Monday, June 11, 2012

Current Forever Project: needleturn applique - Grapes

I always like to have a handwork project to work on when I am away from home.  I work on this project on road trips, appointments, anytime I'm unable to work on my home sewing machine or longarm quilting.  I always call this project my "Forever Project" (in honor of the first Forever Project that took about 10 years to finish, if I'm remembering correctly!).  Whether or not the current project will actually TAKE "forever" is irrelevent; my family knows what the Forever Project tote looks like and that it belongs in the car with me. :-)

My current Forever Project is a needleturn applique pattern by Nancy Lee Chong of Pacific Rim Quilting Company.  I first learned how to do needleturn using her technique with another of her patterns, Peace.  Prior to that, I absolutely, positively AVOIDED needleturn because all the methods I had used up to that point had been too annoying for me to use.

But, once I learned her basted needleturn technique, I actually look forward to any project I can use it on.  :-)   Recently I was fortunate to take an applique class with her as an instructor and was practically over the moon with delirious happiness!  The class was awesome and one important lesson I learned was how to get pointy points and sharp corners.  Without her hands-on teaching, I don't think I ever would have figured it out properly.  Nancy Lee Chong is an enthusiastic and dedicated teacher; if you have a chance to take a class from her, do not hesitate to do so.

Back to my current Forever Project!   Mr. Pirate's (extended) family has vineyards that grow grapes, which are then sold to wineries to make wine.  (side note: wine grapes are lousy, lousy, lousy eating grapes. Yuck. Pa-tooie!)  When I saw Grapes as one of Nancy Lee Chong's 2 Fabric Applique patterns, I decided I would make it, in honor of our family's heritage.

I had a mottled, gold-marbled fabric from some other project that is perfect as the background.  I found a suitable dark purple fabric for the grapes.  One afternoon was spent tracing the finished seamlines onto the grape fabric.  Another evening was spent basting on that seamline with heavy-duty thread.  Once all the basting was done, my Forever Project was ready to be put into the tote and could be worked on.

It's still very much a Work In Progress ... I'm not antsy to complete it.  When it gets done, it gets done.  I have other projects at home to work on with my sewing machine. I don't miss working on it when I *am* at home.  For me, it's very much an on-the-road project.


  1. I don't do appliqué very well, or even often enough to get good at it---I love your grapes! I think the Pies & Tarts english paper piecing is my "forever project" these days--but, my eyes are getting so bad I don't know if I will ever get it finished. Some days I look in the fabric container and think maybe I'll do something else with the pies & tart red, white fabrics instead and give up on doing the paper piecing. Other days I try to convince myself I can do it, maybe not as good as used to. Magnifiers don't seem to help. Going outdoors and stitching by hand does help see the tiny stitches better.

    I have a quilt pattern taped to the design wall that I'm thinking of starting and making it my "forever project". Just haven't gotten to it yet.
    I love having a forever project going beside the usual assortment of quilts and UFO's.

    I sure like yours.

  2. I have 2 Pacific Rim Quilt patterns, but to chicken to start! I know about wine grapes as a child we lived in a vineyard owned by a Greek farmer. He gave us some and said eat, they are good and then laughed while we tried to spit them out!

  3. Quilting Ranny ... ah, don't be chicken!! Nancy Lee Chong's patterns are wonderful. In fact, you don't actually HAVE to do needleturn applique ... she gives you 3 different techniques (if I'm remembering correctly) to get the project done .. and they're not all hand-work.

    But, if hand-work is what you really want, then do give her basted needleturn technique a try. I certainly found it a LOT easier than any other hand applique method.