Saturday, 14 November 2009

Partridge In A Pear Tree

I thought it was time to branch out a bit and work on some applique. So far I haven't been a fan of wall hangings and applique, but I saw a wall hanging pattern in the quilting magazine I won at the retreat and it instantly made me think of a family member because she loves singing the 12 Days of Christmas song with the whole family - you know the type where everyone has a line and the person with the "5 golden rings" has to be a man with a deep baritone :)

So I decided to give it a go - I guess I felt reckless after my success with foundation piecing, hahaha!

Here's an account of my progress so far, and I'm pretty darn happy with how it turned out!

Here's a shot of the glossy magazine and the first cut-out shapes (note that my big window in front of my new sewing space is pretty useless since all my quilting happens after 5pm when it's dark here :) (apart from weekends).

I appliqued the heart and wing of the partridge first because they were both big and had the most straight lines (apart from the tree branches). I chose a wider zigzag stitch that I used for my imagination 1 quilt circles (that was more a satin stitch, I guess). I figured this wall hanging won't be handled as much as a quilt, so this stitch should be able to hold it all together.

Big admission: I decided to forgo the fusible interfacing and just laid my pieces on, pinned them and started zigzagging around it.

By now, I have the tree trunk and branches attached and all the pears and leaves pinned in place where I wanted them (I made the whole pattern a bit smaller and cut out the bottom branch of the tree - it meant about 17 fewer leaves and 4 fewer pears to be appliqued, apart from considering how much wall space the recipient has available. The actual pattern is for a wall hanging that's bigger than my baby quilts!)

Here's my appliqueing technique in action :)

Next, it was time for the border. Again, I played with the pattern a bit - it wanted 4.5" squares for the border, but that was too big for me. I ended up using charms and cut them in half (2.5" squares). In fact, it was a charm pack that I blogged about here - I found it too dark when I opened it at home, and too traditional for my taste, but it's perfect for this project!

With a bit of cropping of my applique background fabric, I managed to fit the 2.5" square border - it's tricky with squares - you can't just cut the border to the length you need or you'll end up with rectangles at the end...

The transition from dark center to dark border was a bit to blah for me, so I decided to insert what my quilting teacher Leona refers to as flippy (some of you quilters will never have heard this term, because one lady I asked about how to do this just greeted me with uncomprehending silence... "You want to make a what?"). What it is - and feel free to tell me what you call it - is a thin strip of fabric, e.g. 1" wide, folded in half like binding and sewn on like binding but between the border and the centers. It results in a narrow outline that is ironed down but creates more dimensionality than just a narrow border strip. Here's my first attempt at it.

First, I pinned on the flippy strip, then I pinned the border strip on top. I pinned lots.

And I mean LOTS! I had a bouquet of pins :)

Here, the side borders are attached, including the flippy. The top and bottom flippies were tricky - how to make a nice finish at the corners instead of the raw edges?

I ended up folding the ends in, just like when you get to the end of the binding strip on a quilt. It kind of worked, but if there's a better way of doing this, PLEASE let me know!!!

In the end, I was very happy witih how everything worked out. I think the piece is not perfectly square - the applique kind of crunched up the background fabric a bit, maybe the fusible interfacing is useful after all? Or maybe doing it quilt-as-you-go with batting and backing in one is a good method for this? No idea, but I can try all that in the future and am as always open to suggestions.

(The eye is appliqued, it fit better than the suggested fabric pen dot)

Gosh, it's fun to try new things!!!


Leslie said...

oh my goodness...this is great!!! i had never heard of it before either but i am loving that flippy strip. it looks so great and makes such a huge impact!!! i am trying to think of a project i can use it on. this is such a nice gift

Katie B. said...

This turned out great! Congrats on trying new things. I really like the "flippy" strip. I hope there's not another name for it, because "flippy" makes me laugh.

I just tried machine applique for the first time on an advent calendar. I did use interfacing (because I'm the type to follow instructions completely!). I think it was most helpful in keeping the fabric in place when sewing. It seemed almost like cheating! You should try it next time. How did you keep your pieces in place? Did you pin them?

karenfae said...

looks good it is always nice to try something new isn't it - then you know if you will want to try it again!

Pokey said...

Again, you are amazing! This is so cute, which magazine is this?

Serena said...

I love little bird patterns.

I also greatly enjoyed this post! Thanks for documenting a new creative endeavor!

Anne at Film and Thread said...

Very cute pattern and it is really turning out well! The recipient will love it!

Your new space must be inspiring you!