Buzzings from a quilter who bumbles her way through life!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Tools for Applique

I love working on applique. My idea of a pleasant evening is sitting on the couch, doing handwork, and  watching an old movie. (a Christmas movie is best, like "Miracle on 34th Street" or "Christmas in Connecticut").
If you find applique difficult but you enjoy handwork in general, you might be using the wrong tools. The needle you use makes a big difference. There is a major difference in cheap and expensive needles. It is in the way they are manufactured. Cheap needles are thin wires cut into lengths and then tapered at one end. They are straight down the sides until you come to that taper. Expensive needles are tapered from eye to tip. This makes them easier to push into the fabric. You have less resistance while sewing.

Thread is another important factor in making applique easier. I use #100 weight silk thread. It is strong, but so fine it nestles in among the fibers of the fabric and is less noticeable. Sometimes I use a conditioner on my thread, like bees wax, to keep it from tangling. I will mention here in case you don't already know, that you should knot the end you cut from the spool. When you do that, you pull the thread through the fabric in the direction the thread was spun. You will have less wear and tear on the thread this way. If you lick the end of the thread, it can cause the thread to swell, making it harder to put through the eye of the needle. (I have to admit here that I do it anyway and then flatten the thread end by pulling it through my teeth to give a very flat surface to push through the eye.)

Stitches should be about 1/8" apart and taken through one thread of the fabric just at the edge or underneath it. The goal is to hide the stitches and secure the top layer as well as if you had sewn it on the machine. If arthritis or  other constraints keep you from making nice stitches, you might want to explore machine applique. Of course, if the quilt you are making is for a grandchild or other family member, they probably will be thrilled to have something made by you and they won't mind the stitches showing. Have fun with it and accept your less than perfect work! You don't have to enter it in a show to be scrutinized. Enjoy the process and you will improve!

1 comment:

  1. That is interesting about the direction of the fibers of the thread. I never thought of that. And you need to mention those little felty pads for your finger you gave me in place of a thimble. That was a finger tip saver for me. I forgot to look for them the other day but I want to keep those in my tools. Good blog!


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