I love handwork – needleturn applique, outline embroidery, hand piecing, and blanket stitch applique. But – I have so much on my list of want-to-do’s that I also have learned to enjoy the benefits of applique by machine.
It can be far more than just cutting and fusing shapes to the background. Over the past few years I have managed a pretty good collection of variegated and heavy threads that I use for machine applique, and for quilting. I buy one or two every time I buy ordinary piecing thread, or when I’m shopping for a specific thread for a quilt.
I enjoy picking through my threads, and using accent colours to stitch the blanket stitch, or a variegated thread (I love the Sulky 30 wt. threads for this!). I’ve been working on the first block of A Primitive Garden, a block of the month quilt from HoneyBee Fabrics. I knew for sure that I could not needleturn all these blocks – just too much of a challenge physically and for time spent, and I also wanted this quilt to be used and enjoyed (meaning lots of machine washing and drying). So I thought I might hand blanket stitch the fused pieces…but that was going to be slow going, an outline stitch project is wanting to get done, and at least two needleturn applique patterns are calling my name!
So I set about the machine applique and am I ever enjoying it! There is a challenge to evenly blanket stitch around a narrow corner, or a circle….its interesting to pick a thread and see the result on the fabric…and more options available when stitching stems and other bits and pieces. Almost all newer sewing machines have lots of stitches, and a way to alter their stitch width and length. I keep a little scrap of fabric with odd shaped fused pieces nearby so I can sew out a stitch and see what happens, before I put it to use.