Saturday, July 18, 2015

Succulent Garden, Part 2

I apologize for the delay in getting this blog post up. The McIntosh girls have all been inflicted with the most heinous cold in recent memory. This has led to a dramatic decrease in productivity and a general moodiness amongst the ladies that may cause the hubster to revolt and retreat. We did manage to go out for a breakfast/movie date this morning without complaining or bloodshed; so things may be looking up.

Also, this:

I totally stole this from @andiejohnsonsews, my new IG BFF

I believe we left off with our applique pieces cut out, waiting with baited breath to find out how we were going to attach them. No? Maybe that was just me.

I want to point out that this is just my way of doing raw edge applique. It's definitely NOT the only way. It's probably NOT the "right" way. It just the way I like to do it so that I end up with the look I want. If it's not for you, that's totally OK. I want you to create something that YOU love.

Take you applique pieces, remove your markings per manufacturer's instructions and set aside. Now choose a background. It could be a piece of solid fabric or some patchwork...whatever you choose. I took a half yard of some crazy soft, light blue shot cotton, cut it into fat quarters, placed some cotton batting in the middle, smoothed it out and pin basted just around the edges.

"Just around the edges?!?", you say? Yes. Because I plan to essentially free motion quilt my pieces directly to the quilt sandwich, I won't pin the center until my applique pieces are in place. Alternately, you could quilt the entire base prior to attaching the applique pieces.  If so, use whatever basting method you prefer and quilt away. I chose this method when I want to be sure that my base quilting pattern lines up exactly on all sides of the applique.
like on this quilt

Now, lay out your applique pieces to your pinned quilt sandwich. Feel free to fiddle with it until it sits the way you like it. Don't be scared to pull all the pieces off and try again. This is part of the fun. It's like doing a puzzle with beautiful fabric. It's ok to pet your fabric. You'll have to make some things overlap more than others (specifically, the Bowl 2 Bottom piece is a tad bit longer than it needs to be....just scootch it further under Bowl 1 Bottom and it will be fine).


Don't be afraid to trim pieces here and there if they're not lining up the way you want. I didn't like the bottom line of my Cactus 3 so I trimmed it. Also, a small corner of Cactus 5 was peeking out from under my Soil piece, so it got snipped.



Once your pieces are sitting where you want them you can start gluing them down. I used a Sew Line glue pen this time, but I also use regular craft glue sticks and sometimes even Elmer's school glue. It just depends on what I have handy. Use small amounts of glue. I don't plan on washing my mini, so any glue clumps may be seen in the finished work.

I like to fold pieces back and glue either the piece itself or the quilt top. It doesn't really matter. Play with it and find what works for you. Don't be afraid to pull of a glued on piece and reposition. As long as you are using small amounts of glue, nothing in this step is permanent.

After you have your pieces glue tacked into place, place a pin in some of the larger pieces to baste the center of the quilt.


Now we get to start the quilting/applique attachment. Attach your darning (or free motion) foot to your machine. Position your quilt under the needle and bring the bobbin thread to the front. I like to start in a position where I'm worried about shifting so that I know it gets secured first.



This is probably a good time to talk about why I don't use fusible web to secure my applique pieces. First, I don't like the stiffness of the fusible web. Unfused fabric, even when glue tacked into place, will shift ever so slightly while it's being stitched down. This create puckers and bubbles and texture that is glorious in the finished quilt. I just love it. Second, the stiffness of the fused fabric can become very difficult to stitch through when you're sewing several layers of fabric together. Almost all of my applique designs require layering 3 or more fabrics over one another to create an image. My craft store sewing machine just doesn't have the heft to get through all that fusible web and the quilt sandwich too.

Sherlock's layers would have been near impossible if fused
Now, simply stitch around the edge of each piece to secure it in place. Here I secured all the pieces with a neutral thread and went back and added detail quilting in contrasting thread. In my original Succulent Garden quilt, I secured each piece in the contrasting thread and added the detail as I went.



Don't be scared to stitch over a line more than once. The edge quilting should look like a sketch. Going over a line multiple times thickens the line and makes it easier to see. Also, don't rip out lines that are slightly wonky or that run off the edge of the applique piece. Life is too short to rip out quilting. Simply add another line or four of stitching and pretend that it was intentional.

Take the line edging the bottom of the soil out to the top corner of the bowl top to create the rim.

I made my detail quilting in the cactus pieces jagged to invoke spikes and thorns. Experiment and find something that works for you.



After all the applique pieces are secured, fill in the background quilting. I chose to use a dense, free form matchstick quilting. This gives the background a solid feel which allows the puffiness of the center applique quilting to really stand out. I did not use a walking foot for this step. I like the organic waviness the matchstick quilting has when done free motion.


Once your quilting is done, trim or bury all thread ends, square up the quilt, bind and enjoy.  Oh, and don't forget to take pictures and tag them with #52Qsucculentquilt so that I can ohhh and ahhh over your fabulous creation.


I really love this technique for working on mini quilts. It allows me to go from idea to completed project in as little as a day. However, there are some drawbacks to this technique. Notably, that your applique quilting will be seen on the back of the quilt.

Baby got back!
 For a quilt that hangs against the wall it isn't really a big deal. If you were to use this technique on a larger quilt you would have to decide whether or not you could live with a backside that isn't uniform. Also, the dense quilting used to create the detail on the applique pieces could render your quilt stiff in those areas. Just something to think about.

So that's it. That's the way I create stuff. It's messy, it's imperfect, it's 'fly by the seat of my pants', and it's totally me. Give it a shot and see if you like it. I promise I won't be upset if you don't. If you decide to give this a go and something isn't working for you, shoot me a message over on my personal IG @jrshules. I'll do my best to help you through it. You could also change it up and do it in a completely different way that works for you. The thing that matters to me is that you have fun creating something that you love.


Post by Raeann - Week #28: 

Raeann is a wife, mom, nerd, nurse, and obsessive creator from Fort Worth TX. She loves reading, wearing glasses, and Nathan Fillion, hates mosquitoes and waiting for Sherlock to return, and is hopelessly addicted to social media. Follow along on Instagram at @jrshules.

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