Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Adventures and Experiments in Applique

Lately I've been doing a ton of sewing. I think ever since I found a permanent place to leave my sewing machine set up I've been re-bit by the bug. It's so much easier to get motivated to start a project when you don't have to lug that heavy thing out of the closet and set it up all over again, don't you think?
So anyway, a little while back I got the idea to start experimenting with applique (although I'll admit that when I started thinking about it, I didn't even know yet that that's what it was called, or even that it had a name).
Now, when I get an idea in my head, I'm way to impatient to wait to learn how to do it. I just experiment and learn as I go. I'm sure I'll get better with time and this first attempt is definitely flawed. Fortunately, the people I'm giving these pillows to treasure anything made by these two hands, as evidenced by the fact that a reindeer made out of clothespins still hangs on their Christmas tree 20 years later.
That's right, you guessed it. This first experiment is for my parents. Their anniversary present, to be exact.
So here's the story behind this. As some of you may or may not know, I grew up in northern New Jersey. And when I was a kid, we used to spend our summers at the Jersey Shore on Long Beach Island, which has, at its north end, a big lighthouse known as Ol' Barney. (Shameless nepotism-- the photo that links to is a picture of Ol' Barney taken by my amazingly talented photographer of a brother... and it is for sale.) Anyway, every summer we used to visit the lighthouse and climb to the top of it.
Ever since I can remember my parents used to dream of retiring there and about five years ago, they finally did. For my part, a few months ago I relocated to Milwaukee. Just before I left, I paid one last visit to Ol' Barney and snapped a picture. Looking at the picture and trying to decide what to give my parents for their anniversary, I thought, what better way to honor their realizing their dream than to give them Ol' Barney! So the wheels started churning and this is what I came up with (two of them actually. I made a matched set but only took a picture of one.)
So anyway, here's what I did. I'm sure there's a better way to go about this, and I'm sure I did plenty wrong. And if you know a better way to do it, please let me know. That's how we all learn.

Anyway, Basically, I started by enlarging the photo I had of the lighthouse and disecting it into its different color sections. I then pinned each piece to the fabric I was using. I chose fabric that doesn't fray much so I wouldn't have to worry about that. (One question I've had, what do people do when it's fabric that will fray? any ideas? Anyone know?)
So anyway, I pinned all the pieces VERY well to the pillow front. I say very carefully because, as I discovered on my first attempt, the places where a new piece of fabric begins will get messed up by the foot on the sewing machine if it's not held down well.
Anyway, I then carefully went around the outside of the fabric very carefully. In certain intricate spots, I actually just used the hand crank on the side of my machine, instead of the foot pedal so I could better control the movement. Once I was done, I sewed the front and back of the pillows together and stuffed them. That's it. Not super hard but requires lots of attention to detail. Now I'm hooked. I've started designing all different appliques and keep trying to come up with what I can make to put them on. Stay tuned... I'm sure it's not the last you've heard about this

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