Friday, October 3, 2014

Meanwhile, Applique... and Dog Arias

Leaves Finished on Whig Rose Applique Block
I finished the last of the leaves on my Whig Rose block a few days ago.  This is my first needle turned applique project (the applique shapes for the Jingle BOM project had preturned edges, starched and pressed over heat resistant mylar templates).  As you may remember from this post, I was having trouble getting that curved edge of the leaves nice and smooth at first.  As usual, I'm learning new skills by reading a book -- in this case, I'm following the instructions in The Best Ever Applique Sampler by Becky Goldsmith and Linda Jenkins, a.k.a. Piece O'Cake Designs.  I contacted Becky Goldsmith via her web site and blog, and she was unbelievably generous and kind in helping me troubleshoot my Lumpy Leaf Dilemma.  You can read her wonderful suggestions on her blog here:  What helped me most was Becky's advice to work slowly and only worry about turning enough fabric for one stitch at a time on these tight outer curves.  I see a lot of improvement from that first leaf to the last leaf that I appliqued.

I'm still getting the hang of the whole vinyl overlay and pinning process.  With preturned edges, it was easy to use a lightbox with the pattern BENEATH my block to precisely position applique shapes and glue or pin them in place for stitching.  With needle turn applique, Piece O'Cake recommends tracing the pattern onto a clear vinyl overlay that you lay over your block and then carefully slide your shapes into position between the block fabric and the overlay, lining up the chalk lines on your applique shapes with the traced lines on your overlay, while using registration marks on the block fabric and overlay to keep everything straight and positioned properly.  I'm finding it difficult to do this as accurately as I would like it to be.  I get that, in nature, no two leaves are identical, but this is not a naturalistic applique design that I'm working on and for my purposes the goal is identical, perfectly symmetrical leaves and flowers. 

Evidence of Shape Shifting During Pinning
See how that one leaf shifted when I pinned it down and ended up touching the leaf below it?  If these leaves had preturned edges, that would have been much more obvious before I began stitching, but with the fabric allowance sticking out all the way around it was too late by the time I realized it.  My stitches are really tiny, which is good because you can't see them, but not so good if I have to pull them out with a seam ripper.  I'm not willing to risk accidentally cutting into the background fabric, so that leaf stays where it is.  What's next for this block?  The fussy-cut rosebuds that go around the center of the main flower!

Up Next: Rosebuds!
Another famous applique teacher and author has also gone out of her way to help me out.  Jeanne Sullivan, whose classes sell out faster than rock concerts, reached out to me in response to my post on the Applique Addicts Yahoo group.  I already had Jeanne's book, Simply Successful Applique, and she was kind enough to suggest that her prepared freezer paper template method would work well for these tiny shapes.  The difficulty I'm anticipating is in preserving the not-quite-round shape of the rosebuds without having them look lumpy and misshapen, like I tried to make them round and I just did a terrible job.  I also don't want the rosebuds to "shrink" when I turn them, but I can't let any of the off-white turning allowance show, either, because it would really stand out against the chocolate brown fabric to which these shapes will be applied.

This afternoon, Lars has a math tutor coming (don't ask) while Anders will be at church for his Youth Orchestra rehearsal.  I'm planning to set up my supplies on the kitchen counter so I can experiment with rosebuds while I eavesdrop on the tutoring session.

Anyone who has read through this entire boring post deserves a treat, so here you go: I made a recording yesterday of my three-year-old male Rottweiler puppy singing his favorite song, Mozart's Laudate Dominum aria.  Enjoy:

I'm linking up with Can I Get a Whoop Whoop Friday at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, because I think those leaves are definitely whoop-worthy.  Like I tell my son with regards to math (which we're not talking about here, because this is a happy place), being smart doesn't mean you automatically know how to do everything the first time you try it.  Your brain gets smarter every time you struggle with something that is NOT easy, and you keep working on it and ask for help if you need it and refuse to give up until you've learned how to do it.  Everything is difficult before it becomes easy!

Have a wonderful weekend!


Barbara Sindlinger said...

OMG - your dog singing is great.

I appreciate you sharing the lessons you've learned in applique. I need to be better and slower and take smaller stitches, but I'm always in a hurry. I need to SLOW DOWN!

Anonymous said...

So inspired by your projects, patience and your dog singing!
I enjoy and learn from your postings, so Thank you!

Jenny K. Lyon said...

Those leaves are worth a whoop! I must confess that the Rottweiler upstaged you-adorable!!

Chris said...

Forget the dog singing--is that your voice we can hear? I'm impressed!!
And your applique is lovely and I think you deserve all kinds of praise for even attempting it.

Rebecca Grace said...

That's actually the dog singing... I'm the one howling! ;-). Thanks, Chris.

Lane said...

Everything is difficult before it is easy.

Words to live by, Rebecca. Hang in there. We were doing algebra over the phone this week while I was in Florida. Fortunately, my brain was fully activated when I tried it and I could explain easily. That's getting rare. Lane

Lara B. said...

Rebecca, You do beautiful applique! Your Rotty has a soulful voice! I laughed so hard! He actually repeated the melody. :)