My embroidery and creative stitching experiences.

Traditional Applique Methods.

In chapter 8 I felt some of my samples looked too complicated and messy for a variety of reasons so I decided to go back to a very basic shape for my first attempt at traditional reverse appliqué.

1.I deconstructed the shapes which formed parts of  my main motifs in chapter 8 and decided to use b) seen in this sketch.



2. Once I had drawn the shape on the back of my cloth I sewed all 3 layers together using the machine before realising I was on the wrong page!



3. Skipping quickly to the correct page, I drew the shape again on the back of the cloth then machine stitched one outline. I turned it over and cut inside the stitches. I repeated this until I had used 4 layers. Are bells ringing in your head? Yes, mine too, but only when it was too late!


stitched and sewn in wrong order!

I was on the right page but had not read the instructions carefully! I really thought I knew what I was doing too!

Tsk! Lesson learned, read the instructions…from the right page!

After reading the instructions slowly and carefully, just so that I was not selected for the twit of the week award, I started again.

It really was a case of third time lucky.

4. I used printed gold and printed navy cotton and plain orange and gold cotton respectively. I made this sample larger than I would normally so that I would have lots of room for practising the technique. I made each tacking line approximately 1cm apart, and used small stitches fairly close together. I felt clumsy at first, trying to tuck in the cloth and sewing it in place but as I progressed I became quicker and neater at stitching. I continued doing this until I reached to end of the last layer. I was enjoying the sewing so I repeated the process of cutting away, and stitching on the outside edges too.


Reverse applique large sample IMG_4500

5. Because the last piece was so big (25x13cm), I did a smaller version too, just to convince myself I could do it with less material to fold under and still make a good job of it. This small sample was 10x6cm. Some of the stitching is good, but there are places where I could have been a bit neater. In both samples I should have been more consistent with the width of each band of material that is on show.


Reverse applique small sample.

Contemporary Methods using Machine Stitching

A. I read the instructions (again) carefully. Using the same shape as above and using orange, blue, yellow and purple cloth in that order, I stitched the outside shape first and cut away inside the stitching on this layer. I then continued this process until I had all 4 colours showing.

The purple fabric was a polyester fabric which frayed easily. I cut too close to the stitching in some places but the fibres that were left were enough to hold it all together.

A.                           B.

Stitch outer shape, cut inside line. Stitch inside shape, cut outside line.

B was completed using the same approach as A but this time the inside shape was stitched first and cut away outside the stitching on each layer. This time I was more careful cutting around each layer of fabric.

This method is much quicker than the traditional methods but I enjoyed both. They both have their own pros and cons as far as time, and finish are concerned and it would depend on what I was doing whether I would use one over the other.

Multi-Coloured Ripple or Contour Effect.

I did it again! I rushed on without reading through the instructions properly! Without trying to make excuses for myself I know why I am going wrong all the time!. I am  panicking because I have not got as much done this week as I had planned and I wanted to get a lot more done before the end of this week as I am going to have to leave it alone for a while to get on with other pending projects.

Anyway that aside I will explain what I have done now!

i.                                                 ii.                                                iii.

Layers of material and bits. IMG_4516  i. Finished piece.

i. Instead of laying pieces of material between a bottom and a top layer I sandwiched bits of fabric between 4 layers not including the base layer. I had the design on the bottom which I had made a bit more complicated in design than sample A and B above. I sewed around all the design lines which were about 1 cm apart.

ii.I then started by cutting on the inside of the line in the central parts of the design to show orange material. Lots of threads also showed up as well as blue silk material. As in the instructions I sewed around the inside cut areas.

iii. I cut again to reveal purple as well as areas of yellow. The last layer was of gold coloured material. I decided to leave areas in the outside corners purple and revealed the gold material seen in the centre. Despite this not being what I was supposed to do, I decided to continue to see what emerged and I have to say I quite like it.

iv.                                                v.

IMG_4532 IMG_4536

iv. Finally thinking I had a better grasp of what I should be doing  I layered coloured strips over my design.

v. I added a layer of two overlapping yellow fabrics. This was topped with a layer of blue/purple poly cotton fabric. It is a colour that falls between the two and was the nearest to purple cotton that I could find. (The shop I buy from has changed suppliers which is a bit of a pest!)


Rippled design

vi. After lots of hours of sewing and cutting I finally produced the finished article.

Completing vi. was quite a journey, a comedy of errors in fact!  I made quite a few silly mistakes. When I was tacking all the pieces together I also sewed in an extra layer of calico about half way through this operation. This had to be undone so that I could see the design!

Later on I noticed funny little loops appearing on the back mostly at corners. There was also a tinkling sound coming from the machine. The bobbin was not in properly. Stitches had to be redone after nestling the bobbin and thread properly in it’s place.

Everything went really well for a while, I was feeling good and enjoying seeing the design emerge as I continued on with sewing and cutting.

It was too good to be true! I ran out of thread. I had some which was very close in colour but thicker. I could have used a thread which was not as close in colour and the same thickness (is there a word for this? gauge?) but I didn’t. That was a mistake! I could thread the cotton without any problem so carried on. It worked for a bit then the thread would get a bit knotted on the back. I would stop, tidy, re-thread and go again. The stitches on the front although thicker were looking fine but having to sort out lumps on the back was not good and the needle was obviously struggling with the thread. It was fraying every so often and this was causing the lumps. I could have changed the needle but it was easier to change the thread to the one I should have used in the first place. I was then able to continue incident free to the end. Hurrah!

Once  I had cut the final purple and yellow material away from around the outside areas the layers of blue, orange, purple and yellow were hanging loosely and did not compliment the design so I cut them away following the contours of the last sewn outline.

I could have sewn some lines closer to each other but I chose to sew over the layer that had been cut as close to the last edge as I could, I am not sure if this has made any difference or not as I think I have  managed to achieve the correct result this time!

I did not think I was going to like this for some reason but actually I really like it. It really does ripple! I am very pleased with this piece of work.

Me and rippled sample.

I asked my lovely husband to take a photograph of me and the sample. Typically he was only half listening and thought I wanted him to take a photograph of the sample only. When he asked why I wanted him to take the photograph I looked at him quizzically and said ” Because the cats can’t do it!” Of course his confusion is a little justified as I really do not like getting my photograph taken. This is a rare image of yours truly!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The slide show provides a look at some of the steps and development of the above two pieces.

1. I did another piece thinking I would vary the cutting and sewing so that I would have wider spaces between lines and more uncut areas but as it turned out I didn’t like what emerged so I ended up cutting and sewing in the normal way although I did not cut all the areas back to the bottom layer of yellows and oranges. I wanted it to look as if the colour was changing more selectively so the top and right hand side has more yellows showing , the middle has a combination of colours revealed and the bottom part only had the top layer of yellow removed to reveal a selection of purples and blues except for one small slither on the right hand side where some orange and yellow can be seen.



1.The design.

 2.                                      3.

IMG_1676 IMG_1677

2. The layers. 3. Purple stitched outlines.

4.                                                  5.                                                   6.

    IMG_1678 IMG_1679 Ch9.3 most of top layer removed.

4. Cutting selectively from the top layer.

5. More yellow removed revealing a variety of colours.

6. The finished piece  with none of the top layer intact.

This has been a great chapter to do even though I got of to a shaky start. (There seems to be a pattern to my progress through Module 1… lots of shaky starts!) I have thoroughly enjoyed using my sewing machine and using up lots of thread which I have had stashed away for a long time. I loved creating the designs event though they have strayed away from the more starry motifs and I have learned lots of new techniques too!


Comments on: "D. S. 3. Chapter 9. Reverse Applique. Traditional and Contemporary." (2)

  1. Lovely reverse applique and I love your colours.

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