Sunday, 5 April 2015

How to...appliqué (part three)

After a delay of about 7 years (what on earth happened there?) I am finishing off the tutorial on how to appliqué! Part one is here and part two can be read here.  The most amazing thing of this all is that I still have the little singlet that I was using in this series!

In part two of this tutorial I showed you how to use iron-on Vliesofix (the stuff that makes your fabric stick to your base garment) and Fusible Tear-Away (the iron-on stabiliser that means you can appliqué on delicate or difficult fabrics without your machine chewing it all up - hooray for that!)  In this final part of the series I will show you how to stitch the design onto the base garment and how to finish it off super neatly!

Step 1: Setting your machine for appliqué
In this final part of the tutorial I will show you the 2 types of machine applique that I regularly use.  One is using a straight stitch and the other is with the zig-zag that I call 'appliqué' stitch.  The straight stitch is simple - just a normal straight stitch so need to adjust your machine too much. I do take the length down a little to about 1.8.

Setting the machine for the tight zig-zag (appliqué stitch) is the trickiest bit off all. You will need to experiment here with your machine.  Since starting this tutorial I have moved onto a newer machine.  My old machine was quite brilliant though and the appliqué work that I sold previously was done on that old machine. I stitched hundreds of appliquéd garments and it really was a work horse.  If your machine does straight and zig-zag stitches, you can appliqué.

Fancy machines are really not required.  You will have seen lots of those insanely expensive machines that do that super neat embroidery and appliqué - its looks very smooth and the stitches are all equal.  But personally, I don't like it.  I think that the end result looks a little too 'mass produced'.  I am not saying that I think that hand-made should look amateur but I think setting a machine and pressing go and coming back when its finished takes some of the hand-made out of hand-made.  But that's just me.

OK, back to it. Grab some practise fabric - preferably a similar type of cotton fabric that you are using to appliqué with.  Take your zig-zag setting width to a reasonably narrow sitting and the length super small - I on my Janome I set the width to 2.4 and the length to 0.4.  When you are happy with the settings, write down then down so you can set your machine when you need to.  You may need to adjust your tension too.  You can see my test strip below.

Once you are happy with the settings, you are ready to go!

Step 3: Sewing your appliqué
In this tutorial I am going to use straight stitch for the leaves and stem and appliqué stitch for the apple.  For this design I am going to colour match the thread for the apple but use a contrasting white for the stem and leaves (plus it means you can see where I am stitching). You can leave your bobbin cotton as white or off white as you will not see it from the front.  If you want, you can match the bobbin colours on the backside too (I used to do this but I went insane from filling bobbins).

Set your machine speed to slow (if you can).  Start stitching your leaves where they meet the apple like so, about 1-2mm in from the edge of the leaves.  Apologies for my photos...

Gently guide the machine around the curves, stopping and moving the garment as you need  If you have a setting that leaves the needle in the down position whenever you stop stitching, have this on -  its a life saver.

Keep stitching around the leaves and stem until you are back down to the apple!

Now you need to change out your thread to match your apple (or contrast with white or accent pink) and set your machine to the settings that you wrote down when you were setting up.

Start at the top of the apple, covering the start of the white stitching as you go - this will make it look neat and acts to secure the white stitching. You want to have the majority of the applique stitch on the apple and just the edge of the stitch going into the garment, as below.

Keep stitching all the way around the apple until you are back to the top. Run slightly over the start.  The photo below, with the purple arrow (I am so technical) shows the stitching - I really need to work on my photos.  Please let me know if you would like so super close-ups (and I will then call in my husband).

Well done!  Almost there.

Step : Finishing your appliqué
 A lot of people take a short cut here.  But I don't.  I hand tie and sew in all the ends of my appliqué work.  On some of my more detailed designs I used 4 or 5 colours and perhaps had up to 20 or so ends to tie and sew in. Multiply that by 25 garments and it took time. A lot of time. But finishing an appliqué well is important to me.  I wanted it to be as neat and secure as it could be. 

Before you start this, you will need to turn the garment in-side out and remove the Fusible-Tear-Away - it comes off pretty easily.  You may need a large blunt darning needle or similar to remove little bits if your design is very detailed.

Once this is done I turn the garment back the right way and using a fine needle, I sew the threads through to the back (or you can pull them through from the back).  When they are all on back side, I turn the garment inside out again and then tie each pair of threads three times, trim the ends and sew them through, as below.

Once you have sewn them all in, it will look this from the inside;

I think it is worth it as the garment will look neat and tidy on the inside and all the stitches will be super secure.  Then give the garment a quick iron and you are done. Simple!

Thank you all for waiting the 7 years for the end of this tutorial.  I can only hope it was worth the wait.

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