Wednesday, June 25, 2008

How I Make an Applique Quilt

I have been quilting since 1996. I have tried different methods and patterns, and I think that appliqué is my absolute favorite. With so many options with patterns, colors and layouts, the variety of outcomes are unlimited!

You can make a quilt of any size, with any size appliqué. One BIG appliqué design or appliqués randomly placed all over. Or, you can make several blocks with a design in each and sew them together, either alternating with plain patterned fabric blocks, or separating them with sashing.

I once made this Mickey-themed appliqué quilt for my soon-to-be-born niece. I ironed on the appliqués and carried the squares with me, and hand stitched with a buttonhole stitch around each patch. This was done on a road trip, with hubby driving, so I had all the time in the world to work on them. It made the time go by faster, and because they were smallish (less than 12x12 inch), very portable! Appliqué quilts can be fun and easy, especially if you appliqué with your sewing machine!

Here’s how I will be making a dragonfly appliqué quilt today:

You will need:
  • Drawing or computer graphic of a dragonfly. It is easier to work with simple line drawings, one that will not have a lot of tiny pieces, especially if you are a beginner.

  • Various fabrics for the dragonfly’s wings and body. I keep all my fabric scraps from other projects, so I had a wide variety of patterns and colors for this project. You can also make them all in your favorite colors or a couple of colors to match your décor.

  • Iron-on paper-backed fusible web such as Wonder Under ® (usually comes in bolts that you can have cut at the fabric store. 1 yard should be plenty, with lots leftover for future projects)

  • Thread in assorted colors, to coordinate or match fabrics, or a dark color such as black. I like to use assorted colors and mix them up!

  • Background fabric cut in squares or a quilt top, blanket, sheet, etc. that you will appliqué the dragonflies onto.

Determine the size of your squares and your dragonfly. If you use a computer and a graphics or desktop publishing program, you can resize the image to fit in your squares, or make a variety of sizes for an all-over design. Or you can draw them in assorted sizes (I’m not that artistic, lol). If you do letters or numbers, print or draw in reverse (iron-on setting).

Trace your picture onto the smooth (paper) side of the fusible web. Trace each individual shape separately. Here, I traced the bottom wing set as one piece, and the top set as one piece, then the body. The body will be laid over the center of the wing sets. If you can’t see the lines of your original picture clearly enough through the fusible backing, you can use a light box, or tape your picture to a window. It might help to tape everything down to hold it in place. Roughly cut out the pieces of your dragonfly, leaving some paper around them.

Here’s the fun part. Dump out your fabric stash scraps and find your wings and bodies! Make sure your scrap will be large enough for the wings. You can also do these wings in two pieces, if your scrap isn’t large enough, because the body will cover the center.

Following the manufacturer’s directions for your fusible backing, press each dragonfly piece to the back side of the fabric you have chosen for that piece. Be sure that the paper side is up, or your iron will get icky!

When you have the pieces ironed onto the fabric, carefully cut out each piece on the lines.
Peel off the paper backing. Lay your background fabric on your ironing board. Lay your pieces on it, without ironing them, just to be sure of your placement. I like to fold the fabric squares and lightly iron them to find the center. Iron it onto the background. If you have a lot of layers for your appliqué, it might help to do them one at a time. If a piece is not quite right, you can often heat it up with the iron and peel it off to re-position it. Be careful, though, because sometimes this distorts the fabric, changing the shape of the piece.

Once everything is in place, it’s time to sew them onto the background. There are a few options here. For a wall-hanging or art piece, you can stitch in a straight line around the piece. For a quilt that might be used and need to be washed occasionally, it will be best to do a satin stitch or a zigzag around the edge.
If you want to add antennae, you can either do a stitch with your machine, or hand-stitch them on afterward. I like to mark the design with a dissolvable marker or chalk pencil first.

For your dragonflies, butterflies, or other applique project, the possibilities are endless. Use your imagination when choosing colors and fabrics. Use assorted patterns and colors. You can also embellish your butterfly with buttons, sequins, beads, metallic thread, fabric paint, bows, etc. have fun!
I have to take more pictures, but soon I will post an assortment of my dragonfly blocks, and more steps as I work on the quilt. Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Sock Monkeys

My DD had a sleepover last weekend and two of her friends came over to stay the night. We have a small apartment, with not much to do. The closest movie theater is at least 45 minutes drive, and the last time we rented movies, they didn't watch them.

All 3 of these girls are energetic and creative. I wanted to find a way to entertain them and focus some of their creative energy. Since I helped DD and some of her Michigan friends make sock monkeys, I decided that we could have fun making them in Alabama, too! So I went to a few stores and found some super cute tights on clearance at Wally's. I bought several pair and let each girl choose their own.

I learned to make the monkeys following tutorials I found on the internet, and kinda adapted them to my own little procedure. We spend three and a half hours making these lovelies. These are made by 10-year olds!
They had a little help with the general sewing, but did most of the work themselves. The girls had fun playing with them and posing them for pictures, before moving on to making cupcakes. While these aren't for sale, I do have some for sale in my shop at PartyPoofers . The mini crocheted monkey is one I made for my daughter following an Annie's Attic pattern from a vintage booklet.

You can also find some great tutorials for making your own sock monkeys at:

Have fun!