How am I tracing my background? I'm tracing directly onto my background fabric for precise placement. This is especially helpful as there is so much hand sewing on this quilt and the constant gathering of material can mean small differences in applique positioning. Unfortunately, its just those little details that always catch my eye, so I'm making doubly sure it doesn't happen to me by tracing the pattern out, accurately, onto my fabric. I'm making a point of this because its something I routinely don't do. I usually stitch in guidelines and position by eye and then remove the guideline stitches when I'm finished. In addition to this technique, I recommend that on patterns as crowded as LE, that you do also draw down the design. If you are out just a little bit with your positioning, it will create troublesome crowding or disharmony elsewhere. You can see from the pattern that there isn't any 'extra' space to play with. I don't believe in perfection, but I do believe in precision and with preparation, you can produce the quilt you want. And I think, considering the hours you'll spend making it, it's the least you owe yourself!
What light source am I using? Normally I recommend using a light box - they are great, especially if you are building up layers. I don't need one in this particular instance because, although you can't see it in the photo, I have strong lights above me that angle in such a way as to allow me to trace without one. That's just a matter of luck!
What pen am I using? All importantly, I trace onto my fabric using a friction pen. This 'pen' irons away and does not require washing or wetting first - this means a lot to me as I frankly don't trust some of the other pens on the market which promise to wash out. I've seen (on other quilters quilts) a few 'come back' after quilters were washed, quilted and packed away. In a project this size, stick with what you know.
Over in the comments, Patricia has mentioned that ink sometimes re-appears in freezing temperatures but that this can be solved by using a steam setting on your iron. I actually do steam press all my quilts, so this isn't a new thing for me to try, but it is an interesting one and I wonder, regarding the science of it all, if that is what makes the end difference? Whatever you do, pre-test.
The specific pen I am using (as in picture above) is PILOT Frixion ball 'remove by friction' in 0.7 black. It looks like a normal pen, slightly thicker and has a kind of tattoo scrawl on the barrel in silver.
Before using anything, especially for fabric tracing, please test and double test it yourself, on your chosen fabric!
If you do use a friction pen, don't expect to iron your work as you go. Keep the applique pieces neat and don't iron the main body of the background until the entire area is sewn down because the friction lines really do disappear once ironed!
What applique technique am I using? I am turn edge applique-ing all the applique. Well, so far I am. This quilt has a mind of it's own and I will wait for the quilt to 'tell me' what it wants me to do with the bow borders. I turn edge the applique using the freezer paper method tutorial whcih you can view on this blog. The key difference is that instead of using freezer paper, I am using fusible (details in the pattern)which means I don't have to 'remove' the freezer paper part. Otherwise, my freezer paper tutorial is a good indication of how to do this method as the actual turning is the same. I am then hand sewing the applique down for precision. On some parts, such as the compass points, I hand turned all the points with needle, on the spot. It depends on the area I am working on.
Do you really think I could get away with raw edge applique and satin stitch? That's what I really want to do. Then please, do it and make it yours. I know that if you make it with love and dedication, it will be incredible. I don't think the original was needle turn applique, I think there are indications that the bow border certainly wasn't. Obviously I just don't know. I think you should make it according to your own heart, I don't think any applique technique is 'better' than another - it's your workmanship and personal style that makes or breaks it. Of course, this is just my opinion- if you have ideas on creating a faster quilt, but prefer the idea a classic applique quilt, then you have a decision to make. Again it's all personal, I don't think there is a 'fast' method for this quilt. Although I say that and someone in the Group might just go ahead and prove me wrong!
What am I up to? Well, at the moment I only have 1 or 2 days a week to spend on quilting, so I am working in areas that interest me on that particular day. Right now, I've set aside my patchwork LE and I'm still needle turning my compass points on my red LE... but I am nearly there now... just a few more to go. As I keep telling my DDs, you can't rush these things. Hand turn edge applique is an art and dedication, it takes time.
It's taken days of hand needle turning these 36 points to be so close to finishing today. This is a quilt worthy of heirloom hours, that's for sure. I'm glad my DDs are keeping a keen eye on my progress, I want them both to know how valuable this quilt is - I don't think I'll ever do so much handwork again!