Hand applique: Friend or Foe?

Thursday, October 18, 2012



There's no more messing around. No more playing games. No more laughs and giggles.

Ok. I lie. There was still a lot of laughing...mostly at everyone slipping out curse words while learning a few new techniques. This weeks quilting class was seriously no joke.

We didn't even turn on our machines. Instead we fiddled around with needles and thread. Yup. Real life hand sewing. What have I gotten myself into?

First things first, we learned to threading a needle. How hard can it be, right? Just stick the end of the thread through the eye of the needle and you're done. Well, it should be that simple, anyway. But, for hand sewing we needed these super small, super thin needles specifically for applique. I think they were number 10. Anyway, we all used those plastic or metal needle threaders. All of them broke. We tried a table-top threader that was a waste of money and time...it didn't work. One student had a super-duper threader that got us through the night, thankfully.

Now that the needles were threaded, we needed to tie off the end. Twist it over your fingers and pull through the middle? Oh, I think not. Or should it be "knot"? Get it? Anyway, quilters don't mess around with that little knot because it's not cool enough or complicated enough or, most likely, permanent enough. I guess those slip through the fabric. Who knew? So, instead we learned a quilter's knot. It's a series of pinching and wrapping thread around the needle and pulling through and hoping for the best. Admittedly so, it's pretty cool...like magic.

Finally, we got our hands on some fabric, but just scraps because our instructor must have known how bad we'd all be at it and didn't want us to waste our good fabrics. We used the freezer paper technique. It's simple enough in concept, but being as I haven't touched a needle and thread since that last cross-stitch project I started (and never finished), I found myself fumbling around pulling my thread out of the needle accidentally, wearing a thimble on the wrong finger, and endlessly poking myself. It's gotta be some small form of torture, I'm convinced.

There are tons of tips, tricks, shortcuts, and sneaky ways of getting this done without all the tedious nipping, tucking, pinching, poking, and tugging, but it's not truly applique and you'll end up with a different looking quilt.

All six students struggled with the idea of hand applique. Is it worth all the aggravation? Does it get easier? Would anyone really be able to tell if I just glued these suckers on? But, our instructor insisted that it was her favorite part of quilting and that once we got the hang of it, we'd really start to like it. So, for the sake of this blog and to really give this quilt my all, I promised her I'd hand applique all of the leaves. All. Twelve. Leaves.

Our block with hand applique leaves.
In the example quilt, there's a mini nine-patch block within a nine-patch block. In each of the corners, there's three hand-applique leaves. So, that's like two blocks sewn into one with applique added to the party.

Needless to say, I'll be busy this weekend.

**Are these posts piquing your interest in quilting? We are excited to announce we will be hosting our very first Quilting Class this January. Classes will take place on Saturday's in January from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Space is incredibly limited (to six spaces only) so if you are interested, please call us ASAP!**


Week One: Beginner Quilting

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