I got an email from Rebecca. After I replied I thought you all would enjoy both her email and my reply…

Hi, Becky!  I have both of your applique sampler books, have read them through several times, dog eared and highlighted, et cetera. I have also watched your videos.  You must be a wonderful teacher in person!  I’m working on my first needle turned applique block and all was going well until I got to the small leaves.  The block design is my own “Frankenstein” whig rose, combination of several different applique patterns from back issues of Quilter’s Newsletter, and I tried to include as many different shapes and sizes as I could so it would be a good learning piece.

I’m having trouble with the end where the leaf is round in a tight outer curve. I have been trying to finger press carefully along the chalk line, but I end up smearing the chalk and can’t seem to finger press a smooth enough curve exactly on the line—and my leaves are looking a little lumpy where they ought to look smooth. I have tried making my turning allowance narrower and turning only one stitch at a time.  Anyway, your other videos have been so helpful. I would love to see a tutorial on how to do a small, tight outer curve. Rebecca

I’m having trouble with the end where the leaf is round in a tight outer curve. I have been trying to finger press carefully along the chalk line, but I end up smearing the chalk and can’t seem to finger press a smooth enough curve exactly on the line—and my leaves are looking a little lumpy where they ought to look smooth. I have tried making my turning allowance narrower and turning only one stitch at a time.  Anyway, your other videos have been so helpful. I would love to see a tutorial on how to do a small, tight outer curve.

image

My reply:

Hi Rebecca:

Your stitching is lovely! Truth be told, you might be too critical of your own work. That said, if it was a circle instead of a leaf, more round would be better.
I wish I could do another video on tight curves and will but it’s going to be a while. I’ve got several weeks of work to do on the next book and barely have time to look up!

However, maybe I can help you with words, if not a video.

First, slow down on those curves. What I mean is that this area is not going to turn under particularly quickly.

Where you see the little bumps at the edge, I suspect that the fabric is pleated, or folded over itself, on the underside. When I sew a curve like that, I can feel the pleat with my fabric-holding-fingers as well as see it with my eyes. It is at that point that you should park your needle and use the point of a damp toothpick to reach underneath and smooth open the pleat.

Some pleats take more fooling with than others. That’s why you need to slow down and just work with it until the edge is smooth.

If your curve flattens out, use the point of the toothpick or needle to move it back into round.

Your stitches look pretty small (close together) but this is an area where you want to be sure that there don’t appear to be gaps between your stitches.

I hope this helps, both Rebecca and others who might be having trouble with curves!

Becky

 

5 thoughts on “

  1. I am so glad you shared this email and your response. I agree, her stitches look great to me. That said, your response is so right on and will help me, too, in my applique. I keep toothpicks handy but hadn’t thought to dampen one to smooth out pleats. Thank you for that advice.

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  2. Thank you for sharing Rebecca’s issue as I am working up to the smaller pieces. Her email and your response are helpful to me and are appreciated. I need to go buy more toothpicks.

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  3. It struck me, from the zoomed-in image, that maybe working with a magnifying glass (the ones that hang from the neck) might be useful while working on something so small, at least while *learning* to applique something so small. I find that I use that technique when I’m creating presentations in PowerPoint. I zoom right in on a tricky area and it’s a whole new experience!

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  4. Wish I had seen this tip about 6 months ago before I started doing the applique on my second Hawaiian quilt. This one is better the the first and if I ever make another, this tip will make it perfect. Thanks, Becky for helping to make my future applique pieces better!

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