Hand Applique- Beautiful and Bold.

With the easy of applique with fusable web, hand applique is beginning to be a lost art. I love both types of applique. I've used them all. But after finding a book on the art of hand applique, "Beautiful Botanicals", I knew I had to try it.
I found that the shapes have dimension and form. You can layer them, stuff them and embellish them with embroidery. The fabrics remain so soft and flexible. No stiffness, or fusable web stuck on my iron.
Yes, it is much more involved and absolutely more time consuming. However, sometimes the old way has a charm you just can get with modern methods.

I'm going to walk you through the steps so you can see how to go about this traditional craft. Use it on your next quilt or try a small version on a needle case, like I did, (pictured above). You'll fall in love with it too.

Here is what you will need.
Freezer Paper, (not exactly what pioneer women used, but a modern tool you probably already have in your quilt supplies).
Fabric in assorted colors. Scraps are great. Prints work great, especially when they have flower elements on them.
Scissors, Iron, Needle, Thread and a pencil or pen for tracing and marking.

I used the book Beautiful Botanicals to trace my flower images, but you can draw your flower onto a piece of paper. Using tracing paper or a light table, trace each petal shape onto a piece of freezer paper. Allow for over lapping shapes where the petals meet so your flower is layered and you have room for error. The picture in the book will give you an idea of how to do this.

I'll be demonstrating the pansy much like the one I used in my stitch sampler.

First draw a picture of your flower. I traced my petals from my book, but this image should give you an idea of how to go about it. Allow for overlapping sections where the petals meet.

Once you have traced your petals and leaves onto the freezer paper, label each piece. Once you cut them out, its nice to know what goes where. Cut them out along the tracing line. You will be adding the seam allowance when you cut them out once they are on the fabric.

Place each piece on the fabric you will be using for your flower.
Iron each piece onto the fabric, then cut out leaving a scant 1/4" seam allowance. Be sure your freezer paper is fused on well. If not, just leave the iron on it a bit longer.

To create any stems, simple cut strips on the fabric bias about 3/4" to 1" wide. You will be using a different applique technique to attach the stems.

Next you will need to clip the curves on your applique. Using a small, sharp scissors cut up to the freezer paper along any inside and outside curves. The tighter the curve, the more clips you need to cut.

After you have clipped your curves, iron the seam allowances along the freezer paper lines. Watch out, ironing those little pieces is hard on the fingers if you get them too close to that hot iron.

I didn't use and circular pieces on my pansy, but turning the edges of a circular piece is very easy.
Just create a running stitch around the seam allowance all along the outer edge.
Then pull the thread gently, easing the seam allowance in towards the center. When finished, give it a press. Once cool, remove the freezer paper and you are ready to stitch!

As you can see, you can make some fun shapes using a patterned fabric for your flower.

How would these fabrics inspire you?

Once you have all your shapes cut out, and your seam allowances are pressed, its time to get stitching.

Lay your fabric shape onto your foundation fabric. Bring the needle and thread up from the back of the foundation fabric.
Turn under the seam allowance bit by bit. Your needle should come up through your applique piece along the fold.

Bring the thread back down through your foundation fabric. You will insert the needle directly under your first stitch to tack down the first stitch.

Come back up again right along the line where your shape will be. Catch just a few threads of your applique piece along the edge. Once you become good at this, you will hardly see where your thread is along that edge. Bring the needle back down directly under that stitch and back up through the foundation fabric just ahead of the last stitch. You will repeat this until your shape is attached.

If you are having difficulties with getting the seam allowance down smoothly, use a tweezer to coax the fabric under. Its a lot easier than clumsy fingers. I find that my seams were so much better using the tweezer while I stitched.

Tie your thread off on the back of the foundation fabric, under your appliqued shape.

Some fabric artists stuff the petal shapes with batting before sewing them closed. Some artists quilt around each shape with quilting stitches. Both techniques will give your work more or less dimension. I chose to embroider details onto my petals once they were on. I like that personal touch.

One shape down and many to go. It seems like it may take forever, but once you start, it goes along much quicker than you would think. After a while, you get into this lovely zone where you are so involved with your stitching that you forget any little or big worry in your head. When you are finished, you will have a great sense of accomplishment because you've learned a new craft and created something beautiful!


josette.272@gmail.com said...

j admire ce que vous faites tout est magnifique merci

Julia Robert said...
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Brian Smith said...

Wow man...!! This article is really amazing and impressive this actually shows the bright side of Embroidery digitizing. Thanks once again for the great article.

Julia Robert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Julia Robert said...

WOW. I love this hand applique.. This is really beautiful and bold and the prove of your creativity and embroidery digitizing skills. Keep it up. Thank you very much...