Tag Archives: hand sewing

92: Laser Cut Appliqués

If you are ever wondering where my ideas in fabric and needle crafts come from, I can pretty much guarantee Rebecca at Hugs are Fun had a good hand in it, or at least started me down the path.  This week is no different, and she even took it a step farther by handing me fabric with adhesive iron on backing already attached.  Sometimes, though, my wheels turns slow.  I had her fabric in hand for 10 weeks (thanks, Instagram, for keeping track of that for me) before inspiration struck.

Peeling the protective backing off the HeatnBond
Peeling the protective backing off the HeatnBond

Technical aspects first: We used Heatn’Bond as our iron on applique backing, the Ultrahold kind.  It’s available for about $3 a yard in fabric or craft stores, or on their website.  To prepare the fabric for bonding, you iron on the HeatnBond to the fabric in the size you need.  There are a ton of tutorials out there (like this video from Heatn’Bond’s website) but the gist is to iron the rough side of the Heatn’Bond to the backside or wrong side of your fabric.  Cut out the shape you need, peel away the shiny side of the adhesive, then iron your applique on the larger project.

Getting ready to set it with the iron! Probably the 5th time the thing has been used... (Sorry Mom!)
Getting ready to set it with the iron! Probably the 5th time the thing has been used… (Sorry Mom!)

On the laser, the Heatn’Bond was great!  It stiffened the fabric and made it heavier, which made it much less prone to flying away when the exhaust was on (like in Week 77: Fabric).  We used the same settings that we used for paper – fast with a light touch.  Singe was minimal to non existent, the edges were perfectly cut and the marriage of lasers with iron on adhesive meant the design could be complicated without hand cutting and hand stitching every little bit!

Rebecca requested a unicorn, and I finally settled on drawing up a whale.  This is a family friendly blog, but I have to admit while laying out the designs out for the laser, a little bit of magic happened…

Magic = Narwhals!
Magic = Narwhals!
Unicorns and rainbows are a perfect combo.
Unicorns and rainbows are a perfect combo.

Appliques are traditionally used in sewing projects, which puts me right out – I have no sewing machine.  Rebecca does, though, and whipped up this amazing narwhal purse, and the unicorn pouch!  She is working up her own post about them, so I’ll make sure to link it here when it’s up.

Rebecca sacrificed her favorite mermaid fabric for this project. and it turned out amazingly cute!
Rebecca sacrificed her favorite mermaid fabric for this project, and it turned out amazingly cute!
Hooped up, ready to stitch. Given this was my first real embroidery project, I was reluctant to start and screw it up!
Hooped up, ready to stitch. Given this was my first real embroidery project, I was reluctant to start and screw it up!
Whale body stitching has been done.
Whale body stitching has been done.  The Needleminder is from Week 17 (and is available in my Beadeux Shop!)

I chose to use the whale as a base for an embroidery sampler.  I knew I wanted to do a baleen-type whale with a bit of decorative finery.  After way too much research, I can now tell you the white lines coming down from the mouth are “throat pleats” and that baleen type whales have not one blow hole but TWO. (Check out this baleen two blow hole google image search if you dare.  Gross and fascinating at the same time).  Other interesting factoids I learned – whales can’t breathe through their mouths, only their blow holes and the stuff that comes out of blowholes is called “blow.”  So, uncutely, the spout of blow is not water, but very much the the same as what comes out of your nose – exhaled warm air (which condenses to moisture) and mucus.  This make complete and utter sense, but I never had thought about it before…ew.

As you can imagine, I started my rainbow colored spout of blow with trepidation. I had to put aside those pesky things called "facts" and "accuracy" to get to "cute!"
As you can imagine, I started my rainbow colored blow spout with trepidation. I had to put aside those pesky things called “facts” and “accuracy”  and “gross” to get to “cute!”
Finished piece...now to frame it. Good thing I know a good local frame shop!
Finished piece…now to frame it. Good thing I know a good local frame shop!

For those unfamiliar with the “sampler” concept, I used a variety of different stitches to create this piece.  For those who are familiar and want to know what is represented, here goes:

Body: Stem stitch (mouth), Back stitch (eyes and outer lines on fin), Split Stitch (throat pleats and swirls), Chain Stitch (center of the fin) and French knots (tail)

Blow: Feather Stitch (red), Laced running stitch (yellow and orange), Chain Stitch (green),  Fern stitch (dark blue), Lazy daisy (purple) and French Knot (light blue – I had to put vapor in there somewhere!)

I highly recommend this picture directory of stitches at Sarah’s Hand Embroidery website if you are interested in more stitches.  It’s great for people like me who comprehend better seeing it with thread instead of drawings and have zero idea what these stitches are called!

I'm wrapping this up with a nice close up or the happy whale and his rainbow colored blow :)
I’m wrapping this up with a nice close up of the happy whale and his rainbow colored blow 🙂

68: Fussy Cut Templates

So, during Week 66, I made a disclaimer that the post wasn’t really about English Paper Piecing, but rather a platform to talk about how to laser cut paper. This week is about cutting and piecing together fabric – consider yourself forewarned!

To “fussy cut” a piece of fabric is to take great care in cutting the piece needed from  a specific area of the fabric.  You can do this to highlight a specific figure or artistic part of the fabric, but I most often see it used with English Paper Piecing to create a unique kaleidoscope effect with repeats of the same segment of fabric.

Here's my version - my first fussy cut bloom!  The 6 jewels with the same pattern are sewn points in to make this star, which has a kaleidoscope kind of feel to it.
Here’s my version – my first fussy cut star or flower! I used the jewel shape from Week 66 with the same pattern sewn points in to make this shape.  I like how the grey lines make a secondary, off kilter tar in the piece.
Step 1 for testing my aligning and sewing skills - cutting 6 of the same pattern segment in the jewel shape!
Step 1 for testing my aligning and sewing skills – cutting 6 of the same pattern segment in the jewel shape!
Six perfectly aligned jewel shapes!  Aren't they cute?
Six perfectly aligned jewel shapes! Aren’t they cute?

It’s easier to fussy cut, of course, when you can see what you want to cut.  This is where acrylic templates come in.  You can align your fabric under them template, and then use the outside lines as cut guides to trace or use a rotary cutter on.  There are many fussy cut templates commercially available, but they re overwhelmingly squares or hexagons (which, by all rights, are very popular shapes in quilting).  I couldn’t find a jewel shaped or octagonal template anywhere!

To get the outlines for the templates, I used the same vector lines I created for the  paper templates in Week 66 and added a 3/8″ (.375″) border for the fabric that needs to fold over the paper edges and get tacked together to make the final shape. With good advice from Ryan, I figured out the easiest way to do this is add a .375″ outside stroke to the piece, then hit “expand appearance.”  Then you get two lines: your original, and another the perfect distance away.

I used the expanded shapes to create two different kinds of templates, to see which I liked better.  I actually did find advantages and disadvantages to both types, and often swapped back and forth!

Template style 1 is on the right, style 2 is on the left!
Template style 1 is on the right, style 2 is on the left!
Cute framed Mermaid!
Cute framed Mermaid!

Template 1: Created with 1/8″ clear acrylic.  It’s a solid piece, with a deep vector line showing the dimensions of your finished EPP.

Pros:

  • Because of the full coverage, it flattened slightly wrinkly fabric in the center as well as around the edges.  
  • Smoothly ran across the fabric when I was looking for the perfect cut
  • The clear acrylic allowed me to see the edges of what I was cutting as well as the desired image.  Fussy cutting can waste a lot of fabric, and sometimes the perfect images is closer the 3/8″ from the edge.  3/8″ is pretty generous, and in dire need, you can short it a little.  Visually deciding what was enough to sew helped me waste less fabric!
  • Some artists actually use the acrylic to trace the outline of the desired image in the center with a removable marker, allowing them more reference points to align to for even more perfect fussy cuts!
  • Easier to put the 52 Lasers logo on it (which of course has nothing to do with functionality!)

Cons:

  • Clear edges could be a little distracting, especially with busy or loud patterns
  • Easy to lose!  It’s clear so it blends in with everything.
The template frames the spider cross stitch done by Rebecca of Hugs are Fun perfectly!
The template frames the spider cross stitch done by Rebecca of Hugs are Fun perfectly!

Template 2: Created with 1/8″ opaque white acrylic, and is just the area encompassed by the stroke.  The center is cut out, like a low-tech view finder.

Pros:

  • Smoothly ran across the fabric when I was looking for the perfect cut
  • I preferred the opaque edges when finding the perfect cuts – it separated out the noise of the full fabric

Cons:

  • You couldn’t see the edges, and a couple times I got too close to a hole or wayward rotary cut for my fussy cut to work.

The full clear template is probably more versatile, and I would probably like it better with frosted or tinted edges – enough to still see though, but to set it off from the rest of the fabric better.  You wouldn’t believe how many times I simply set it down and lost it. I found I used the different template types in tandem, specially when I was trying to utilize every scrap.  I could see if a given space would fit two shapes or only one!

The laser is a versatile tool – you can make any shape template imaginable!  This really helps with the new EPP books that are breaking away from the hexagon stereotype, like the eagerly anticipated All Points Patchwork: English Paper Piecing beyond the Hexagon by Diane Gilleland, coming out in May! (Not an affiliate link, I just think the sneak peek looks great!)

Thanks again to Rebecca at Hugs are Fun for letting me raid her stash.  Of course, it’s her fault I’ve wandered down this EPP path in the first place! 🙂

This photo is very badly posed, as I was trying to photograph with my left and hold the rotary blade with my right.  Rotary blades are dangerous, kids, don't try this at home.

This photo is very badly posed, as I was trying to photograph with my left and hold the rotary blade with my right. Rotary blades are dangerous, kids, don’t try this at home.

cut-octagons

Clear 2 inch diamond template
Clear 2 inch diamond template

Edited 6/14/2015 – you can now find them in my supply shop, Beadeux, along with other laser cut goodies!