New Orleans House Project

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Playing with Bias Stems

I have been working on a folk-art style border for the Origami bow-tie quilt I shared back in May.  I want to finish this quilt sometime this year, so I'm fusing the applique shapes and finishing the raw edges with a machine blanket stitch.
One of my LQS staffers recommended SoftFuse for the applique shapes.  It seems to adhere well and is very soft and flexible - more so than other fusible products I have used.  I have only blanket stitched the heart in the center of the vase, but the fusible provided stability for the stitching and didn't gum up the sewing machine needle.

There are a number of stems included in the applique border.  I wasn't sure how I wanted to proceed with them, as I'm still rather a novice at appliqueing stems.  First I tried the method I learned for hand applique:  applique press bars.  I cut a stem wider than needed, folded the wrong sides together and sewed a 1/8" seam.  Then I used the 3/8" press bar to press the seam to the back side of the stem.  When you use lots of starch, this creates a nice crisp edge for hand stitching.
Bias press bar (top) & back side of folded and stitched bias stem
Unfortunately, I thought the finished stem was a little too thick, especially compared to the other applique shapes that were just one layer.  

Next I tried fabric glue.  The glue held the fabrics together adequately.  There was no additional stability to support the stitches, but it didn't seem to be a problem.

I also wanted to try narrow, paper backed fusing tape made specifically for applique.  Apparently Clover makes this type of tape specifically to use with their bias tape makers.  I only had time for a quick run to my nearby Hancock fabrics, and of course they didn't have any of the Clover product.  I did find this wash away 1/4" Wonder Tape.  It doesn't need heat to fuse it in place - it's more like a double-sided adhesive tape.

Here's the Wonder Tape applied to the wrong side of a 3/8" bias stem.  The paper backing is peeled off to the left.  I applied the stem to the background fabric and could continue re-positioning the stem until I had it curved just the way I wanted.  No need to worry about glue residue getting on the background fabric!

The Wonder Tape provided good fabric adherence.  It also added a little stability, but since it's not as wide as the bias stem, it didn't really improve the quality of the stitching.  Still, I think the machine blanket stitch looks just fine.  I didn't photograph the practice curve, but the Wonder Tape worked well at holding curves in place and easing out the bias.

Now I just need a chunk of time to get the bias stems stitched in place!

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