A quilt show judge once commented on one of my entries that my satin stitch wasn’t dense enough. The irony of that critique lies in the fact that I wasn’t trying to create a satin stitch – I prefer the method of appliqué that quilt artists Jane Sassaman and Sue Nickels refer to as an open or flat zigzag stitch. The stitch length is slightly longer than that of a satin stitch (I use a setting of 0.5 on my Bernina artista© 185), and it allows the fabric color to show through the thread. The line of stitching has a softer edge, and the thread and fabric appear to co-exist nicely, regardless of their contrast to each other. It’s simply a matter of preference; satin stitching is lovely and gives a different appearance than what I choose for my work.
So here’s a sample of my flat zigzag appliqué; I vary the stitch width from 3.5 (along the straight-aways) to 2.0 (tapering to the points). I’ve used Madeira and Sulky 40-weight rayon threads in the needle and 50-weight or 60-weight polyester in the bobbin to reduce the bulk on the back side of the work.
I pull the thread ends to the back, tie them off, and weave them into the stitching. I learned the hard way that, if I omit this step, those threads have a nasty way of shadowing through to the front side, as if I’d scattered colored vermicelli all over the quilt – not a pretty sight . . .
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