Machine Applique in Neutrals

What did you do over the holiday break?

Mostly I did a whole lot of nothing, besides cook and clean up.  But in between, I did some reading and re-watched Season 3 of Downton Abbey so that I could at least remember everyone’s name when the show starts up again…(this Sunday in the USA, just in case you’ve been living under a rock.)

In the's all just cutting out shapes.

In the beginning…it’s all just cutting out shapes. Don’t forget to use Fuse and Fix on the back!

Anyway, I also worked on an appliqued pillow cover.  The pattern is in a new book called Knockout Neutrals by Pat Wys.  I fell in love with this whimsical pattern.  It’s not usually like me to be charmed by vines and cute-shaped flowers, but the neutral palette of this particular bouquet and the overall ambitious and unusual size (I had to sew 2 -18 inch sq. pillow forms together) made it surprisingly appealing.

Knockout Neutrals by

And the neutrals work for me. Did I say that already?

Mastering Machine Applique by Harriet Hargrave.

A friend also lent me her copy of Harriet Hargrave’s amazingly detail-oriented Mastering Machine Applique.  Trust me, there’s an art to precise machine applique, and while I grew more adept through this project, I don’t consider myself an expert.

I used a blanket stitch throughout, which is probably one of the toughest stitches to get perfect around tight curves and sharp points.  I am a glutton for punishment.  Lucky for me, I am not a perfectionist.

Applique detail.

Applique detail.

One of the interesting aspects of machine applique is its meditative qualities.  You’ve heard of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”?

Well, I would like to introduce you to “Zen and the Art of Machine Applique.”  Following the lines and repeating the same patterns over and over and over, while still accomplishing something is a tremendous stress reliever.

Your focus at any given moment is not on the big picture, but on each tiny little stitch.  One by one, moment after moment, little by little. Stitch, turn, stitch, adjust, stitch, stitch, stitch.  It’s enough to keep you engaged, but not frustrated.   How refreshing.

And again, little by little, you make progress.  In a world where everything is rushed and instantaneous, where food is fast and craftsmanship is outsourced to mass-producing factories in other countries, working little by little is peaceful.

Now it’s January and the bitter cold is settling in again. It’s “Finish a Project” month for me. One down.

Thousands to go.

Final machine applique


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