Thank goodness… a DRESSMAKING question!

Sorry I haven’t been writing much…please, PLEASE feel free to send things you have written so I can post your wonderful cogitations at dry times like these….this is truly more boring and trying for me as I really want to write about SOMETHING …anyTHING…so, please, save us all.

Actually, there is much to write about with the Teelin dresses, but I do not want to post things until they have been approved…getting there!

But, there is cause for excitement because Amy asked a question!  Thank you, Amy!  (Beware…the rest of this is photo intensive.  If, like Susan, you want to throttle me when I do posts like this, proceed at your own peril or check out now!  I like the pics because I myself learn more when I can see it…in tutorials of all types, if there are pics, I rarely read the explanations or I go back to the words after I have perused the pics.  Do what you will…just don’t swear at me!)

Amy asked:  Did you make individual appliques and sew them onto the petals (of the tunic dress)?  If so, would love to see a tutorial on applique making.  Is that what you normally do or do you embroider directly onto the fabric?

I personally like to sew directly onto the fabric as much as I can because applique patches require extra work to get them onto the fabric…and, because I want them to look as if they are NOT patches, that entails even more fussing.  Up until the tunic dresses, I only made patches for the shawl pins, like these on Liz’s dress –Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket 

…and occasionally when the embroidery had become so dense on a piece that there was no way to get the fabric into the hoop effectively like the sides of the design on the CFP of the fire dress:

That being said, except for the pink panels, cuffs and bodice on Dana’s tunic, all the rest of of the applique and embroidery designs on the tunic dresses are patches.
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In fact, the leaves around the neckline on Katelyn’s dress above are also done as two separate long patches that met in the middle.  Could have embroidered it directly onto the fabric, but quite frankly, considering the cost of the fabric and the fact there was not extra in case I messed up, it was safer and easier on my nerves to do it as a patch.

The main reason that I do the the panel embellishment as patches is because it is ultimately easier and even faster.  I do embroider directly onto the fabric for my panel dresses, but I do this BEFORE I cut the fabric to the right shape.  Each panel is made separately and then sewn to the dress.  With the tunic dresses, the panels are integrated into the whole dress…I suppose I could take the time to do the applique and embroidery onto each panel, but there is no room for mistakes.  If I screw up the placements or angles, I have to cut a whole new tunic!  No thanks!!!

So, how do I do this?  Like this:

I use a LOT of this stuff –

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If you look online for tutorials involving this sticky stabilizer, you are told to cut your length of the stabilizer and then put it, paper back and all, into the outside hoop as below.

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Then you are told to score an area…

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…and pull off the paper.

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I hate this because ultimately the hoop loses tension on the stabilizer and the fabric being embroidered can, and usually does, start to pucker.  I hate puckering and will do all I can to avoid it.  I have yet to have a perfect embroidery sample, but I am working on it.

I pull the paper backing off the entire piece of sticky back stabilizer…

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…and attach it to my inner hoop.

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This next pic shows the sticky back attached tightly…when I thwack it with my finger it sounds like a drum.  (Please excuse my “dirty” hoop…that is fabric dust, thread, sequins, etc, embedded in spray adhesive from my attempts to use the stuff years ago.  It never goes away!)

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Then I cut a piece of tearaway stabilizer…

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…and then hoop the whole shebang.

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Now, I deal with the getting the stiffness I need in a patch a few different ways:  I super-stabilize the applique fabric by using 2 or 3 layers of Decorbond; I fuse the embroidered fabric to Firmflex (like Timtex); or I embroider onto Peltex which is thinner than the Firmflex and Timtex.  For this project, I decided to use Peltex.

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I normally cut the correct shape from the Peltex using a template, but it is also thin enough to do the following…

…press the Peltex onto the sticky back.

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Stitch out the patch outline.

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Trim closely using applique scissors.

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Here both shapes are trimmed.

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I will do the circular shape first as it is applique.  Here is the first fabric, a foil lycra.  (I knew there would be a purpose for all of these scraps someday!)

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This has been stabilized with a woven fusible and Decorbond.  I stabilize EVERYTHING!  I do this because I want these fancy fabrics to stand up to the dense embroidery stitching and to last.

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Second fabric is a textured lame…

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…this time stabilized with a tricot fusible and Decorbond.

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The sticky back makes it easy for me to make sure the applique fabric lays down smoothly as it holds it securely for the tack down stitching.

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I use the red as the base fabric.  I then stitch out the placement lines for the second fabric.  I do this in case I decide to use a template so I can cut exact shapes or if I am conserving fabric by using smaller pieces cut previously…this allows me to either then (obviously) place the cut piece correctly or to make sure the smaller piece will cover the area.

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Then I place and tack down the second fabric.

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Now trim.

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I have gotten into the habit of running a line of Fray-check along the tack down stitches.  No matter the fabric, this helps keep holes from being made or fabric from fraying when the stitching is dense.

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I use a piece of white satin stabilized with Decorbond on the second patch.  Here’s the tack down.  I used black so it would show in the pics…normally I would use a color to match the fabric or the satin stitching to come.

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This next pic shows the second patch trimmed and the first 2 colors stitched out.  (Like my logo?  Designed it myself.)

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Patch stitching done.

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Now I punch them out.

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As you can see, there is a fine fuzz surrounding the patches.  This is from both the sticky and tearaway stabilizers.  This needs to be trimmed away.  I either use my applique scissors or my fine, curved embroidery scissors…which I cannot find at the moment.

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Here they are trimmed.  I can get closer with the smaller scissors…obviously the trick here is to trim closely without cutting threads.  Since the edge embroidery thread is white, this is where I stop.  When it is colored, I use either a permanent Sharpie or a fabric dye pen in the right color, and I color in the outside edge so all the white is gone.  This also further softens the stabilizer that is left which makes it lay flatter…you really cannot see it after that.

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Here are the backsides of the patches.  The Taoknitter symbol is covered with bobbin thread, so other than a bit of trimming, this one is done.  I could leave the circular patch as is, but I usually remove the tearaway and the sticky back…not really sure why I do it!

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I have made a few patches in the past by appliqueing onto fabric, like this flower below.

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This makes trimming very difficult because unlike the tearaway stabilizers that will wear away off of the edges, any fabric fuzzies and/or threads will not.  I have found that muslin is easier to get rid of because it is a looser weave, unlike the satin above.  But, there really is no need to make patches like this.  I do like having a single layer of fabric to anchor the whole patch, but I deal with it as I have shown in the 2 patches above.

When I want there to be fabric on the back of the patch as below (this was an old experiment which would have again required tedious trimming)…

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…then I follow these steps:

  1. Follow all the patch steps above until right before the final outside satin-stitching.
  2. In my digitized design, I have added another patch outline running stitch. 
  3. I remove the hoop from the machine and turn it over.
  4. I use either a spray adhesive or a bit of Fabri-tac to attach fabric, right side out, over the back of the patch.  Make sure there is no fabric hanging down to get caught in your machine.
  5. Put the hoop back on and run the patch outline,
  6. Remove the hoop again, trim the fabric under the hoop to the tack down line.  Fray-check the line.
  7. Replace the hoop on the machine and run the final satin stitch outline.
  8. Punch out the hoop and finish as above.
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