Although life keeps trying to get in the way, I have managed to make some headway on my latest quilt, “I Am the Vine . . . You Are the Branches.” I managed to complete the fusing a couple of days ago which is always bittersweet because I am ending a large part of the design process — and although I have degenerative problems in my thumbs from so much cutting, I miss when I have to put the scissors down.

Fusing Done

At this point, I’m going to perform magic and change the background to black. I don’t start with black because I don’t want black shading my fabrics any darker than they all ready are — so I fuse to white and then add black. In this case, I’m going to reverse applique the tree to black fabric. This is where I take a leap and break a few rules.

First, I take the vinyl off the front of the tree. Then I put water soluble thread in the top and black thread in the bobbin of my sewing machine. Keeping an eye on where I want things to be, I free-motion stitch around the tree.

Then I take a piece of black sateen (which I love if I can find it) and place it face down on my cutting / design table. I clamp it and/or tape it down so that it is perfectly flat. Then I lay the tree on it wrong side up, flattening it out. At this point, I add anchoring pins around the outline of the tree with some pins in the tree. This is very similar to pinning the quilt sandwich, but I am only anchoring the black to the front of the tree.

Back at the sewing machine, I load black thread in the top and bobbin and sew on the black lines I created on the first pass. Then I lay the entire piece black side up on the cutting table and cut away the black from the inside where the tree pieces have been laid.

Cutting 1

Cutting 2

When I am done cutting, I have cleaned up all of my outside edges and the tree really comes to life.

Black on Tree

The outside of the tree has rough edges that are only held down with a single line of stitching. The very next thing that I do will be to cover those edges with a tight zigzag. Then I will go about covering all of the applique edges inside the tree. I usually use a matching thread, but I have been thinking about a piece at Houston done a couple of years ago in which the artist used contrasting thread for all of his machine applique. I have a day or so to decide, but I may do it that way.