|On making serrated leaves with appliqué
||[Aug. 2nd, 2010|09:46 am]
When I set out to make the grapevine wreath currently in progress, I drew many fine jagged grape leaves, and trembled at the thought of making all those teeny tiny points. I was right to tremble. At the scale of the piece, turning under each tiny point was beyond my skill. So I set out to find another way to make serrated leaves using appliqué.
Often in Baltimore appliqué, serrated leaves are represented with embroidery: the edges of each leaf are embellished with straight stitches that stand out from the edge like little hairs. And it looks quite good and gives a serrated effect. But I wondered if there was a way to do it without the floss, and I think I’ve found a method, persnickety though it is, that will work.
n.b. Click on images to enlarge, click again on enlarged image to get to full sized photo.
I used a back basting method to baste the leaves to the background, but you could trace templates too, as long as they had smooth edges to turn under. Tracing the jagged edges you eventually want to create would be a sure way to let your tracing marks show. Whatever way you choose to mark and temporarily attach your leaf to the background is fine. Just make sure that the pieces are marked at the outermost edge. Your smooth first stitching line should be at the tips of the points of the serrated edge.
Now, for stitching it down. The first step is to turn under the raw edge of the leaf and stitch it down as in regular needleturn appliqué, leaving a larger than usual gap between stitches. Appliquers use very small stitches, so to make the larger stitch gaps I was leaving perhaps an eighth to three-sixteenths of an inch between stitches. Since I was using silk thread, I took an extra tiny stitch over each anchoring stitch to be sure it was secure, but it doesn’t seem to make a big difference in the finished product. On the leaf in the picture, I wanted serrated outer edges and smooth edges in the deep V’s in the leaf, so the stitching is gapped on the outer edges and very small on the V’s.
Once the whole leaf was attached to the background, I brought the needle through the background under the leaf, near but not at the edge of the leaf. Then I took the needle through the folded edge of the leaf fabric between two anchoring stitches. You can use the needle to poke at the leaf fabric to see where those stitches lie, if you’re not sure, and that’s good practice for the next step. Pull the thread through the leaf, then use the needle held perpendicularly to the work to pull the leaf fabric back between the two anchoring stitches and make a dent in the edge of the fabric. Sink the needle at that spot and draw the thread through snugly. The stitch drawing up secures the dent, and a tiny stitch in the same spot reinforces it. Move the needle over to the next gap, take it up through the background a bit inside the edge, through the folded edge of the leaf, draw back the leaf edge, secure it with a stitch then reinforce it with one extra tiny stitch, rinse and repeat.
Since I was alternating smooth segments with serrated segments, I knotted the thread on the background when I jumped a segment to prevent drawing up the piece too much with those stitches which jumped under the smooth segments.
The resulting serrated leaf is a bit puffy since the fabric is pulled inward at intervals, blousing it a little. The serrated edges of the finished product are slightly rounded, so this technique could be used for tiny petals as well.
| ||One un-serrated leaf Grapevine showing finished leaves and one half-finished leaf, sewn but not serrated. |
| ||Reverse side of grapevine applique reverse of grapevine applique showing larger stitches in edges to be serrated |
| ||Needle start insert needle through background fabric inside leaf shape to start |
| ||Needle coming up Bring the needle up through the edge of the leaf shape, between previous anchoring stitches. |
| ||Needle denting leaf Use the needle to draw the leaf fabric back and pull the thread through the background. |
| ||Needle denting fabric Another drawing stitch. Note the large anchoring stitches ahead of the needle. |
| ||Reverse with both sets of stitches reverse showing outer anchoring stitches and inner drawing stitches. Transitions between serrated edges are knotted to prevent too much drawing up. |
| ||Finished leaf finished leaf, serrated all around. |