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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hawai'ian Quilting

Remember the hibiscus pattern I made inspired by The Aloha Quilt? I'm making progress:
Tradition dictates that you cut out the drawn wedge and place it on fabric folded in eighths, and cut out the fabric that way. But when I unfolded the pattern, I saw that either because I had not folded the paper tightly enough or because I used freezer paper which is thick (or both), the innermost (when folded) hibiscus ended up narrower than the others. Afraid that I'd make the same mistake with the fabric, I instead kept the pattern whole and ironed it on to the right side of the fabric, then traced around the whole thing with a white pencil (that's the beauty of freezer paper -- the shiny side sticks to fabric until you pull it off, and it leaves no residue).

The next step in traditional Hawai'ian applique would be to baste the entire pattern onto the background fabric an eighth of an inch from the line, and then cut the top fabric a quarter of an inch from the basting line. But this seemed unbearably tedious to me. That's when one of my quilt instructors came to the rescue. Her advice was to just lay the top fabric on the bottom, smoothe it out, and pin it in a few areas -- the weight of the top piece would keep it from shifting, obviating the need for basting. Then I just cut the fabric out as I applique. That technique is working out great for me; I was on trains for 15 hours this weekend, and as you can see I got more than half of the design appliqued.

The one problem is that I unwittingly came up with a design that has a lot of deep v's to applique, which are exceedingly tricky. Another quilter gave me the tip of snipping the fabric right to the inner point, dabbing on fray check glue to the v, and quickly folding under each side of the seam allowance until the glue sets. It's a good trick, and while some of my v's are still kinda sad, others have come out nicely. It helps that I've used batik fabrics -- in addition to their vibrancy and ability to read as a solid without being as flat as one, they are densely woven, which makes them hold a crease very well. On the other hand, that dense weave makes it harder to hide applique stitches (silk thread helps).

I'm very excited about this, and I can't wait to see it finished!

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