One of my life-long quilting goals has been to become accomplished at the art of appliqué. In my early years as a quilter, I did plenty of fused appliqué outlined with machine satin stitch, but the fusibles of 20+ years ago made for stiff and not very snuggly quilts. I also learned the basics of hand appliqué, but never practiced much.
Over the past 2 or 3 years, I've challenged myself to learn hand appliqué all over again. I'm starting to feel somewhat competent at it, but there's still lots of room for improvement. Besides perfecting the appliqué stitch, there are different techniques to learn for appliqué shape preparation, not to mention learning new ways to coordinate color and fabric styles.
Then there's the time requirement for all that hand-stitching. I do enjoy the stitching process, but setting aside time for it is always a struggle. With that in mind, I wondered if machine appliqué would be a way to create traditional-look appliqué in a more timely fashion.
Along came a BOM (Gathered Harvest) at my local quilt store, the Quilted Owl. I knew a quilt from Blackbird Designs would be a good project to attempt machine appliqué due to the relatively simple appliqué shapes.
The first block kit became available earlier this month. I'm using freezer paper and starch to create my appliqué shapes. So far, I'm just prepping the pieces - there are LOTS of leaves and berries still to prep! For stitching, I'll be using invisible thread and a very small zig-zag stitch. I've done a few practice pieces, and the look of the stitching is very much like hand appliqué!
At the same time, I'll be working on a quilt that's been in the UFO pile for far too long!
I started assembling these 3-D or Origami Bow-Tie blocks back in 2012, but they got set aside for some reason or other. The blocks are from an exchange that happened in 2005, so they've waited long enough!
Fast-forward to yesterday, when I finally started to attach the appliqué shapes to the border! I had prepped all the shapes in 2012, so now I just need to get everything in place and stitched. The border is from the cover of Quick Quilts from the Heart by Liz Porter and Marianne Fons.
The shapes have been applied using SoftFuse, which is softer and more flexible than the fusibles from days gone by. Instead of using the invisible thread technique, these shapes will be stitched using Aurifil 50 weight thread and a machine blanket stitch. It will take some time to stitch everything, but it's still faster than hand appliqué!