Monday, July 18, 2011

Stumpwork & Applique

"Stumpwork" is the term used to refer to a particular form of domestic raised embroidery practiced in England between 1650 and 1700.  Jane Nicholas.
"Applique" ornamental needlework in which pieces of fabric are sewn or stuck onto a large piece of fabric to form pictures or patterns.  The Oxford American College Dictionary. This block was designed by Karen Kay Buckley and is called Heard it through the Grapevine.  I used both techniques (Stumpwork and Applique) in this block.
The butterfly's wings were formed by bending 30 gauge wire, the size used in cake decorating, to create its shape. Muslin was then attached to the wire frame with a tight buttonhole stitch.  Once the fabric was secured, I then worked the entire area in long short stitches.  The body of the butterfly is a strip of gray fabric that was gathered up using a running stitch and frayed to within an inch of its life.

The grapevine wreath is appliqued leaves, branches and grapes.  The leaves and the grapes were formed using spray starch and Mylar (heat resistant) plastic.  In this technique, the template is cut from Mylar which is then placed on the back of the fabric and the shape is cut out leaving a scant quarter of an inch seam allowance. The seam allowance is then folded over the edge of the Mylar template, brushed with spray starch and pressed into submission with a hot iron.

I used Ms. Buckley's Perfect Circles Mylar washers for the grapes.  However, the seam allowance was sewn with a running stitch, the thread was pulled to gather the fabric over the washer, brushed with spray starched and pressed.  This method produces crisp, sharp edges.  I used bias bars for the branches.  Beads and stem stitching were used to further embellish the block.  
I love using hand dyed fabrics in my work, fussy cutting those areas of wonderful graduations in color that is just perfect for that grape or perhaps that grape leaf.  Of course when all is said and done, that half yard of hand dyed royal purple or spring green fabric looks like Swiss cheese.
My favorite needle for hand applique is Jean S.Lyle, size 10Q and my thread is YLI Silk #100 and Mettler.  I find with silk thread, once it has been conditioned, that my stitches melt into the fabric, never to be seen again, which is exactly was we want.   Enjoy!

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