Because there is so much to talk about this first month, I am going to break the information up into a few blogs. We have made available on our website the My Alphabet Quilt pattern and book and two different kits to get you started. The first kit is our Skintones Kit. It includes 4 different mottled fabrics for the faces and hands. These will be the exact fabrics that I will be using, in fact, I accidentally used the wrong side of the fleshtone fabric for my artist's face--ooops, but it turned out fine and it gave me another choice. The second kit is the background/border kit which includes the white-on-white for the block backgrounds and borders, as well as the turquoise and the red. The fabrics may change but I will try to stay true to the colors. For more information on the kits and patterns, click here. There are also links on that page to the notions and tools that I will refer to.
Pre-washing your fabric is a personal choice. We hardly ever pre-wash because we start projects at work and don't take the time. I am not pre-washing my fabric and I realize that the fabrics could possibly run. I will use Shout Color Catchers when I wash the quilt and not allow the quilt to soak.
Cut placement sheets and pattern sheets apart. Set placement sheets aside for now. There are many fusible products on the market. This project requires that you have a least one side covered in paper that you can trace on. The two that I use are Wonder Under and Steam-a-Seam 2 Lite. I like them both, although SaS 2 Lite creates a better bond because there is more fusible that comes in contact with the fabric. Whatever fusible product you use, be sure to read and follow the directions on the package.
Tracing the pattern pieces:
Place your fusible product over your pattern sheet with the paper side up. Leave at least 1/4" between pattern pieces. Using a Sewline Pencil in black, I trace all of the pieces from the pattern sheets onto my fusible web. I cut them out roughly--DO NOT CUT ON PENCIL LINE, but at least 1/8" away from it. I place them in a repurposed spiral notebook that I have marked with the alphabet letters, one set of pattern pieces per page.
If you want a softer feel for your appliqué blocks, trim out the inside of your fusible pattern pieces, about 1/8" inside of penciled line. I especially recommend this on any pieces that have many layers such as C is for Camera. Save these larger cutout pieces to trace smaller patterns, therefore saving on the amount of fusible that you will be needing. Be especially careful when trimming out the letters. Leave a bridge to connect the inner cutout pieces in letters such as "a and b" (see letter b below).
Some light fabrics placed over dark fabrics (such as the letter "m" where the dark fabric might show through the light skin) would benefit from lining the light fabric. To line the light fabric, iron a piece of fusible web to the wrong side of the light fabric, peel the paper off and iron to a separate piece of white fabric. Then treat this bonded fabric as one fabric. I will let you know which pieces I have lined.
Press fusible pattern pieces to fabric:
Place the pattern piece on the wrong side of your chosen fabric and press according to the fusible web instructions. Let cool. Now, cut out the pattern pieces on the pencil line. I find the Fiskar's Curved Scissor allows me to cut smoothly and accurately and can flip over to cut inside or outside curves.
Pattern Placement and Details:
This is where the Applique Presser Sheet (APS) pays for itself! Place the Letter Placement Sheet on an ironing board. Place the APS over it. Read the instructions directly below the block placement sheet for specific instructions from step 5 (refer back to the main Instruction Sheet for any steps not listed). Remove the paper backing from the fused pattern pieces. Place them in numerical oder on the APS using the placement sheet as your guide. Press as you go and the pieces will stick to the APS. When all pieces are placed, press again. Let cool. (Hmmm-I just noticed that I lost a bow for her braid-back to the ironing board).
Mark the detail lines and eye dots with a Sewline pencil in a color that contrasts with the fabric. Peel the applique away from the APS. Place the entire piece on your background rectangle and press into place.
If you don't have an APS, lay your background fabric over the placement sheet and center it. Place your applique pieces in order on the background and press into place. A light box might be helpful for placement, but do not press your pieces on it. Mark the detail lines and eye dots as described above.
Next up, Part 2b, Applique
If you have any questions as we go along please add a comment to the end of the blog entry or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Back at you soon,