Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Cutwork Applique - Step 3 plus Cutting Loose

Cutwork is one of the simplest appliques to do. Once you make your pattern, transfer it to your fabric and use a few safety pins to hold the fabric to the background, you are ready to stitch. I'm partial to YLI heirloom silk thread for my applique - a few neutral shades on hand allow you to work with nearly any color fabric, partly because of the fineness of the silk - it nearly disappears as you snug up your stitches. There are several different applique needles that I use depending on the project. In this case, I'm using Roxanne sharps #11 - they are short like a quilting needle.

One drawback to the silk thread is that it tangles badly. I use beeswax on cotton thread to control it, but felt it was too heavy handed for this fine silk thread. I've been hesitant to try Thread Heaven in spite of its good reviews, but my frustration finally won out. I tried it for the first time yesterday, and all I can say is, it's pure magic! If I'd read the product information sooner, my fears about using it would have been banished right away.

The only other thing you need is a sharp pair of small scissors to cut away excess fabric as you go. Because the applique shape is not cut out completely beforehand, it won't stretch out of shape. The stability of the square of fabric cut away a little at a time is what allows the minimal pinning as you go. You only need about 3/16th of a seam allowance, easy to eyeball, and the needle turns the fabric under along the line you've drawn, your thumb holding it in place as you make a few stitches. Just work a few inches at a time, cutting, turning, stitching, moving your pins along as you progress and trim some more. Inside curves will need a little clipping nearly to the seam line so that the allowance can roll under smoothly.

I worked on this while waiting for my car to be serviced. I thought I'd make a little more progress, but a woman also waiting for her car interrupted me after a time to ask questions. It's always a pleasure to share, and also to hear people's own quilting stories. The most lovely moment was, when after a pause, she hesitantly asked if she could touch it. Of course, and I handed it over. The only quilt this woman had made, and she qualified her story by acknowledging it wasn't really a quilt, was one she made for her son to take to college - made from a pretty sheet and tied with yarn. But she certainly was an admirer of quilts and looked closely at my block, fondling the fabric.

After my car was done, I went to see a small art quilt and doll exhibit nearby. It was a bit of a disappointment, partly because there were so few quilts, uneven in quality, and partly because I'd seen about a quarter of them before in other area exhibits. So I had plenty of time for my next stop - a park along the river. It was just too warm and wonderful of a spring day to go straight home. The last time I'd been to the falls for which Post Falls, ID is named, was in the mid '70's with a couple of college buddies. We clamoured over the rocks downstream, and I managed to drop my Instamatic camera into the water. My friends retrieved it, but most of the pictures from that day were ruined.

Thirty years later, this area has well maintained trails and a few places of fencing for safety sake. Good thing because I'd not worn proper hiking shoes. The trail started up through open area where many yellow and purple wildflowers were in bloom.

I love the rocky terrain of this part of Idaho.

I was surprised at the bright green moss on this tree which was very much out in the open.

Ponderosa pine bark is a wonderful orangie brown and so interestingly textured.

I didn't like the sound of this...all the while hearing the roar of the river in the background.

And then I was at the river - well, actually at the edge of a bluff overlooking it.

I'm so disappointed that these photos don't give a true indication of how high up I was, or the power of the water pouring through the narrow passage.

Apparently I looked quite the tourist as I took my pictures, because a nice man asked if I knew about the little cave down by the water's edge. No, in fact I did not and would have gone back the way I came had he not told me about the alternate route. It gave me a better view of the dam preceding the falls.

By the time I got home from my day out (dare I call it, my artist date out?), I was pooped but it was still so nice that I changed into a pair of shorts and dug out the lawn chairs so I could sit on the porch, relaxing with a magazine. What a great day!


Mary Stori said...

Great cut work tutorial!!

The Idaho Beauty said...

Thanks, Mary! Especially appreciated coming from such a well known teacher.