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Skinny stems applique technique   General Discussion

Started Nov-15 by Pirate (PIRATE_SR); 287 views.
Pirate (PIRATE_SR)

From: Pirate (PIRATE_SR)


I might have discussed this technique before but a search of the forum didn't come up with anything so I want to mention it (again), as I have recently rediscovered it.

Many times when you are doing floral appliques,you need a "skinny stem".  There are several techniques to make skinny stems but the one that immediately come to my mind involves making a very narrow tube of bias (you don't turn it inside out though).  The problem with it is that it is very bulky: there are 4 layers of fabric.  I haven't been thrilled with the excess fabric.

As I was looking for something else in my sewing room, I rediscovered the tutorial that I had printed out.  This technique comes from a lady named Jill Rixman of Placerville, CA (kinda/sorta just up the highway from me.  More or less.  Probably more.  :-)  )   She designs applique patterns and developed this method.   Bottom line is that you are making a very slender single fold bias, much like what is commercially available .. only this is REALLY skinny.  AND, most importantly, it is VERY easy to make.  You don't need any tools or bias tape makers or bias bars or anything ... just your pressing mat, iron and some straight pins.

Although I do have a URL for her tutorial, my recent searching seems to indicate that she has given up her URL and blog.  I don't think she has an online presence any longer  So, I don't have her original blog post to reference.  (Hmm .. maybe I'll make a blog post myself about it.  It's a good technique to have.)   Jill Rixman has designed a line of applique flowers under the name of "For the Love of Applique"

What I'm sharing below is a condensed version:

It's *best* if you cut a bias strip rather than straight of grain.  Bias will allow you to make any sort of curve.  For this technique, it doesn't matter how wide you cut your bias, just make sure it's at least as long as you need.

1. Lay your bias wrong side up on your pressing mat/ironing board.  Along the length, fold up a "skinny" amount.  You want a finished stem that is 1/8" wide? then fold up 1/8" all along the length of the bias.  Use pins into the ironing board to hold down the folded amount.  You don't necessarily need to pin INTO the bias, you're just using the pins to hold the folded part down.  Then press it with seam.   If you look closely, the pins in this photo are *not* pinning the folded fabric.

2. Remove the pins.  Fold the fabric again, using the raw edge of the folded part as the new fold line.  You are simply folding the fabric up onto itself.  Pin as before, using the pins to simply hold the folded fabric down.  Press with steam.   Now, honestly, this picture looks just like the previous one, but I assure you that the fabric has been folded back onto itself and pressed!

If you look at the fabric from the narrow side, this is what you should see.  This fabric has originally been folded 1/4" and pressed.  Folded again at 1/4" and pressed.

3. Lay the folded edge (the edge on the right side of the previous picture) onto the line that you want to have the applique.  Use pins to hold the fabric in place on the foundation fabric.  Now you will applique that edge onto the foundation fabric, just as you normally would do for applique.  

  In this photo, I've already appliqued both edges on the right side of this heart.  On the left side of the heart, you can see where I have pinned the skinny stem along the folded edge.  This is the outer edge of the curve.  It is easier to do the outside curve first and then the tighter, inside curve.  The next step is to applique the skinny stem along the folded edge where the pins are.

4. This step is where the "magic" happens.  Now that you have the one edge appliqued down, open it up and see where your stitches are?  You are going to TRIM AWAY the excess fabric, very close to where your stitches are.  The amount of fabric that you leave will be hidden when you fold the skinny stem over on top of it.   Once you trim away the excess (and this is why it doesn't matter how *wide* you cut your fabric, as you are going to be trimming it away), and fold the skinny stem over, what you are left with is another folded edge which you will also applique down.  Voila ... a skinny stem.  No muss, no fuss, no extra tools required.  

Also, if at this point, you see where your skinny stem isn't quite as skinny as you would like, you can simply "needleturn" the folded edge under a bit more.  This will push the fabric under the skinny stem a bit more, creating a slightly rounded stem, which could be very attractive.


I'm willing to bet that Dee already knows this technique.  :-)

Suze (casuzenn)

From: Suze (casuzenn)


I watched a Japanese lady do something similar...what she did was after the pressing, open up the folds, do a running stitch on the inside along the fold (no need to applique the first seam), then proceed the same as your described method...

Pirate (PIRATE_SR)

From: Pirate (PIRATE_SR)


Yup, that would work as well.