Sunday, February 10

The lost art of reverse applique

Well, perhaps not totally a lost art, but one worth experimenting with once in a while. I love reverse applique because whereas most stitchery builds UP surface texture, this technique allows you to dig DOWN INTO the surface. There's a subtle sculptural quality to embroidery, and this is another way to push and pull the surface. A look at the sunset sky tonight on my way to the studio inspired me to cut into my dye-painted tree piece to create a line of color to make a horizon.
 To get started with reverse applique, you first need to baste together a fabric sandwich. I enjoy stitching through 2 layers of fabric all the time, and my purple fabric matches the size of the top piece. However, a small patch piece, larger than the area to be cut away by about 1/2 inch all around can be basted to the back of a fabric instead. Select an area to be cut away, separate the layers, and snip the center of the area. Cut to the corners or angles to create flaps that can be folded back. For example, the X-shaped cut above creates a square when the flaps are folded under. I'm doing blind stitching on a turned edge, but a raw edge can be used instead by cutting out the entire shape to its edges and then stitching a decorative stitch over the edge. But back to blind stitch:
 The flaps are folded under to make a turned edge. I added pins to make everything lay flat and lined up, and remove them as I stitch. I thread the needle and come up at a corner between the layers in order to hide my knot. Blind stitch is sort of the reverse of hem stitch. You try to make the tiniest stitch between the layers and travel around in the fold. Wherever the thread is coming out of the fold or the base cloth, you insert the needle RIGHT NEXT to that point in the other layer, then slide along about an 1/8 of an inch:
 Pull tight enough so that the 2 layers touch snugly but without gathering or puckering the fabric. If the cut areas are close together, leaving narrow top layer sections, the flaps may need to be trimmed smaller so that they can still fold under and fit between the layers
 I'm very excited about these blue violet windows into the background. I think once they go all the way across the piece they will help separate snowy ground from cloudy sky. Cutting away to another color also adds more color contrast and drama without having to stitch every bit of the surface, a time saver when doing larger pieces.
I got this far before losing all the light of the afternoon. My lamps help, but just aren't quite enough for lighting my work when working this precisely. It took me about an hour to find a backing cloth, cut it down, baste the pieces, decide to take the plunge and cut into the fabric for the reverse applique, then snip and stitch these 3 lovelies. I can't wait to get back tomorrow and do some more in proper daylight.

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