The Tree of Life part 12: of trees… and guilt

No, I have not gone out and decimated some tropical rainforest.

The Tree grows apace. All branches are now prepared for appliqué, and I’m considering how best to do the job. The trunk has to lie over the ends of all the branches. But there’s no way I can appliqué the branches down first, since how they fit onto the trunk is critical. I could appliqué round the outside, and start and stop between the branches, leaving unsewn lengths to feed the end of the branches under. That’s one option. I could leave all the branches pinned on in place while I whizz round the outside of the trunk, capturing the ends of the branches under the edge of the trunk. That leaves a small problem: peeling off the fusible backing once I’m ready to fuse the branches down, since one end is going to be sewn in. Minor, but a consideration. And thirdly, fusing everything down at once and trundling round all the outlines in one fell swoop. I like this option least. Manipulating the top through my sewing machine will rub off the smaller fused bits (experience speaking here), and the edges will fray, and it’s generally not going to work so well. I think I may go with option 1. Do one piece at a time. Take time. Have the freedom to make adjustments. Ensure the branches are in the best possible condition when I sew them on. They are, don’t forget, one quivering mass of bias edges, ready to stretch if you just look at them funny. They stretch, fray and come apart at the seams. No, option 1 it is.


The branches, complete

So, the process is: Unpin everything. Take down the top from the design wall. Lay the centre along the length of my ironing board. Peel the backing off the fusible I’ve already ironed onto the back of the trunk section. Lay it out so it’s straight and butts up to the root section. Offer up the branches to the edge of the trunk and mark both edges with pins to show where to stop and start. Remove the branches and carefully iron down the fusible, leaving unfused areas at the branch junctions to help stick them down. Stitch down with satin stitch, all the way round, starting and stopping to leave the branch slots unsewn. After that, it’s a question of doing the same thing with all 7 branches. Holy cow… I’ve got a bit of work ahead of me, eh?

Now, does anyone have any suggestions for making this easier?  If so, I will receive them with glad cries and expressions of appreciation.  This quilt has been a learning process throughout, and I’m always happy to learn an easier/faster/cleverer way. (Yes, I know cleverer isn’t a proper word…).

And now for the guilt…





I’m in the middle of a serious quilt, I have loads of others lined up, I’m taking two weeks out of my quilting schedule in April, and yet STILL I’ve ordered some new fabrics.  Two packs of 5″ squares.  Amy Butler Lark and Cameo collections, which go amazingly well together, and are destined to be turned into a nice lap quilt, sashed in white.  I don’t have enough lap quilts… Yeah, right. But aren’t the colours lovely?  Don’t you love the cuteness of 5″ squares, just small, so the fabric doesn’t shout at you, it just sings quietly? Don’t you think they’ll be fresh and pretty all together, sashed with white? And maybe a nice aqua binding? I’m going to need a holiday from serious quilts when the Tree is done, and I’ve nominated these fabrics to get my creative mojo going again.

So, tomorrow will find me cursing the day I started this quilt. But I’ll get through.  See you on the other side!


17 thoughts on “The Tree of Life part 12: of trees… and guilt

  1. mlwilkie says:

    The tree quilt is coming along nicely. It will be great when it is all done!!

  2. Jule says:

    Maybe a stupid idea, but what about fusing the whole tree together before sewing? Would this work?

    • katechiconi says:

      Not a stupid idea, if the tree had been smaller, but it’s nearly a metre tall, and all the branches will flop around and stretch if it’s not handled very carefully. It’s my own fault for designing something without thinking how it could be made!

  3. tialys says:

    I haven’t got any ideas for you I’m afraid, I’m not really an ‘appliqué person. I love the fabrics you’ve chosen for your ‘getting your mojo back’ quilt.

  4. Kirsten says:

    I am a fan of bond-a-web as it sticks everything down nicely and avoids narrow ends fraying. Although I have had a similar situation with layers of twiddly fiddly seaweed on an applique picture. I didn’t bond them down as I didn’t want to stitch round them in one big mass, so I took a picture and them removed them layer by layer, taking pictures as I went so that I knew how and in what order to stitch them back on in. It isn’t a fool-proof method as some weren’t exactly in the same place, but I think that is something that you have to accept – things will move a little. The only thing I can suggest if you really want them in exactly those positions is to get a fabric pen that fades in a day or so and draw round them before un-pinning. Don’t know if any of this has helped at all!

    • katechiconi says:

      It was very kind of you to respond in such detail! My big problem is that the pieces are very long, and the edges are all on the bias, so if I let things hang/ fall/ dangle in any way, they will stretch, even with the fusible web on the back. The position of the end of each branch is flexible, it’s the placing of where the branch joins the trunk that’s important. I think I have the process fairly clear in my mind; whether it’ll work is another matter!

  5. I was trying to think of a way you could protect the raw edges (covering them with a protective layer of something, for example) but my mind is a blank. Sorry. I am sure what you have planned will work.
    Looking at those fabrics, I think you’ll like the blue quilt top I finished yesterday. It’s enormous so I have no idea how to photograph it to show you.

  6. My only suggestion is keep going. A work of art is a one off and cannot be rushed. I am so used to redoing stuff, I just try to factor it in. It is looking fabulous! 🙂

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