Monday, August 26, 2019

Conquering my fear of applique... it's time to try a new technique.

It turns out the Kiwi quilt I was asked to design and make was not as difficult as I thought and it has turned out so cool. Many of my regular readers will know that I have usually stuck to foundation paper piecing. My reasons for this were not simply due to the fact that I like foundation paper piecing, but also that I was terrified of applique. It seemed like it would be a very difficult thing to do. That probably sounds funny to many quilters, who feel quite the opposite. 

So when I was asked by a local quilt shop to design something for a print pattern that would use New Zealand themed Kiwiana fabric by Nutex Fabrics, I knew it would be a learning curve for me. 

Being a Cruise ship port, we often get an influx of tourists over summer. The plan was to sell my pattern along with a fabric-kit to tourists. Therefore the design needed to be appliqué as then it is possible to hand-sew the quilt while people are on their cruise (what a great way to spend those sea-days, am I right?)  

The first thing I did was buy the fabric. I probably did this backward - I bought the fabric first and then went home to try and think of the inspiration for a design. Eventually, I came up with the design and printed off my templates. I even went so far as to cut them out and put them on the bed in my sewing room. 

The next thing I did was procrastinate - for several months. 

Why? FEAR. I was so scared of messing it up and ruining those beautiful fabrics. I was also scared of moving out of my comfort zone and trying something new. But I couldn't put it off forever, as I had told the owner of the quilt shop that I would try and come up with something before cruise ship season starts in mid-September, and you all know how I am about deadlines!

I used the raw edge technique of applique and once I actually started I learned several things:
1. Heat n Bond is incredible stuff. This was so much easier than the previous stuff I tried using for applique. Plus I found a cool way to use it to print my own quilt labels (I'll write another post about that later).  Last time I used fusible web I managed to adhere it to my ironing board and ruin the ironing board. Lucky for me, a new cover for the ironing board was only a few dollars from KMart and as yet hubby hasn't noticed my faux pas. You can buy the same HeatnBond sheets I use here.

2. My sewing is not as bad as I thought. I have said previously that one of the reasons I stick to foundation paper piecing is due to the fact that my sewing capabilities are somewhat lacking. Turns out all that practice has given me more confidence than I knew I had. Plus, when it came to quilting this one, I tried to stretch my skills a bit and I think it paid off.

3. Applique can be just as wasteful of fabric, if not more so than foundation paper piecing! Yep - Turns out when I looked at the amount of waste I created after cutting out my shapes and there was actually more wasted fabric than I would have had foundation paper piecing. I guess this is because you are cutting out shapes and there is less opportunity to use your scraps in the same project like there is in foundation piecing because the motifs are cut as one or two pieces. However, I still kept some of those scraps in my scrap box for future projects, so it's not like I threw them out. 

Although I think this pattern is really cool, it's pretty specific to the New Zealand quilting market. Because of this, I think this pattern will only be released as a print pattern and probably only sold to quilt shops at this stage (unless of course, Nutex wants to distribute it for me). However, I could be convinced otherwise if enough people want it as a PDF. 

I did have a lot of fun with this quilt and I learned a lot. I think I have conquered my fear of applique and would definitely do it again for another quilt. What advice do I have for you? Regardless of which technique it is that YOU fear, I would like to encourage you to give it a try. It's a great learning opportunity and you might find you are good at it. You might also mess it up, but you won't know that until you try it!

Happy Piecing!

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