Struggling with broderie perse

I am struggling with this new-to-me technique, broderie perse.

applique 1I understand the concept, and I did a bit of online research to see exactly how it’s done.  However, I wasn’t able to find a lot of specific how-to information out there.  It was mostly historical information; it seems that broderie perse has fallen out of vogue.  A post on Barbara Brackman’s blog states that quilters would not cut very close to the actual outline of the shapes, but rather loosely in the background around the shapes.

Well.  That’s not going to work so well with my chosen appliques.  The background, seen here in my previous post, is more of a bluish periwinkle.  That won’t work with the black background of the quilt.

So I decided to try invisible thread; Superior’s MonoPoly in Smoke.  It really is very, very hard to see – so much so that I had to get a magnifying glass to thread my machine.

applique 2But I don’t like the little holes the needle leaves in the applique. I used a size 10 needle, which is the smallest needle I have.  But it was still leaving those ugly holes, and since the appliques are fused, I doubt the holes will close back up after washing or steaming.

applique 3So I switched to Bottom Line, which is a fine (60 wt) thread.  Didn’t care much for that look, either.

Back to brainstorming.  I briefly considered a denser zigzag, but that’s a TON of work, going around all those shapes, and I think in the end, it will detract from and obscure the appliques.

I’m actually considering pulling off all the flowers and doing a different type of applique for the borders, but the perfectionist in me is mentally stamping her foot and pouting because these flowers are so stinkin perfect for the quilt!

So.  Does anybody out there have any ideas, suggestions, or broderie perse resources I could check out?  I would greatly appreciate it!

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Neon Glow part 2: trying something new

Well, it seemed to take a really long time to get all the blocks assembled, but it’s done.

kaffe 4But…  it doesn’t really look done, does it?  It needs something, some kind of border.  Not just a typical plain border, though.

Sometimes daydreaming can be very productive.  I was staring at the quilt, daydreaming, studying the construction, when it hit me – what to do about the border.

bordersAha!  Much better!  I really like how those corner blocks extend the center of the quilt out.  And it’s different.

But.  Hmmm….  it still needs something, doesn’t it?  A bit of applique, perhaps, to soften up all those pointy angles.  Off to my local quilt shop I go, top in hand.

I auditioned teal, purple, and pink solid or read-as-solid fabrics.  The colors matched the ones in the quilt, but the fabrics just did not blend well with the design.  They overwhelmed it instead.

Enter one of the best things a quilter can have in her life: a wonderful, knowledgeable, and creative Local Quilt Shop Owner.  My favorite LQSO is named Cheran Bee, she owns Fiddlesticks Quilt Shop in Vancouver, Washington (Vancouver not B.C., Washington not D.C.), and she’s an absolute gem.  Cheran looked at the top, agreed that the borders needed something, and she didn’t like the pink and teal fabrics either.  She thought a minute, disappeared into the depths of her shop, and reappeared with this:

philip jacobs anne marie in blueWow – I know where she’s going with this.  I gasped and blurted out “Broderie perse!”  It was PERFECT.  I bought a couple of yards and ran straight home, did not pass Go, did not collect $200.

Confession time.  I’ve never tried broderie perse, and to be honest, I’ve never really liked it when I’ve seen it in magazines and quilt shows.  But I realize that’s probably because when I have seen it, it looks like a still-life painting to me.  Boring, yawn, Ho with a capital Hum.

But it’s a challenge and I’m not one to back down from a challenge, so I did some research.  I learned that broderie perse was quite a popular technique back in the day, whatever day that was. Quilters would loosely cut around floral prints, then applique (needle-turn or buttonhole stitch) the shape onto the background.  According to Barbara Brackman, “traditional broderie perse is harder today because large-scale florals with white backgrounds are rare” and it’s harder to match backgrounds.  However, quilters can solve that problem by cutting the entire background away from the print.

People, that kind of detail work is right up my alley!

I ironed some fusible web onto the back and started snipping happily away.  I LOVE intricate, detail work.

A few hours later, I have some working pieces to play with:  dahlias and carnations.  I tried the dahlias first.

kaffe 7Hmm.  This doesn’t balance.  I tried placement of the flowers by size, first putting the small ones in the corner, then reversing the order and placing the larger flowers in the corner.  Neither worked.  Okay, let’s try carnations:

kaffe 8I like that better; I like the delicateness of the carnations.  They’re not big and blobby like the dahlias were.  But it’s still not cutting it; the carnations don’t seem to flow with the quilt either.

How about combining both types of flowers?   I really didn’t think that would work well, which is why I separated them in the first place.

kaffe 9Wow, I really like that!  I like how it starts off large in the corner and tapers out toward the center of the quilt.  I like how the carnation stems give some flow and continuity. I like how the small, delicate carnations balance the big blobby dahlias.

Yes, I think this will work!  Off I go to cut more flowers for the opposite corner.

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Neon glow

A couple of months ago, I got a wild hair.

kaffe 1I picked up an assortment of Kaffe prints and started slicing and dicing without much of a plan.

kaffe 2

A very simple, basic 1-patch block.

kaffe 3 I love how it seems to glow, so the working title for it is “Neon Glow”.

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I LOVE THIS! It seems to float on top of the black 🙂 Can’t wait to see how the blocks intertwine when you make more!

Cindi 100 small

Weaving finished

Well, it took a while…

weave 2abut I got all the weaving done.

weave 3It was easy but time-consuming.

weave 4

weave 6Done!  Whew!

trimI trimmed it and stitched the raw edges.  The glue holds it together nicely, but since this was so labor-intensive, I didn’t want any risk of the weaving coming undone.

stitching edges Several years ago I made this bag for my laptop.  It’s worked very well, but it’s a hair too small.  It fits just my laptop and nothing else, and the flap should have been longer.

orig bagI want something big enough for my laptop, a binder, a couple of notepads, pens, and other office accoutrements.  I decided this weaving project would be a cool replacement for my original bag.

bag fabricBummer! I started this wild-hair weaving project before I really knew what I wanted to do with it, and I didn’t make it big enough to work as a replacement laptop bag.  So I’ll put the woven fabric aside for a while, until I stumble across a different use for it.

I don’t feel that my efforts were wasted, however.  I learned a lot, had some fun, and will probably make another woven project soon!

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I got a wild hair

I started a new project, because apparently I just can’t have enough UFOs.

This was inspired partly by this woven pillow cover I made a couple of years ago, and partly by a gorgeous woven leather handbag that I saw in a store.  It was gorgeous but hoooo boy, very expensive!

I bought some lightweight denim and cut it into 1″ strips.

cuttingRan the strips through a bias maker.

binding toolI’d started out with putting a 1/4″ strip of fusible web in the center, but I ran out of it, so I resorted to starching the strips, then moved on to using Elmer’s glue.

Elmer’s has this neat little glue tube.

glue 1 It dispenses a thin line of glue at one end…

glue 2…and a wider one at the other end, with a tip that spreads the glue evenly and thinly.  It worked perfectly for my strips.

glue 3Next, I lined up the strips on a 45° angle and taped them down with duct tape.  Ha!  Never thought I’d use duct tape in a sewing project, but I was wrong!

weave 1My husband got curious when he saw me with his roll of duct tape in hand, so he came to see what I was doing.  After observing me for a few minutes, he dryly pointed out that although this is a quilting blog, there didn’t seem to be much sewing involved in this project.  He then asked me if I was going to swipe his WD-40 also.  I pointed out that not only do I know where he sleeps, I also cook his dinner.  He was quick to bring me a glass of wine and a slice of chocolate cake.

Next up:  I’m ready to start weaving!

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A while back, twelve members of my quilting group decided they wanted to explore art quilting.  We decided to make one 12″ by 12″ quilt a month, with each member picking a theme that the rest of us could then interpret into a quilt.

Our first theme was “Green”.  I spent a lot of time contemplating ideas and designs for Green.  There are several possible interpretations; money, jealousy, earth-friendly, color.  I had a great idea for jealousy but I could not make it work in such a short period of time.  I knew a couple other members of my group were going with money and recycling ideas.  So I chose to simply feature the color, but I wanted to do something unexpected, something you wouldn’t ordinarily associate with “green”.

I made a green zebra.

s2b 1It was fun and surprisingly easy to make!  I browsed copyright-free images on the internet, found a zebra, cropped it to what I thought was an interesting perspective, and printed it out on freezer paper.  Since the paper is only 8.5″ by 11″, I couldn’t fill the whole width of the quilt with the image, but in the end I decided that this non-standard framing also added interest.

I ironed the freezer paper on the front of my green fabric, ironed fusible web on the back,  and spent a happy hour pretending I was back in Mrs. McGee’s first grade class, cutting out green zebra stripes.  I ironed it onto a solid white background and fused a stabilizer to the backing to support the stitching and give the quilt some stiffness, so it would hang nicely.  Then I sandwiched the quilt with batting as usual, and quilted it with a zigzag stitch in metallic green thread all around the raw edges.  I wanted it to be subtle but sparkly.  I contemplated further quilting in the white areas, but in the end I decided it would distract from the main image.

s2b 4I’ve never been much of an art quilt fan; I think there are maybe 20 art quilts I’ve seen that I actually liked.  And I’m not much of an artist, either.  I can’t draw, paint, sketch, etc.  I have no sense of perspective and I can’t figure out how to illustrate light and shadows well.  But for some reason, when I was asked if I wanted to participate in this art quilt challenge, I said yes.  And I’m really glad I did!  I surprised myself by accepting a challenge to do something I didn’t think I’d like doing.  And then I surprised myself even more by actually enjoying the entire process and being proud of my final product!

How about you?  Have you ever challenged yourself to do something you didn’t think you’d enjoy, only to discover you actually had fun?

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 I love the quilt! The metallic thread really brings it to life. And I love the way you thought “outside the box” and didn’t make the first green thing that came to mind. I did challenge myself to do a portrait quilt, thinking it would be the hardest thing ever. I don’t do well with color theory, and making the quilt helped me learn color-matching. Instead of being hard, it was thrilling watching the portrait come together! Your quilts always amaze me – the thought your truly put into them – and because of you I always step up my game when I’m preparing a quilt. You’re my quilting “hero”, and I love to surprise you with something you’re not expecting from me!

Cindi 100 small


Evergreen and goldenrod

hollie 1Hollie requested “light & dark sage greens, light & dark creamy golds” for her birthday blocks.  For some reason, it got easier to pick fabrics when I changed it to “evergreen and goldenrod” in my head.  I didn’t think I would care much for the color combo, but can I just say wow!  I love it!  It’s not a color combination you see every day, which is nice.

hollie 4I’ve been drooling over the POTC (Patchwork of the Crosses) blocks for some time.    My block is rather plain in comparison to most of the ones you see on the internet.

The Y-seams were definitely a challenge, but well worth the extra patience.

hollie 2I love, love, love bead blocks.  They’re harder than you’d think.  Getting those points to line up is like getting kindergarteners to line up.

hollie 3I tried a new technique for this applique.  Usually I cut heat-resistant templates and starch the seam allowances under, but this time I cut the bead shapes out of Beth Ferrier’s “Wash-Away Applique Sheets“.  It’s an interesting product.  The sheets are printable on one side and fusible on the other, and when you’re done with the project, they dissolve in water.

hollie 5I found it difficult to hand-applique through the fabric.  The sheets seemed to be pretty stiff, so I ended up switching to machine applique.  When I was done, I stay-stitched around the outer edge of the block and tossed it in the washer, then let it air dry.  After pressing, I’m not sure I’m entirely happy with how crinkly the beads look, but you know what?  Once it’s in the quilt, no one will ever notice.

I recently learned about another interesting applique technique called “front basting”.  Have you heard of it?  I’m eager to try it.  I might have to make another bead/leaf block and test this new-to-me technique.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

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Are you sick and tired of birthday blocks yet?

Birthday girl requested red, black, and white.  I like that color combo; it’s easy to create something awesome.

I started with this one, and it just seemed too blah.  It didn’t really sing to me.

lynne 1So I took it apart and remade it with a different fabric and some very careful piecing.  NOW it has some zing!

lynne 4

I really liked what the striped fabric did for this block, so I decided to utilize it in the second block.

lynne 2I love the simplicity.  However, the male half of my house thought this was too bland and stark, and decided I should add a flower.  He helped himself to my design wall.

lynne 3Mark this as a first – a guy actually caring about something matching.

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Disaster averted, Urban Nine Patch finished

Thanks for all the helpful suggestions about how to deal with that pesky brown stain.  I tried a few of them and the stain faded quite a bit.  I was willing to remake that block, but I didn’t have enough fabric, so I showed it to Cheran (LQS owner who commissioned the quilt) and she thought it looked fine, so I just assembled the quilt.

Ta da!

finishedWhen Cheran first asked me to make it, I was not looking forward to dealing with those curves.  However, it was a huge compliment that she DID ask me to make it, because that means she thinks I’m a good piecer!  Yay, ego boost!  But honestly, it was easier than I thought it was going to be.  I worked out a way of sewing the curves that didn’t include pins, glue, stopping and adjusting every 4th stitch….  it went pretty fast.

cheranThe hardest part was mentally adjusting the colors, because Cheran requested a different color arrangement than what was written in the pattern.

I like how the gray softens the bright colors a bit, gives a nice contrast.

If you like the quilt, you can contact Cheran at her shop for a kit and ruler!

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Another disaster!

The first disaster occurred last week.  I’m working on a wedding quilt, and I realized I’m fifteen inches short of the main fabric.  So, as I wait for the results of several inquiries and internet searches to show up on my doorstep, I decided to start a new project:

urban 9 patch progress

A shop sample for my LQS, as requested by the owner, Cheran.

I’m happily buzzing along on these blocks, and I’m about halfway done, and I’m congratulating myself because it’s turning out to be a bit easier and quicker to make than I had originally thought, what with them pesky curves and all.

But congratulating myself tempted Fate just a little too much, and she decided to have some fun with me by handing me another disaster to deal with.

My iron belched.

oh crap 1Dad GUMMIT!

I went to the sink and ran water over it, hoping it would simply rinse out.  Then I dabbed a little Dawn dish soap on and brushed gently with a toothbrush.  I sprayed some stain remover that, until now, has never let me down.  It’s even removed blood!  Nope. The stain – whatever it is – faded, but it’s still there.

oh crap 3Ugh.

So, does anyone have any idea what this stain could be, and how to get it out?

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