Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Getting four for the price of one

My method of machine appliqué uses a freezer-paper template for every appliqué shape in the quilt. But if I have multiples of the same image, such as the 40+ stars in the Midnight Garden quilt pictured in my last post, I can save time by cutting 4 freezer-paper shapes at the same time.

I trace the shape once for every 4 copies needed for my quilt. So in Midnight Garden's case, I traced 11 stars onto freezer paper. I placed the traced sheet of freezer paper on top of 3 more sheets of freezer paper, all with the shiny side of the paper facing the same direction. Then, I use the iron (steam off!) to tack the sheets of freezer paper together. I do this by touching the tip of the iron to the stack of freezer paper for one or two seconds as shown at right.  I tack each shape in several places, taking care not to get too close to the edge of the piece. The freezer-paper coatings will melt slightly, making the four sheets stick together. After I cut the shapes out, I can peel the four pieces apart.

I have gotten so used to cutting out 4 shapes at once that I actually think it's easier to cut a nice, smooth line on a stack of four sheets of freezer paper than it is to cut one sheet at a time. (I use Fiskars Micro-tip 4" scissors; they are inexpensive and stay really sharp for a long time.) So I usually cut 4 of everything, even images for which I need only one template. Sometimes I use the extra paper templates during the quilt design process — I try out fabric for a shape, think it looks good, cut it out and glue down the edges, then decide I don't like that fabric after all. So I grab another paper template and try it again.

But my favorite way to use the extras is to save them for another quilt. For example, I loved this baby quilt pattern, Love Letters, that we included in the Daughter of the Homestead pattern. So I made a bright version for Elijah, a family friend.

After I finished Elijah's quilt, I had 3 more sets of paper templates left over, ready to use the next time I need to make a baby quilt fast. Not to put any pressure on anyone to produce grandchildren....

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