I got to thinking about appliqué yesterday. I had avoided doing an appliqué block for the Moda BlockHeads project, thinking I needed to "gear up" for appliqué. I made a pieced block instead. I was a wimp. Can't you hear me whining? "Applique is too haaaaard".
I have had the kit shown in the photo above for a couple of years. It is so darn cute, but involves appliquéd stars and basket handles as you can see. It has been a nice decoration/eye candy on my book shelf since I bought it. Time to change that.
To "gear up" for doing appliqué, I have been watching YouTube videos. Honestly, you can learn anything on YouTube. First I watched Kimberly from Fatquartershop make Orange Peel appliqués with a product called Heat and Bond (another one of those mysterious interfacings). Then I watched Edyta Sitar and Kimberly make some super cute umbrella appliqué blocks. I went to JoAnns and bought myself some Heat and Bond, then went home and watched more YouTube videos on how to do appliqué on my new Bernina 740. The best Bernina videos are by Heirloom Creations. I cannot recommend them highly enough. I learned about what foot to use, what needle position to use and a whole slew of other tips on how to make the most of my gazillion dollar machine.
I won't lie, there is a lot to doing appliqué. A lot. I had to make a plastic template for my star shapes. I had to get out my light box and trace my shapes on the Heat and Bond. I had scissors for paper, scissors for big shapes, scissors for small shapes. I had to find a pencil for Heaven's sake.
This is my pattern instructions on the light box. You can't see it, but there is a circular shape for the basket handles that I am tracing onto the Heat and Bond. I really liked the Heat and Bond by the way. It is similar to Steam a Seam 2 I think. It worked really great. Lots of waste though, because you end up cutting away that whole center of the oval as well as the center of the star!
The Heirloom Creations video was so helpful. I learned to move my needle position over to the far right, and therefore was able to use the "toe" of my presser foot as a guide to do the blanket stitch! Go ahead and enlarge that star photo. Those stitches are great!
Heirloom Creations also showed me where to find the proper blanket stitch on my machine. I used number 1329, which gave me perfect results. I swear I would not have even known the machine had that stitch except for the video.
I did a star with good results. I did the basket handle oval with good results. This Bernina 740 is such a dream to sew on.
So, my final thoughts on appliqué is that it IS a huge production. These two blocks took me the better part of a day. But if you have the right materials and a sewing machine that does a good stitch, you can achieve really good results and even have fun while you are at it.
I am working on some ideas as to how to streamline this process. I am thinking I should paper piece all my half square triangles in advance. Then, get all the appliqué stars and handles prepped and ready to sew. I can do the same color appliqués all in one go (so I don't have to change out the thread in the machine too much). Then assemble the basket blocks. If you break a job into smaller tasks, it doesn't seem so formidable. And you know what? With all this rigamarole involved in doing machine appliqué, I'd prefer it any day to fussing with hand appliqué!!! But that's just me.