Thursday, August 23, 2012

Quilting Tutorial :Celtic Vine Applique Preparation & Stitching

 Narrow Celtic-style vines are a favorite and beautiful element of hand or machine applique. The steps in this tutorial demonstrate a slick way to prepare custom sized two-edge folded vines. All you need is an iron and board with woven cover, three straight pins and your bias strip. 
Above, two quilts show the typical wavy vine (here with holly and berries) and a corner with overlapping ovals, curves and points.To the right are three more examples, including (l to r) tiny cable, traditional wavy vine, intricate floral interwoven stems.

 Step 1. Find the true bias of your fabric by folding a selvage edge to meet up with crosswise grain. Crease the fold edge as the cutting guideline. Note the diagonal line on the rotary mat which can also alternately be used:  first line up fabric with grainlines on vertical and horizontal guides.
 Step 2. Use rotary tools to cut on creased fold, then cut bias strips to selected width. The sample being used here aims at 1/4" finished vine. For this width, figure 3x that target width (finished vine will have three stacked layers of fabric). These strips are cut at slightly wider than 3/4".
NOTE: since bias will relax a bit, finished size will be closer to 3/8" when stitched.
 Step 3. Set up the straight pins channel on iron board. The two pins are about 1 1/4" apart. Each pin goes down/up down/up through cover exactly in line, taking care to create an even space under pins at center that is 1/4" wide. 

Place bias strip face down on surface.
Step 4.  Fold one raw side edge over the other toward center, then use a straight pin to gently push the pointed end of folded strip into the channel under the center of the first pin. Once point is inserted far enough, grab with fingertips and pull through a little more.

 Step 5. Coax the strip point under the second pin center channel using a straight pin in the same way as in Step 4.
 Step 6. Once point is far enough through channel, grab with fingertips and pull through an inch or so. Using both hands, move folded strip back and forth through channel to ensure strip is uniform width willing the channel, and that it will slide through freely.
 Step 7. Set iron to be hot enough without high potential for scorching. Position iron point over pins channel with strip in place. Leave iron in place while sliding strip under it and through the channel. Note that strip layers need to be hand-folded as section approaches channel to create smooth, uniform width bias vine.
 Step 8. Working fast so iron won't scorch board or fabric, continue to pull vine through, then arrange next section to slide under iron, and so forth until entire length required is pressed.
Once the vine as passed through and beyond the channel guides, turn it face side up on board and press again, this time with steam if available.

Now it is ready to prepare for a specific project. Because it is bias, it is "mold-able" and can be pressed along a temporary guideline marked on the iron surface. This will make it easier to position, pin and stitch in place.

 Stitching Celtic Vines:
Step 1. To prepare for stitching vine in place, position at a temporary traced guideline on fabric panel, pin in place, then replace pins with thread basting through vine center.
 Step 2. Thread a fine needle with color matched to vine. (For visibility, heavy red thread is used in these illustrations.) Knot thread end, insert from backside through panel, coming up at vine edge. Next, insert needle into panel only, next to vine edge and to the side of previous stitch exit position. Push needle point forward parallel to vine edge, coming up through fold of vine 1/16" to 1/8" forward from first stitch. This is the over-edge hand applique stitch.
Notice regular, short size of stitching on backside of work. Stitches are correctly made if they are parallel to the vine edge.

 Step 3. Repeat stitch along BOTH vine edges. When thread runs out, or edge is completed, push needle through to backside in the regular stitch process and pull thread flush on front. Tie off in three steps. A. Slip needle tip under nearby stitch.

 B. Pull thread through to leave a small loop. C. Pass needle through loop and pull up tight. Trim to leave a 1/4" tail.

Detail at right shows folded Celtic vine that has fine, narrow machine blanket stitching along edge. Matched color thread (brown) was used for this quilt, but clear monofilament also works well for this type of invisible machine applique. You can see the same machine stitching at holly and berrie edges.

Celtic vine strips can be used to form shapes like this heart wreath. Vine is carefully folded at bottom angle, overlapped and folded under at upper angle.
 Straight Celtic vine strips can be used as straight stems in a design like this Peony block. When vine stems need to be STRAIGHT, cut the strips on the straight of gram. When the stems or vines need to be wavy or otherwise shaped, cut the strips on the bias grain.
Even small-scale shapes, like the handles on these four inch Postage Stamp Basket blocks, can be prepared using Celtic bias strips and the method illustrated in this tutorial.

Find other tutorials
regarding quilt making skills 
and techniques in this blog.

1 comment:

  1. I'm in awe of anyone who can quilt like this - so beautiful!