Sunday, July 20, 2008

Backbasting revisited

I learned to hand applique using Ellie Seinkowicz' book "Applique 12 Different Ways" - this was an excellent introduction to the many different ways that one can achieve needleturn applique.

As mentioned in previous posts, I then discovered the Piece O Cake ladies, who use templates for the applique pieces but these templates are made from a kind of laminate paper available at Walmart and business supply stores; also they use a plastic overlay for the entire design so that you can place the pieces where needed on your block. I loved this method, and successfully sewed up my first large wallhaning - the new Applique Sampler, and also went on to Lori Smith's Simple Pleasures using the same method.

Then along came back-basting. First there was a little discussion about it on a few applique lists - I think that an applique pattern b.o.m. by Apple Blossom Quilts was the first to start this off. Over the past year or so there seems to have been an explosion of back basting converts - those who have learned it, spread the word and the technique - which has a lot of postives such as no templates, no overlay, no pins!! And absolutely accurate for achieving the piece's shape and placement.

Well, I gave it a try, about a year or so ago, and felt it was just not my thing. It felt awkward, too much work, etc etc. Then this past month or so while I've been literally goofing around with patterns and fabrics, I decided to give it another try.

Back basting simply means this -
transfer the entire block pattern to the back of your block fabric, using a light box or a window and drawing with a pencil or washable marker
take the first piece to applique, following the usual order of "underneath" pieces first - for example, a leaf - place the applique fabric right side up on the top of your block fabric, hold it up to the light or use pins to make sure it is covering the drawn shape on the back, then sew it to the block fabric following the drawn leaf line you made on the back - am I making any sense?
now, you can needleturn applique the leaf on the front, following your sewn line as your marked line

here are a couple of excellent tutorials:

My main frustration with backbasting had to do with just not being able see the holes. I've used a large embroidery needle, double thread, and still those holes elude me. So then I figured out that I could simply take my pencil or chalk and draw around the sewing line I've made - that helped, but it seemed to me add to the work. I also sometimes had trouble getting the front piece to line up with drawn lines in the back, without using a piece much too large and wasting fabric - sort of the same problem I have with paper piecing.

I gave up on back basting, again, and went back to a variety of templates; drawing the design on the back and pin placement on the front; and freestyle placement using just the vine placement as a starting point.

A friend on an email group brought up a discussion about a wonderful Canadian applique artist - that is what she is, I think - Katie Friesen - you can see some of her work and patterns here -

I thought about back basting, again, and decided to give it another try. I really liked the idea of no pins - they are a real pain when sewing. I came to the realization that I could do the basting with machine stitching. Well, this seems to be the trick for me. Bigger holes, some of which I can actually see - combined with a drawn pencil line over the stitching, my nice big sewing light to help with placement of the fabric on the front, quick - and not at all hard to pick out as I sew. I think I just might be a back basting convert :)

Pictures tomorrow, of my first little block completed with back basting.

The Rabbit Factory - Lydia Quigley

I sent a picture of my Folk Art Finery top to the folks at The Rabbit Factory, to get permission to display it at the Markham Fair as I might be entering this quilt in the fall. They've posted my picture on their blog! I'm very glad that Lydia is happy with the few small changes I made to her design.

For some reason, this site doesn't want to work on Mozilla Firefox, but it does work on Internet Explorer:


Rhondee said...

Wow! You have done alot of research and application on applique. I love your explanations on what you've done, what you like and don't like and what works for you. Thank you for sharing the websites as well.

Ken said...

This is very helpful, but you have misspelled the name of the author. It's Elly Sienkiewicz. I hope this helps anyone who would like to find one of her books.

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About Me

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southern Ontario, Canada
I began quilt-making in January 2001, as therapy following diagnosis a chronic autoimmune condition. I enjoy creating and exploring hand and machine applique, machine piecing, english paper piecing, machine quilting, and machine embroidery. I have been working with Electric Quilt for several years and I'm comfortable with just about very aspect of using EQ to design pieced, applique, and embroidery quilts. I'm an early retired Mom with two teenager and a son who'll be married in Fall '09. My husband is my biggest quilting supporter.

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