Tuesday, 3 June 2008


Dear Cassie,

Thank you for making me believe that it is actually possible to make quilts by hands only!

When I first started quilting I thought that one lifetime would be too short for quilting without the help of the machine. Now that I have discovered that I can accomplish a lot by doing handwork only and that I really don’t need to battle with my sewing machine or be isolated from the world and to be tied to the machine, I wonder if I’ll ever go back to machine work! The same progress has happened with my other sewing. I enjoy sewing the seams for clothing by hand too. I subscribe this magazine called Threads. It focuses on sewing and even though I have gone through periods in my life when I have not been sewing that much, I have been loyal to this magazine. One issue in the spring (no 135) focused on “slow-sewing” and I have kept coming back to that issue often. I quote the Editor Amber Eden: “Everything these days is so fast. Whether we eat it, buy it, or make it, a top priority is often the speed at which we can accomplish these tasks – so we can do even more. Well, I’m making a case for slow sewing.” And then: “And I don’t know about you, but I get some of my best thinking done when I’m sewing, so I like to take my time. At the end of the day, that’s what couture sewing is really all about: taking your time and doing tasks by hand.”

Last time I wrote to you I talked about using fell stitch for my appliqué stitch. I did, but I have returned back to ladder stitch. I know this must sound a bit fussy, but I did not in the end like the way fell stitch pressed the edges of the patches, while doing ladder stitch the edge stays more rounded! I have not taken any classes on appliqué and am mostly self taught by reading quilting books. Ladder stitch I came across in Ami Simm’s book called “Invisible Appliqué”
and fell stitch is used in couture sewing. It is also called appliqué stitch.

I have bought some new fabrics. A bunch of Japanese (some of these are quite thick and I am thinking of using them for embroidery) and a bunch of solids and few background fabrics for the next hand appliquéd quilts! I am thinking ahead… But really I have just barely started my third block... So the next quilt is far away yet. And so be it because I do love this slow-sewing.



PS. That center "floret" in your block looks like the most interesting appliqué shape, it looks very challenging! I am sort of getting bored with my simple bold shapes...


Marianne said...

Cassie and Lene, just wanting to tell you how delightful this shared blog is. Both projects are coming along so beautifully... I always stuck with pieced quilts, the applique just never appealed very much but I'm needing to re-think that notion :^)

The 'slow sewing' I love that. I think the reason I did mine all by hand, other than the time it took to haul out the machine and set it up etc... I just really enjoyed sitting and stitching the pieces together, then handquilting. It does take a long time but oh, what a peaceful time.

suzanne said...

Dear Lene,

It's wonderful to see all those blocks. It's very intriquing to me to see the "scrappiness" of your fabric selection -- perhaps your biggest difference from Cassie's project. I would have been more controlled, so I'm thrilled to see that your project is looking so good -- it's teaching me a lesson!

The mystery deepens -- the term "fell stitch" is not one that is well known to U.S. quilters, who often don't have a garment making background, or even if they do (like me), haven't encountered this term.

I learned that the hand applique stitch I use is called "blind stitch", but unlike a "blind stitch" hem, in applique when the needle goes into the lower fabric, there is no need to pick up only a thread or two -- it can glide underneath until you want it to go up into the applique turnunder, but it is not necessary (as in ladder stitch) to make this part of the stitch (the "go up" part) go into the very edge of the applique, as it would be in ladder stitch.

I don't know if I'm making any sense, but I do wonder if there is any point in making the "go up" stitch go into the edge of the applique rather than just between the turnunder and the top of the applique as is natural.

Am I describing a fell stitch method? I've never not seen what I would describe as a rounded edge on my blind stitch hand applique. All these words, when a video is called for!

Your term of "quiet sewing" will stick with me -- what a beautiful thought! Looking forward to more.