Sketchy Stitchy Applique

November 11, 2008 § 52 Comments

The quilt that inspired this whole sketchy stitching idea is now long gone from Flickr. I can’t even link to it.  But it was sort of a scenic type quilt with trees and leaves, a park bench and flying geese blocks as geese flying in the air.  The outlining or sketchy stitching was probably done by hand.

If it’s not already obvious…  I am not a hand applique, hand embroidery, hand quilting kind of gal.  If any of it can be done on a sewing machine, that’s where I’ll be doing it. Enter… the sketchy stitching.

My first attempt was on the Little Acorns quilt.  The next attempt was the Coneflower quilt in the Knife Edge Binding tutorial.  But I think these Little Birds for the Doll Quilt 5 Swap have been the most fun.  Here’s basically what I do:

Sketch out a few ideas of what I want to applique. In this case… some birds and maybe an owl.

Trace the outlined shapes onto Steam-a-Seam or any other brand of fusible web.

Peel off the paper from one side of the fusible web and iron it onto the wrong side of a fabric scrap.

Cut out the shape from the fabric scrap and peel the paper from the fusible web.  Iron the shape onto your background fabric.  (The background/quilt top must be prepared first)  Make a quilt sandwich with the backing, batting, and quilt top.

Set up your sewing machine with the darning, stippling, free motion foot… drop the feed dogs and make any other adjustments that your machine may need.  My machine also has a place to reduce the pressure on the presser foot.  Choose a contrasting thread color to stitch around the shape. I like using a darker brown.  To me, black feels much too stark.

Stitch a couple of stitches in one place to secure the thread and then sew around the shape once.

Stitch around the shape again at least 2 or 3 more times.  I try to weave back and forth from one side of the first stitching line to the other, sometimes stitching right on the fabric shape and other times stitching off the edge of it.

On the third or fourth time around, add the details like the feet, tail feathers and beak.

Use the same color of thread in the bobbin as on the top.  If the bobbin thread is a different color, you may get little specks of that color coming up through the top of the stitching.

Once the sketchy stitching is done, I go back and fill in with any other quilting that I may want to do.  On this Little Birds quilt, I first stitched in the ditch of the pieced strips.  Then I did the sketchy stitching around all of the birds.  And lastly, I quilted a couple of wavy lines across the bird panels.

And… as always… have fun!  Don’t worry about the stitching being perfect.  That’s part of the look, I think.


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