Self Portrait Technique
14" x 14" fusible applique, machine pieced, hand quilted
In creating this self portrait, I used some new techniques with the fusible applique. This was by far the most delicate fusible job I've ever done and I wanted to minimize the tracing and retracing of the pattern, both for convenience and for accuracy. After some thought, I worked out a way that I thought was very successful. It probably isn't new, just a combination of other ideas, but it was new to me.
After I got the image the way I wanted it in Photoshop, I printed a copy as a reference copy, then I printed it on a clear plastic sheet of the kind that used to be used for overhead projectors. You could also make a tracing or maybe print on lighter paper. This copy is for an overlay to help place the pieces. I used a Sharpie to draw a dotted line from the center point of each side, and make a pencil mark in the seam allowance of the background fabric as alignment points.
Then I pressed the shiny side of a printer-sized sheet of freezer paper to the right side of the fabric. (I used batik so there wouldn't be any fraying.) I pressed hard with a hot iron to make sure there was a very tight bond. I put this through the printer so the image was on the dull side of the freezer paper.
Then without removing the freezer paper, I attached fusible web to the wrong side of the fabric according to directions. I used TransWeb, but Wonder Under would probably work. I wouldn't use
Steam-a-Seam though because I don't think it bonds tightly enough. Then I removed the paper back of the fusible.
Using an Exacto knife, I cut through the freezer paper, fabric, and fusible and cut out the piece. Then I removed the freezer paper. You can see I started with easiest part, the shoulders.
Then I placed the plastic overlay on top of the background, lining up the marks, and slipped the cutout piece underneath, lining it up with the printed shape on the overlay. When it was correct, I carefully lifted the overlay, and pressed the cut out lightly. Here you can see the marked reference lines on the overlay, and the very dark part where I've put the shoulders in place underneath.
I cut and placed a few pieces at a time until everything was placed. After everything was placed and lightly pressed, I pressed again with hot iron to set it tightly.
This technique would have to be adapted if you're using more than one fabric in your applique. But as it is, it's perfect for a silhouette or for letters, since the image isn't reversed and can be cut very accurately.
February Challenge and Technical Insights
31" x 32"
I had some technical problems with this, and maybe mentioning them might be helpful to others:
1. Quilting with a walking foot at an angle that's not a straight bias is difficult. The quilt tries to move back to the straight and narrow, producing lines that are wonky in a different way than intended. It also distorts the quilt a great deal. Now that the time pressure is off, I will go back and rip out a few lines and redo them.
2. Twelve weight thread and batiks are not a good match, at least on my Janome. Even with a #14 topstitch needle I had problems with skipped stitches and thread breakage. I've ordered some #16/100 needles for next time.
3. I was using a scrap of Quilters' Dream Poly batting which has been recommended as good for wall quilts. Having used it twice now, I don't think I'd agree. Its denseness compounded the stitching problem, and being polyester, it didn't help in blocking the quilt back into shape. Now that it's gone, I won't buy more.
4. I used a shiny nylon cord couched around the edge of the circle because I liked the luster it added. Mistake. The cord raveled badly and I had to tuck it under the circle, but it was too stiff to make a smooth join. I should have used a softer fiber, even if it didn't have the shine I wanted. Live and learn, I guess--choose the option that produces a better technical effect, even if you have to sacrifice some artistry. This problem can't be fixed, I think.
I have this piece hanging in my studio, and I like it more all the time. Odd how your feelings about things change.