Thursday, September 04, 2008

Computer Woes..

After talking to the "Geek Squad" Guys at Best Buy yesterday afternoon, we decided that the best thing for me to do with this computer that has been on the verge of a big fritz and getting worse every day, was to make CDs of everything I wanted to save, and then do a complete reformat. UGHHHHHH!

I was up reformatting until 2am, and then couldn't get the internet to connect...so I gave up and went to bed. But what does a girl do when all this file re-installation and stuff is going on? She plays with her pieces and parts! (Oh, dear...that sounds REALLY BAD! But Quilters will understand ;c)

I love applique. I just hate to do it. Sound familiar? I think it's a time thing. I hate the prep work. It isn't relaxing to me. I also think I hate it because I cut weird shapes out of perfectly straight fabric and it leaves me with more throw away than my own obsessive-compulsiveness can handle.

I hate fusible web! I hate freezer paper! So there had to be a way to do this in a way that would work for me. I also hate drawing and tracing. What does this leave me with?

Let me tell you! A couple months ago I was sewing at my friend Mary's house, and she and her friend were working on these little quilts from fabric that they had starched STIFF AS A BOARD. It really was like sewing through cardboard,or timtex or something of the sort.

So last night while all this computer stuff was going on I took liquid starch (The regular kind) Mixed about 1/2 cup starch with 1/2 cup water and dipped some small pieces in it. I wrang it out, blotted it on a towel, and the proceeded to iron it into complete stiff submission! I might have gone even a bit more concentrated next go around, but for now this was fine to play with.

Once the fabric was stiff, I stiffened a background square. And then I folded the flower fabric and just freehand cut a flower-ish shape. It's not even "SQUARE" it's a squashed rectangular flower! Little bit of glue stick to the back side, plop it on the background square, hit it with the iron again to make sure it stays stuck, and then off to do some machine button hole around the shape.

My stitching isn't as great as it could be. I'm not experienced in machine applique, but I figured out that if the tension looks 'off' it's because the cone of verigated thread I was using had fallen over and thrown the tension off. Oh well...move on! Do I want to pick it out? No. We are going for PRIMITIVE, right? Well this qualifies!

I added some leaves, some buds, a middle, and a free cut star in the center! It took NO TIME AT ALL and the best part is...it's not stiff like fusible. (Oh, I hate fusible, did I tell you this already? As a longarm quilter, fusible is a nightmare!)

After the block was done, I rinsed it! And ironed it dry again, and guess what....NO STIFFNESS! It's as soft as hand applique, and the best part is, I could cut away the backing from each layer as I added it to minimize the thickness. This is important to me as a hand quilter too.

Computer still was reformatting....so I dug into more pieces and parts and found a bunch of leftover 4 patches, made a lopsided uneven border of those (yes, the center is what it is, not mathematically correct at all and I like it this way!) I added a black spacer border from 1.5" strips, and then dug into my basket of 5" (unfinished size) string blocks for the outer border. I love this! I don't figure things out by math...just piece the border longer than it needs to be, center a seam along the side of the quilt,and trim off the excess on both ends, so it looks like I *TRIED* to get the repeat right. There is some variation,but that just adds character,right?

This morning..still installing things..getting the internet to work, and I worked on THIS goodie in between parts! I'm going to slap some bonus triangles around there and do something else for a border, but I have got to stop playing and get busy on getting set for tonight's Lecture/Trunkshow in Salisbury....

This one I made the button hole stitch a bit deeper into the applique, and I used black thread. I had a "whoooops!" while trimming out the back behind the tulip and had to applique a butterfly there. But I think it's cute! I did his antennae with a satin stitch zig-zag.

I'm probably not the only one who has ever starched antyhing to death in order to machine applique it down...but I've never seen it done this way without a stabilizer before. I'm looking forward to playing with this idea more!


  1. I may have to use the starching idea next time I do machine applique. I have to use satin stitch for the applique because my machine is too old for button hole stitch so I have always disliked doing machine applique but I am thinking the starch might be the answer.

    Both of your little projects turned out great!

  2. wow.
    very interesting approach.
    it seems like it would be MUCH cheaper than fusible web.

    i think it looks great.

    sorry your computer is on the fritz.

  3. I love your "method" -- starching something til cardboard sounds like a wonderful solution to applique which I too struggle with...

    I'm wondering if you'd be interested in some small pieces of fabric -- I've got about 800 HST that'll finish at 1" that I'm simply never going to use... would you? If so I'd be happy to mail them to you...

  4. I love it! It's the kind of thing I love to have in my house. I never would have thought of starching like that but when I get home I'm going to try it. blessings, marlene

  5. Sorry about your computer, but what great results you've got out of your waiting time!

  6. Bonnie, you are the hardest working woma I know. I can't figure out how you get all you do done. Love the little quilts.

  7. You are a quilter after my own heart! I love your free spirit and your decidedly "un-uptightness" about sewing. I ALWAYS say if something turns out a little wanking....it's supposed to be that way, it's primitive!
    It makes sewing/quilting much more fun doesn't it?
    Have a great day!

  8. I starch the background for applique so that I don't have to use a stabilizer. I hate to tear away the paper.

  9. Hi Bonnie!
    What a great idea, the heavy starch. And timely for me. I love applique but have not been able to do much handsewing anymore. Have been thinking that I need to do the machine work again. This would definitely make it easier. Thanks for sharing. Hope your 'puter reformat works for you.

  10. Why is fusible web such a hindrance ot Longarmers??? I know that awful heat and bond stuff is s nightmare to sew through but Vliesofix just washes away anyway and it is very light.

    But wow you make such great use of your time! And the results are lovely I love applique and haven't done any for at least a month so I am going to play with m\y scraps this afternoon - soon as I finich the 384 (I have done 4)half square triangles I need for Tobacco (Dairy Roads my roads are greens) roads!!!

    Angela in Aust
    PS: Happy Friday !!!

  11. Thanks for another new idea Bonnie. I love the freeform approach you used AND the starch method. I've been experimenting with fusible thread to avoid the nastiness of fusible web because I hate it so much. As always, you're on the leading edge of things....

  12. Awe, this is a very interesting way of appliquing... I'll have to give this a try.. thanks for the inspirations, love to read your blog..looking forward in reading more ...Lise

  13. Anonymous10:20 PM EDT

    Your too funny! Glad your enjoying that starching the heck out of your fabrics thing! But hey Bonnie....remind your viewers that silverfish (if they have them) do like eating starch so wash it. Talk to you soon girlfriend!

  14. Bonnie what a great idea! I too hate fusable webbing but thought there was no alternative. You've just given me one. I'm going to get me some liquid starch tomorrow.

    I can see a quilt in the making now, if enough of these little beauties could get together.

    Sorry about the putter. Hate when that happens. But like you said its probably been a real work horse for you and it's time to put it out to pasture, and get a new one. At least it didn't crash and loose everything. It was kind enough to let you know it was on it's last leg. I'm sure you'll enjoy the new one.

    Hope to be able to take in one of your trunk shows sometime. They sound like a lot of fun

    Till next time...:c)...Fran

  15. sorry about the computer - that sucks. but you've used your time very productively I see. Love the first quilt with all it's fantastic unevenness, making it workness. very fun adn very you.

  16. I use freezer paper exclusively with my hand applique. I don't think I'd like using heavy starch. Thanks for the tutorial tho!

  17. That's a terrific method! I've only used Steam a Seam 2, but don't like the stiffness in the applique. THis seems like it'd be so much easier to work with.

    Thanks for the helpful info!

  18. I like the idea you gave us. You are so generous with the community! I have another way that you might like, best for free form type stuff, of course. ( Needle turners, close your eyes.) I use 505 spray baste on shapes I have free cut. After spraying the back of the fabric, I fold the edge over, clipping if necessary, but it rarely is, except for sharp turns like a birds beak, then I stick it down to the back ground and machine sew in a tiny stitch as close to the edge as possible. Gwen Marston taught in a class I took that machine sewn appliqué was a historicaly used technique, and if it's good enough for Gwen Marston, Its good enough for me! Long live the free form and scrappy!

    Oh- and about the weird left over shapes- I just keep free cutting other shapes- leaves, flowers, berries, what ever- untill the weird left over is so small that I can manage to toss it. Then I have a bunch of shapes ready to play with. If I starched them, then they would stay nice and flat...hmmm.. something else to try!

  19. Anonymous11:19 PM EDT


    Since I have been there and done that (minus thinking about doing some quilting) I emphathized with you, especially when it gets to be in the wee hours of the am. Let us know what you experienced in the best way to back up everything quilting. We all need to know and do it. A crash usually means "Oh, I wish I had backed that up!)))) Barby MH, AR


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