Today is a rare treat which almost never happens here! But today is special. It’s my stop on the blog tour for my friend Kevin Kosbab’s new book, The Quilter’s Applique Workshop, and Kevin’s here to tell you all about it.
I first met Kevin of Feed Dog Designs through my Yahoo Group for the Equivalent Die Notation System. He was part of the initial group of testers who helped to refine the system into what it is today, and I bumped into him at Quilt Market last year. He told me about the book he was working on, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting its release ever since. And now it is here! So without further ado, here’s Kevin!
Thank you Ebony for hosting this stop on the Quilter’s Appliqué Workshop Blog Tour! Since Ebony’s the guru of fabric die cutting (Thanks, Kev!), I thought it was only appropriate to make this guest post about die cutting for appliqué.
In fact, I didn’t get started die cutting for pieced triangles or strips—it was circles for appliqué that first got me interested. Cutting perfect circles with scissors takes patience and care, and rotary cutting isn’t really an option either. But die cutting circles is easy! To this day, my AccuQuilt Go Circles and Sizzix Circles #2 are in heavier rotation than any of my other dies. (Yes! The circles! That’s how I got my start too!)
For my book’s Round the Block Kid’s Quilt, I designed the cars to utilize circles from my die inventory for the wheels and hubcaps. This keeps the cars sharp and graphic, since you can guarantee the wheels will be exactly the same size. I keep a running list of what circle diameters I have on what dies so I always know where I need to go for a particular size—I have 3/4″ and 1 1/4″ circles on an AccuQuilt Daisy die, for example. (We tend to forget that there are circles on the flower dies too – what a great tip!)
Die cutting really shines with felt, where even tracing shapes onto the fluffy fabric can be challenging. Of course, the non-fraying material is also perfectly suited to raw-edge appliqué. Felt and primitive often go hand-in-hand, but in my book I wanted to show that felt could also work in a modern, geometric style, and that’s how the Mod Flowers Table Runner came about.
I’ll let you in on a little secret you won’t find in the book (though you’ve probably guessed it): the flower heads and leaves were all die cut. I think the uniformity of the cut shapes plays nicely against the soft look of the wool—never mind that it was a breeze to die cut all the leaves instead of tracing and cutting each one individually with scissors. (Full-size templates are provided in the book, so you certainly don’t need a die cutter for the project—but if you do have one, you can check the templates to see if you have the right die shapes. The leaf shapes are from AccuQuilt’s Go! Feathers die.)
As when cutting cotton fabrics for raw-edge appliqué, I backed the felt with fusible web before cutting. This helped add stability to some of the wool that wasn’t densely felted. While the runner could easily be appliquéd by machine, I hand-stitched it to again play against the crisp shapes. The same lightweight fusible that doesn’t gum up your machine needle works just as well with hand sewing.
But die-cutting has a role in appliqué beyond raw-edge fusible. For turned-edge techniques (i.e., methods in which you turn the fabric edges around a template before sewing, covered in detail in The Quilter’s Appliqué Workshop), you can die cut templates, much like die cutting paper hexagons for English paper piecing. You know those Mylar circles you can buy to make perfect circles for appliqué? I made myself my own set with circle dies and heat-resistant template plastic. Or you can cut templates from freezer paper, like a friend of mine does with circle paper punches in various sizes—different tools, same principle. (Yes, it is fine to cut paper and template plastic with your dies!)
Don’t think you have to be limited to dies designed for quilters. Steel-rule dies for papercrafting are just as effective, from flowers and snowflakes to animals and abstract flourishes. Any die shape could potentially be used as an appliqué (including geometric piecing dies, as Ebony suggests in The Big Little Book of Fabric Die Cutting Tips), but if they’re not designed specifically for appliqué, think about how difficult they’ll be to sew. For example, closely spaced, deep petals may not leave enough space between them for an adequate seam allowance, so they might be fine for fusible but not for turned-edge templates. Conversely, really narrow sections may not leave enough space for stitching fused edges.
How have you used dies for appliqué? Please share in the comments, and you could win a pack of 5″ wool charms to make that table runner! Entries accepted until 11:59pm on February 28th. Eligibility and contest rules here.
Check out these other stops on the tour!
- February 20: Kevin Kosbab, Feed Dog
- February 21: Angela Pingel, Cut to Pieces
- February 22: Sew Mama Sew
- February 24: Ebony Love, LoveBug Studios
- February 25: Generation Q
- February 26: Heather Kosbab, Happy Appliquer
- February 27: Diane Gilleland, CraftyPod
- February 28: Quilting Daily
In addition, Kevin is running a grand prize giveaway on his blog throughout the tour; entrants can comment on the initial tour post through March 1 for a chance to win a signed copy of the book, a stack of other appliqué patterns, and a DVD. (US addresses only.) Good luck!