FINALLY...the promised tutorial about how I do my applique projects. My quilting friend MaryLiz (no blog) turned me onto Elmer's glue sticks for applique and now I am quite addicted! I take it a little further by using a glue baste to secure things as I stitch (instead of pins), but I will talk about that in my next post. This one is long enough already.
I am no expert at this, and I feel like I am still learning every time I do any quilty technique. I have had much joy and success with this method and I hope you find it helpful.
I chose a block from one of Lori Smith's wonderful patterns, "Anna's Garden." This block will 7 inches square when finished. I chose a small, but rather simple block pattern to show how well this method works with little pieces.
Here are some of my favorite tools. Freezer paper, pencil and paper scissors are used to trace and cut out the pattern. Elmer's 'disappearing purple' school glue sticks, a stiletto, fabric scissors, re-purposed acrylic rulers, and tweezers are used to prep pieces.
Freezer paper, for those not familiar with it's non-butcher purpose, is great for patterns. You can write on the dull side and the shiny side will stick to fabric when applied with a hot iron.
I use the acrylic rulers and odd acrylic pieces to work on because they are washable. (And now some of those obscure rulers that seemed like a good idea at the time are finally being useful!) It doesn't hurt the rulers and they wash up very easily in warm water.
I like to use tweezers to pick little things up...my fingernails are short (for piano) and I have difficulty picking up tiny little pieces of paper or fabric. The tweezers are a God send!
Some people like to use toothpicks or bamboo skewers instead of a stiletto. I like the weight of the stiletto and it washes easily to remove glue build-up at the tip.
First, using a pencil, I number every piece of the pattern I am tracing FROM. I pay close attention to which pieces are layered so I can label the portions of the patterns that will go under something else. This is very important. I put little cross-hatch marks on the edges that will tuck under something else. If I don't label my pattern to remind me, when cutting out pieces I'll cut the allowance too narrow. (I think if you click on the picture below you can see some of these marks. They will certainly be pictured more prominently in later pictures.)
Next, I carefully cut out my traced and numbered pattern pieces right on the traced line, not adding any turn under allowance to the paper pattern.
Next, I iron my pattern pieces to the RIGHT SIDE of the fabric, leaving at least a quarter inch space between pieces or at edge. I press well because I want the paper to stay on until I am through with it! (It can be re-ironed on, but that is a pain!)
I am using some small repro scraps for this project...I don't throw much away!
Next, I cut out my pieces, allowing a "generous 1/8 inch" on regular edges and a "scant 1/4 inch" on the cross-hatched edges that are tucked under something else. When in doubt, it is better to be generous on these turn under allowances...you can always trim them smaller when you start gluing, if you need to.
I'm using a plain piece of acrylic for these pictures because I thought the writing on my old rulers might be distracting to the tutorial...excuse the glare when it creeps into a picture! It is helpful to have the clear plastic surface on a dark color so you can see the white paper pattern later.
The dark fabric I used for this vase makes my next step hard to see in a picture, so I am showing you the back of the fabric. On inside curves, I clip ALMOST to the paper pattern...stopping a couple of threads shy of the pattern (if this was a true corner, like the cleft in the top of a heart shape, I would clip right to the paper pattern). For gradual curves, I don't make many clips, for "curvier" curves, I have to clip more.
I don't clip right to the paper pattern, because doing that makes it harder to get a smooth, unbroken curvy edge on the finished piece.
Now we are ready for glue! I work right on the edge of the glue stick.
Glue LIGHTLY, right on the very edge of the WRONG side of the fabric. The disappearing purple will show you where you have glued, but the tell tale purple doesn't hang out for long...it will fade. At first, just glue an inch or so at a time. As you build up speed, you can practically glue the whole piece, then work your magic!
I'm right handed, so I use the stiletto in my right hand, folding over the glued edge on itself, using the pattern edge FROM THE OTHER SIDE as my guide. I fold that edge over until I...just...see...the white edge.
I don't completely stick down the place I started folding over because I have to blend where I end WHEN I GET BACK AROUND to where I started. The glue is fairly forgiving...it doesn't dry super quick, but sort of quick. You can sort of pull up the glued edge where you started, once getting back around to it, but it is so much easier if you leave yourself a little wiggle room.
The inside curves are fairly easy, rounded corners are a little harder...you just have to make little tucks, little pleats. I never clip outside corners. I poke things with my stiletto in my right hand, then push down and guide with my index finger/fingernail on my left hand. Here I'm trying to do it with one hand and hold the camera with the other...
Now my husband has the camera...now you will truly see what a horrible photographer I really am by comparison...
Here I am (above) making clips in my curves. Here you can see the inside edge of this flower, with the little cross-hatch marks that told me to trim a wider turn under allowance where the flower center will overlap. SPOILER ALERT: That wider bit won't be turned under at all, but will support the piece that overlaps.
Now I apply the glue...since I am not gluing under the area where the next piece will overlap, that is an EXCELLENT place to start with the glue!
Then, I poke with the stiletto in one hand and mash to reinforce as I go with the index finger of the other hand.
As I go around the outside curve, I make little pleats to ease the fullness...big pleats would make the curve jerky and not completely rounded. This is where the 1/8 inch turn under allowance is your friend! Sometimes I trim even closer to keep things from getting too bulky on the back for the tighter curves.
Here I am demonstrating using the tweezers to pick things up and move them around.
Here I am clipping with my little scissors.
This is a little more glue than I normally use...I wanted to make sure we got the picture before it disappeared! The less glue you use, the easier the needle will stitch later.
Poke, press, poke, press...
Try a few pieces before tackling tiny circles. They aren't hard, but shouldn't be your first choice with which to experiment.
You really can make a nice, flat circle this way.
Ta da!!! Now all the pieces are glue stick prepped! Tune in next time and we'll get everything glue basted and ready for hand stitching.
Now you can really see the "tuck under" allowances on the pattern edges that were cross-hatched.
Just a note about glue...Elmer's doesn't pay me to say that their glue is excellent...it just is. I've tried other glue sticks - even ones made for quilters. Some are more sticky, the skinny ones aren't sturdy, the "quilter's" glue sticks are expensive, and I love the fact that this disappearing purple thing allows me to be a little forgetful. I can see it!
This is part one...part two will follow tomorrow.