03 July 2015

Playing with Auntie Green

The Auntie Green Coverlet made by Mary Ann Wellen in 1860, has been on my radar for some time. I first saw a photo in Quiltmania magazine a few years ago.
Judy Day came up with a pattern for the centre which was published over three issues of Australian Patchwork & Quilting magazine.
Brigitte Giblin has a version in her book Feathering the Nest
Then a couple of years ago I came across this pattern for most of the quilt by Irene Blanck which I duly bought.
I think I am well set up with inspiration and patterns! I would like to make a version of this quilt, at the moment I am not sure what I will do, I will definitely change it around to make it my own. I have ordered a bolt of Moda Bella Solids in 'Snow' which is a lovely soft cream colour. I think I will buy a couple of 1/2m of fabrics for the bias and stems and then use as many of my scraps as I can, I have several baskets filled to overflowing...
While waiting for the background fabric to arrive from the US I have been thinking about how I would like to make this quilt. My first love is handwork, especially needle turn appliqué, I have practiced a lot over the years and am happy with my stitching, however it is not the quickest method in the world! I decided to spend some time this afternoon playing around with machine appliqué. I am not a huge fan of fused blanket stitch appliqué as I don't like the stiffness. After reading up and watching several tube videos I had ago at invisible machine appliqué.

The first job is to prepare the pieces, I am using Floriani washable, iron on, water soluble stabiliser
I traced the pieces on using a permanent marker - big mistake as it showed through - I should have used a washable blue pen or cut inside the line more accurately!
ironed them to the back of my appliqué fabrics and cut them out with a scant 1/4" seam allowance
Then using my stiletto and purple thing I glued the edges under
Hmm... not really that great but everything is glued down so I decided to try the actual machine stitching
I used the blind hem stitch (No. 3 on my Bernina) length 0.8; width 0.9; upper tension 2; No. 70 needle; needle down; mirror image; open toed foot; aurifil in bobbin; invisible thread on top

Phew! Had to write that down before I forget!

I like that the stitching is not noticeable except close up

The appliqué felt a little stiff with the stabiliser. I washed it well to remove all the glue etc and it softened up considerably, I think it will soften more with each wash.
However after washing you can see where I missed stitches! The problem with invisible thread is that it is really hard to see lol!
Overall I am not that happy with my first try

machine stitching is faster than hand
the stabiliser softens so you don't feel it
Using invisible thread means I don't keep having to change colour with each fabric

The prep is slow and I don't like using glue
I didn't feel my edges were neat but maybe that's just practice
it is easy to skip a stitch, but again maybe down to practice, or I could widen the stitch

I think I will use this method again, but I need a better way of preparing the appliqué pieces, I thought about hand basting, but then I would be quicker with needle turn! I have plenty of time to practice, I expect my background fabric will sit in customs for a while :(

Any experts in machine appliqué out there? thoughts? advice? opinions welcome! should I keep trying?


  1. I'm sorry to say I can't advise here, but I have had experience with invisible thread, and it caused a good deal of muttering and characters-from-the-top-row-of-the-keyboard!

  2. I order Snow by the bolt too. I love it for all my backgrounds in traditional quilts. It is so nice to know I'm not going to run out of fabric any time soon. Although I have had to order another bolt because I used the first one up. I also ordered a bolt Kona in white. I love the applique but I too have a love-hate relationship with fusible applique. It's quick and satisfying but it doesn't have the same feel or look of needle turn. Best wishes on the Auntie Green Coverlet. I look forward to seeing your progress.

  3. Have you seen Dawn Cameron-Dick's books about machine applique? The first is called Invisible Machine Applique and is full of advice that may be helpful although you sound very experienced already.

  4. Hello, just visiting through Amanda Jean's link up. Well I'm impressed , it's a difficult pattern to tackle. I have been to a workshop with Dawn Cameron Dick and as Allison says, her method is well explained and really helpful. Have you tried the freezer paper method? I find it pretty good for turned appliqué.

  5. I don't like the way the' invisible' thread has a sheen when the light hits it. It seems to say ' I used plastic' Like you I don't like the glue and I can never get the edges neat enough. I'm sticking with needleturn, I don't find it slow.

  6. I went to an invisible machine appliqué class recently with Harriet Hargrave. She has a book called Mastering Machine Applique where she explains her methods. She advises using freezer paper templates and a 1/8" seam. I found the class quite stressful (an understatement!) as my machine played up but the results by some of the class were amazing. I have not blogged about it but found a report on one of her classes here. http://cheekycognoscenti.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/applique-by-machine-and-by-hand-verdict.html
    Her sample quilts were beautiful and like most things I think practice makes perfect. She used a 60 needle too and Mettler 60/2 thread in the bobbin. Her stitches were practically invisible to the naked eye.

  7. Goodluck I have thought about trying to do this but never given it a try............I am using the same method but hand appliquing my NJ.............How is your Natures Journey going? What method are you using on it?

  8. I don't like glue either and I don't use the machine. i'm currently working on a children's quilt that is all aplique and started a few days back with my amish circle quilt (half applique, halp pieced).
    I do all my applique by hand with needleturn and I love it. I don't think it is slow at all.

  9. I'm also making Auntie Green with the Irene Blanck pattern by hand using needle turn appliqué. Glue and I don't get on at all and I'd rather hand stitch than use the machine unless it's for a quick pieced quilt. Having said that I've seen some beautiful machine appliqué and it'll be interesting to see what you decide to do, I'll look forward to it.

  10. I love appliqué but I am very new at it. Initally I thought to do machine appliqué but then I read that the invisible thread is some sort of plastic and over time will cause the cotton fabric thread to weaken or break. This made sense to me, so I then thought about using cotton thread for the machine appliqué, but realized that I would need a ton of thread colors and bobbins. So I'm now reading a lot of books on how to do needleturn appliqué and I'm excited to give it a try. I so admire those that have mastered this technique as their work is just beautiful! I can't wait to follow you on your Auntie Green journey. Thanks for the information about your background fabric!

  11. I've been drooling over the Auntie Green's Garden pattern for several years now, but I've restrained myself from purchasing it. It is just too much applique for me. I'll enjoy watching your progress. I would probably do needle turn applique but I don't applique fast either. Maybe it is just practice. Enjoy your project.

  12. I really enjoyed this post. I've been contemplating trying machine applique too so it was very interesting for me to read. I love this quilt! I hope you find what works for you cause I can't wait to see!

  13. Even though I am late to the party, with previous comments being made 3 years ago, I do want to comment. I have made 3 large quilts using machine applique and love doing it! I have a huge collection of poly and rayon embroidery threads in every color, so I used them for all 3 quilts with great results! I use the needle-down function, and the knee presser foot control. My "go to" stitch is #329 on my Bernina, which is a tiny blanket stitch. I do use Elmer's School Glue and C & T dissolving fusible to prep. The 3 quilts I have done using the machine applique method described here were Kim McLean's Roseville Album, Edyta Sitar's Spring Bouquet, Edyta Sitar's Shooting Star, and in process of appliqueing Whitework Sampler. I love hand needle-turn applique, but I"m 74 years old and have a long "todo" list of gorgeous quilts waiting! Don't give up! Practice makes perfect!