Monday, March 4, 2013

Dresden Plates Appliqued to Background Squares, and Scratchy Sequins (Not!)

Appliqueing Dresden Plates with Modified Machine Blanket Stitch
Yesterday after church, in between laundry, packing book bags for school, and cleaning up the kitchen, I managed to slip away to my sewing room for about an hour to work on the Dresden Plate quilt.  I carefully cut my 13 1/2" chevron print background squares, lining my ruler up precisely along the zigzag points before each cut.  I folded my squares diagonally to create a plus-sign placement fold, positioned one of the Dresden plates in the center of the square, and pinned it in place. 

Positioned and Pinned, Ready to Sew

Then I proceeded to applique the first plate to the first background block, using my machine's built-in blanket stitch.  Now, there are a lot of ways I could have done this, most of them easier than what I'm doing (naturally).  I could have hand appliqued, or machine appliqued with invisible monofilament thread, or topstiched along the folded edges of the plates, or used the longer, narrower machine blanket stitch that was programmed into my machine, but I wanted the applique stitch at the plate edges to look just like the machine embroidered blanket stitches of the appliqued flowers in the centers of my plates. 

Machine-Embroidered Applique with Blanket Stitch
So, after a bit of trial-and-error fiddling on scrap fabric, I shortened the double blanket stitch length to 1.5 and increased the stitch width to 4.8 (and saved the altered stitch in my Personal Program so I wouldn't have to make these adjustments again each time I sat down to sew).  I used an embroidery needle, rayon embroidery thread in the needle, embroidery bobbin thread in the bobbin, and reduced my upper tension to 2.50 to ensure that no bobbin thread would peek through on the right side of my project.  I'm using Open Embroidery foot #20D, with Dual Feed engaged on my Bernina 750 QE.  To prevent puckering/tunneling with this extra-wide blanket stitch, I slipped scraps of tearaway embroidery stabilizer under the background fabric as I was stitching. 

Using Scraps of Tearaway Stabilizer to Support Wide Blanket Stitches

I also pulled my bobbin thread up at the beginning of stitching, and brought the thread tails to the back with a hand needle afterwards to knot them off.

I got another hour or so of sewing in again today, and now I have four plates appliqued to the background squares and the other four plates pinned in place, ready to go.  I have mixed feelings about how this is going.  First of all, I quickly discovered that it's VERY difficult to get outside corners to look nice with such a wide machine blanket stitch.  I understand how you're supposed to pivot at the points when you do machine applique with a blanket stitch, it's just next-to-impossible to do it when the sideways swing is SO wide, and they are SO close together.  Now I really appreciate the simple perfection of that machine embroidered applique, with every stitch angled to perfection at the inside and outside corners.

Perfect Inside and Outside Blanket-Stitched Corners
My Yucky Blanket-Mess Corners
 See?  Yuck!  I'm not even going to show you a close up of the corners where I tried to pivot every stitch the way the embroidered corners were done, because those were disastrously ugly. 

So, now I'm thinking maybe it would have been better to do an invisible blind hem stitch applique at the plate edges rather than this oversized, Look-At-Me-and-My-Ugly-Corners blanket stitch?  Too late now -- the Princess's birthday is in six days and I don't have time to rip out all these stitches and redo them.

See?  Needs More Black
The other thing nagging in the back of my head is that there isn't enough black in this block to tie in with the black and white striped sashing that I've planned.  So I was playing with one of the finished blocks, putting little black sequins on all of the points. 

Black Sequins: Adorable, But Scratchy

Better, right?  Except that I don't have enough black sequins to adorn every point on all eight plates and, more importantly, this is supposed to be a SNUGGLY quilt, and the sequins would make it SCRATCHY.  I do like how the black sequins look, though -- and covering up the ugly outer corner stitches is an added bonus.  Maybe I can get some of those flat sequins, the paillettes?  Or littl black pom poms to stich on the points; that would be adorable, don't you think?  I think I'll browse a bit at M and J Trimming while I watch TV with Bernie, and see what non-scratchy black decorations they might have.

You know, I think my sister has her dates mixed up.  I'm sure my niece was born on MAY 10th, not March -- surely I have two more months to finish this?  ;-)


Ivory Spring said...

Love love love love this, Rebecca! I love what you did with the center the best.

Thanks for your sweet words on my feather quilting. :) You made my day!

Jenny K. Lyon said...

I love the sequins-and the whole dog gone quilt!