Tuesday, 20 May 2008

stems, leaves, and tulips

Dear Lene,

I haven't been doing as much work on my quilt as I'd like. When I do get some time, it goes quickly, but I seem to have gotten very self-conscious, showing you close-ups of my work like this, so I've been trying to save my "best" times of the day for my appliqué work. Unfortunately, not all days have a "best time" so there have been a few days when I didn't pick up my project at all.
I've finished one quarter of the leaves and stems for the block, and have sewn on one tulip. To be honest, I was sort of dreading appliquéing the tulips down. I don't love working with things with seams in them - stitching down a solid piece of fabric is so much easier.


After a very thorough ironing, though, the seams really weren't too bad to deal with. I trimmed back a few of them at the base of the tulip, because with all those seam allowances meeting at one spot, it was going to be hard to get a nice edge for the appliqué. I realize, of course, that I could have chosen to appliqué all the parts of the tulips, rather than piecing them first. But the antique quilt had them pieced, and so ... I chose to go with piecing.


I had said that I would try to explain what I'm doing for the stems. Basically, I'm using a hera marker to mark my turning lines for both the long middle stem as well as the curved side stems. For the long straight stems, I'm using a ruler to mark the lines. For the curved stems, I'm running the hera marker against a plastic template. Hopefully you can see the faint marked lines on the stem at the left (above).

I'm doing the leaves totally freehand, though. In some ways, I wish I was brave enough to do all of it freehand, with no marked lines at all. But for now, I'm compromising and doing just a bit that way. Maybe as I get further along - the 2nd block, or maybe the 3rd? - I'll have worked up the nerve to free myself from the marked lines and freezer paper. While I admire the old quilt, which was most definitely done without these things, I still want my quilt to look somewhat even or symmetrical. At the same time, I am placing the leaves and tulips by eye, not using a pattern overlay to place the pieces. I want this to be something that has some life to it, a bit of imperfection, like the old quilt.


This is where I am, as of this morning. The top center stems and leaves are all sewn down, except for half of the middle stem. The bottom pieces are basted in place. I still have a whole bunch of tulips that need to be appliquéd, but I like to iron them right before basting them in place - it keeps the seams flat. Our weather right now is damp and rainy, though, so it seems like when I iron, the pieces immediately start to curl up again. However, having finally sewn down one of the tulips, I realize it isn't as bad as I had feared, so I'll be getting more of them on there soon.

There are so many other things I've been wanting to show you. Some of my other, old appliqué projects - but there's a bit of an embarrassment there, as so many were abandoned and never finished. Also, some of the projects I did from the book Family Ties - there are at least a half dozen of them, probably more. It's just a matter of gathering them together in one place. A day with better light would help too - we've just had what seems like day after day of cloudy rainy weather, and that doesn't make for nice clear pictures. So, I'll save those for another day.

love,
Cassie

PS I forgot to mention that I haven't ironed anything as I've been going along. (Maybe I'm making excuses because it looks a little sloppy right now?

3 comments:

suzanne said...

Cassie, your tulip looks great! You say you pressed the seams (and the points at the base look perfect), but did you press them open or to one side? I can't wait to see your old applique projects -- forget the embarassment -- it's all practice and process. And your UFO's aren't unique.

Do you have any knowledge of how people marked their applique pieces and backgrounds while making antique quilts, like the one you are replicating? I've read a bit about them and seen many, but haven't a clue.

Beth said...

I love your fabric selection and reading about your progress. I think it looks great! I took an applique class from Becky Goldsmith of Piece of Cake fame. She advises you to finger press along your pencil lines first. It is amazing how quick this is and how much easier it is to applique. Good luck...Beth

Tina said...

Cassie, your quilt is great, too. But not less intimidating…