Thursday, August 1, 2013

Of Itty-Bitty Applique Leaves

Ta-Da: Tiny Pomegranate Leaves!
 Jubilation!  I figured out how to successfully turn the edges of the tiny leaves on my pomegranates, and it wasn't as bad as I had made it out to be in my mind.  I used the same starch and press method I've been using throughout this Jingle BOM project, but I switched to a mini iron and a tinier turning allowance.  In case anyone else out there is struggling with this, here's what worked for me.

In the above photo, you can see how small this leaf is supposed to be, and how small I'm making my turn under allowance.  (You can also see that I chose very ugly nailpolish for my last manicure.  Mardi Gras, anyone?)  My template is out of that heat resistant plastic stuff, and the penny is just there as a size reference.  The only thing that makes the tiny leaves more difficult than the larger leaves is that you can barely hold onto them while you're starching the edges into position and the template wants to scoot around on the tiny scrap of fabric.  I should mention that I made sure each leaf was cut with bias edges along those concave curved edges.  So, first I fold those pointy ends to the center of the leaf, apply starch solution with a damp stencil brush, and press with a mini iron until dry, one end at a time.  (I found that the mini iron was much easier to work with for such tiny pieces).

Both Pointy Ends Starched and Pressed Towards the Center
Once the ends were pressed in, the template was held in position in the center of the fabric a bit better and did less sliding around.  Next, one end at a time, I wetted the edges on either side of those points with starch, used the tips of my fingernails to miter in a sharp, pointy corner, and then dried that into place with the mini iron.

Both Pointy Corners Mitered and Starched
Now that template wasn't going anywhere without my permission!  With the template "locked" into position at both ends, it was pretty easy to coax those convex curves into position.  Again, I used a damp brush to apply the starch (if you are too heavy handed, the corners get re-wet and start coming apart) and then I used the tips of my ugly purple sparkle nails to drag the fabric into position over the edge of the template, once side at a time, and pounced on it with the mini iron to dry it in that position.

First Curve Finished...
All Edges Turned!
Now you can see why that tiny turning allowance is so important.  When my turn under allowance was bigger, the fabric edges would be "glued" together with starch solution and not only did this create a big bump on the back of the leaf, but it would also make it very difficult to remove the plastic template.  In the above photo I have a couple of pleats where my curves aren't perfectly smooth, so I wetted them slightly with my damp starch brush and smoothed them out by just running the edge of the leaf against the bottom of the hot iron.  Once I was satisfied with the leaf, I allowed it to cool completely, gingerly opened it up to pull out the template, and then I eased the edges back into place and gave it a final press from the back side with my mini iron.

Isn't it adorable?  I suppose it's putsy, but it works.  When you get to the end and you have this tiny little leaf smiling up at you (yes, it's smiling) it's all worth it.

Block In Progress, With Mini Leaves.  Bliss!
I got five of the eight leaves needed for this block prepped between loads of laundry yesterday afternoon, and found time to stitch the first two mini leaves into position last night.  I'm really pleased with how they turned out, and I'm glad I stuck with it until I was happy with my results.  This block should be finished within the next day or two, and then I'll be moving right along to the next one!


Anonymous said...

Your tiny pomegranate leaves are perfect! Nice job! Is there any way I can send you a picture of what the back of my sample looks like? I'll have to check more closely to see how the seam allowance lays. ~~ Dar

Rebecca Grace said...

Thanks, Dar! Yes, I'd love to see your sample! Email the photo to me at: rdrumpf (at) gmail.

Janet G said...

Oh my, you are so patient to make these tiny applique pieces so perfectly! I know it must give you a real sense of accomplishment when it is finished so well. Great job. I enjoy your blog postings so much. Wish you had more related to machine embroidery as that is my real passion, but I love anything related to fabric and thread (or string as my friend's husband calls it). Janet G in Sun City, TX

Jenny k Lyon said...

Theyre so darn cute! those leaves look perfect to me. What a beautiful piece this will be!

Rebecca Grace said...

Thanks, Janet! Actually, I DO have some more machine embroidery planned... a ME applique and monogram that I need to get done this weekend, and then a wall quilt with machine embroidery that I promised to do for the school library. I haven't started it yet, but I need to have it done by the end of August because the kids go back on the 26th. I'll be posting about those projects throughout the month, so stay tuned. :-)

katiemedarlin said...

I got tired of the iron sort of melting my manicure, so I've been using a wooden skewer to hold down the template while I press. Has been working great. Plus, it's a pretty nifty spare 'hand'!