Appliqué Like a Pro! Part 2/4 – Stars & Points


So, welcome to Session Two of appliqué and needle turn appliqué with Jan Patek. And now we are going to do stars, and let me show you, this is what we are working on right here. We’ve got this star right here, on this little black square—we’re going to show you how to do that. One of the mysteries and craziness of appliqué for anybody are those points, those little points—perfect points. And this gal has the method that will ease your mind. You’ll be able to do it so why don’t you get us started here.

Okay, we have already traced our pattern—our star from our pattern—onto freezer paper, cut it out, and ironed it to our piece of fabric. That’s the first thing we need to do. Now once again, these are our stitching lines so now what we need to do is draw around the stitching line. And this is where your sandpaper board comes in so well, because what it does is it holds your fabric in place so that when you trace around the pattern, the fabric doesn’t stretch. If the fabric stretches, then when you cut it out, your pattern’s not going to look like it did on the piece of paper.

So, you draw around the edge of the outside of the freezer paper and it holds the fabric in place which is what it’s done. And the drawing line is your stitch line. Now if you are unclear on any of these….the freezer paper directions or any of that, you can look back to Session One because we covered the tracing and the ironing on in session one, so it’s right there for you. It’s also in the directions for your pattern but it really is nice to look at both.

Okay, now that we have drawn precisely around there we are going to cut it out. And we are just going to eyeball a fourth inch; this doesn’t have to be precise we aren’t going to be piecing it together on a sewing machine we are going to appliqué it down. And when you do this star you are going to actually learn that outer points and inner points—because sometimes that little inner point can be a challenge as well, so um…Okay when you get to the point, I square them off—about 1/4 th an inch from the end, up the thing. If you want to just go ahead and cut it straight and square them off later you can—I do it when I’m cutting them out. And, quite truthfully you can take your paper off if it starts coming loose—which it may. Because you have your drawn line on there…because you have your drawn line and
you just sew or cut 1/4th inch outside your drawn line. It might be a little hard to see our drawn line, but its there! Yeah, maybe I should have left the paper on. It’s alright!

Okay, now…one of the fun things about Jan’s stars is she does a lot of primitive work and so all the starts are always a little wonky and it just makes it a lot of fun. Okay, so we ironed the paper back on so we could see what we where doing with the line because it’s easier. Now what we want to do is cut to each inside point, precisely. And we mostly ironed this back on for the camera, so that you guys could see if better but if you have it in your hands you can see it and you don’t have to add the paper back on.

Okay, it’s all ironed in. And another reason to do it is, I marked on the paper which way is up. That’s…sometimes that easier with stars, like, cause you could see when I was having trouble putting it back on. Now, put it on your square with your point that goes up going up, and put a pin in it. Here Jan, let me move this sandpaper board. You’ll be able to see that black better. Yeah that will be easier. Okay, now…let’s get rid of this little thing.

As anybody knows that’s tried to do needle point appliqué, or hand turn appliqué, or any kind of appliqué, problems with points come at the outside point—out here— and the inside point. And since those are your two problem areas, you never start there. Start really about in the middle, down one leg of the star, and you just finger press it down along the line. Using the line as your guide, yeah. Yes. And then take your needle underneath the block and come up about halfway through down the line, and catch both of your background—first you got to put a knot in your thread, it works better if you do that. Now, come up and catch the background and the very edge of the line and do your basic appliqué stitch that we showed you in the last one. You go in just behind, at an angle, and come up at about 1/16th to 1/8 of an inch. And we’re going to—trying not to catch the point, but if you do, get it loose. Now when she said finger press what she means is with her fingernails she’ll crease right on that line so that edge with lay down and then you can…I mean it just lays down a little smoother.

Okay, now you are going to stitch until one stitch before the inside point. And you’re going to stop there and we’re going to take the next point and you’re going to turn it way under. And did you see that there’s…are you close enough you can see these little threads were trying to stick up, okay? And that’s the problem with inside points, those little threads. When you turn it like this, then take your needle and push them under. You can still see where your point is, you now sew to that point and you take a double stitch.

And so she folded that next leg, not on the line, but way in because she’s just going to take a couple stitches and she wants to make sure she catches those little threads. Yes, when you push them way under you can almost…now you release the leg and come back out…and once again, finger press it along the line. So now you’ve got your crease where you’re supposed to sew. And see the little thing that was trying to stick out. Fabric is woven at right angles and when you do these points you are making it go at not right angles and it gets cranky. Ha-ha, it doesn’t like it. It doesn’t like it, it stick little things out. Now we’re going to sew up to…now she’s headed down to the point and you can, you know, you’re sailing down a straight line so you can go pretty fast with this. And then just before you get to the point…well, no, you go to the point…to the point, okay…it’s just before on the inside…to the point on the outside…to the point on the outside.

Okay, that was a binding stitch. On the outside point we’re going to make a stay stitch which means…Now remember the point is still going to be ¼ inch in. You go to your line because you are going to have that fabric sticking up. Right. You don’t sew to the end of the fabric, you sew to the end of your stitching line and you make a double stitch right there at that point.

Okay, now…and this time you take your needle and you put it down there because it really is not that much use right now. You’ve got all this fabric here, you have a stay stitch, and you fold this back. You see all that fabric there? If you try to turn that under you are going to have a big lump. So you don’t turn it under, you take it and you trim it at an angel. Yeah, let me show you…let me put this piece on here. It’s just this little end piece right here. Right. Now we are going to take the top piece and trim it at an angle too and remember that we cut this across when we cut up. See, these are cut across. They’re not clear out where the point would be so…but even with that, now what we are going to do is trim this. It’s this trimming that really helps you have a nice, sharp point. Yep.

Now, once again, you don’t have your needle in your hand right now. You have your finger here and your finger here and you make a hospital corner which means you fold that straight across. Any woman that’s made a bed should know what a
hospital corner is. Although some of the younger ones with fitted sheets may not, but anyway, straight across so that there is a straight line there.

Now once again, you pick it up and you are pressing against your finger under here and you fold it under. Now you take your needle and you pull it, it’s a point, and your thumb is right there and you sew. And you needle turn all that stuff. And see how she puts that needle in from that next corner and just sweeps it along and all that fabric just rolls in and um…here, come out here a little bit. Alright, let me get the needle in there so I don’t lose my stitch…there you go…and then she’s got that point. She folded it straight across, did the hospital corner—if you don’t know what a hospital corner is, ask an old military man, they know what a hospital corner is. Anyway, go straight across and then you fold that side piece down and you can start down the other side and your points are great!

I did a quilt one time that had chicken feet on it and it was one of Jan’s quilts and I…those chicken feet, I mean they’re narrower than a star point but this method worked for it. It still works! I had to get a brush up course from Jan, I’m like ‘I can’t get these chicken feet!” I had to cut them out a couple times because they kept fraying. Yeah, and if they fray, people….now we’re almost to that inside point again so we’re going to stop and we’re going to turn this way under. And see once again, you’ve got a little thing sticking out there. Take your needle and turn it under, then go down there and make another little binding stitch. So she stopped again one stitch before, flipped that leg way under, swept it across to get the threads in and then you just stitch across there, then you release that leg and fold it on the line. That is such a great tip because it just helps so much with getting those inside curves…you know a lot of times we’re just sewing almost on raw fabric because there’s just not very much room right there but, boy, that is a great tip!

And, there’s…particularly with your outside point, if you have trouble—and I would…what I have people do when I teach this is, I give them a practice one for the one they’re putting in the quilt…I think that’s a really good idea because, then when you get to this outside point—that’s where most people have trouble with things fraying—if you do have trouble and this has been frayed to the point where you really can’t get it turned under right, just pull your stitches out—a couple—a back it up. There’s really no appliqué police; they’re not going to know your star has a…like it’s a little bit shorter than it’s supposed to be. That’s what’s really neat about primitive quilting is, it’s not really precision.

Okay, now we’re back at this point and we’re going to go through it again. Okay, you make…so you can watch it one more time. So, she took an extra stitch right there at the point, where her lines come together–your tracing lines come together–sets the needle down, sticks it in there so it doesn’t fall off…And the reason it’s called a stay stitch is your going to bend all this fabric back and you want that point to stay right there. Yeah you want it even. So, now you pull this back, trim this off…See it’s just kind of a little wing that sticks up and you trim that off…Right beside my chair where I sit and appliqué there’s a whole pile of these things every night, when we do it. Then you put it down…We’re glad for vacuums…now she’s trimming off that little edge piece.

And you trim that again…you know I may have trimmed that…you’re better off trimming it too long than too short because you can always take more off. It’s hard to put more on. If you get it too short—I don’t think I have, but in case I have, just back that stitch down a couple pieces, down to there, and take the thread out. Okay, you’re finger’s under here—you’re pushing against your finger—you fold it straight across and then you fold it under. Look at that nice little point. And see this is why I’ve never done a book on needle turn appliqué, you just can’t describe that, you have to see it. Although loads of her quilts have been in books. She does have quite a lot…Yeah, but what I say is ‘appliqué the star in place.’ I don’t tell you how to do it.

I want to show you how to quilt with stars because she’s done some beautiful things, and once you know how to do a star, they’re just amazing, they’re just really beautiful. And this works quite as well with bird’s beaks, chicken feet, leaf points…yes, anything with a point…anytime you have a point you can use this technique.

So now you have gone all the way around and you are at the ending. And this is the only part that is a little different and…it really helps when you start, if you start quite a ways down this leg because then you have more room to maneuver up here because you can’t fold it as easily. You can’t fold that—the next leg—back, because it’s already attached. Right, it’s already sewed so it’s a little harder to maneuver but basically you use the same technique. You do your stay stitch here, so you come…you do the same thing…you come up to end, do one more stitch, so that it won’t come out. Now, you have to fold this back and you have to be careful when you are cutting here that you don’t cut your star. That’s the only problem here. And then I tend to…if there’s too much here, cut it off a little more square. You still make that little hospital corner across the top, right. And we’re going to hope this works… and then fold that in. Look at that! It did. It usually is not quite as pointy as your others but don’t tell anybody. I was going to say that I think that looks pretty good. They won’t…yeah…and then you just sew right down that side to where you began.
And then you end it the same way you did the other one. You make a double stitch, but go to the back. I always go to the back if I can, to end it.

Perfect. I want to show this quilt of Jan’s that’s got stars all over it. I want you to see some of the things you can do, let’s see….Those is pieced…Let’s see, She’s got stars and blocks…Those are pieced stars. Here’s a star tree. Look at this star tree, isn’t that great? Those were inspired by Natalie’s wedge. It’s smaller because I couldn’t make a border that size but you have stars everywhere. Everywhere, look at here, here, even on the one behind us right here.

So now that you can make a star, you can do anything from chicken feet to bird beaks, to leaf points, anything that you need to know. So join us in session three for stems, leaves and circles. We’ll see you then!

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