Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Honeycomb Stitch-Along / Hand Appliqué

This post is part of the Honeycomb Stitch-Along. For more information, make sure to check out the complete schedule here.

Honeycomb Stitch-Along Button

First off, I wanted to say a big thanks to everyone who left me such sweet comments on my Honeycomb Pillow finish! As I've been reading through each one and commenting back, I was struck by how lucky I am to have such a great group of creative people to share big finishes like this with. The best part is that now I get to see all the different versions of this project that you're working on. : )

So how did EPP go this past week? Did you get hooked on it too? ; ) It's actually a pretty easy process once you get the steps down, but if you felt lost at all by last week's tutorial, feel free to leave me a comment and I'll get you on track. You might also want to swing by the resources here and see if any of these guides make more sense. I learned how to do EPP by watching Amy's Craftsy lesson, so you might give that one a try too.


Hand Appliqué

Today I'm going to go over how to stitch your hexies to your base fabric using hand appliqué. This traditional hand technique will provide a smooth, invisible finish to your hexies. If you're wanting to speed up your process a bit and skip the hand stitching here (which is totally fine!), you can also opt to machine-stitch your hexies in place. Machine stitching is by far faster, but hand applique is also a great technique to have in your sewing arsenal, and it's not very difficult to master. So if you're new to it and at all curious about learning more, give it a try!

Honeycomb Stitch-Along Hand Appliqué 

(1) To start off, grab your finished hexies. I recommended leaving your papers in from last week to keep everything crisp, so I'll just go over quickly how to remove them. It you already removed your papers, no worries! Just give your hexies a quick press and I'll meet you at step 2 below. I also forgot to mention last week that if you're working with pins instead of glue stick when basting your hexies, you'd generally want to remove those pins directly after you finished basting rather than leaving them in while you store your hexies. For a small project like this, it's not a big deal at all, but if you started working on a quilt with many, many hexies you'd want to take those pins out so that they wouldn't create permanent holes or discolorations in the fabric from long-term storage.

Begin by taking out all the basting stitches on all the hexies. Then grab one hexie grouping at a time and carefully pop the papers out at the corners of each hexie to peel them away gently. If you used glue stick (like I did) the paper and the fabric might stick together a little. Just be careful and pull gently to peel them apart, while preventing unwrapping or distortion of the hexie. Then give each sans-paper hexie grouping a press using a little spray starch if you have some on hand.

Honeycomb Stitch-Along Hand Appliqué

(2) Once your hexies are ready to go, you'll want to grab your central square fabric in the size that corresponds to your project below:
  • 18" Pillow- 12.5" x 12.5"
  • 20" Pillow- 14" x 14"
  • 24" Pillow- 17" x 17"
These fabric pieces have purposely been cut a little larger than needed. This is because I've noticed that when doing applique on mid to light-weight fabric, a little backing fabric gets "eaten up" in the process of hand stitching. Having some extra room is never a bad idea, and will allow us to then cut the central square to size once all the hexies are stitched in place.

(3) To prepare your fabric for stitching, use a removable marking pen to draw a line 1/2 inch in on all four sides of the square to mark the area of fabric that will be visible once sewn in place. This will help give a visual frame to aid in laying out your hexies.

Then take your largest grouping of three hexies and place it roughly in the same area as I have in the photo above, paying attention especially to the amount of overlap on the left-hand marked line. Pin it to keep it in place. Then place the other groupings of hexies around (using the photos above and below as a guide) to check to make sure the first grouping is placed where you would like it. You may also want to print and cut out your embroidery templates to use them to help figure out the spacing and placement. Once you're happy with the placement of the first grouping, remove all the other fabric and paper pieces from your large fabric square and make sure the first grouping is pinned well to secure. Then you'll begin stitching it in place using the steps below.

Note: I like to place, pin, and stitch each grouping individually as I work to ensure that the placement of my hexies doesn't shift while I stitch and to prevent poking myself with extra pins. ; ) You could also layout everything once and pin it all down, working around each grouping carefully. It depends on what seems most natural to you.

Honeycomb Stitch-Along Hand Appliqué

(4) I like to do hand appliqué on a hard, flat surface to help keep everything as smooth as possible while I work. In terms of thread, choose a color that ideally blends well with all the fabrics used or matches the backing fabric most closely. I used the same thread that I used to whipstitch my hexies together for this step as well.

Begin by laying out the fabric piece (with the pinned hexies) on a flat surface and smoothing it out. Then using the marked line as a guide, take your needle and knotted thread and insert it into the hexie fold, back to front, lining it up just to the outside of the marked line (see pics below). This will hide the beginning knot under the fabric flap and start the line of stitching just to the outside of the visible area of the fabric square.

Honeycomb Stitch-Along Hand Appliqué
Honeycomb Stitch-Along Hand Appliqué

(5) Then using an invisible ladder stitch, begin stitching the hexie to the fabric using small stitches. The stitches into the backing fabric should be placed just under the hexie fold to best hide them. Each stitch through the backing and the hexie fold should be around 1/8" to 1/4" in length.

Ladder Stitch
Honeycomb Stitch-Along Hand Appliqué
Honeycomb Stitch-Along Hand Appliqué
Honeycomb Stitch-Along Hand Appliqué

(6) When you come to the corner of the hexie, take your needle and insert it through the hexie fold and out the point (see below). Then make your next stitch into the backing fabric slightly smaller than usual, right below the point of the hexie to help anchor it in place. Then turn and keep stitching along the next edge.

Honeycomb Stitch-Along Hand Appliqué

(7) When you finally come to the end of your stitching and your hexie grouping is sewn in place, make one last stitch into the hexie fold to bring the stitching just beyond the marked line. The insert your needle through the backing fabric, pulling the slack thread all the way through. Flip over the entire piece and make a small stitch right next to where your thread comes through. Make sure to only stitch through the backing fabric, hiding the stitch behind the hexie. Then tie-off your thread with a knot using this stitch as the anchor. Finally, insert your needle back through the backing fabric only and underneath the hexie. Pull it through about 1 inch before clipping the thread.

Honeycomb Stitch-Along Hand Appliqué

Honeycomb Stitch-Along Hand Appliqué

(8) Then press your finished, sewn hexie grouping to help set the stitches. The stitches should be fairly invisible once you are done. Repeat steps 3-7 until each hexie grouping is sewn in place. Then evenly trim your entire sewn piece (backing and excess hexie fabric) to the appropriate size for your project, paying attention to how the hexies groupings meet the fabric edge and the 1/4" seam allowance.*

18" Pillow- 12" x 12"
20" Pillow- 13.5" x 13.5"
24" Pillow- 16.5" x 16.5"

*i.e. make sure there are no small, awkward gaps (1/2"ish and smaller) between hexies that will show up once the entire piece is sewn into the pillow front. Also be careful not to cut your hand stitching.

Honeycomb Stitch-Along Hand Appliqué         

And here's what your appliquéd central square should look like when finished. Next week we'll be adding the embroidery in between the hexie groupings. I'll check in with you next week to see how your progress is going and to see if we need to adjust the schedule a bit to allow for more time to work on the embroidery and possibly get caught up with EPP and appliqué. Hand work is one of those things that we all work on at our own pace, so feel free to let me know if you need more time at any point throughout our stitch-along. Have fun and let me know if you have any questions. : )

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11 comments:

  1. This looks lovely - thank you so much for the stitching tips too as I would like to try some hand applique soon and wasn't sure how to do it!

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  2. I'm behind, but it is supposed to snow tomorrow, so I hope to catch up then!

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  3. Such well written posts. The stitch-along is real fun to watch and such a great resource. I'm with you in that I can't wait to see what everybody will come up with.

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  4. Your tutorial looks easy, anyway I've yet to try...thanks for sharing the tips:)

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  5. Another great post! I love the Honey Honey fabrics in the kit - I'm making the cool color palette in 18" size. Kate Spain is one of my favorite designers. I finished this week's stitching last evening and I'm already anxiously awaiting Tuesday for the next lesson!! I can hardly wait to work on those cute bees :) Thank you SO much for taking the time to put this stitch-along together!

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  6. I am a bit beehind but will catch up! Great tutorial - thank you!

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  7. I have finally had a chance to print out the hexie templates (my printer broke a while ago, so had to wait to use my parent's printer!). Your finished cushion is gorgeous, I can't remember if I commented on your finish post :) I think mine may be rather bright and busy with the fabrics I have chosen, but hopefully it will look ok! Can't wait to get started!

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  8. That looks lovely! I liked the butterfly pins next to the sketched bee, too. :D

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  9. If anyone thinks they are behind I just picked up supplies today at the fabric store :)

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    Replies
    1. Good for you! I think you'll be able to catch-up too. :)

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  10. I must have missed something in one of the earlier posts - what does EEP stand for? I know EPP for English Paper Piecing, but what's your second E for?

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