Coming Out of Your Cocoon?

Maybe, maybe not, but certainly these butterflies have! I got really inspired to sort through my batiks and use some of the scraps and stash pieces for butterfly wings. Then I wanted to work out a way to make them fly–3D! I ended up with an interesting combination of piecing and applique.

3D butterfly block by LJ Christensen

You make the wings and tuck them into a seam, then fuse/satin-stitch applique the body on top. Add antennae and voila! A beautiful butterfly! I quilted around them by stippling with my longarm, but then used my sewing machine to finish the echo stitching on the side triangles and some quilting inside the wings, leaving the edges free.

Back of quilt, showing quilting and label

The hardest part is the intricate applique, but the hand-cutting took more time than technique. It was fun, though, to make such a stunning throw. For fun, I even added glass beads to the ends of the antennae.

3D Butterflies Fly Free cc2319

If you dare to try, this time I added extra photos, not merely diagrams, to show every step–marking, cutting, sewing, quilting, binding. If you are comfortable appliqueing by machine, you can make this quilt and get rave reviews. If not, it’s for sale in Market Shoppes in downtown Wetumpka!

Click here to buy the pattern It’s on sale for just $3.50 for a week.

While sewing this quilt, I thought about tips for machine applique:

  1. Be sure to insert good stabilizer underneath. The butterfly wings have interfacing, but I added several layers of interfacing under the heads/antennae to stabilize and also put them on the same level as the thicker body. (I actually used little scrap pieces I always save after my embroideries.)
  2. For a satin-stitch, the stitches need to be close together, but since they are also wider, it’s a good idea to loosen the top tension just a smidge.
  3. Rayon or polyester embroidery thread gives a good sheen, but because it’s a little thicker (40-weight rather than 50-weight of normal thread), use an embroidery needle with a larger eye. (I used regular sewing thread because I’m on a mission right now to use up a lot of my old thread before it dries up to dust!)
  4. Slow down, especially in tricky areas, such as around a head. It’s better to be slow and steady rather then fast or jerky.
  5. As you pivot around a curve or tail, always make sure the needle is in the down position before raising the foot, and move as slightly as possible.
  6. If you make booboos, don’t dry. It’s really easy to snip out satin-stitch. Just insert sharp little scissor points, a snipper or a seam ripper under those long stitches. Go back and resew; it’s not the end of the world
  7. Keep tiny scissors, tweezers and if you have them, needle-nose tweezers by the machine. They are helpful for that unsewing and picking out threads.
  8. For goodness sake, don’t forget the open-toe foot. That really makes it easier to see as you sew.
  9. Make a point to remember the numerical machine settings for length and width of the stitching. If you have to go to another stitch, you can go back to the satin-stitch and not have to guess.
  10. If you want to make antennae that go to a point, you can actually turn the width down as you sew. Sometimes that’s helpful for a corner, too.
  11. Practice before you make the first one of a difficult shape–seriously, practice helps a lot. I got almost good by the time I made it to butterfly 32, but I didn’t count how many times I had to rip on the early ones.
  12. Don’t worry about imperfections. We focus on them when we’re sewing, but most people will never notice……unless it’s going to be judged. Then you can worry.

Hope you get to come out of your cocoon soon!

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