Monday, September 8, 2014

Design Wall Monday: Back to the Whig Rose Applique

Needle Turn Applique In Progress
I finally got back to my needle turn applique practice block over the weekend.  After several unsatisfactory attempts to needle turn the stacked flower center circles and stitch them off the block, I finally adjusted the circle diameters slightly so that I could use my Perfect Circle templates: I ran a gathering stitch around the outer edge of the circles and then used the starch and press method to preturn the edges. 

Smooth Circles, but Uneven Petal Gaps
Once I had lovely preturned circles ready to go, I used Roxanne's Glue Baste It to position the circles on my block for hand stitching. 

Now, I'm pleased with how nice and smooth the circles are, but it is obvious that something went awry when I stitched the stacked petals to my quilt block earlier.  See how there is more of a gap between petal and stem in some places than in others?  I couldn't tell that happened until I had the center circles in place, and by then it was too late to move the petals.  Either I turned under a little too much of the dark brown print on some of those petals, or I didn't get them positioned accurately enough.  This could be an issue with the chalk pencil I'm using to mark the turning line on my applique shapes, because the chalk does seem to smudge as I'm handling the applique for hand stitching and it is sometimes unclear just where edge of the line is.  Or the inaccuracy could be happening when I'm positioning the applique shapes and pinning them to the background fabric.  I must say, I'm not enjoying fiddling with the giant vinyl overlay and it seems to me that each time I lay that placement overlay back on the block, it's harder and harder to get the block to match up with the lines on the overlay.  With my earlier applique project, I preturned the edges of all of my shapes and then glue basted them in place with a light box instead of reaching under a sheet of vinyl, and I think that method might be more accurate for me.  Should I have lightly traced some of the major placement lines on my block background with a pencil? 

But this is a learning project, so on we go!  I will probably add something to the design to hide those oopses later.

Last night I finger pressed a few leaves and pinned them in place for stitching.  This block is my first attempt at needle turn applique and I knew that the tight outer curve on the small leaves would be more challenging than the softer curved edges on the large flower petals.  My first leaf came out kind of lumpy, as you can see in the photo:
Lumpy First Leaf
I suppose it isn't terrible for a first attempt.  My applique stitches are really tiny and close together, so it's not easy to take of an applique shape without risking a hole in the background fabric.  I can probably live with this leaf as long as the others come out better.  I think I had an issue with the chalk line smudging as I was working, and I also probably need to go slower around the curve and only turn enough of the fabric edge for one stitch at a time.  I'm going to try a few more leaves this way, but if they all come out looking like rocks I might have to preturn the edges of the rest of these leaves with templates.

Which wouldn't really be the end of the world.  One of the primary reasons I wanted to learn to turn the fabric edges under at the point of stitching the applique is that I thought it would make my projects more portable -- no more hours spent at the ironing board, fiddling with starch or sizing and pressing the raw fabric edges around my templates.  However, as you can see, I'm not exactly making speedy progress with this method, either.  With preturned shapes I was able to glue baste more shapes onto my block at a time and it was easier to make sure I always had something ready to hand stitch when I headed out the door.  With the method I'm using for this block, I can only really position one or two pieces at a time, and then I have to fiddle around with the vinyl overlay and the pins at home every time I need a new piece to stitch. 

Once I've figured out my leaves, I'll go back to the rosebuds that go in the center of the flower.  I do want them to have a little bit of dimension, so I'm going to try Jeanne Sullivan's Patch Back product using the instructions in her book Simply Successful Applique

Design Wall Today
Meanwhile, I think I'd like to start another pineapple log cabin block today, if I can manage to accomplish laundry and grocery shopping before the kids get home from school!  I'm linking up with Judy's blog for Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times, WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced, and WIPs On Wednesday at Esther's blog.


Kat Scribner said...

Lots of lovelies happening on your design wall. beautiful.

Jane in Cumbria said...

Your first needle-turned leaf looks very good for a first one! Just persevere, and practice, and it will get better. If you push those little pointed bits in with a pin and put your thumb over it very hard, they can sometimes be pushed into submission and stay rounded. It can also help using a wetted toothpick at first. I usually make the rounded shape a bit further with my needle before I stitch the small stitches around it. I love the colours you have used!

Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

love that block and it looks great to me!

Teresa in Music City said...

Your applique is beautifully done Rebecca! No one would ever know you are a newbie at it :) Keep up the great work!!!

Angie in SoCal said...

It's great for a first attempt. I like all your projects on the design wall. Thanks for sharing.

Jenny K. Lyon said...

Gosh I really don't see those imperfections! If I were to applique I would use the starch method also-seems so simple and accurate. Your block is lovely!

Carrie P. said...

I love using the perfect circle makers. YOur center looks fabulous.
When it comes to needle turn I prefer not to finger press. For me I like to turn under no more than will fit under my thumb. I think if you try doing that on the curves you will get the look you are wanting. Good luck.

Esther Aliu said...

First attempt? You're a natural! I think your stitches are really lovely and neat, which is so important and your shapes are good too. I just don't see those imperfections?

Beautiful block.

Pine Valley Quilts said...

Wonderful colors in your block. Your applique us really lovely.

deb @ frugal little bungalow said...

I love the colors / wouldn't notice a thing unless you mentioned it and still had a hard time finding anything wrong :)

The flowers in my garden are not perfect...each a wee bit different ..:)