Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Perfect Harmony of Thread, Needle and Machine

Block #2 of A Tisket, A Tasket is still a day away. I'll post a new block on the 5th of each month. I promise, on Thursday morning you'll find it on my web site! Little treats in the basket, just waiting for you!

Most of you know we've been working away on my newest redwork quilt. Over the weekend I finished the scallop border using invisible machine applique. That's right, invisible machine applique, but with DMC Machine Embroidery thread!

I love to stitch by hand, but there's a time and a place for everything. Machine applique can be the perfect solution when you need to get it done fast. The four border scallops took me one evening to applique and you can hardly see any difference. I'll let you in on some of my secrets!

You need a few things to start with:

1. DMC Machine Embroidery Thread to match the color of your applique. Use a 50 wt. DMC thread on the top, and regular thread in the bobbin. (If you have a problem with your tension, try using the DMC in BOTH the bobbin and the top).

2. 70/10 Microtex machine needle

3. Roxanne's Glue-Baste-It

4. Sewing machine with a variable overlock stitch, hem stitch OR even a blanket stitch.

5. A knowledge of the Spray Starch Method of Applique (you can buy the applique techniques DVD, by Pearl Pereira on my web site. Pearl takes you step by step through spray starch applique and I guarantee you'll watch this DVD over and over!)

Now, prepare your applique using the spray starch method.

Glue-baste your prepared applique to background fabric. (Use a tiny line of glue next to the applique edge. You don't want the applique to move while you are stitching.)

And now we're ready to sew!

  1. Set your machine in the Needle down position.
  2. If you have a Bernina, choose the variable overlock stitch & mirror image the stitch. For other machines try the hem stitch or the blanket stitch.
  3. Stitch width at .5 to .7 (very tiny)
  4. Stitch length at .5 to .7
  5. Open toe foot & open stitch plate
  6. A good light and a great pair of glasses ( :

See the picture below? I'm stitching right next to the edge of my scallop. The foot is my guide and I make sure it is always RIGHT next to my fabric.

I'm stitching into the background fabric, and just barely catching the applique fabric. The machine takes a tiny "bite" of my fabric every few stitches . It's just like hand applique, you want a tiny, tiny stitch.

If you stay right next to the edge of the fabric, and I mean RIGHT NEXT to the edge, your background stitches will hardly show. Just look at the photo below! Remember I'm stitching in red thread!

And a view from the front of the scallop...

And how it looks on the back of the fabric...you don't ever want to rip out these tiny stitches so be careful!

I don't use invisible nylon thread. I don't like the feel or how it sews. My preference is the DMC. The cotton is soft, and blends right into the fabric. It's wonderful to sew with and just feels good!

And many years from now when someone picks up my redwork quilt, I know the cotton thread will still be feeling good!

The settings for each machine will vary so you have to practice to see what works on your machine. Questions? I'll try and answer as they come up.

My redwork quilt is off to the quilter tomorrow and I'll be back on Thursday with a new basket block for you!