Embroidered Applique - Love Birds
I have been asked by several people to teach my method of Embroidered Applique Art, but as I work 2 jobs already – one FT, the other PT, there is just not enough of me to go around. I am currently working on my larger pieces as a wedding gift for my niece. I usually just free-form cut my applique figures from fabric scraps, but I wanted this to be more defined. I had the idea of what I wanted to use as the design starting point – more on that later - but I wanted to ensure the design would fit a standard frame and mat size. This really cuts down on the expense and frustration when completing a piece. I settled on a gray frame with a charcoal mat, so I did the background ‘blank’ in grays and silvers.
Step 1: Cut a piece of craft felt 1-2 inches larger on each side that the finished size.
Step 2: Arrange scraps of fabric on the felt in any desired fashion, making sure none of the felt backing shows through – I overlap a quarter to half inch on the pieces.
Step 3: You can either pin in place or use a glue stick to hold the fabric in place. I should mention, this is a raw edge technique, without any fuse medium to hold the fabric down, You could use a fuse or spray basting, but I makes the hand embroidery harder to do.
Step 4: Randomly stitch the fabric in place using several colors of coordinating thread. In this case, I used 2 shades of gray, an off-white, and some silver metallic. For a piece this size, 12 x 16, I used about 4 bobbins – 1 per color to stitch the base.
Step 5: Determine the boundaries of your design by setting your mat over the base and pin-mark the size. This is important. For example, an 8x10 mat, for a 5x7 photo will have an opening this is only 4.5 x 6.5! So that is your design area and plan accordingly. Live in learn from my mistakes!
Step 6: Start auditioning colors for your project and cut out the shapes.
Step 7: Pin in place, keeping in mind the mat size opening.
Step 8: Pick out your floss colors and start stitching!
Design Inspiration for the Love BirdsMy first thought was to make the project using the bird design from an 1860-ish Red & Green Appliqué Quilt having Pomegranate Plants, with a Bird Border. The original quilt was made by the family of Pat Birchall, of Endicott, NY. She inherited it from her mother-in-law. The quilt was part of the New York Quilt Project 1988-89, an effort organized by the American Folk Art Museum in which more than six thousand quilts made before 1940 were documented. Forty-five “quilt days” were held throughout the state over a twenty-one month period. This quilt was documented on 9/21/1989, with the notation OWE-84. Pat lent the quilt for a vintage quilts exhibit I curated for the 23rd annual Binghamton Sertoma Million Dollar Antique Show held in 2005 at the Binghamton University Event Center.
In doing some design source research for a small 1885-86 redwork crazy patchwork piece in my collection, I came across a Tidy in Crochet in Peterson’s September 1876 Magazine . The design concept is more what I had in mind as the wedding gift.
I ended up using the bird from Pat’s quilt and the arrangement from the tidy. My floss is picked out, and I am ready to start stitching!
Their names and wedding date will be embroidered on the branch the birds will be resting on. I am also making one for myself to celebrate my marriage, back in 1995, to my husband Kris. The finished pieces will be posted once they are complete.