A couple of years ago I purchased 2 patterns from Carol Roberts of Cherry Pie Designs. http://www.cherrypiedesigns.com One of them is “Paris”, a cushion pattern which I made earlier this year and blogged about http://alwaysquilting.wordpress.com/2012/03/02/dressed-at-last. The other is “Louisa”, a lovely applique quilt. It has taken me some time to work out what fabrics I want to use, but finally I found some reproduction fabrics and so I set about preparing for action.
The pattern requires that several sections be cut and joined together before marking on the fabric. I like to make a photocopy of the pattern pieces that I plan to cut, so that my original is always intact and “safe”.
The centre background panel of this quilt is cut 110cm by the width of the fabric, so is quite a big piece of fabric with which to applique and thus brings its own challenges. As you can see, the centre is marked out in quarters. However, when I came to transfer the pattern using my lightbox, I discovered that not only was I struggling to see the design through the background fabric, but the little bit I did manage to mark was difficult to pick up, despite trying a variety of marking tools. This dilemma caused for some brow-furrowing moments, until I remembered the technique of using a design overlay.
This is a technique which is used by Becky Goldsmith and Linda Jenkins of Piece O Cake Designs and you can watch a very informative video of it here. http://www.pieceocake.com/Lessons/02-Overlays.html
Using this method, you position and pin your applique pieces directly onto the background fabric, without having to use a marking tool to “draw” on the fabric. As you will see if you look at this link, they advise the use of a piece of clear vinyl to make the overlay, but I did not have any on hand at the time, so I used a piece of very fine non-adhesive Vilene. I realised as I went on that this has the advantage of being able to be pinned more easily in place, whereas the vinyl can tend to slip on the background fabric. I used a lead pencil to mark the design onto the Vilene.
Once the design is marked on the overlay, it is ready to be positioned over the background fabric. I found it helpful to carefully fold the background fabric in half in each direction and lightly crease it, then run a tacking stitch along the crease in a contrasting thread, so that I have an accurate centre mark. This is valuable as a reference point each time you position the overlay.
Because the design I am using has bias stems, I also found it helpful to cut out “windows” where the stems will lie. To prevent undue distortion and movement of the overlay, I left a few “bridges” in the windows.
With the overlay accurately in place, (pinned if necessary), you then gently slide the applique piece you are about to sew, between the overlay and the background. When you are happy with its placement you can secure its position with small applique pins. For bias stems, I add these through the windows so that I can curve them into place as required, trying to afix the inside (short) curve first and then slightly stretching the outside curve.
So far this method of transferring the design is working very well. And in case you are wondering what the centre looks like, this is the progress to date.
This project will keep me happily sewing for some time and maybe a future blog will show you more progress. In the meantime, I hope these design transferring tips prove helpful for you.