update on the lollipop trees

An update on where I’m at with my Lollipop trees quilt. This quilt is also being progressed bit by bit- I tend to work a little on a few different projects so they all move along together. I never refer to them as a UFO- more like a Work in Progress because I don’t abandon them: I just give them all time equally, like a mother with lots of children!
I have finished all of the large blocks for the quilt- here is another couple to show you:
Now I’ve started on the little blocks that form a border around the outside of the large centre section. And I have a few of them to show as well:
I have used a machine-applique method for these, as I outlined in a previous post. I’ve varied it slightly by not using the washable fusible. I just cut the shapes out utilising freezer-paper templates, folded over the edges and pressed down with starch – much like I do when hand-appliqueing. I then used a couple of dots of glue to keep them in place and then sewed them down by machine. Really quick and easy.
So, even though it ain’t gonna happen over night, this quilt will be finished- soon.

how to do circles – circles are different..

In my last post I talked about the method I use for applique. I use that method for most shapes but when doing circles, I use another method to get the seam allowance turned under without any of those little pleats or tucks around the edges. And these lollipop trees have lots of circles!
First of all, you need a plastic circle shape. I either make my own by cutting out template plastic. Or even better, is to use little plastic shapes that are made specially for this purpose- they come in sets of varying sizes and are usually found in your local quilt shop. They are also heat-proof, which the template plastic isn’t.
I’ve tried two different methods- one using alfoil, which I’ve seen a few well-known quilters use, as well as the more traditional method with a gathering thread. Personally, I think the gathering thread actually gets smoother edges and is less likely to have little puckers than the alfoil. Try it yourself and see what you think.
First of all, place the shape on the wrong side of the fabric, trace around the plastic and then cut a circle with about a 1/4″ allowance. This doesn’t have to be exact- it just gets turned under anyway.
Alfoil method: take a square piece of alfoil, layer the fabric, right side down and then the circle shape.
Press the alfoil around, pinching the alfoil tightly around the edges and smoothing to avoid little pleats at the edge.
After you have it as smooth as possible, just scrunch the alfoil together at its opening and then press with a hot iron on both sides.
Put it aside to cool down a little. If using a plastic shape, don’t press for too long or it will melt!
When cool, take the alfoil off, remove the plastic shape and you have a fabric circle with its edges turned under, ready to applique.

Gathering thread method: after cutting out the fabric circle, run a line of large stitches around the edge and leave the ends with a long tail- don’t backstitch at the start or end.
Place the plastic shape in the middle of the circle, and pull the ends of the thread so it gathers the fabric around the circle. It will naturally pull the fabric in tight without any pleats along the edge- I find this more successful than when using the alfoil.
Press the fabric circle with the iron, just around the edges. You could also use starch if you want, to give a bit more crispness on the edge.
When you are ready to applique, just remove the plastic shape and tuck the loose thread ends under. You don’t remove the gathering thread. It can just stay there because it won’t be seen.

how to… use freezer paper for applique

I mentioned on a previous post recently that I had tried lots of different methods for applique- this was mainly to just trial them and see which I prefer. While doing blocks for my ‘Lollipop Tree’ quilt, I’ve had ample opportunity to try them out! I finished another block this weekend…
..so thought I would show the method that I like the best, using freezer paper. First of all, I trace the pattern pieces onto the freezer paper and then cut them out right on the line.
I will be ironing those pattern pieces onto the wrong-side of the chosen fabric. You therefore need to remember, when tracing the pieces, to use a mirror-reverse of the design if appropriate: this pattern I’m doing is symmetrical, meaning that the left side of the block is the reverse-image of the right, so I have two of every piece each at reverse angle to the other and then it doesn’t matter how I place them on the wrong side of the fabric.
You then cut out each piece, allowing for a quarter inch seam allowance all around. I’m showing below the last piece I usually put on each block which is the tree trunk. You can free-hand cut it out- you don’t need to mark it all first. The seam allowance just gets turned under so it doesn’t have to be exact.
I take a can of spray starch, spray some into the can lid, and then dip into it with an old paintbrush.
Dab with the brush onto the seam allowance all around the piece. While it is still damp, press the seam allowance over with a hot iron.
You can use the tip of the iron to flip over the edge as you move it along, and use a stiletto to aid you.
Press all the edges down. Going around curves can be a little touchy but I have a trick to ensure you don’t get any tucks or pleats: when pressing the allowance over, press with the tip of the iron only along the very edge of the shape, like only a millimetre or two, so that the iron is just pressing along the very edge and not the whole seam allowance. Once you have gone around the edge of the curve, without any pleats, you can then press the whole 1/4″ seam allowance- it doesn’t matter if the allowance gets a tuck or looks a little frilly as long as the very edge is smooth. Just press all that down afterwards. It gets hidden underneath when you stitch it down anyway. You only need to worry about what the edge looks like from the right side.

clockwise: pressing curves

clockwise: pressing curves

Now the piece is ready to applique down. Peel off the piece of freezer paper and the pressed edges will stay in place and it will have nice crisp edges to stitch down.