Tuesday, September 18, 2012

How to Machine Applique on a Foundation

 The Cube Pattern

Why make this simple pattern?  By following the steps for making this small sample, you will learn all the essentials for making and using a pattern for turned edge, machine applique.  
  • Marking the pattern
  • Making a template
  • Pinning to a foundation
  • Turning curved and straight edges
  • Dealing with points
  • Stitching the pieces together
 Down load the photo of the pattern and in your photo editing software, enlarge the pattern as large so it will print as large as possible on an 8.5x 11 inch sheet of paper.  I use nylon netting for a foundation.  It is light-weight and thin, and it doesn't stretch much, so it makes an ideal foundation that can be left in.  

Things to note about the pattern:

  • The markings and what they mean—the edges with the green line will be turned under, and ironed.  The edges with the dotted lines will be left raw, and slipped under the turned edges.   The solid blue line is the cutting line, with NO SEAM ALLOWANCES included.
  • The image has two planes or layers.  Pieces 1-4 form the background, and pieces 5-9 form the foreground.  Most images you are likely to work with will also have a middle ground.  Generally, though there are always exceptions, the background is formed first, then the middle ground, and the finally foreground.  Often I make my background solid, even though middle and foreground elements will cover it.  That way I have the freedom to move elements around if I want to.

  • Construct elements in units.  Though it is not always possible, I try as much as possible to construct smaller units so they function as one piece.  For example, I think of  piece 5 & 6 as a unit because they form one side of the cube.  The left edges of both pieces are turned under.  I would cut out those two pieces, turn their appropriate edges and pin them together.  Then I would construct pieces 7 & 8, saving number 9 for the last, since units 5&6 and 7&8 tuck under number 9.   

  • Dealing With Sharp Points.   Piece #9 could be made by turning under all of it's edges, but then there would be two very sharp points to deal with...the point on the left and right hand sides of the shape.  By tucking the bottom edge of #9 under piece #5, and the right-hand side of piece 9 under the top edge of piece #7, it is unnecessary to deal with a very sharp points.  In a later post I'll describe how to handle sharp points if there is really no other option.

You can’t anticipate every issue as you plan your pattern, but generally if an adjoining pieces share a line, do those together.

    1. If the pattern is LARGE, I work with sections at a time, rather than trying to make a freezer paper template for the entire pattern.
    2. Trace the pattern on to the papery, non-waxy side of the freezer paper.
    3. Cut a piece of nylon netting larger than the pattern, then lay the freezer paper, waxy side down, over the netting.  Iron the edges of the freezer paper to the netting, about 2 or 3 inches away from the actual pattern.
    4. Use paper scissors to cut out piece number one.
    5. Iron the piece to the right side of the fabric.
    6. Cut around the pattern piece leaving a quarter inch seam allowance on the edges that have a dotted line. 
    7. Leave a scant quarter inch allowance on the edges with the green line, as these will be turned under.
    8. Leave an inch seam allowance on the outside edge of the pattern.
    9. Spray some spray starch or spray sizing into a shallow container (cottage cheese lids work well) and paint the starch along the edge to be turned. Allow a few seconds for the starch to soak in.
    10. Turn the piece face down, so the freezer paper in against the ironing board, and you are looking at the back of the fabric.
    11. Using your finger or a stylus to pull the edge back until it is even with the paper edge, then press until the fabric is dry.
    12. If there is a deep curve inward, clip the edges to within a thread or two of the edge of the paper.  This will help the edge lay flat.  The starch glues the edge under.
    13. If there is a pleat or a stubborn place on the seam allowance, rewet with starch and do that section again.
    14. Return the piece with the freezer paper template to the freezer paper template attached to the netting.  Fit it in place like a puzzle piece.  Lift the edge of the freezer paper template, and pin the piece to the netting. 
    15. Pick an adjoining piece, and repeat the process.  Cut out the next piece, iron it to the right-side of the fabric.  Cut around the piece leaving a seam allowance.  Press under the green-lined edge, and return the piece to the template. 

As you work, pin with several pins across the seam line.  Silk or Satin pins work well because they are short, and the heads are small, so they don’t get in the way as much as larger pins.

When a section is completed, and everything is pinned in place, critique the work.  Are there places where another bit of fabric, or fabric with greater contrast, or a different color might we effective.  Once you are satisfied, take the section to the sewing machine and stitch it using either invisible thread or matching thread.  A blind-hem stitch or small zig-zag works well.  If this is piece is going to adjoin others, do not sew right to the end of each seam, but stop about a half inch from the outer edges.

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