Sew,Mama,Sew! is having a scrap tutorial contest and I thought I'd try my hand at making one for you using a fun technique for turning scraps in to "FABRIC STICKERS". You read that right - it's a simple case of scrap, cut, sew, flip and stick! This is a fantastic technique I've been using for quilt labels for a few years and it's super versatile...you'll be appliqueing circles onto bags, onesies, quilts, t-shirts, jean jackets, curtains, pillows and who knows what else!?!?.
Here's what you need:
- fabric scraps at least 3" square
- background fabric (I used a piece of organic linen 18"w X 55" long)
-backing fabric the same size as your runner
-lightweight, fusible woven interfacing the same size as your runner (I used this to stabilize my linen by fusing it to the wrong side of the linen before starting any applique)
-scraps of lightweight, fusible non-woven interfacing like "Sewer's Dream" large enough to cover your largest circle template. This is the stuff many people like to back their embroidery work with: it has a very light hand (i.e. has no real weight).
-coordinating piecing (50 wt) and top-stitching thread (30 or 40 wt)
-contrasting DMC floss
Here's how you do it:
1) Pick a crop of scraps that look nice together. Press.
2) Raid your kitchen for circle templates.
3) Trace a variety of circle sizes onto the wrong side of your scrap fabric pieces. I used a fine permanent Micron pen.
4) Roughly cut out the circle of fabric leaving at least an inch all around. Pin right-sides-together (RST) to the gluey side of the non-woven interfacing.
5) With a short stitch length (I used 2), stitch around the drawn circle ON THE LINE. No need to back stitch, just overlap a few stitches when you come around to the start of your stitches. Go slowly, take about 4-5 stitches at a time, stopping with your needle down to pivot around the circle. Careful not to 'steer' and distort your fabric as you sew. I used an open toe embroidery foot so I could really see the drawn line.
6) Trim your seam allowance to a skinny 1/4". Snip some triangles out of the seam allowance. The more you snip, the smoother your circle's curves will be when it's turned out. Carefully insert the tip of your scissors into the interfacing and make a long slit. Turn your circle out through the slit!
7) Using a Purple Thang (one of my favourite tools!) or a chopstick, gently push the seam allowance out. Gently roll the interfacing under and finger press the edges between your thumb and finger. Make sure the interfacing is all the way under the edge of the fabric and not showing peeking out the edges of your circle.
8) You've just made circle FABRIC STICKERS that you can now fuse to anything you want! You could even stack them on top of each other. The beauty is, unlike with Wonder Under, Heat 'n Bond or Steam a Seam, your top fabric is pliable and 'puffed', not glued-on-looking.
9) For the Crop Circle Table Runner, arrange your fabric stickers in a pleasing way. I always think that an odd number of things in a group looks best so I used 9. Once you're happy, fuse them on with a steamy iron (careful not to shimmy the iron around, just lift up and press down).
10) Now it's back to the sewing machine to stitch down the circles. I used the blind hem stitch which looks like this: ----^-----^-----^. I shorten the straight stitches and narrow the ^ stitch. Keep the straight stitches in the background fabric right next to your circle (photo on left) so that just the ^ stitch is actually through the circle (photo on right). An open toe embroidery foot is helpful to see what you're doing. Same as before, pivot around the circle when your needle is down in the fabric. I like these stitches to be hidden, so I use Sulky 100% polyester invisible thread. You could use a contrasting thread to blanket stitch, or zigzag. It's tricky to do a nice, smooth satin stitch on curves, so I don't.
11) Once all of your circles are attached, pin your table runner RST with your backing fabric. Stitch all around using a 3/8" seam allowance, back-stitch at corners for reinforcement and leave about 6" open along one side for turning. Clip corners. Turn project to right sides through the opening in the seam.
12) Press seam allowance, making sure your backing fabric is all the way tucked under your table runner top. Topstitch with a coordinating thread (30 or 40 wt). I like to use my Pfaff stitch-in-the-ditch-foot for this; it has a fence to line up the edge of the project against. I set my needle to the far left position to get a nice straight topstitching line parallel to the edge of the table runner.
13) Now you can embellish if you wish. I chose to do a hand running stitch with 2 strands of DMC floss about a 1/4" outside each circle. Then, using a circle template cut out of freezer paper and fused with a dry iron onto the middle of my table runner, I stitched around that to define a spot for a bowl or vase. This stitching also serves to attach the top and backing of the table runner together.
14) OPTIONAL: have your assistant whip up a coordinating chocolate cake for maximum table runner appreciation and to ramp up the ooohhh, aaaahhhh factor for the kids in the family.
Voila! The Crop Circle Table Runner!
Wow, that was a super long post. Congratulations for making it all the way down here. Have fun with your fabric stickers and let me know if you use them for a project!
Edited to add: If you live in a quilting desert and you can't find fusible light weight interfacing, don't fret. This method also works with a used, unscented dryer sheet! It's not fusible, but it turns the fabric edges under just the same (without adding bulk or stiffness) and you can pin your fabric circle to the background and stitch it down by hand or machine just the same!