As I mentioned before, I used Sharon Schamber’s Piecelique technique for this. If you’re not familiar with it, it is a process of creating a foundation pattern and templates, then using liquid starch, a hot iron, and Elmer’s glue to ‘baste’ the block together before stitching. There are many videos out there by Sharon and even some on youtube that may be free to watch. If not, you can always go to her website and purchase an instructional DVD or book.
I started by sorting fabric according to the colors of the printed blocks. My goal was to find very similar colors that would not stand out on their own, but would be slightly lighter or darker and would enhance the color of the printed block. I also looked for fabric that might have a touch of yellow in it to bring out the outline in the printed block. This process required pulling out all my batiks and sorting them in another way. This is what it looked like:
Then I got busy creating a pattern. I used Electric Quilt in the beginning, and then I just used freezer paper and a ruler. The key here is to make two patterns which are mirror images of each other. One will be pressed to a second sheet of freezer paper and then cut into templates, the first will be used as the foundation pattern to stick the pieces onto with a hot iron while gluing the pieces together.
The next step is to press the freezer paper pattern to the fabric. I cut a very wide seam allowance around mine (> 1/2 inch) because they will be trimmed later. Part of the reason that I do that is because, unlike Sharon, I put my glue just past the 1/4 inch area so that I can cut the glue off after I stitch. It’s a little more complicated this way, but my longarm doesn’t like the glue and I don’t want to go through the process of soaking each block in cold water to dissolve the glue after it is finished.
You can see that I marked the edge that will be turned. I use a foam paint brush and spray starch to slightly moisten the edge that will be turned and then press it with a hot iron–important for your fingers not to use steam here.
And this is what the block looks like during the glue construction:
Once all the pieces are glued into place, the center is added. Note that for gluing, I work from the outside in. When I stitch, it is from the inside out. The center was glued in differently. I laid the animal down on the board, then placed the glued block on top of it and worked with it until it was in a pleasing arrangement. Then I folded each area of the block back and applied glue and pressed. Note that I had to be very careful all along not to press the animal because it is a t-shirt screen print and the ink will melt under a hot iron.
You can see a thin line of glue here – and on this one the glue line is within the 1/4 inch seam. I did that on the first one but changed it for all the rest. On the first one I did not use spray starch either, and you can see that the seam lines are not crisp before stitching. None of this affects the final result, but the spray starch and keeping the glue out of the seam allowance sure make life easier for me. It also goes to show that each must find their own way in terms of methods.
Then I started stitching. I set my machine to a 2.0 mm stitch so that the thread would not show. As I mentioned before, the stitching goes from the center out. The key is to stitch the first seam that has no other seams crossing it. Trim that seam and then stitch the next seam that either has no other seams crossing it or has the stitched seam crossing it. Here’s a picture if that explanation doesn’t make sense. You can see on the pattern that I examined it closely to make sure that I numbered the pieces and the seams so that I would get them in the right order when stitching. This is what the stitching looks like. You can see the seams are trimmed immediately after stitching.
And then once everything is stitched, it is a matter of trimming the block and giving it a final press.