Yesterday, we created a sturdy quilt sandwich for a hand appliqued mini quilt that I’m calling Studio Bird, and that will be embellished with WonderFil threads designed especially for hand embroidery and stitching.
Today, we’re going to start working on the hand-stitched mini quilt. Have you selected your favorite bits and pieces?
Here are mine.
Download and print out the flower pot and bird pieces. Trace them onto freezer paper or onto template plastic.
TIP I found that if you iron together freezer paper in at least three layers, you’ll have an enduring paper template. Just stack the paper shiny sides down, and iron on the cotton setting, steam off. Let the paper cool and peel off the ironing board. Cool, right?
Cut out the flower pot pieces from the brown wool felt. I use self-gripping food wrap over the felt. It provides a good surface to trace the templates, leaving a clean line to cut along, and it doesn’t mark or damage the felt. See preceding photo.
Use a length of Ellana thread to stitch the top rim piece to the pot. Use a simple running stitch for this. You’ll find the Ellana thread provides a nice 3-D effect by magically sinking into the felt. I love this effect, and you’ll notice there’s no fuzzies. Seems like magic, right?
Use applique pins to pin the flower pot to the substrate. Use contrasting thread to baste it into place using a short running stitch.
Cut out the bird pieces. Set the bird aside for now.
Place the substrate into a 10″ embroidery hoop, making sure the work is tight, but not stretched. You’ll want to ensure there are no ripples and creases. Care at this stage will mean you don’t have to work out how to get rid of a problem later. And for some reason, mistake creases never go away easily, if ever.
Use applique pins to pin the flower pot to the substrate, keeping the top open.
Use Ellana thread to applique the flower pot to the substrate. Stitch half cross stitches in one direction, and complete the cross stitch on the second pass. Be aware of the tension while you do this. We’re going for texture and a slight 3-D effect.
I enjoyed how the Ellana thread, which is made of 50% Merino wool and 50% acrylic, behaved during this non-traditional way of appliqueing. It didn’t curl, knot, or make me question why I ever took up fiber arts. It’s a delicious bit of luxury to sew with Merino wool.
It just so happens that I have several English Paper Pieced hexies petals ready for the flower. Check out this post about making the flower petals.
Those fine little stitches are possible with Invisafil thread. It has a lovely feeling in the hand, and again, seems to resist all the heartache of thread behaving badly. Tiny stitches are important in English Paper Pieced because great honking ones are visible on the right side. In addition, the English Paper Pieced element won’t be as durable if the stitches that joined them together are too wide. It’s helpful to use a small quilting in-betweener needle as well. Their small size encourages small stitches. The Invisafil thread works very well with these tiny needles.
Place the flower stem in the pot, tucking it under the top of the pot. Close the top in the same manner as used in appliqueing the rest of the flower pot.
Pin the flower onto the top of the stem, using applique pins. Use Efina to applique the flowers into place. I must say, this thread is a real star in cotton applique. It’s really smooth because of the way it’s made. It’s purposefully created for cotton applique.
Efina is 2-ply thread made from the highest possible caliber of extra long staple Egyptian cotton. This means that Efina isn’t only soft to the touch, but also very strong. The thread is spun to ensure uniform diameter (no bumps or weird lumps) and a lovely luster. There’s a range of 60 colors, which are also available in the Ellana wool thread collection. The entire collection has been created with renowned fiber artist Sue Spargo. Her fanciful floral and fauna are embellished with beautiful stitches.
Again, the needle of choice for hand applique are quilting needles. They’re shorter than regular hand sewing needles, and help ensure good stitch length as well as tension. As you applique, do your best not to pull too tightly. You’re looking to just catch the end of the applique, and then sink the needle very closely to that edge. See the following photo.
Don’t you agree that WonderFil Specialty Threads are great to work with on this hand-stitched mini quilt?
I’ll leave you to get on with the applique.
Tomorrow, we’ll have a look at where we can add some embroidered details, and where the little bird will go. Spoiler alert: she’ll have a little something special in her beak.
This is part 3 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 2: Neutral backgrounds make your scrappy quilt design stand out