Royal School of Needlework-- 2015 Courses

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Starting Another Block

A lot of ladies ask me how I go about preparing a block for stitching. This is the way I have found works for me. There are many different ways of doing things. A lot of the patterns are very expensive, so I make copies of them. I can carry the copies around with me, and if I lose the copy I can simply make another. (I haven't lost one so far.) I use freezer paper to make my copies. Why freezer paper? Well, about 20+ years ago there was a rampant rumor that the freezer paper makers were going to discontinue the product, so most of the applique ladies I know ran to the grocers and bought at least 10 rolls. "Waste not, want not." (Oddly enough, this sent a message to the manufacturer that their product was very much in demand. They are still making it.)

Pattern already copied onto dull side of freezer paper.
I place the original pattern right side up on the light box and copy the pattern on the dull side of the freezer paper. This is the first opportunity to adjust the pattern if you wish (flower size is askew and not to your liking, you don't like the placement of a leaf, the vase is uneven, or the bird is too skinny).
Lightbox--I have used several methods, and the one I like best is a glass topped computer table (approximately 20 by 30 inches) which I bought for about $75 from Staples (and which sadly go on sale for half that now). I slip a folding Ott lite on the sliding rack under the glass, and it makes a perfect light box. I draw the pattern with a medium point Sharpie pen which will be equally visible on the shiny side of the freezer paper. Work quickly. There will be 2 more opportunities to adjust the pattern.

Turn the pattern upside down so that the shiny side is up, and anchor it to the glass with blue painter's tape from the hardware store. You can see that the pattern is quite visible on the wrong side. The reason the pattern is upside down is because you will be tracing the design onto the back side of the block.

The fabric you use for the block background has a right and wrong side. As you remove it from the bolt mark both the top of the block and the correct side of the block with a double loop of thread so that you know which is the front/top. This will go upside down, so that the backside of the block is facing you. You will be drawing on the back. Secure the fabric in place with more blue painter's tape. We have found that this type of tape is very easy to work with. It sticks just enough to do the job without causing problems and is easy to remove.

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With the Ott lite under the glass, mark the design onto the back of the fabric using a soft lead. I prefer number 4 pencils. You will not need to press hard, since the lead is softer than a number 2 pencil. Tracing the pattern to the back of the block will give you opportunity #2 to adjust imperfections in the pattern (unless you are making an exact replica of an imperfect block--Yes. There are those who do!)
By pressing softly with the pencil, you will find that this will leave a visible mark which will disappear when you are working the applique. No erasing is necessary.
Copy time: 20 minutes

Next: How to place an accurate stitching line on the front of the block for painless applique.


maritza said...

Margaret, estas explicaciones para copiar los patrones están fantásticas!!!. Qué casualidad, ayer conseguí mi primera caja de luz!!! aún no la he estrenado pero se ven muy claros los dibujos, estoy muy contenta con ella. Un besote

Barbara said...

Thank you for such a wonderful tutorial! Can't wait for the second installment. I've only recently started to do applique and I love learning how others applique. I've been reading your blog for quite a while and your applique is just so beautiful that I appreciate the opportunity to learn how you do it.