Thursday, May 10, 2012

My Alphabet Quilt Blog of the Month Part 3

Hello everyone,

I'm finally back with the start of the applique. Blogger has made many changes and I'm trying to get used to the new advantages--at least that is what they are supposed to be. I have some pics to post, but haven't been successful at posting them. I will include them as soon as I figure out what is going wrong.

All of the appliqué pieces are ready to stitch. I've gathered the tools I need, including an open toed appliqué foot, Mettler brown 0618, 60 weight thread (50 weight would also work) on the spool as well as in the bobbin, a seam ripper, and a brand spanking new Microtex Sharp size 80/12 needle. Two other items, not shown and optional, but very worthwhile are a self-threading needle and a Bendable Bright Light. I've also taken the time to clean and oil my machine.

I did some practicing on some fused scraps to determine my stitch length and width and that my tension was correct. I will be stitching with a blanket stitch. On my Bernina the settings I used are a little over 2 for the width and also for the length. This creates a stitch approximately 1/8" wide and 1/8" long. Engage your needle down position if available. I did shorten my stitch width and length when the pieces were especially small, for example the bangs on the girl in letter 'A'.

OK—we are ready to start the appliqué on the first four blocks. I have a few hints for you. Blanket stitched fusible appliqué does not usually need a stabilizer, because the fusible web basically becomes a stabilizer. But, if you are having trouble with the stitch puckering, try using spray-on starch to help stiffen the fabric. I learned this method from Sue Nickels, an incredible appliqué artist and author. Before you bond your shapes to the background, spray starch the background fabric and iron until dry. Apply several coats until the background is very stiff. Works great!!

I started stitching on the ‘A’ block. I began stitching around the letter ‘a’starting and stopping on either side of the brush handle and brush. I left a good amount of thread and kept it out of the way while stitching. I also left a good length of thread at the end. By pulling the bobbin thread on the back of the block, I can see the loop that is created by the top thread and I can pull the top thread to the back and pop the loose threads into a regular needle or a self-threading needle. Then I can slide the needle under several stitches and clip. The back looks much neater and there is no chance for renegade threads to be seen from the front.

Because of so many pieces to applique on these blocks and therefore so much stopping and starting, I am going to work on 2-4 blocks at a time. That way, I can applique a few pieces on each block keeping the beginning threads pulled away from the stitching and then take the time to hide all of the threads. I think that it will save a bunch of time. Also, the 'B' block will need to have some stabilizer added before the bubbles are stitched. I will address that issue soon.

The order in which I will appliqué the first four blocks is as follows (refer to the actual pages in the book):

Letter a (don't forget the inner oval as I did)
Paint brush handle
Paint brush tip
Paint brush middle
Hair and bangs
Right braid, left braid
Hair ties
Right face, left face
White collar
Bow ties
Bow Knot

Letter b
Hair right and left
Hat brim
Right face, left face
Outside edge of hand
Bubbles and bubble reflections

Letter c
Right face from bow to chin
Left face from camera to neck
Hair bow
Red camera lens
White lens center
Red camera button and flash support
White eye window
Purple flash bulb
Orange flash
Right hand fingers and arm
Left hand fingers and arm

Front of bus
Top lights
Bottom lights
Stop sign support
Stop sign
Mirror supports
Top of bus
Bottom of bus

Happy stitching!

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