Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Machine Applique

Generally speaking, when I applique, I stitch it by hand. Recently I have done both needle-turned applique as well as a method I learned in Karen Kay Buckley's class that uses starch and heat-resistent plastic templates. Both of these work well. But I have a project that has over a hundred appliques, of all different (rather randomly cut) sizes. I didn't really want to embark on stitching them either method. And my satin-stitch applique is rather rough looking. I spent some time researching machine applique, and found something interesting. I modified the technique slightly. Here it is.

You have to have this product called RinsAway. It is a water soluable stabilizer. But it's not like most of the others out there. This appears like a paper when dry, with some degree of integrity, and when soaked, it completely disappears. I ordered mine from Joann's. The local store did not have it in stock.

From the RinsAway, I cut two pieces that were roughly the same size. Take a water soluable (cheap) glue stick, the kind the kids use is just fine, and glue the two sheets together. The methods for this applique I found on the internet only used one thickness of RinsAway, but when I tried to work with it, using 2 layers is MUCH easier. When it is dry, cut the shape that you want your applique to be. My shapes are all random, and are intended to look like pieces of sea glass.

Next, with the glue stick, glue the RinsAway template to the backside of the fabric. Cut out the fabric around the shape, leaving no more than 1/4". Next, rub the glue stick on the edges of the shape and smooth the fabric around to the backside, as shown next.

Next, I glued the pieces where I wanted them on my quilt. Now you are ready to stitch. Not having pins all over the quilt is handy.

I used a narrow and relatively short zig-zag stitch. I also have a Madiera Monolon (clear) thread on the top and a neutral colored bobbin. The Madiera thread has come highly recommended as a low-sheen clear thread. I had always been a fan of Superior's Monopoly thread, but it's not being stocked routinely by them. I haven't been able to get a spool of it in nearly 6 months. Clear thread is a bit of a pain to work with, but in the end, it's worth it because the stitching does not show.

OK, it does show if you are 2 inches from the stitching, but seriously, once this is quilted and you are a few feet further away, it will be completely blind. There are show quilts that I know are machine appliqued that are nearly impossible to see the stitching on.

The next step is to soak the quilt in cold water for 20 minutes or so. If you are using colors that may bleed, you may want to prewash everything first, or even do what I did here (attach color catchers to the reds before soaking). After soaking, allow the quilt to dry flat. I wanted to remove the RinsAway before I quilted the piece, but it is completely plausible to quilt the top first, and then soak it to remove the RinsAway. In the end, the appliques are as soft as if they were needle turned!
Now I am off to finish the design for the quilting. I'd love to get it onto the frame later this week and hopefully quilt it before Sophie is out of preschool at the end of the month (and before I have disruptions in my basement from plumbers or electricians needing to work!).


Denise said...

Have you seen the method that Kim Diehl uses to machine applique? Her method is almost invisible and sounds very similar to the one you used.

Tami @ Lemon Tree Tales said...

This is such a great way to do applique'! Thanks for sharing. I've made small circles using Karen Kay Buckley's starch/template method too. But this looks like such a great way to make lots of different shapes.