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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