Monday, May 25, 2015

Applique Pop!

Make your appliqué designs POP! Fearlessly appliqué those beautiful, bold prints in your stash... and feel free to use white, sheer or lighter colored fabrics over dark and high contrast fabrics. YES, you can!

So what happens when your appliqué fabric is white and your background fabric is dark or rather brilliant? Yep. You get show-through. But see how pretty this white flower appliqué looks on this beautiful “Halle Rose” print by Lila Tueller for Riley Blake designs, pops right out there, doesn’t it?

In the previous post I made my wee model’s sister a dress from Lila Tueller’s Halle Rose print in a white and teal combination of prints. That was challenge enough, but for this one I wanted to use the bold teal colorway with the coordinating dark orchid print for this dress. So, how did I make my appliqués stand up and pay attention?

It's all in the stabilizer!

First of all, begin with pre-shrunk fabrics. Back your appliqué fabric with fusible webbing such as Steam a seam or Wonder Under 805 or whatever fusible web you like to use.

Get yourself a nice sturdy sheer cut-away FUSIBLE stabilizer. There are many versions of this product, sometimes called "No Show Mesh" or "Sheer Stitch" or something similar; I recommend it so much that I actually carry some in my shop - click HERE to find my Sheer Cut-Away Fusible Stabilizer! It is not stretchy and usually looks like a piece of sheer fabric made from non-woven polyester or nylon. Use any brand you are comfortable with, but do make sure it does not discolor when ironed or shrink when washed and that you will be able to peel it away from the fabric after lightly fusing. 

Gently fuse this stabilizer to the wrong side of your project fabric. Make sure it covers an area larger than the hoop you will be using. Hoop the fabric and attach the hoop to the machine.

Sheer cut-away stabilizer is rather light-weight. Appliqué designs have a satin stitched edging which can be stitch intense. You will need one more layer of a regular soft tear-away stabilizer for your project. Slide this extra piece under the hoop.

Sew the first running stitch outline for the appliqué. Remove the hoop from the machine and place on a hard flat surface while you carefully cut away the project fabric WITHIN the stitching line. It’s helpful to have little snippy scissors like THESE. You can poke a point carefully in and wiggle a little opening until you are able to slide the snips under the top layer of fabric. Take care not to cut through the sheer stabilizer beneath. This is why you fused lightly – so you can now peel up the cut-away fabric.

You’ll notice that I left a little “lip” of fabric within the stitching line. You are creating a seam allowance with that bit of fabric, so make sure you leave a little fabric there.

Apply the appliqué fabric, stitch it down, trim it close to the stitching line and fuse it well. Finish the appliqué design as you normally would.

In some places you might not need to cut away all of the appliqué parts if it’s a multi-part appliqué like this Peeps & Posies design. You’ll notice in the photo above that I cut away only the leaf parts that were over the dark teal print portions. My leaf appliqué fabric was a pale green, much lighter than the dark teal in the print beneath it.

When complete and removed from the hoop, gently remove the excess tear-away stabilizer. (That's the extra piece you “floated” under the hoop.) Then peel up and trim away the excess sheer cut-away stabilizer around the finished appliqué on the wrong side of the fabric. Leave a little bit, but make it as neat and tidy as you can. Give the fabric a good press from the wrong side to finish fusing all the fusible layers together. Use a press cloth between your iron and the sheer cut-away.

Check out these photos. This is the same design, same background fabric and same appliqué fabric.

I used the "cut-away the background fabric method" on the left flower, but not for the one on the right. You can see the difference! This technique is awesome when used for appliqués that cross a seam. No more seam-ridge-bumpies distorting your pretty design either. Now that just makes my picky self happy, what about you?

Happy appliqueing!


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Riley Blake Halle Rose Dress

I had the pleasure of meeting the dynamic duo behind the awesome Riley Blake Fabrics line last year and I was blown away with their down-to-earth niceness. Since I have been a Riley Blake fan since their beginning it was so cool to meet them and to find out they really are as special as their fabric line. Plus, I got to get sneak peeks of the glorious new fabric that was coming soon, woo-hoo!

One of my long time favorite fabric designers, Lila Tueller, designed the Halle Rose collection for Riley Blake. I love big bold prints that are feminine yet spunky and this collection bursts with that. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on some! You see, I knew this sweet little red-headed child…

And she needed a dress to model, Ahem.

I used my Rosie’s Dress pattern which is easily adaptable to a multitude of different sized wee bodies. I love the coordinating Halle Rose prints and that soft teal is just the right color for this little miss! The curved bodice is the perfect place to showcase machine appliqué embroidery designs too.

Don’t be intimated by sewing curves, it’s rather easy if you remember to clip the concave curve first.

That way you can flatten it into a line that can easily be pinned to the convex curve. You'll notice I marked my center points and pinned those first.

When you are sewing the two pieces together keep your finger gently pressed on the fabric right in front of the needle. Don't hinder the fabric, just feel it as it feeds. You’ll be able to tell if the bottom layer tries to pleat or wrinkle up as you go. Sew slowly and keep an even seam allowance. I love the “J” foot that comes with my Baby Lock sewing machine. When the needle is in the left position and I align the right side of the foot with the edge of the fabric it makes a perfect ½” seam. Since this pattern calls for ½” seams that makes it super easy!

Clip the convex curve after stitching the seam.

The seams will press open neatly now. Be sure to stay stitch any other curves that you won’t be sewing right away like necklines or arm holes. Since I was going to be doing a lot of appliqué, this was important. Stay stitching kept those areas from being stressed out of shape with my handling.

Machine appliqué is so cool on big bold prints. They become part of the dress – not just “hello, I’m an appliqué” but “Well hey there sweet thing, fancy meeting you here!”

The birds, flowers and scrolling stem appliques are from my Peeps & Posies design collection. I think they suited this print perfectly!

It was fun to let the designs overlap into the border of the dress, not only on the bodice, but also on the skirt. I used coordinating Halle Rose prints for the applique material too.

There’s nothing better than stitching up fabric that makes one smile the whole time you are sewing, don't you think? I can’t wait to see what’s next in the Riley Blake fabric line; I know I’ll “need” it, ha!

Check back soon! In the next blog post I’ll be telling you how to make those appliqué designs POP even when applying lighter colored fabrics over darker and sharply contrasting areas. It involves scissors, but no running with them, I promise.

See you soon!

Photos by Amber Purcell

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Malibu Tote (Part 3)

Let’s finish it up! Up to this point you have pieced, appliqued, quilted and joined together the lining and tote bag pieces with the straps. Right? Okay, now we’re going to subdue those fat seams, box the corners and make a sturdy bag bottom insert.

I love ByAnnie's Soft and Stable. LOVE, love it! But just like any other firm stabilizer, it does make for some bulky seams. In most of my projects I take care of that by trimming away the selvage in the seam allowances (and Soft and Stable trims really nicely, neat and quick) but for this one I couldn't because I quilted right up through the seam allowances. That was necessary because I wanted to use my Baby Lock Sashiko machine to quilt my tote, of course.  :-) So instead I pressed the seams open and top stitched along the seams on both sides.

Because the bag is still open along the bottom the side seams are pretty easy to press open and stitch. This is when you really appreciate working with Soft and Stable. It’s easy to subdue and doesn’t hurt your hands while wrangling it!

Once you have top stitched both side seams sew up the bottom seam - just the straight part, not the boxes. The easiest way I found to press this seam open was from the right side, inside of the bag. I slipped my fingers underneath and splayed the seams open on my ironing board and put the iron in the bag to give it a good shot of steam.

Now you will REALLY, REALLY appreciate Soft and Stable. Squash the bag as flat as you can and work it under the presser foot so you can top stitch along both sides of the seam across the bottom. Sew from the right side of the bag but make sure the seam stays open on the underside. Don’t take it out from under the presser foot to go down the other side, just move back to the beginning and go again. (It’s the bottom of the bag. A man on a galloping horse will not notice if the top stitching is exactly ¼” from the seam or not, right?)

Next, let’s box the corners. Sew up the lining’s bottom seam leaving a 6” opening in the center. Stay stitch the selvage edges of the opening.

Press the seam open, first one side and then the other including the open part.

Line up the bottom seam and the side seams with each other and align the open box ends with each other as shown below. Measure down ½” and draw a line. Sew across the drawn line. Be sure to back tack. Do this for all four corners.

Check your work. Make sure nothing is caught where it shouldn't be then sew up the opening in the bottom of the bag. You can do this quickly by machine, just overlap the opening parts a bit and go for it. Or if you'd rather, use fabric glue and glue the opening shut while you also glue it to the bottom of the bag inside.

Press along the top edge of the bag from the lining side. Give it a good blast of steam and a good press. The lining should roll down past the edge just a bit so it won’t show from the right side of the bag.

Turn the bag right side out. Carefully stitch in-the-ditch along the side seams through all layers (bag and lining) from the top down about 2”. This will keep the lining in its place. I like to change my bobbin thread to match the lining and of course, use a thread in the top that blends in with the bag.

Cut a piece of cardboard 12 ½” x 5”. Cut a piece of lining fabric about ¾” or so larger all around than the cardboard. Cut a piece of felt (you can pink the edges if you want) slightly smaller than the cardboard.

Spread glue around the perimeter of the cardboard using a glue stick. I like permanent glue sticks, don’t you? The really nice thing about them is that the glue stays sticky while you work but doesn't dry too fast, so you can fix any bloopers if you need to. Place the cardboard glued side up in the center of the wrong side of the lining block. Wrap the fabric around the edges of the cardboard and stick it to it.

Go outside, spread out a bit of paper, scrap fabric or whatever, place your felt piece on it and spray one side with permanent spray adhesive like Super 77 Multipurpose Adhesive. (Don’t forget to hold the bottle upside down and spray away from you until nothing comes out to clear the nozzle for next time.) Stick the felt to the cardboard. Let it dry before you pop it in the bottom of your tote.

Woo-hoo! You have a pretty new tote! Now where are you gonna go? To Malibu? :-)

I hope you enjoyed this project. 

It’s been fun stitching with you! More fun blog projects to come, are you signed up for email notices? If not, do it now!

Happy Stitching,


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Malibu Tote (Part 2)

Let’s make straps for your tote! Everyone has their favorite way to make straps, and just like you most likely, I vary them according to my project. I decided to go with an old standby for this one because I wanted to put Sashiko stitching on my straps. (Show off that sweet stitch you know, ha!) This meant I wanted something firm (firmer than Soft & Stable) but soft (not as rigid as a strapping product) and pretty much fool proof. This is what I did:

Cut two pieces of very firm cut-away stabilizer 1” x 33”. Cut two pieces of fabric 3” x 33”.

Get out your Clover Fabric Folding Pen. I’m not really a gadget person, but this is a gadget that actually does what it says it will so it’s got a place of honor in my gadget box!  Draw a line ¼” away from the raw edge down one long side of each fabric strap. Then draw a line ¾” away from the opposite side. Fold under and iron firmly both edges along the marked lines.

Align a strip of narrow fusible web tape on top of the ¼” folded under side of each fabric strap. Fuse it on. Tuck the 1” wide very firm cut-away strap snugly into the ¾” folded side. Peel off the fusible web paper backing; wrap the ¼” folded edge over the cut-away piece and iron to fuse the layers together. Keep the fabric wrapped snugly around the cut-away as you work.

Sometimes that paper backing has a little fit and decides to peel off in bits. ARGH. To help prevent this, peel it away slowly and keep your fingers very close to the place you are peeling. I sort of just push it off with my finger, which seems to work nicely.

Stitch down both sides of the strap, sewing from the right side (side without the folded fabric overlap). You can use a decorative stitch or you can use your Baby Lock Sashiko, yee-ha! You'll want to be sure that the folded side underneath is caught in one of the rows of stitching so space your rows accordingly.

Three rows look nice, don’t you think?

Next it’s time to work on the lining. You've already cut out two blocks of lining and removed 3" at the corners for boxing plus trimmed ½” from the top edges, right? Okay, let’s add a pocket.

Cut your pocket any size you want. I made mine 8” x 13” so that I could divide it into two pockets – one for my phone, one for my sunglasses. (These are the things that always get lost in the bottom of my tote bag!)

For best results stabilize the top edge of the pocket with some type of iron-on interfacing or sheer cut-away. I cut my stabilizer 1” wide and the width of the pocket, 13”.

Serge or zigzag across the pocket’s top edge. Fold over and press.

Use your fabric folding pen again to draw lines ½” from the three raw edges of the pocket. Turn under and press.

Turn back (right sides together) the stabilized top edge of the pocket and sew down with a ½” seam allowance. (Use the fold mark as a guide. Be sure to back-tack. Clip the corner and turn the top edge right side out. Press firmly. Sew across the pocket top about ¾” from the top edge to finish.

Center the pocket on one lining piece and pin in place. I didn't want my pocket to be too far down into my tote so I chose to drop only 3” down from the top edge of the lining. That also made it about 3” from either side, but your pocket may be different. Just center it within the area above the cut-out boxes.

Draw a dividing line (with a wide pocket you’ll want at least one) to form sections. I auditioned my phone to be sure I made the pocket fit it correctly. Pin the pocket to the lining and sew in place. You may wish to sew two lines of stitching close together around the three pocket sides. Be sure to back-tack at the top edges.

Position the straps on the top edge of the quilted bag sides. Measure over 6.25” from each side and place the strap right side against the right side of the quilted tote. Pin and tack in place. Make sure the straps are not twisted and the wrong sides are up facing you as you pin them in place.

Sew the lining pieces to the quilted bag pieces at the top edges enclosing the strap ends between as shown below.

Top stitch along the lining side sewing through all layers of the seam allowance selvage about ¼” from the seam. 

Align the bag sides, lining to lining and quilted to quilted. Be sure the seams line up properly.

Pin along the sides only and sew with a ½” seam allowance.

Slip the tote over your ironing board and press the side seams open firmly.  

Now go have a cuppa tea and piece of chocolate. Good work! You’re almost done!

Now go check out part 3!


Are you having fun yet? :-)

Monday, May 11, 2015

Malibu Tote (Part 1)

Traveling soon? I don’t know about you but I’m thinking about a place with mountains and crisp breezes and it’s only May here in South Carolina, yikes! What in the world will I be thinking in July? Just in case you are planning a trip - or not - you need a new tote, right? I’m sure enjoying my new Malibu tote. Want to make one too?

Follow along with me and we’ll make it together! This project will come in three installments. It’s easy - I promise - and best of all it will allow you to showcase some of your “personal resource center/stash” machine appliqué designs that I know you have, ha!

Supply List for the project:
Cut out your chosen tote fabric according to this chart. For the main portion of my tote I reached way back in my stash and dug up some fabric from Michele D’Amore's "Habitat" collection. So tickled to find the perfect use for it! The fabric under my fashion girl was a print from Riley Blake designs: “The Cottage Garden, Gray – Newsprint” by The Quilted Fish.

Press and starch each block and sew together in the layout as shown with a ½” seam allowance. Press all the seams open as you go. You should now have two pieces, a tote back and a tote front. The tote front has the 8” inset fabric in the center.

Choose your embroidery designs! I used “Malibu” from my Traveling Girls collection. She’s a 5x7 appliqué design and fit perfectly inside the inset for the front. Then I chose three 4x4 appliqué designs from my La Moda Appliqués collection. (Later, I put those specific designs together in a special set - Malibu Tote Special Design Package - just for this project!) If you have never done an appliqué design before and you want to try it, please read my "Amazing Appliqué" post. For best results in layout, hooping and aligning the designs properly, print paper templates of all your designs. Use your hoop grid to correctly align the design within the hoop. (For more about that, read my December 2014 blog post “Borderline Crazy.”)

Keep the designs within the area that will become the front side of the tote. You’ll need at least 3” between the outside edge of the design and the raw edge of the fabric.
Stabilize the center part of the tote front fabric with Totally Stable in an area larger than the hoop you will be using. For best results for most designs, you’ll probably need another layer of stabilizer. Float that piece under the hoop before you begin stitching using a piece of regular tear-away stabilizer cut slightly larger than the hoop. Embroider the center design. Remove the stabilizers and press from the wrong side.
Fuse more Totally Stable to the wrong side of the fabric covering the area under the additional designs. It’s okay for the stabilizer to extend past the edge. That might be necessary in order to have something in the hoop in that area. Just make sure the stabilizer is larger than the area to be hooped.

Once you have finished all the embroidery remove the stabilizers and press from the wrong side.

Cut two pieces of lining fabric the same size as the tote bag front and back fabric.

Cut out 3” boxes on the bottom corners of the tote front and back pieces and the lining pieces. Be precise, use your ruler :-)

Trim ½” off the top edge of both lining pieces.

Cut two pieces of Soft and Stable to match the tote front and back pieces. If you are planning to use your Sashiko machine to quilt this project, cut the Soft and Stable in blocks larger than the tote pieces and don’t cut out the corners yet.

Quilt the front and back tote pieces. When using Baby Lock’s Sashiko machine, a stitch length of 4 and a space length of 3.5 is nice. Remember to change the presser foot pressure dial to 4 or 4.5. Mark the tote fabric with two cross-hatched lines squared with each other on the diagonal across the fabric as shown. Use your quilt guide for evenly spaced lines.

Place the tote front on the Soft and Stable and quilt as desired. Repeat for the tote back piece. (Include just the Soft and Stable and the tote fabric, not the lining. That will be added later, just hang on to it.)

Got a Baby Lock Sashiko machine? This is a great project to practice doing the Sashiko hop with! Watch my video HERE to learn more about that.

Whatever kind of quilting you choose to do – Sashiko or regular sewing machine quilting – don’t quilt into the appliqué designs. Free motion stipple quilting looks pretty on this project too. You will discover how fun it is to quilt on byAnnie's Soft and Stable. (I love this stuff!)

Okay, that’s it for this session. To continue, go read part 2

Happy Stitching!