Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Technique Snob

I've been pondering discussions I've been reading where quilters feel it necessary to defend using a specific style or technique in quilt making.  And I'll be the first to admit that while I can admire any quilt, I go weak in the knees when I see something made with needle-turn applique and hand quilting.  It is always my preferred style.  Not only do I like the finished look, but also how well it holds up over time.  I envision every quilt I make as a potential heirloom.  

After finishing some hand applique flowers for Leah Day, I decided to make a second set using a fusible and raw edge applique technique so I could compare them for myself (for real...not just what I thought they'd be like).  Here are my observations:

The flower on the left (1A) I made by drawing the petals on the back of the material freehand and using back-basting needleturn.  The yellow centers are yo-yos.  The one on the right (1B) is reversed b/c I made the pattern off the one on the left and forgot to flip the pattern for fusable (user error). 
Even though flowers A and B had all the petals made from one fabric, I think that A has a lot more dimention.  Both A & B were pressed with steam and a hot iron.  I took all the pictures outside in the same location at the same time.   You can see that I also had some puckering from the double line of stitching that I did on the raw-edge version (B) since it was on the bias and it never occured to me to use a stabilizer.

 I have to admit, that this is my first serious attempt at raw-edge applique.  On the up side, it only took a couple hours to make all 4 flowers, compared to a week of evenings watching TV for the needle-turn.   My practice with free-motion quilting made my stitching pretty even and I did do 2 rows of stitching, which I read somewhere gives a better finished product.  The thread-painting effect of petals also allowed me to cut out large pieces of fabric for flowers 3&4 saving the time and fuss of arranging each individually.

That being said, I really dislike the raw edges.  I was using scrap fabrics and the edges of the lower thread count fabrics look frayed already and it's never been washed.  The decision of if I would EVER do raw-edge applique again would come down to quilting.  These flowers were designed to show off Leah's dense free-motion quilting.  Not only will that improve the "flat" look of the "B" flowers, but will add another layer of thread to keep the raw edges contained. 

Well, my experiment is over and it's time for these poseys to head to the post office so they can enjoy their vacation in North Carolina.


Ethne said...

What a great post - it proves there are times when each of the two techniques
I've been basting my applique challenge quilt today and am so so happy and grateful that I NTA this whole piece it take it to a whole new level and one the REA would't give at all
Now how do I quilt it??????? My original preference won't work the spaces in some areas are too narrow

Stray Stitches said...

Wonderful post considering both pros and cons. I think each method has its place. But I agree with you - for an heirloom quilt needleturn is the way to go.

Julie Fukuda said...

Since I have no machine, this is not an issue for me and you know where my preferances lie. These days I see a lot of fused piles of fabric and all kinds of machine techniques to deal with the fraying edges but my mind tends to move these from the quilt catagory to "wall art". I don't want to sound like a snob, it just isn't my way.

quilthexle said...

Thanks for this in-depth-post! I must admit, I have done "it" in the past (raw edge ...) but I really love the look of hand applique. So I would love to master that technique (when it comes to hand applique, I'm a bloody beginner ...)

MulticoloredPieces said...

Interesting post. I agree that the needleturn looks better. You have to really want a frayed look to do the raw-edge-showing method--which is what I'm doing right now and it's a love/hate relationship!
best, nadia

Lynne said...

Interesting comparisons, thanks!