwoven and thus not as easy to quilt through as some fabrics

Try different techniques.
I have fallen in love with back-basting, because it gives me precision of placement, and once the pattern is drafted on the back of the background fabric, it is eminently portable. You might feel differently :-) so don't take my word for it. Try as many techniques as you can find, on the web and in classes, and then, from each of the many techniques, take the elements that work for you. We are not all the same.

Know that applique, like all other handwork, is slow work. You cannot crank out an heirloom block in the Baltimore-style in an afternoon. It takes time to do it and do it well, but ... it just might be worth it in the end.
... and if your patience isn't good for hand-applique, consider doing machine-applique the Beth Ferrier way.

13 January 2008

Happy New Year

Yeee-ees, I do realize that I'm a couple of weeks behind on that wish, but I have reason ! The entire family has been sick, in shifts, more or less constantly since just after Christmas, and DH (poor dear), only got out of his bed yesterday.

All the same : Here's wishing you a happy and blessed New Year. May all your points meet, your straight seams be straigt, and may your seam-ripper gather dust.

On top of everyone being down with some sort of flu (or tummy-bug ... or both ... yuk) winterexams have started, so I spent the better part of what is called "day-time" at this point of they year last week, examining poor undergraduates, and will spend the coming week and a half the same way.
SO, not much has been done. Of any kind. Except survival.

BUT, I am keeping up with the quilting. One thread a day, most days more (apart from the 4 days where I had cut my right hand thumb and couldn't). And even if you cannot see the progress on this picture, compared to former posts, you can at least see, that the quilt is already critter-tested and approved.That's our shy, black lady "Sorte", taking her midday nap today. I got up to fix myself some lunch, and when I got back ... well ... no quilting. At least not know. I'll get it back when, later in the evening, I open a tin of cat-food.

And yesterday I sat down and played a bit, and two new Jane-blocks were created. G-1, Hattie's Hen-House and G-2, Mohawk Trail ... question is, should I continue this and make G-3, Four Leaf Clover ? That one is all applique, so it might be a nice distraction from the handquilting.

The blocks here are 6".
I printed out the 4½" size and blanched. And I've even made the whole Jane-quilt in that size ! Don't know why it suddenly seems extremely small ... but it does. So, 6" blocks it is.
Will it be a "complete" Jane-quilt ?
Probably not. I'm doing another long-term swap with Martha, and seeing that neither of us have very firm ideas about how much, for how long, or any of the other wh's, lets see how far it goes :-)
The theme for us this time around is "bright" ... which isn't as easy to achieve as one might think ! at least not if you want any sort of pattern to be clearly defined.

On the top one, G-1, Hattie's Hen House,, I had plans (hopes ? dreams ?) to use my Curve-Master foot, but ... that didn't work. And yes, it was an operator-error rather than a hardware error. I'll learn. Eventually :-) SO, the two parts that could be joined by straight seams, outside and centre, were pieced on the machine, and then the top was applied to the bottom.

The bottom-block was made with the aid of Inklingo (shape-collection # 2) and seeing that it is a 6" block, I just printed HST (Half-Square-Triangles) on the light fabric.
I printed one piece, 5.25 x 10.25". That gave me 16 triangles with a finished size of 1½" Add the coloured fabric, and you have the 32 triangles that makes this block.
Very simple. Very precise.

And that was the update from me today. Don't hold your breath for the next one. Even with (most of) family (mostly) healthy again, odds are that I'll not be blogging again until exams are well and truly over. And that's not for another 10 days.