June 23, 2013

Blanket-stitch Browsings

I commenced a delightful applique project this week.  As you know, I LOVE applique!  Because I am a realist and a perfectionist (!), I like my applique ... well, to look, REAL!  This means that generally needle-turn applique just doesn't work for all the small detail I want to portray and therefore most of my applique designs look best if they are done by using fusible webbing.

That all leads to the issue of how to finish off the edges of the applique.  When I first started out on my career as a designer, I blanket-stitched by hand around them:

When my 35 year old sewing machine wasn't quite up to it any more, I bought a lovely new one and guess what, it had blanket-stitching built in!  No more unpicked stitches that weren't evenly spaced or of the same length - the machine sails around sweetly on my appliques:

Sometimes, I experiment with different coloured threads. Instead of using matching white thread on the the saucer and the inside of the cup below, I used a contrasting pink so that the applique stood out from the pale blue and white check background:

The cream applique panels on this garden caddy stand out well already from the background, but I used a contrasting thread for the blanket-stitching here for a decorative effect:

However, what do you do if you have an applique that doesn't stand out from the background with a lot of contrast and you don't want a lot of little 'caterpillar' legs from blanket-stitching on your applique?  The method I developed is very simple but I think it works really well.  The applique is first blanket-stitched with matching thread, then I work a backstitch in contrasting colour around the edge of the blanket-stitch: 

That gives me the best of both worlds - the applique edge is secure, I don't have little burgundy legs hanging down from the edge, but there is plenty of contrast colour to make the applique stand out from the background. 

Some times, the applique may be too small or too detailed for blanket-stitching, so in those instances, I machine stitch a straight stitch around the edge: 

I have even started including applique in my silk ribbon embroidery designs!  (told you I was hooked!) As these are meant to be hand-embroidered projects, I can't use the machine to obtain perfectly even blanket-stitching. I can never reach perfection with my hand-done attempts on this stitch, so my alternative has been to use a totally different decorative stitch.  For my fan embroidery, I used a twisted chain stitch:

So there you have some of my journey with blanket-stitch and appliques.  I'd love to hear anything you have learned on your applique journey. 

Happy stitching!


BillieBee (billiemick) said...

Your work is always lovely, but the fishy is making me smile!

Nima said...

wow..that was lovely to read Val ...me to love applique..and i love the way you finished the dove...and the ribbon embroidery on the appliqued fan...

quazymama said...

Love this one - I looked close at the fan and it was done so perfectly. Was the twisted stitch done by hand or machine?
Do you have any tips for remembering how to start the blanket stitch - I am forever getting it wrong and having to rip it...Great post.

Sherry said...

I just recently found your blog. My lucky day! Your techniques are great. I am an applique lover also.

sunny said...

Great tips! I love the idea of combining the blanket stitch with backstitch. I'll be trying that technique soon.

Regina vicentini said...

Olá amiga Val!
Lindo seus trabalhos de Apliquê!
Mais uma vez parabéns! Estou encantada com todos eles, pois dou o maior valor ao artesanato feito a mão!
Um abraço!

Marie said...

Toujours un admirable travail,ces appliqués sont superbe,il va falloir que je fasse plus d'éfforts,

Un travail remarquable,bravo je prendrais exemple lors de mes prochain appliqués
Douce semaine a bientot MC

Anonymous said...

Beautiful things, love them.
(smjohns63 at yahoo dot com)

What kind of machine do you have, I am going to have to get me one.

sandi s said...

Beautiful work!

Rosa said...

As always beautiful projects.I love applique and any tips is welcome.

Carla Fiedler said...

Val, Your work is lovely and it was great to see the progression of your applique techniques, thanks!

Anonymous said...

Your machine blanket stitch is so nicely done. I don't think most people know how much practice it takes to get it to look so nice, where to turn and when. Great job! Love the idea of backstitch in a contrasting thread.

Angie in SoCal said...

What an informative post, Val! I really appreciate it as I am tending to use fusible applique as my favored method.

You’ve given me a lot to think about and try.
Thank you!
Angie in So Cal

FlourishingPalms said...

I appreciate these appliqué-enhancing ideas. They're timely! I find myself getting ready to machine-appliqué a lot of pieces, and not wanting that unfinished look on the edges. I may just try one of these. Thank you!

Susan In Texas said...

I love blanket stitching on my machine. I think it looks just lovely. Your idea of using it to keep the applique from merging into the background is wonderful. I'll have to remember that - thanks!

Take care,
Susa in Texas