Thursday, February 27, 2014

Blanket Stitch Machine Applique Tutorial

There are several different methods of machine applique.  Following is how I blanket stitch applique a small asymmetrical project.

Materials and supplies:
Sewing machine with a blanket stitch
Open-toe walking foot for appliqueing on quilted fabric or open-toe embroidery foot for non-quilted fabric
Roxanne's Glue Baste It!
Trans-Web or fusible web of your choice
Page protector
Pattern with clearly defined lines
Ultra Fine Point Sharpie pen black for tracing shapes onto fusible web and page protector
Small sharp scissors for cutting fabric, fusible web and snipping thread
Fray Check
Thread to match fabric used for applique shapes I prefer DMC 50/2

Creating an overlay:
Note:  If you are new to applique select a pattern that has already been prepared for applique.  If you are working with a small asymmetrical pattern your pattern will need to be reversed.
1.   Slip the pattern into a page protector and trace the design using an Ultra Fine Point Sharpie Pen.  Add the numbers and colours in each of the shapes.
2.  Mark the page protector "right side".
3.  Remove the pattern and flip the page protector to the other side.  Mark this side "wrong side". 

Creating the applique shapes:
1.  Place the page protector wrong side up on a blank piece of white paper.  Trace the applique shapes onto the paper side of fusible web leaving at least 1/8" space between the shapes.
Note:  Group shapes of the same colour together to save space when fusing onto fabric.
2.  For easy reference number the pieces and the colour in each shape.
3.  Rough cut around the shapes.
4.  With a hot dry iron on cotton setting, fuse the shapes onto the wrong side of the fabric matching up the shape with the corresponding fabric.  Set the iron on top of the fusible web and hold for about 5 - 10 seconds.

5.  Cut the pieces out on the lines.

Arranging and fusing the applique shapes onto the background fabric:
1.  Position the page protector where you would like your applique to appear and tape in place along the top only.

2.  Remove the fusible web from piece #1.
Note:  It is always best to score the fusible web paper in the centre of the applique shape with a sharp tool such as the points of scissors or an awl.  Bend the paper along the score and the paper will lift away from the glue.  Tear the paper along the scored line and remove completely.

3.  Apply small drops of Roxanne's glue on the back of the applique shape and place in position under the overlay.  Smooth in place.
4.  Remove the fusible web from piece #2 and repeat step 3.

5.  Continue removing the fusible web from each piece in numerical order and placing it under the overlay until the entire applique is in position.
6.  Remove the overlay and press using a hot dry iron on cotton setting for about 5 - 10 seconds.

Blanket Stitch: __|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__
A true blanket stitch consists of a straight stitch forward, then a zigzag to the left and back again.  The blanket stitch is easy to control around corners and curves as every part of the stitch is advancing forward.
Tip:  When choosing thread colours darker threads will frame the piece but also show any irregularities, it is much easier to produce great results quickly if you choose a thread that closely matches the applique pieces.

Setting up your machine for blanket stitch applique:
Place the open-toe walking foot on your machine if you have one and are working with quilted fabric.  If working with non-quilted fabric use the open-toe embroidery foot. When setting the stitch width and length take into consideration the size of the applique unit.  Begin with a stitch width of 2.0mm and length of 2.5mm and adjust your stitch as desired from this starting point.  For best results make sure the stitch is perpendicular to the angle of the applique shape you are stitching on.
Stitches perpendicular to the angle of the applique shape.
Tip:  Prepare a practice sample of your project to test the stitch length and width of the blanket stitch using the same fabrics, batting and/or stabilizer you are working with for your finished project.
Important Note:  If working with non-quilted fabric make sure to slip a light weight, tear away stabilizer under the background fabric beneath the shape to be sewn so the fabric won't pucker and buckle while stitching. 

Blanket stitch general information:
1.  The forward moving portion of the blanket stitch should be right along the edge of the applique on the background fabric.
2.  The left swing of the needle should be on the applique fabric.
3.  The right swing of the needle should be right along the edge of the applique fabric on the background fabric.
4.  Try to have the needle just brush the edge of the applique fabric when on the background fabric.
Tip:  Stitch slowly.  As the fabric begins to curve away or get too close to the needle stop with the needle in the background fabric, lift the presser foot and pivot the fabric so it is in the proper position.  Lower the presser foot and continue stitching .  Stop and pivot as necessary to keep the stitches nice and even along the edge of the applique.
Tip:  Never pivot when the needle is in the applique fabric during a left swing of the needle as this will cause unsightly gaps in the stitches.
Tip:  When starting to stitch where one fabric is on top of another always start where the fabrics intersect.
Tip:  When finished stitching each piece, cut the threads and pull them to the back, tie a knot and apply a small drop of Fray Check to the knot.  That knot will never come untied.  I highly recommend tying the knots after each piece has been stitched. 

I hope you will try blanket stitch machine applique for your next project.  If you have any questions please leave a comment or email me at I am always happy to lend a helping hand.

Happy Stitches,


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Things that Work Wednesday...

Wow!  What a busy week.  Thursday we went to Carola's Quilt Shop in Gibsons Landing for TopStitchers Club.   Saturday we were at the Richmond Cultural Centre teaching Fearless Free-Motion Quilting to the ladies of TAGOR, Textile Arts Guild of Richmond. 
  Here's Linda stitching up a storm and loving her new free-motion style...
Freda and Suzanne very focused on their work...
Brenda and Annette fearlessly stitching pebbles...

Corazone enjoying her new free-motion freedom while Bernie looks on in the background...

Wynn being very focused examining her lovely free-motion stitches...

Thank you ladies of TAGOR, we had a wonderful day.

There was a big snow storm here on the West Coast it provided the perfect backdrop and ingredient for a day of snow dyeing on Monday with my friend Sandbox Sue.  We affectionately refer to each other as Sandbox Sue and Sandbox Shelley as you can usually find us dyeing up a storm inside or out, weather permitting, when we are together.   
Here's Sue practicing "Safe Dyeing" techniques with her mask and gloves.  Behind the camera I have all the proper gear on too.  It's best to be aware that the little particles of dye can be easily inhaled and will remain in the lungs for a long period of time.  While to be avoided.

Careful measuring is a must if you want to reproduce the results...we were snow dyeing and I'll let you decide if we were careful or not...
The fabrics ready for their trip outside in the snow...
Sue gathering the necessary foot wear.  That snow was deep!
Our dyeing table awaits with a pile of virgin snow...
We wanted to dye the top layer of fabrics purple so we mixed the dyes and started sprinkling them on...

It's not only chestnuts that can roast by an open fire...

We realized that our purple was a bit too purple so we added yellow...I'll post the results when we have them all washed and dried.

Some of the marvelous fabrics we have been creating for our projects...
When I arrived home after a creative day of dyeing this is what greeted me and it was still coming down.  We rarely receive so much snow on the West Coast at the end of February but I would say it was perfect timing as Sue and I have been wanting to snow dye for a very long time.  We couldn't get to the snow so the snow came to us.  

Tuesday I spent a fun day with Brenda, my energetic sewing, knitting, designing buddy.  We designed 3 1/2" Courthouse Step blocks on EQ6 and proceeded to stitch some up along with more Bear Paw blocks. We love to work with reproduction fabrics and got hooked on them while gathering fabrics for our Dear Jane quilt...I have 90 Dear Jane blocks finished, Brenda has 200 finished.  I have over 280 Bear Paw blocks on my design wall and now a Courthouse Step block...progress is being made.  For me it's not about the finished quilt it's about the journey and the friends I meet along the way.

Now for this weeks Things That Work... 
Back in the office today to discuss fusible webs.  My favourite fusible web is Trans-Web.  I love working with Trans-Web for fusible machine applique, as the paper is easy to remove, it comes off the fabric in one piece, it is not sticky, the fabric remains soft and supple and the glue does not clog my needle when stitching.  I have had lots of experience with many fusible webs and Trans-Web stands out over all.  If Trans-Web is not available at my Local Quilt Shop I will use Wonder Under in a pinch.  With Wonder Under the fabric remains  soft and supple but sometimes the paper is hard to remove and comes off a little bit at a time.  Give Trans-Web a try with your next fusible machine applique project.  I don't own shares in the company that manufactures Trans-Web...I just happen to love the product.

If you have questions about how to work with fusible webs or how to machine applique please contact me here or at  I'm always happy to lend a helping hand.  

Next Wednesday I will talk about my favourite sewing machine needles.  Until then...

Happy Stitches,

Monday, February 24, 2014

March Loon Lake Retreat

Join us for a celebration of sewing and quilting Monday, March 24th - Thursday, March 27th at the Walter C. Koerner Centre.  Each beautiful room has its own bathroom and shower as well as high speed internet.  The meeting room is spacious and well lit with a fantastic view of the lake and surrounding mountains.  It's very inspiring.  Your senses will be spoiled with enticing aromas blended with fresh mountain air.  Food allergies and vegetarian meals can be easily accommodated.  People that have attended have raved about the food, the accommodation and the surroundings.  As a special offer we can check in at 9:00am on the Monday and sew until 1:00pm on Thursday.  I will be available to help you with your projects and Bernie will be available to help you with your sewing machines.  Once a day we will be offering an information session regarding tension, needles, threads, etc.  These are fun, informative and optional.  We invite you to join us for three full days and three nights of camaraderie, laughter, beautiful vistas, fantastic food, sharing and learning.  For more information please email or call me at (604)506-0241.  Visit Loon Lake Research and Education Centre at