Friday, December 9, 2011

My first block completed

When I saw the lovely designs of Erin Russek's My Tweets, I thought it would be a good project to "learn" to applique. I ordered the centre block- the other 12 blocks are free; more or less around the 15 th of every month- and used Erin's method of preparing each piece before the time.

I did not like this method. I think it is a good method for this design but it just not fit the way I like to work. First I did not like the long preparation. Then my iron is not suitable and when I used my small travelling iron it broke. I think I also had my starch mix to concentrated and when a point form around the edge it was very difficult to even it out. I also realised that if I want to carry on with more intricate applique that do not have the flowing lines, I should learn to do needle turn applique. Over the years I have collected many applique books. I first study them.

Jane Townswick make complicated layered applique and I learned a lot. I was still searching for the ultimate experience though.(I think I may be able to use her techniques after some more experience at applique)

After seeing The Thimble lady on the Quilt show I ordered her book and starter applique kit. This book was most helpful. Liuxin Newman taught me that once you have folded the seam allowance in- you do not need to keep it that way. By pulling a little bit on the seam allowance with the tip of your needle you can sculpt the edge to produce a nicely rounded shape. I still did not know how to fit the applique piece to the background though. From experience I know that one might be able to fit the applique in the lines drawn on the background where you begin to applique- but it shift as you go along. I wanted a mark on my applique piece so that I can see what must be folded in- I did not just want to eyeball it. Here is a lot of valuable info- perhaps if I am a bit more experienced I will be able to apply more of her suggestions.

I have admired Sandra Leichner's quilt Tea with Miss D and when I saw her book I wanted to get hold of it. At first I was a bit dissapointed. I think her editors took out a lot of vital information from the book. (She said no; they want the emphasis on the embroidery.) For instance she list thick table cloth type of plastic in her supplies- but do not explain how to use it. Then I found her blog. On her blog she describe many things in detail- even the make of the fabrics she is using, the needle she prefer and background fabrics. This was what I was looking for. I also realize how I could enhance and individualize my applique blocks.

I have only completed the first block. The flower at the bottom was my first attempt with her method and it does not look so good. I might remove and replace it later.

Some of the leaves also did not turn out so nice. The reason is the fullness of the seam allowance underneath and the difficulty to distribute the seam allowance evenly. With Sandra's help (I studied her blog till 2009) I have learned to use pins and section the seam. The first leaves was not so successful but I am getting better as I move along.

My center block still need some flowers. They have individual petals and I could not stand "preparing" them with starch over the template. I am working on block 2 now but will go back to the center block when I have completed this block as well. I think it will give me the practice I will need to get the dimpled petals right.

Two of the most useful tips I also read in Sandra's book. The one is to cut the seam allowance of the seam already worked away to make space for the seam allowance at the tip of a leave. The other good advice I got from her, but also from Jane Townswick is to cut petals and leaves (and any applique shape you can) so that most of the edges are on the bias. It is much easier to get a bias edge to behave than a straight or crosswise grain edge.

I found a new love in applique. At this stage I need to concentrate on every stitch but it creates a peacefulness and quietness in my soul. At the end of an applique session I feel whole and at peace with myself. As I gain more confidence and see that I am really in charge and the fabric is "listening" to me and behave on my instruction I know that this is something that I will keep on doing!

8 comments:

  1. Marié, je kleuren zijn prachtig,wat zijn het mooie blokken! En wat leuk dat je bezig bent met 'My Tweets'!
    Joke

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  2. I'm doing the same blocks and yours look lovely. Make the flowers as one piece instead of separate petals. There's no sense in making flowers more complicated than necessary.

    I'm not fond of most ways to do hand applique as they are time consuming and messy. I love Jeana Kimball's back basting technique and use it all the time. She has wonderful needles that glide through like butter.

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  3. I just love needle turn applique as you say its such a relaxing way of enjoying quilt making.
    A tip I love giving is use tiny stitches. I love to cut out my pieces seams a bit bigger and then cut it down to what I want as I turn under and stitch along. Then one does not get much unravelling. I still have to get to learn how to use lots of different prints in the applique pictures. But enjoy it and dont undo your work so that later when you are more accomplished you can look back and see where you have come from. Enjoy the journey.

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  4. Hi Marie, el is mal oor jou blok!! Kleure is so lewndig! sterkte met die res!!

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  5. Hi! Greetings from Finland! Your quilts are so fantastic! It's so nice to find other quilters all around the world! www.quiltworld2.blogspot.com
    Yours, Ulla

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  6. WOW, your work is totally GORGEOUS!!! You are so incredibly talented!
    XO
    Cindy

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  7. Wow! Dis fantasties mooi! Wel gedaan.

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  8. i am just starting the first block of my tweets and am a little worried about the top knots..I agree about the flower if it looks good,any tips for the top knots?

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