Thursday, May 18, 2017

Appliqué Techniques for Modern Quilters

Our May program was presented by Patricia Steadman, Martha Griffin, Sara Bradshaw and Audrey Workman and covered a variety of ways modern quilters can use appliqué in their work.

Chattanooga riverfront quilt by Audrey Workman

Needle-turn Appliqué

Patricia is an expert in this method and has learned tips and tricks that make the process easy and accurate. Patricia works from patterns but she makes some of the templates herself. She brought several examples of her appliqué work, both modern and traditional. 

Patricia's needle-turn appliqué quilt hung in Paducah in 2016.

One way to use appliqué in a modern quilt is to oversize it, and Patricia has done to the quilt pictured below. She made this floral appliqué top using a design featured in the book Alison Glass Appliqué: The Essential Guide to Modern Appliqué; it will be quilted by Denise Ohlman and donated to a Habitat for Humanity homeowner later this year.

A future Habitat for Humanity quilt

You can also use needle-turn appliqué to add modern flair to a 3-D object. Patricia sewed floral shapes to the background before constructing this tote bag. Carolyn Friedlander was spotted carrying a similar one at QuiltCon in Savannah.

Patricia’s favorite tips:

  • Freezer paper is great for appliqué patterns but it shrinks! Prep it by pre-ironing it before adhering it to fabric.
  • Instead of pinning or thread basting, use fabric glue to anchor loose pieces to the background. Keep glue away from the places you’ll stitch.
  • Use glue on points where fabric meets fabric; heat set with your iron.
  • Cut with serrated scissors. Fabric frays less, and you can feel the scissors bite into the fabric.

Whole-cloth and Reverse Appliqué

Martha showed us how she uses the traditional Hawaiian folding method to make a modern appliqué paper pattern. Friedlander also uses this method.

Martha made this whole-cloth appliqué quilt using Friedlander’s Circle Lattice pattern.* It was fast and easy! 

Martha's whole-cloth appliqué quilt

To make Bulls-Eye*, another Friedlander pattern, Martha used both needle-turn and reverse appliqué. 

Martha’s Tips: 

  • For a large whole-cloth quilt, tape your fabric to a sliding glass door and trace your pattern onto it.
  • Don’t cut the whole thing out at once. Instead, cut about 2” at a time. Everything will remain more stable that way.

Running-stitch Reverse Appliqué on Cotton Knit

Sara is making a modern t-shirt quilt—but it’s not what you’re thinking! She’s using oh-so-soft fleece knit for the backing and cotton knit for the exposed pieces. Sara’s method is similar to one she learned from Alison Glass at QuiltCon a few years ago, but Sara has made it softer. She works with old t-shirts instead of quilting cotton. Think Alabama Chanin and you’ll get a better idea. Sara enjoyed stitching this one last winter with the fleecy side on her lap.

Sara's reverse appliqué on cotton knit

You work this method with three layers—similar to a typical quilt—but the fabrics are different. Use knit on the top, quilting cotton in the middle, and knit on the back. Or use fleece on the back. Or put t-shirts in the middle. Your choices will dictate softness, weight, and ease of stitching.

Sara has made several squares using old clothing and plans to connect them into a larger project after she’s made more.

Sara’s tips:

  • Use a sashiko needle for your running stitch. You’ll appreciate the larger eye.
  • Keep your knots exposed on the top of your quilt. They look pretty.
  • Rock your running stitch around the shape you cut out.
  • Use a larger piece of knit for the back, then pull it over to the front to create your binding.

Glued Appliqué 

Audrey made a hexie quilt and glued her shapes to the background. No stitching happened before the quilting began! She used a mashup of techniques by Nicole Daksiewicz of Modern Handcraft and Cristy Fincher of Purple Daisies LLC.

Audrey's modern hexies

Audrey’s tips:

  • Use pre-cut Hexagon Stabilizer or Sharon Schamber’s Secret Foundation instead of paper when you make your hexies (read about it here).  
  • Baste hexies to paper using Elmer’s washable glue stick.
  • Glue hexies to foundation using Liquid Stitch glue.
  • Use a hera marker to score your foundation fabric before you lay out your hexies.

Scrappy Appliqué 

Audrey also showed us how she does “scrappy appliqué”. Modern Quilting instructor Shannon Brinkley gets credit for both name and method, and as members of the MQG you can watch her explain it on their website in Fresh Quilting, Season 1 Episode 12.

The one thing Audrey does differently from Brinkley is this: Audrey sews around the small appliqué pieces before adhering the larger shapes to her background. Brinkley adheres first then free-motion stitches around the edges. Both methods work well!

Brinkley has skyline patterns of a lot of major cities throughout the world. Unfortunately there’s no Chattanooga yet. But Audrey had already drawn the Chattanooga riverfront, sketching from her own photos and altering the landscape a bit, and used that to play with Brinkley’s scrappy appliqué method.

Audrey also fell madly in love with a cloudy sky that Angela Walters quilted on a Busy City quilt for a client. Audrey had already tackled the Tennessee River with walking-foot organic wavy lines, and then the landscape with FMQ. She couldn’t find a cloudy sky tutorial so she stared and drew and stared and drew until she worked up her nerve, then she went for broke. Audrey gives Walters full kudos for the swirly cloudy sky idea.

*Our appliqué team recommends these books and resources:

Show and Tell

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Appliqué on Modern Quilts

Some modern quilters enjoy appliqué as handwork in keeping with the slow-stitching-for-relaxation frame of mind.

Others would like the freedom of shape that appliqué brings but don’t really like projects that may take a long time.

Join us Saturday, May 13 at 10 a.m. as we explore methods of appliqué, both fast and slow, that you can incorporate into your own modern quilt designs.

If you admire the work of quilters such as Carolyn Friedlander, Alison Glass, Shannon Brinkley, and Nicole Daksiewicz, don’t miss this meeting.

We’ll demonstrate methods and talk products, and hopefully inspire you to start your own appliqué project!

Below are a few examples of the types of appliqué you'll see:

Monday, May 1, 2017

April Program Recap

Words on Modern Quilts

Our April program team of Ann, Carolyn, Gerry, Jackie, Janet, and Vanessa showed us a variety of ways to incorporate words into our modern quilts, demonstrating some and providing examples of others.

Choose fabric with words. Perhaps the easiest way is to use text fabrics when you are piecing. A variety of text prints are readily available in both dark and light colors. Including fabrics like these can add a modern aspect to your work. 

Examples of text print fabrics
Use a cutting machine. Janet also showed us how she uses a basic Silhouette machine connected to her computer to cut out letters and numbers from fabric adhered to a sticky surface. She peels the cut letters away and sticks them onto a background, then sews them down.

Quilt the words into your work with free-motion stitching. Janet shared a large modern flower quilt that she made to remember her first QuiltCon experience. She machine stitched words and phrases that brought back memories, as well as the names of all her guild friends that attended the conference with her.

Janet points to words she included in the machine quilting
to commemorate the first QuiltCon.
Write your name by hand, then embroider your signature. Janet taught us a method that she learned at QuiltCon 2017 to embroider our names—or any other words—onto a single layer of fabric that can be incorporated into our quilts. Embroidery is often done before the work is sewn in, but it can also be used to add a signature after the quilt is complete. 

Janet shows members how to embroider words on quilts.
Paint words onto fabric. Jackie demonstrated how to use stencils to get letter shapes onto fabric. Jackie may use Shiva sticks or fabric paint with stencils or even stamps to write anything she wants on her quilts. 

Jackie demonstrates fabric painting.
Make a bold statement. Words on quilts can help you convey important messages, like this example Carolyn brought to the program.
Carolyn's motivational quilt top
Relief quilting. Another method to include words or letters is by matchstick quilting the negative space around the shape of the letter. The team had samples of this as well as some techniques for appliquéing letters onto fabric.


Create your own font. Vanessa explained how she uses improv techniques to piece letters into her work. She sketches what she wants to make onto graph paper then starts cutting the fabric and makes it work.

Use improv piecing to create your own font.

Thanks to all of you for sharing so many ideas!

Habitat Blocks

Jean and Audrey collected blocks that members made for upcoming Habitat quilts. Please keep making both kinds of blocks (bricks and paper-pieced stars) and bring them to our May meeting. We will piece tops with them during our July sew-in.

Upcoming Guild Meetings

Our May program will cover appliqué methods for modern quilting. In June, we will talk design and plan ways to cut up a quilt top and restructure it into a modern quilt based on what we learned from Mary Kerr. In July, we're planning a sew-in and will piece tops for Habitat quilts.

Show and Tell