For those of you who are taking a Journey with Jane, here is the way I prepared all my melons and diamonds for appliqué. I use starch and no-melt Mylar. The way I present it here will be for someone who is right handed, you hold the piece being appliquéd toward your heart and you stitch right to left. This means your stitching line can be seen while looking down on it so you can clearly see the line. If you are left handed or stitch the line left to right, (piece away from your heart) just start in the upper left side of the melon instead of the upper right. This method will assure your points are positioned correctly to turn under. Please read on after the demo as I have listed some hints and things that work for me.
1. Trace your template onto no-melt Mylar and cut out. (You may also use 1-2 layers of freezer paper ironed together.) If the points extend into corners or sides you will probably want to cut inside your traced line, as the turn under will make the melon larger if you cut it the same size as the pattern.
2. Glue in place on the wrong side of your melon or diamond fabric with just a dab of glue stick. Use only enough to keep it from moving. Too much will make it hard to remove the template after you have turned under the seam allowance. Cut out leaving your seam allowance or turn under. My seam allowance varies with the size of the melon; rarely is it more than 3/16”; the smaller the melon, the smaller my turn under. The smaller the seam allowance, the smoother your curve will be.
3. Starting in the upper right side of the melon, brush the turn under with starch. Brush on only from the center up to the point. Take the iron and put the edge of the iron under the turn under at the center of the side you just starched. Iron the edge over the template, pivoting the iron up along the edge of the template. Hold iron in place long enough for the starch to dry and hold the turn under in place. Don’t iron a fold in the middle, you may have a point on that edge when finished.
4. Now turn your melon 180° and brush starch along the entire side. Repeat with the iron, pivoting along the edge. You may want to start at the bottom point or you may want to start in middle and come back and get the bottom point. Experiment with what works for you and your iron. Check the point that is now turned under to see that both edges are turned under firmly against the template. If not, re-starch and press again.
5. Turn your melon 180° again so you are back to the side where you first turned the upper part under. Starch what remains and press onto template. I start at the bottom point and once again pivot. Check the point you just finished, it should look crisp even with ear. If you see a tiny fold, you probably don’t have your fabric ironed next to the template. You should now have all points and sides turned under and ears at the points should be pointing in opposite directions.
6. Now I use this as is and glue it down to my block with Roxanne’s Glue Baste It in preparation for stitching. Used this way, you stitch up to the point, take a little secure stitch just to the right of the point. This will allow you a firm point to push the ear under the point and stitch down the other side. Sometimes when I am finished starching the turn under, I press the ear back over onto itself and glue a completed melon in place. This works well for the bigger melons because my turn under is bigger.
A few things that worked for me…
1. I always glue my templates in place on the wrong side of the fabric, no matter how large or small, with a dab of glue stick. This keeps the template from sliding around while I pivot the iron along the edge and I can get a tighter seam allowance turned under, right against the edge. One of my students kept complaining about her points not being sharp with this starch method. Her results improved dramatically after I reminded her to use the glue stick and secure the template to her fabric. No need to trace the line around your template on the fabrics as she was doing. The glue keeps the template from sliding.
2. If you have little points on your Mylar template after cutting out, you should file the edge down with a nail file. If you get your turn under against the template edge like you should, every little bubble and point will show up. Get them as smooth as you can.
3. When using the iron, the Mylar gets very hot! I use a 6” square of cotton duck fabric under the Mylar pieces as I do this and I turn the cotton duck square, instead of the template piece itself; much easier on the fingers.
4. I have perfected this technique for my iron. I have found that the irons that may be available to me other places may not work as well with this technique as my iron. My iron has a slick soleplate and slightly rounded edge and a rounded point (Rowenta). Some of cheaper irons have a very sharp edge and point and they do not allow me to pivot the way I would like. Some of these irons also have sharp edged steam vents which catch on the small points or edges and end up pressing something not exactly where I want it.
5. I prefer to have the iron on cotton when I do this technique. It may warp the template but when I use it any cooler, I don’t think my pieces look as nice and it takes longer to dry the starch. I still use my warped templates; multiples still look the same size.
6. I don’t like to have a heavily padded surface when I am doing this, or even pressing when machine piecing. What I use to press on has 2-3 layers of cotton batting under it and that is it. My ironing board itself has one of those foam pieces under it and that is too much for me. I use my Big Board on top of it all the time. One of the shops I teach at has a heavily padded board and when we do this there, the appliqué pieces don’t look near as sharp to me.
7. I had even better luck using this technique after I started gluing in place with Roxanne’s. At first I basted, going the opposite direction in which I appliquéd and it still shifted. When gluing, I put tiny drops of Roxanne’s on the seam allowance only, away from the edge to be stitched, about 3/8” apart. I then put in place, hit with the iron to dry. I also do this on my piece of cotton duck; it helps save the cover on my ironing board.
One last thing I should mention…I wrote this for my students in 2006. Today instead of using starch or sizing sprayed into a little container and a small paintbrush or Q-tip®, I use a combination of the two in one container. I now use a brush for watercolor artists to blend their paints. It has a reservoir to hold the water and you squeeze the reservoir to release water to the brush tip. Now I use Best Press ® in the reservoir and it is faster. The only drawback is the reservoir is not very big and you may find you have some dripping. This could vary from brush to brush. You can find these at art supply stores, craft stores, and your local quilt shop can order them for you also. I ordered my first one on amazon.
Please do what works for you, but you may see something here you may want to try.
Always learning, Sarah