Finally, the tree, hills and vines are appliqued and it's time to start on leaves, flowers and birds. My background is a variety of cottons and the center piece is a somewhat heavier weight. The hills and trees are cotton and I plan to use both cotton and wool for the remaining applique. The variety of texture using cottons and wool will create a lot of dimension and the embellishment will add even more.
I pinned the hills and tree in place with Clover Applique Pins, and with matching cotton thread and #10 Short Darner, appliqued using the needleturn method. The background fabric lies completely underneath the hills, all the way to the bottom of the design. You may consider this as wasting some fabric but when it comes to a project like this I don't cut corners. Having the background fabric completely under the hills adds stability and will keep the project "square" during the quilting process. I could have used a "scrap" of fabric but it would have been a different weight than the background and would have required math.
Diamond Textiles had bundles of their new batik prints at market and with this project in mind, they were soon in my shopping bag. For me, batiks are a challenge to applique as it is more difficult to hide the stitches - but the colors are amazing.
The vines were made using a 1/4" Clover Bias making tool. I cut the strips 5/8" wide on the bias, then sprayed with starch and pressed flat before threading through the bias tool. This method saves time making the strips which took what seemed like forever to pin and applique in place. Notice that I don't use fusible or glue - even on a large piece like the tree. It's just my opinion, but I don't like the way fusible flattens out the fabric and on this type of project I don't glue because sometimes I want to change the position of applique pieces and then there is a glue spot left on the background.
Some of the small leaves are just one layer of wool that will have some embroidery added, and the larger leaves have multiple layers of wool and cotton. After cutting out the wool pieces, I use a simple whip stitch with matching Aurifil wool lana thread and a size 24 Chenille needle. I make the stitches small so my embellishment will show, not the whip stitches.
Why do I use wool thread? The texture or "woolines" of the thread matches the texture of the wool and hides better than cotton. Can you use cotton? Of course, it just has more sheen and won't hide as well. I prefer Aurifil thread as it seems to hold up better while stitching so I can use a longer length (I hate to stop and rethread). Buying wool thread in a variety of colors can be expensive but Aurifil offers small spools and some quilt shops are now selling a carrying case of colors wound on bobbins. You can find them at: American Quilting just give them a call or email.
At this point it just looks so plain........I can't wait to add more layers and lots of stitching.