Sewing Day Here

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

We've had snow on the ground for about 2 weeks it's cold here! I think all of you are experiencing the same weather....except for you lucky gals in the southern hemisphere. (Barb and I are dying to visit you.....I bet we could still catch a flight. We we won't stay too long.....just about a month. And we are good help in the kitchen!!! We would promise just about anything to get a bit of sunshine and warmth.) We are expecting about 4-6" more of snow today. Dave and I haven't shoveled the drive from the last 10" of snow. We are the kind that just keep driving over the snow in the driveway, hoping to mash it into shape with the car tires. Might have to get someone to plow us out of here.

Great time to stay home and applique. Which is exactly what I'm doing. Barb has come up with a great quilt design for our next book with the Kansas City Star. I'm doing the invisible machine applique method I blogged about in May of 2009. (Click on the date to find the post.) I had to find just the right thread for this fabric...a very light limey green. While this piece is on the machine I thought I would go over a few details about this technique.

I use an open toe presser foot. It opens my field of vision. I need to see my exact needle placement. I have an older Bernina sewing machine. I purchased it in 1988. When I went to the store I told the saleswoman, "I want a machine that just sews a seam...not a lot of fancy stitches."
As it turns out, I did need a couple of fancy stitches....and this hem stitch is one of the ones I use the most. It takes 3 straight stitches and then a small zigzag stitch. The 3 straight stitches are made adjacent to the stem I'm appliquing. Then the small zigzag stitch goes over into the stem and appliques it to the background. Take a look at the left side of the stem and you will see some of the applique stitches.

There are 4 adjustments I make to my machine. The first is to increase the tension on the thread coming up from the bobbin. On the Bernina there is a small hole in the bobbin holder. I run my bobbin thread through the hole as shown below.

This keeps the bobbin thread from showing on the surface. I use a taupe colored thread in the bobbin without fear of it showing on the top. (less changing threads) If you don't have this feature or can't tighten the tension of the bobbin thread, you will have to use the same colored thread in the bobbin as you are using for the applique.

All my fancy stitches are shown above. I change my stitch to the blind hem...or #2. If you don't have this one on your machine, practice with some of the stitches and see if you have one that might give the same look. I've even done a small jigzag stitch that works well too.

I adjust my stitch length. Small tight stitches are needed. If your straight stitches are too far apart the applique stitches will be too far apart.

My zigzag stitch is adjusted to a small bite. A big or wide zigzag stitch would result in your applique stitch not being invisible. Which isn't bad....just not the look we are going for here. The wider white line indicates the length of my zigzag stitch....not the silver handle.

The photo above shows the needle going in for the small zigzag stitch. Just enough to catch the fabric....but not enough to show on the stem.

I can applique one block a day. Fast results to say the least! Not relaxing like hand applique...but fun to see a quilt come together so quickly.

Four blocks done....5 to go!

Take a visit to Amanda's blog and see her "Home Sweet Home" quilt. This one was made with real love!

Shawna Wilde, Utah writes...."I love the quilt and wanted to thank you for the wonderful pattern! By the way, I am teaching a quilting group of 13 ladies, and we are all making "Home Sweet Home" in 1020. When we are finished, I'll forward photographs of all of our quilts. It has to be fun as a designer to see quilts made up from your patterns!" Again, thanks.

Shawna's quilt is pictured below. Looks like she won a ribbon too! Congratulations Shawna.

Hope you are keeping warm and toasty today. Great day to make a quilt....or at least stay under one!

Until later,



  1. Alma, Thanks so much for the directions. I love all the quilts. I have never made one. I am hoping to try this year. Stay Warm. It is to snow here in Alabama tonight and tomorrow. Hope not snowed in like you... LOL

  2. Hi Alma,

    Haven't done much applique but this looks a great method. May I ask are the edges tucked under or is it a raw edge.? They look so neat.

  3. Really enjoyed seeing how you stitch your appliques, always love your fabric choices and patterns. The house quilt is one of my favorites! Stay warm and happy, quilting....pat

  4. I never knew what that hole in the bobbin holder was for until now. Thank you! I'm going to try that because I've been cursing my machine when I applique and see the bobbin thread come up to the top. Arrrggghhh. Hmmm... Maybe I should have read the manual more carefully. Thanks for the tips.

  5. Hi Gail,

    Check the posting from May. It will show you how to turn under the seam allowances. All edges are tucked under. Not a raw edge in sight!

  6. I just love it, what is the material theme name, I would love to see it in person. I love your materials and books, can't wait to see the next one. XO Mary

  7. What a beautiful quilt you're appliqueing! And Shawna's Home Sweet Home - wow! I don't quilt, but even if I did I couldn't do it by machine. I used a hand-me-down sewing machine from my mother-in-law, it's from the 1940s, and it only does straight stitch! The quilts and fabrics are a feast for the eyes!

  8. Thanks so much for the applique tutorial , very clear pictures & instructions.
    I live in the southern hemisphere & would love some snow about now as I sit at my machine fan full blast & still in a puddle of perspiration.
    Love your applique !!!

  9. Well I'll be doggone!
    I've had my Bernina for about 8 years now, and I never ever knew that my bobbin cover had a little hole in that handle and that the thread was supposed to go thru it. but it surely does!

    and i've got that same #20 foot too! Thanks so much for opening my eyes to what has been right there in front of me, and for the helpful hints on machine applique.

  10. Hi ladies,
    We would gladly welcome your visit any time to 'the southern hemisphere'! Any extra help in the kitchen is always welcome! I will think of you while I am scooting around on this lovely sunny 28 degree C. day today. Summer in Australia! The new quilt looks lovely!
    Just love reading your blog.
    Thanks Ladies

  11. Thanks for the applique tips! The hole in the "finger" of the bobbin case also helps with decorative stitches and embroidery - it helps the machine make a more exact stitch.

    I've had my trusty Bernina for 15 years, and although I bought a newer Bernina a few years ago, I won't part with my old friend. It still sews a beautiful stitch!

  12. Hey Alma!

    You can come down to Georgia but it's wayyyy cold here too. It's been in the teens all week at night.
    We may get some snow tomorrow but will be short-lived or so the weather man says.
    Love to read your blog! I'm a very basic sewer. Bought a new machine last Fall and still trying to figure it out. Funny, because I just told my husband I needed somebody to show me some sewing stuff and I clicked on your blog and there it is! LOL
    Love your pictures. I didn't know that's what the hole in the bobbin was for either.
    I cross stitch alot and use the machine just mainly to sew backings on for pillows and such.
    I would love to quilt but right now I don't have the stretch out room to start.
    I keep saying, one day I will learn to quilt.

    Feathers in the Nest

  13. I have to agreee with Jacinta's are welcome to visit us in Australia any time. Except I would not put you to work in the kitchen, I would have you in my sewing room sharing with me all your wonderful knowledge & tips on sewing!
    Yes today's temp is to be 28c, which is lovely, but tomorrow is forecast to be 36c and Saturday 38c way to hot! Looking forward to your new book. from Jenny McH Melbourne, Australia

  14. Thanks for the pictures of your appliqué work. I am going to have to try it one of these days. I hate turning under all of the edges, though. That's why I usually just do it as I go with needle turn. It sure would be faster to do it this way, though.

  15. You are welcome to come visit in Australia anytime. I live near Beechworth (Yelena Elliott's home) and there is no fear of cold and snow here. We are in for a heat wave this weekend with 41oC on Sunday! Love the quilt photos and can't wait for the next book to be released so I can add it to my collection. Sue-Anne

  16. Thank you so much for the updated information on machine applique. It motivates me to try it. I needed a reason to bring my Bernina 930 out of retirement..Like someone else has posted..I just can't part with it. Have a newer model but still love the work horse. Louise

  17. I would like to try machine applique too, and got the star foot to do the edges with, but need to practice with it.


  18. Heads up on BlackbirdDesigns midnight watch?

    It says you need 2 of each CC gingersnap and GAST gingersnap but doesn't say you need more than one of CC blackbird....I'm through almost 2 skeins of the blackbird color....there is more of this than anything on the chart.
    Anyone else have this come up? BD doesn't have a correction for this chart....just wondering and maybe a heads up.

    Hi, this was posted on 123stitch message board and I was wondering if you were aware of this?
    thanks for your help!

  19. The quilt you are working on looks very pretty. Sure wish I was a quilter!

  20. Alma, we're having 38C here in Victoria, Aust, for the next week, so you can come stay and teach me your fabulous method of machine applique. Oh yes, I'll feed you too. LOL! Stay warm and we'll try to stay cool.

  21. Have a couple of your patterns to do this year - could be my "Year of the Blackbird"!! Love your fabrics too!!
    About that trip south - have you seen the weather there?? I lived there when it snowed in 1977 - its pert near the same or colder - our kids there are freezing!!! Alaska was warmer, I think - Yikes, now that's scarey!!!!

  22. Hi Barb and Alma, l meet you both several years ago when you came and taught a workshop in Victoria, Australia. You are more than welcome to catch a flight and come visit at my beach house where l will be sewing up a storm for the next few weeks. Sunshine and the sounds of surf to sew to, then
    cooking together in the kitchen after a day at the machine, what more could a woman ask for!!!
    Linda C
    (Quilts in the Barn)

  23. Thanks for all the great tips, Alma. I've bookmarked both posts now just to make sure I can find them again. For that time when I get a sewing machine that can do a hem stitch. lol! Keep your fingers crossed for me!

  24. Oh Alma, I LOVE the colors in the beginning instructional photos. So happy :o)

  25. Do we need to use a stabilizer under the fabrics when using this technique? I have the book and just love this design.

    I never thought the weather in Oregon, mostly rain, would look so good!


  26. I live in sunny So. Calif. and you would be very, very welcome to stay any time at my home. I have a quest room that is ready and waiting for you. Only thing, is that you must promise to hang out with me and my sewing buddies in my sewing room. Yeah!!!!

    Terry in So. Calif where the temp is in the 70s

  27. Hey Alma and Barb - when you're done at Lizzie's in the country you can come and stay with me in town - gorgeous weather in Melbourne right now and I know lots of girls who would be happy to show you a good time!

  28. Hi Ladies from the deep south (New Zealand), our door is always open and... I'll even make the bed for you. However, it's flipping cold at the moment (16deg) and we have had 2 days of rain. So... the offer is there
    hugs to keep the cold away

  29. Thanx for the great tutorial. It seems to be a fine method.

    Sewing with the maching isn't very relaxing for me, but seeing the result I will give it a try.

    In the post of may 2009 I read that there would be a patern posted to try the method on. But... I can't find it... maybe I missed it?

  30. This is beautiful! Hey I'm in the Southern hemisphere...I'm embarrassed to say it has been in the 70's all week with a nice cool breeze....perfect quilting weather! You are always welcome to come for a visit! Big smile. I warn you we live on a farm and there are lots of chores to do before quilting....hahaha.
    Seriously I love seeing what you are working on...always motivates me to sew and quilt.

  31. Beautiful quilt, I love doing applique quilts, your work is so neat! Connie my blog is grannyssewingroom, I have just start my a few monthss back.

  32. Will these quilts be in the book you talked about a few months ago and teased us with a photo? WILDFLOWER?

    I can't wait to see what the book will be like.

    I saw a photo of the Nov and Dec stockings and already have my kits ordered from my LNS.
    You ladies surely are keeping me busy!

  33. Thanks for the extra info on the blind machine applique technique.

  34. Alma,
    Just went into my sewing room to check out my Bernina. Now I singing "There's a hole in the bobbin!" After all these years, this old dog has learned a new trick. Thanks for the tips on machine applique.

  35. I am sooooo going to love this new quilt~

  36. Ohhhh...your don't have to travel across the equator if you dont' want to! You're always welcome here in Arizona. evenings do get into the 40s, but the days are in the 60 to 70 range.

    Let's see...a guest room and a son that's moved out and left his bed here and empty. I think we have room for you. *grin*

    I'm looking forward to trying out your blind stitching technique. I've never done maching applique before and this looks intriguing. Thank you for the great tutorial!

    I LIVE IN BELGIUM; SORRY FOR MY ENGLISH. is it possible to find the "Roxanne's beste it" glue in EUROPE. Thanks for yourmethod of appliques and for your marvellous models.

  38. thanks for all the tips!! i think i'm gonna have to try this method the next time i have some appliqué to do!

  39. so nice of you to give good explanation how to use monofilament thread for applique...let me try and see how it works...thank you so much

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