Cut As You Go Stem Technique

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One of the applique bits I hate the most is doing boring stems.  Any stems, they can be wobbly, curvy, or stick straight.  What used to add to my frustration was how easily they would veer off the path.    There are several ways to create stems.  What I used to do, because I like the added dimension, was to create them on my sewing machine and then stitch them by hand into place.  The seaming on the back created a raised trapunto-like effect.  But…..it can be a rather stiff and slightly unyielding if I have curves and such.

There are other techniques like the super skinny stem, but my favorite for doing stems is the “cut as you go” technique.  I have seen other names for it, but it has been around since the beginning of applique.  I would like to say I came up with this, but my quilting ancestors might take exception from the great beyond and I don’t want to stir up bad quilting karma.  The beauty of this technique is that the stem ends up exactly where it should be after it is appliqued.  Perfection of placement.  No more stems that look like you had a nip of wine while you were working (leave that for the machine quilting phase  😉 ) .  Do I need to stress the importance of matching up the stem properly with those following pieces to be appliqued?

So here is how I do it:

First, instead of cutting your seam allowance around the template, you just cut a sufficient rectangle of fabric around the applique.

Mark around the template and then cut a large rectangle area of fabric rather than the actual seam allowance.
Mark around the template and then cut a large rectangle area of fabric rather than the actual seam allowance.

 

Pin it in place well (I use a vinyl overlay for placement).

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I use the Clover Applique pins. They don't create that imperceptible shift because they slide like butter through the fabric.
 
 
Cut ahead about 2-3″ as you applique.  The amount you cut away at a time is what is comfortable for you.
 
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Then start stitching

This stem is going nowhere other than where I want it to go.
This stem is going nowhere other than where I want it to go.

 

Voila!  A stem in the exact place it should be.  (Well I know it is in the right place)

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So give this technique option a try if you are struggling with stem placement issues with your needleturn applique.  My apologies for the poorly lit photos, my light was bad today with our severe thunderstorm weather anomoly.

©2009 Sandra Leichner