Thursday, June 18, 2020

Taming Appliqué Points

Whether it is cotton or wool, we love appliqué, though cotton appliqué is our first love. Through the years we have learned many tips and techniques to help us hone our craft, and today I (Kara) would like to share some "pointers" on points.

There are three things that can help make your points practically perfect. I like to call them my point-turning-trifecta—a sturdy needle, a toothpick, and a glue-stick.

Sajou appliqué needles, a toothpick, and
an acid-free glue-stick 

The French Sajou appliqué needles have a nice large eye, a sharp point, and are quite sturdy, but we also like the Bohin size 11 appliqué needles for the same reasons, since the Sajou needles might be hard to source in the states. An acid-free glue-stick, a run-of-the-mill toothpick, and the trifecta is complete. 

Here is a little picture tutorial of making a pointy point on a leaf, but the process will certainly work for any appliqué points. Both Teri and I are big fans of the back-basting method of needle-turn appliqué, so the pictures below will show that method. (For lefties, just reverse the process.)

Back-basted leaf ready to stitch
Remove a couple basting stitches and begin 
turning under the seam allowance up to about
an 1/8th of an inch from the corner.

Trim off the top of the point just above the 
drawn line. Make sure to leave some fabric
at the top.

With your toothpick or needle, turn under the 
right side seam allowance and secure with two
anchor stitches in the same spot at the top.

With your toothpick or your needle,
sweep the left side seam allowance under, and
then roll the toothpick away from the point.
Try not to jam the seam allowance into the point.
Give a gentle tug on your thread to pull
out the point and finger press in place. 
Continue turning the seam allowance under,
while rolling the toothpick away from the point.

Where does the glue-stick come in, you might ask? If your point gives you troubles or frays, run your needle or the toothpick over the top of the glue-stick and then sweep your left seam allowance under. The little bit of glue will hold things down for you to stitch the fabric in place. 

For a visually more pronounced point, take a tiny stitch at the point and into the background just a hair. A sturdy needle helps with this tip as you are stitching through a lot of layers.

A little broderie perse leaf with a decent point. The little stitch on the end helps give 
the illusion of a sharper point.

Another leaf where the stitch at the top will help make your point look sharper,

The leaves above may look great, but we all have those days and/or fabric that just doesn't let us make beautiful points. One solution is to camouflage them with a little embroidery! 

A fly stitch around these leaves adds dimension but also hides 
any point imperfections.

Another fly stitch camouflaged leaf.

Not all points are leaves. A stem stitch does the hiding here.

Why not use a chain stitch to "accentuate" the points?

And truthfully, sometimes we have appliqué pieces that are so small you really don't want to mess with them—that is what ultra suede is for.

After making all the little stones around the doorway,
I chose to use ultra-suede for the topiary pot.

I like to look at every point as a challenge and try to make it my best one yet. Practice makes perfect—or at least better—and remember, there are no point police! Occasionally, I will talk to the point and say, "You're not the boss of me," and then stitch it into submission (those are nicer words than some of the other words I might say to my appliqué). 

Hopefully, you can add a few more tricks to your appliqué bag, and you will be able to tackle your points with confidence!

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