Thursday, June 21, 2007

Reverse Applique Tutorial

Ginko Leaves in the Wind (c)2007 Pat Dolan

What IS reverse applique?

Applique is done by applying a new piece of fabric to the top of a fabric that has been chosen as a background. This process creates the design elements by the process of addition.

Reverse applique works in reverse…by adding fabric BEHIND the ‘background’ fabric, and then cutting away the top layer to reveal the addition below the surface.

Demonstrating this process is easier than explaining it!

Basic steps in reverse applique:
1. Select design
2. Consider what will be appliqued
3. Select fabrics
4. Create a fabric “sandwich” of top fabric, batting, and bottom fabric. The top fabric is the one that will be the major background color for all other elements.

I’ve chosen ginko leaves to be the focal point of a small piece. Here, the ginko leaves are laid on the fabric and the basic composition is determined.

Next, using colored pencil that can just barely be seen on the fabric, I trace around each leaf.

Then, I create the fabric ‘sandwich’ using two pieces of fabric with a piece of batting sandwiched in between. I use basting spray to adhere the two pieces of fabric (one on each side) to the batting material.

Here is the sandwich as seen from the back:

Next, the thread selection…

Using my sewing machine…

With the feed dogs dropped…
And using the darning foot...

I begin free-motion sewing (which is why the feed dogs are lowered) and carefully draw with thread over all the colored pencil lines which have outlined the ginko leaves.

The drawing is completely stitched - each leaf is individually stitched independently of all other leaves. Now it’s time to cut the top fabric and the batting away to reveal the hidden layer of fabric below. Special scissors are quite helpful for this…

After four of the five leaves are revealed, I decide not to cut out the fifth - and to do further designing embellishment with the quilting. Here is the piece, after some quilting.

The stitching shows much better on the back than on the front, at the moment.

I’ve decided to applique a white leaf to the top of this piece - here I’ve traced the leaf on fast-2-fuse® that is already fused on one side to white fabric.

The fabric leaf is cut out, laid on the work in progress, and ironed in place.

Then I do some top stitching on the fused leaf to the base unit using a free-motion straight stitch.

Detail of top stitching and quilting. This shows the difference in effect between regular applique to the surface and reverse applique.

Stitching completed - front and back views.

Reverse applique, then, is a process by which additional design elements are added from the back of the surface, rather than to the top. This provides more depth to the finished piece, as is seen here.

Presented by fiber artist, Pat Dolan of Manalapan, New Jersey, on behalf of the Kansas Art Quilter’s for the Sabatini Gallery, June 2007.

© 2007
Patricia C. Dolan

Copies of this as a Power Point presentation are available for $10.00/each plus postage.


Gerrie said...

Thanks, Pat. I didn't realize that you cut away the batting!

Peggy said...

Hello Pat, you want to write an Email to me. I can say, where I found the picture. Whats the name of your Grandma?

MargaretR said...

I love all your photos and the tutorial. Thanks Pat.

Stephanie said...

Thanks for the step by step tutorial! I'm going to try this now---

Feather on a Wire said...

What do you do with the raw edge of the batting and top fabric which is still showing?

Pat's Place said...

What do I do with the raw edges of the fabric & batting? Good question. Usually, I trim it back as far as possible, then densely over-stitch it with matching or contrasting threads. Sometimes I allow it to show, depending upon the visual results I want. I often use black batting and that creates a somewhat different effect.

As an artist, rather than a quilter, the fine points of quilting exactitude are less important to me than the over-all statement of the work of art. Technique (excellent or poor) should not be the most important ingredient when the piece speaks to the viewer. Technique should compliment but not overpower the design statement - even with top quality quilts.

When art is viewed as art, the viewer stands 10 or more feet from the piece and the piece should be strong enough in design, color, balance, harmony, tension, etc. to get it's message across without an up-close inspection. The fact that one can see and experience more up close is fine, but not critical. The piece must be artistically strong and technicality must be appropriate to the over-all design as seen from the appropriate viewing distance.

Just my opinion, of course... and the opinion of many, of not most, art experts.

In "Ginko Leaves," my purpose was to demonstrate a technique for others to use as they so choose. You can adapt it to however you see appropriate. This piece is simply a sample - not a "great piece of art." And I have no desire whatever to go back and embellish it further!

As I said, yours is a good question. And I believe most quilters will choose to incorporate the technique with more precision and expertise than I. More power to the quilters!

courtland said...

thank you for this post, it helps a lot

QuilterBridget said...

This is a wonderful tutorial! I saw an episode of Quilting Arts on PBS recently, and there was a demonstration on reverse applique. Well, just watching a brief segment wasn't going to teach me exactly how to go about it. So I did a google search and after checking out several websites I came across yours. This is by far the best example. And what a wonderful finished piece! Thank you for sharing this.

Pat's Place said...

Hi, Bridget ~
Glad you found it helpful. Since I like to take photos and I've been trained as an art teacher, it's fairly easy for me to put together instructive tutorials. It's especially nice to know they art appreciated!