Fabric, batting, fabric sandwich for experimentation (I recommend using a fabric that reads as a solid so that your stitching can play a starring role)
Non-raveling fabric such as: Ultrasuede, felt, felted wool, etc.
Washable glue stick
Air or water erasable marking implement
Fun shapes to trace
Your favorite item in your home AKA your BERNINA!
Your second favorite item in your home AKA your BSR!
Beautiful decorative threads in varied weights for experimentation
An open mind and a positive attitude
When learning this technique, above all, have fun! Experiment. Learn. Discover. Play! Avoid having unattainable goals of completing a masterpiece the first time around. Instead, keep it whimsical and spontaneous. In my example, I had no specific plan. I simply gathered circular shaped objects to serve as a guide for my circle flower shapes. Trace the desired shapes onto your non-ravelling fabrics using an erasable marking implement then cut out. It is not necessary to include a seam allowance in raw edge applique.
To retain the negative shapes, use caution when cutting. These smaller shapes can be used as well. I fold the shape in half then snip into the marked line slightly.
If you’d like to include a background quilting design, mark it ahead of time as shown. You can then build your applique’ design over the secondary quilting desig
Begin building your applique’ design. Audition a variety of options by varying shape placemen
Once you have a winner, it is time to adhere the pieces to your background fabric. I use a washable glue stick for this task. I love the benign qualities of Elmer’s washable glue sticks. In addition, they are a small investment and I love the fact that the adhesive is not permanent which allows for easy repositioning.
I buy Costco wax paper sheets to protect my work as I apply glue. They are a must have for every studio.
You will want to use a heavy hand when applying glue, particular along the edges. If the edges are not secured then your sewing machine foot will catch the fabric’s edge folding it back as you sew which is never fun.
Remember to have a sample piece nearby so that you can check and adjust your settings. Decorative threads can rarely withstand tight upper tension so you will likely need to loosen the setting as shown if you plan to use delicate threads. For intricate work, you will want to adjust your stitch length to a smaller number. It can be difficult to maintain tight curves with large stitches. Again, experiment for the appropriate setting to your project. My preference is to use BSR mode 2. The beauty of stitch regulation is that some shapes are easier to complete at slower speeds while other, more open, designs can be sewn with more fluidity with quicker movements. The BSR is happy to adjust to your movements and takes much of the work out of the equation allowing the quilter to focus on creativity. Include temporarily marked echoed lines to be used as reference points when stitching.
Avoid a heavy, forceful grip on the piece. It is natural to want to press down on the fabric. Remind yourself that you are hand guiding not hand forcing. Focus on using just your fingertips to manipulate the piece. This will help you to guide with more precision and accuracy while maintaining fluidity in your movements.
In this example, I am stitching loop designs catching the outer edge of my applique’ shape with the bottom of my loop. This will secure the applique shape while adding interest to the design.
One of quilting’s many great qualities is dimension. Add layers of dimension using this technique by incorporating secondary designs to your applique’ or extensions thereof that will also serve to secure the applique’ shape. Vary the stitching designs for more visual interest! I like to temporarily draw the design for better spacing and accuracy. Visual guides are always helpful.
Refer to the decorative stitches built in to your BERNINA as inspiration for your own unique free motion applique’ designs! Try to master the machine’s applique’ stitches using this free motion technique, such as: zig-zag, blanket, applique’, etc. All of these applique’ stitches can be created in the quilting! Remember to have fun and be creative! There are no rules.
To aid in fabric gripping, I use finger cots. They can be found in the pharmacy section of your local Wal-mart or grocery store. Machine quilting gloves work well also. However, I prefer the small finger tip gripping cots as they seem less inhibiting.
What I love about BSR
In my opinion, this technique is the ultimate in multi-tasking! It combines my two favorite techniques: machine applique’ and free motion quilting. When I discovered the art of applique’, my world completely changed. It seemed as though anything was possible. With applique’, if you can imagine it, it can become a quilt! I love the freedom it offers.
Free motion machine quilting (FMQ) has been my specialty since I began quilting sixteen years ago. It seemed a natural fit for me, an avid doodler. It is the perfect therapeutic and creative outlet! When quilting my applique’ quilts, I have always been an advocate of “outlining” the applique’ shapes. In doing so, the design is accentuated and the quilt stabilized. This is generally the first step in my FMQ process. Once the quilt is stabilized, I add the intricate quilted detail work if that is what the quilt needs.
I can create a variety of appliques stitches while freemotion quilting using my BSR and the stitch length is always perfect.