Applique: The Basics & Beyond
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The subtitle of Applique – the Basics and Beyond by Janet Pittman is “the complete guide to successful machine and hand techniques with dozens of designs to mix and match”. What appeals to me about this applique book is its thoroughness, helpful step-by-step photographs, and the mix and match aspect. The author suggests a seven-step approach: select one of the projects , choose among the flower, leaf, and heart patterns, decide on an applique technique, pick out the colors and visual textures, audition fabrics, try different flower arrangements, stitch the project, and embellish as desired. Breaking the process into steps, offering choices, and providing detailed information decreases intimidation and increases the “I can do this!” attitude.
The book is divided into sections on Equipment & Supplies, Preparing Applique, Stitching, Embellishing, and Projects. The author covers fusible web applique, invisible machine applique, hand applique, needle-turn applique stitched by hand or machine, broderie perse, and four ways to make bias stems. Especially helpful are the sections on embellishing with decorative machine stitches, free-motion thread painting, couched threads and yarns, embroidery stitches, bobbin work, and beads.
Patterns for the seven projects are provided at the end. The projects are mainly lovely floral wall hangings, as well as a pattern for funky flower coasters, and a traditional 45” square quilt updated with applique and embellishments. The mix and match theme continues for the projects; each is shown with different applique shapes, techniques, and embellishments. The same project format with can change from a spring garden to an autumn scene depending on the choices made.
I would recommend Applique – the Basics and Beyond as an inspiring applique book and excellent reference for a quilter’s library. My favorite project is the Shadow Box with appliqued leaves that appear to have shadows. Another unusual technique I am eager to try is the bobbin work stitching offset slightly from the flower petals; add some thread painting and the result is stunning!