With complicated applique, I like to build units. This usually means I don't just sit down with all my pieces for a block, glue them into a picture and just stitch away. If a flower, for example, has many pieces, I glue baste, then sew things together in units first, from the top layer down.
I do this for 2 reasons: 1) I find it is easier to stitch through just a piece and a background - sometimes that background is simply another piece, 2) because I tend to hand quilt, I often trim away the background behind large applique pieces so that I can hand quilt without stitching through many layers. By breaking things down into basic units, I sort of trim away bulk as I sew units together. This can be very handy when working with light colored fabrics...I can trim excess darker fabrics that might show through.
For simplicity, I just glued most of this block at one time, but I will at least talk about what I consider a "unit" as I go along.
I work on the original pattern as I layer my units. Here I am starting with the outer flower and the center. If you find it easier, when you are lining up the layered pieces, you can leave your paper patterns on for a while longer. Sometimes I peel them all off, sometimes I leave them on. When working on pieces with many similar shaped pieces, like leaves, it really helps to keep the numbered pattern papers adhered until place. It is easy enough to remove the papers after gluing, before stitching.
Do you see those TINY dots above in the blue fabric allowance? That is my Roxanne's glue baste..."dot-dot-not-a-lot," as my friend Ola would say. Roxanne's has a terrific "hold" once used, so it takes very little to hold things in place. It dries pretty fast. By using tiny dots, I can glue right over my original pattern without the glue bleeding through, sticking to the paper, and ruining my pattern.
VERY IMPORTANT: Pay close attention to where I place these tiny dots...NOT at the edge where the glue might hinder my stitching needle later and NOT out in the center of the design, in case I want to trim the background away later.
Below I show how I pick up and manipulate pieces with the long tweezers (actually my beading tweezers). I have difficulty picking up and handling the tiny pieces and the tweezers really save me. LOL
This method works on both on simple and complex patterns. I used it for my "Civil War Bride" (Corliss Searcey) and my "All Around the Town" (Sue Garmon) quilts. It's just a matter of breaking things down into simple, manageable units.
"magic box" project with me that contains pressed on, cut out freezer paper patterns, a stiletto, snips, glue stick and a small acrylic ruler. It takes no room at a sit and stitch gathering to sit there and glue pieces while talking with friends or sit with a tray in my lap and watch TV with my family. I've done it at school and church meetings, too. This is how I work on my appliqued basket project...stolen moments.
I will post part three on Thursday or Friday, after I get my daughter off to Washington DC with her 8th grade companions. Check out part one, if you missed it.