This week's article feels a little discombobulated! A lot of trial and error going on with a project in support of my local EGA (Embroidery Guilds of America) group. Earlier this year, as a group, we decided to embrace a project to provide hand-made hearts for the local hospice.
At the hospice, a heart is placed outside a patient's room to signal that that person has passed. The heart signals to others at the facility that it's a delicate time for family members within and to give them some space. Here's a bit more info about the project locally.
The reference above includes patterns, but I decided to make my own and to rework a pattern I created a few years ago for a local shop hop. One of these days that pattern needs to come out of its shell. It's a good one. For now, some of the elements will make nice stitch-friendly hearts in two variations - daisies and tulips.
The challenge with anything like this always seems to fall to how it's to be finished. As you can see, above, I appliqued and stitched each piece by hand, but now these need to be finished for the Hospice project.
An early attempt (on the left) came out okay, but, needs work. The surface embroidery is okay; however, to finish it, I placed a plain backing right sides together with the stitched heart, sewed around the edge, leaving an opening, and turned. However, the turning made a mess of the top point of the heart shape, particularly on the back (not shown).
The back is a bit bunchy at that inner point. I know it looks nice, but not the finish I'm looking for, so the experiment continued.
That's when I moved to some back-basting applique for the top using the patterns I mentioned above and tried a whole different way to finish the piece.
I don't have a lot of in-progress photos of the process, because I really wasn't sure if it was going to work out. As you can see, it did!
Here's my process, roughly.
I borrowed some supplies from the quilty/sewy side of my universe.
Would they do what I want them to do on this stitchy project?
Specifically, I added a narrow strip of light fusible web to the edge of a heart-shaped piece of Stiff Stuff by Lazy Girl Designs.
I had already used Lazy Girl Designs Face-it Soft to add body to the applique base fabric to prepare it for stitching. Because it's woven cotton, the Face-it Soft is easy to stitch without adding bulk.
I then put the unfused side of the Stiff Stuff shape facing the wrong side of the cotton applique heart, then turned the trimmed fabric edge over the prepped Stiff Stuff, and fused.
As I moved around the curved edges, I made sure that any puckers and ruffles at the very edge were smoothed. A little like making yo-yos without the pulled string step.
I did the same exercise with a second Stiff Stuff heart and plain fabric for the backing.
I tried skipping the Stiff Stuff on the backing, and that was a definitive FAIL - the back without the 'Stuff' was full of ugly lumps and bumps.
The next challenge - how to connect the back and front.
I knew I could whip stitch the edge and trim with twisted cord.
Having recently made more yards of twisted cord than I care to count for my 2021 holiday ornaments . . . let's say I wasn't enthusiastic about that prospect for these larger (approximately 6" diameter hearts).
Making the cord isn't a big deal, but attaching it between the layers at the edge of the shape is fiddly at best. It's downright annoying on a day when your mood is lower than whale dung (and that's at the bottom of the ocean)
And before I even tried, I was absolutely SURE that I would not be able to stitch the edge by hand. (I am choosing not to use a machine for this project.)
I was WRONG!
With a sharp embroidery needle, and a slow, steady blanket stitch, I was pleasantly surprised. Several layers of interfacing and fabric did not deter my needle and thimbled finger!
As a bonus, the two layers of Stiff Stuff added a lovely semi-squishy loftiness to the center of the project while masking the lumpy, ruffled fabric edge between the layers.
And as an additional bonus, the blanket stitched edge created a lovely, bumpy, pie-crust-like texture around the outer edge of the heart.
Time to make more and streamline the process.
And, at the same time use some of the purple fabric I cut by mistake last week.
Rut row! I can't trace the applique to the back of the project - the purple is too dark for my light box.
Fortunately, the Face-it Soft is white, even though it looks brownish in the photo above, and easily used with a light box.
I traced the applique shapes to the non-fusible side of the Face-it Soft with a pencil, then fused the interfacing to the wrong side of the deep purple fabric!
Prepped and ready to stitch!