Stacy here – it’s week 9 of the silhouette quilt along, and we are well into the applique process. Hopefully those following along have been able to get started, let us know how it’s going or if you have run into any questions or thoughts!
As for me, whew I chose a big quilt! But I know this is going to be so worth it when it’s done! I’ve gotten so much done the last couple weeks! I am finishing up the smaller pieces of my silhouette, so I wanted to share some more tips and tricks I learned as I went.
First, everything Shelly described in week 7 is spot on for what you need to do a larger applique. Definitely bookmark that page and use it as reference when you need to! (I know I did – like I said, this is my first big applique quilt too!)
For my bigger silhouette, there is no way I could have done this in one piece (or 2 or 3 or…) so I’m doing it in stages. I completed the tree trunk along the right side first, a logical base for building on. I put the fusible on my black for the trunk, and began to iron this to the background. Tip #1: I only fused the edge of the trunk rather than the whole piece. Since the trunk is almost 9 inches wide, I figured I didn’t need to fuse the whole thing down.
After I fused it, I put the pins back in it to hold it, as Shelly suggested.
When the trunk was fully fused in that manner, I stitched that piece down before moving on to the next . And the next piece was the big tree branch along the top. After I had the fusible attached to the black and cut out, I laid it on the background to make sure I got the position right. Tip #2: When working with a big piece like this and then moving it to the ironing board, Pin Pin Pin!! I learned the hard way with not very many pins, it shifted a little and it was too late since I had ironed half of it down already.
When positioning these, I wanted to overlap the pieces, rather than try to butt up against each other. But I didn’t want them to overlap too much – so I cut the branch back as much as I could to keep about ½ inch to an inch overlap. Here’s a before and after that trim:
Once that piece was fused down I ended up with a point where the two pieces were going to connect that was not great (see the above photos)
So I cut 2 more leaves and positioned them to look natural into the silhouette line.
Once I figured out how everything was going to fit, I fused down the big tree branch and stitched it down. Yes, this has taken quite some time because it so big, and those leaves… But it looks so neat! Then I fused and stitched down the 2 leaves to cover the ugly intersection.
As I’m typing this, I realize I didn’t take pictures of the bottom ground! As I’ve said before we’re going to add about 8-10 inches of just black along the bottom. I haven’t done that yet, that will be the last step before quilting. But I did cut out, fuse and stitch the top of the ground.
To do this, I cut a strip of fusible about 4 inches wide, and as long as my quilt background is wide. I fused this to the black fabric, and THEN I drew on the fusible paper my ground line. I just made this an uneven, non-straight line but not too curvy or wonky. Once that is fused and stitched into place, then you will just sew the 8-10” strip of black along the bottom just like you are piecing with a ¼ inch seam. That will add length to the quilt, and depth to the ground of the silhouette picture.
More tips I learned with this along the way:
Tip #3: The applique stitch on my machine only goes one way, so in order to stitch all the silhouette pieces along the edges, I had to roll up the whole top to go through the neck of my machine. In wrangling this, I decided once I got far enough down one side, I tied up the roll of the top with a ribbon to keep it together. This was much easier to deal with after that!
Tip #4: Some of the points of my leaves that were fused down began to come up before I got to it to stitch (as Shelly talked about before). I thought since it was just a little part, I could just work with it as is. MISTAKE! I suggest you do go back and hit it with the iron before you try this, at least on smaller pieces or points. I learned the hard way if it’s not fused down, it WILL move on you when you try to stitch it.
Tip #5: There were some applique stitching I did that got off a little and you can see the orange background in-between the stitches and the black. To solve this, I plan on going back through and filling that in with hand-stitching black thread in it. I won’t take that long and will make it nice and tidy.
I do love a challenge in quilting and this certainly has been, but man oh man is this going to be a very neat quilt when it’s done!
Since I’m all done with my applique (don’t be jealous!), I thought I’d just reflect on the process this week. This was my second large silhouette quilt. The first I did by hand (just like Theresa described in week 7). This second one I did by machine thought I’d share a few pros and cons of each.
The hand applique took FOREVER (but really it took me a couple of months to get through). But I loved every second of it. It was relaxing and I could do it on the road. I could change threads without it feeling like a big deal (I changed thread color to match my background fabrics which was really fun). If I made a mistake I could just pull a few stitches and try again.
The machine applique (even with my huge twisty octopus) was crazy fast, only took a few hours for a few days. Even going slowly it felt significantly more tense. Changing thread colors seemed like it would be a hassle so I didn’t do it and when I made a mistake it was more of an ordeal to take it off the machine, pick some stitches and then start again.
And now a super helpful visual:
|Hand Applique||Machine Applique|
|Speed||Wicked Slow||Wicked Fast|
|Portability||Super portable||Super not portable|
|Thread Changes||No big deal||Bleh|
|Mistakes||Also no big deal||Also bleh|
How are you coming along? We would love to see pictures or hear about your adventures in quilting your silhouettes… or any quilting you’ve been doing lately!