Friday, January 3, 2014

Star and Nativity Appliques - Nativity in the Trees Quilt-Along - Lesson 6

Yeah!  We're almost done with our quilt tops.  Now we just need to add our Christmas Star an Nativity scene.

Uh...and can I just say...I feel really bad this didn't get posted earlier.  I had it all written up 2 weeks completely written.  It just needed the links to the templates which I totally forgot to do.  I'll admit that I bit off a bit more than I could chew heading up to Christmas, and I apologize that finishing up these instructions was one of the things I didn't get done.  I'll admit that I didn't even get my own quilt done.  It's just needed the binding added to it for about 2 months.  Anyway...on to the instructions...

If you need to review our previous lessons, you can find them here:

 Lesson 1 - Fabric Selection

Lesson 2 - Sewing Your Greens
Lesson 3 - Cutting Your Triangles

Lesson 4 - Basic Applique

Lesson 5 - Sewing Your Triangles

Lesson 6 - Advanced Machine Applique

You'll need to print out the Stable and Nativity Template from here and the Star Template from here (or you can trace directly off your computer screen) and trace onto your Heat'n Bond Lite.  You can also download and resize these pictures if you want to be able to fiddle with the sizing.  If you want the sizing to be the same that I used, click on the PDF files above.

When you trace an image onto Heat'n Bond, it will end up being a mirror image when you put it on your quilt, so keep that in mind if you want Mary or Joseph on a particular side of the stable.  Here I'm tracing with Joseph on the left so in the finished quilt, he will be on the right.

Cut out your images from the Heat'n Bond and iron them onto the back of your fabric. You'll be cutting out a star, a background for the stable, and a Nativity scene.  To get the shape for the background of the stable, you'll used the dashed lines on the Stable Template.

You'll want to use some good, sharp scissors for cutting out all the little parts of the Nativity scene.

Once you've got them cut out, you'll peal off the paper backing.

I placed my stable first.  I used my quilting ruler to help make sure it was level.

Once it's securely ironed, place the Nativity scene over it.  Make sure there are no raw edges from the stable back showing.

Iron your Christmas star in place.

Now we're ready to sew our appliques.  You can start with either one, but I recommend starting with your Christmas Star.  It's a bit simpler and will give you more practice before tackling your Nativity scene.

Before we tart sewing, let's talk about the thread for a minute.  Ideally, you'll have thread that matches the color of your fabric really closely, and you'll use a bobbin that also matches really close...but I often don't have an exact match and/or am too lazy to wind a new bobbin for just sewing a small applique.  It's more important for the top thread to match than your bobbin.  Also, if you don't have a really close match, but you have a too-light, and a too-dark option, it generally looks better going a little darker, than a little lighter (in my opinion.)  These are the colors I chose for some of mine.  You don't need matching thread for your stable background because all of it's raw edges are covered by our nativity silhouette.

These appliques will be a little different from stitching our tree trunks because we have to handle our ends more carefully.  With the trunks, we didn't have to worry about our ends because they're hidden away in our seam allowances, but these will show.  We also DO NOT want to backstitch with these tight zigzags.  It will end up really bulky and messy looking if you do.  Instead, you're going to leave long tails on your thread.

Some of this I'll illustrate using my large tree trunk.  Since I forgot to zigzag the edges before I seweed the bottom strip into the quilt, I needed to hide my edges.  I left really long thread tails at both the beginning and the end of my work.

Go to the back of your quilt and tug on the back thread.

That will often pull the front thread through enough that you can use a pin to snag it and pull it through all the way.

If it doesn't work to tug it through, you can always thread the front thread into a needle, and use a needle to bring the front thread through to the back.

Once you've got all of your threads at the back...

...we're going to tie them securely in a knot.  I usually knot them 3+ times. 

And trim the thread ends...but not too closely.

So now that you know how we're going to handle the ends, let's take a closer look at how our appliques are going to work.  The star is the simpler of our shapes, so I'd start with that one to give you more practice before moving on to your nativity.  When you come to the inside corners of the star, you're going to need to go about an 1/8 inch INTO the star and stop your needle while it's down on the LEFT.  That way, when you turn it, it will still be on the left.

When you come to the tips of the star, these are similar to the corners on the'll want to GO TO THE VERY EDGE.  Then stop with the needle down on the RIGHT, so that it's still on the right when you turn.

When you get back to where you started, leave a long tail of thread and follow the directions above for bringing them to the back and knotting them.

For working on the stable, I started on the outside edge, just under the eaves...although you can really choose anywhere to start.

Most of the corners on the outside of our Nativity are like those on the tree trunks...We'll stitch ALL THE WAY TO THE EDGE, put the needed down on the RIGHT and then turn, so that the needed is still on the outside.

The corners under the eaves are like the inside corners on the star though.  For those, we'll GO PAST about 1/8 inch, and put our needed down on the LEFT before turning.

Eventually you'll get back where you started.  Leave the thread tails long, and bring them to the back and knot them.

For the inside...

As you're doing the inside of the nativity, keep an eye out for whether you need to go PAST for a turn or whether you go to the edge.  Typically the way you can tell is if there is no "edge" that you'd could go to, you'll probably be going past, into the shape.

Go slowly, and for some of the tight curves like the figures hands and heads, you can stop anytime you need to.  One curves of something STICKING OUT like the heads, and hands, you'll want to be sure you always stop your needle on the OUTSIDE of the curve before you turn.  For interior curves, like under their necks or the holes around the around the bottom of the manger, you'll want to make sure to stop your needle INSIDE the dark fabric (which is actually on the outside of the overall curve, but inside the edge we're concentrating on.) before you make your turns.

And don't forget to go around the holes around the bottom of the manger as well.

And now you should be done with your quilt top.  I'll have some tips up soon for quilting your quilt.

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  1. I fully intended to have my quilt done before Christmas but gave up hope once I got so busy sewing gifts for family, friends, teachers, neighbors, etc. But now I can finish it at a leisurely pace and have an awesome and unique piece of Christmas decor for next year! So don't feel too bad about getting the instructions up late...I'm probably not the only one who got behind! :)

  2. I happened by your blog from WIP Wednesday. What a creative and beautiful rendition of the nativity in your wall quilt. I looked at your Upcycle tab also--fantastic. I wish this had been around when my kids were little (eons ago). I bought all their clothes from garage sales and thrift stores and these would have been terrific to use. Very nice blog!

  3. Very neat nativity pattern and I loved that you explained everything so well. Those corners are tricky with a zigzag or blanket stitch sometimes.


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