I learned how to do the neatest thing last night! Now, I know this isn't new, probably everyone in the world (but me and my friend who has been teaching me to quilt) already knows this, but hey, I'm going to share anyway. I am doing my Dresden plate blocks, and they have a circle appliqued onto the middle of the plate. My friend uses a freezer paper circle, irons it on to her fabric, cuts about 1/4 inch bigger than that circle, hand stitches a gathering stitch and then hand sews her applique on. Whew! Got that?
But I was reading something that had another method and I decided to give it a try. I cut some perfect circles out of cardboard from a cereal box with my Cricut (an amazing machine to cut shapes out of paper, cardboard, vinyl...). I traced the circle onto the fabric, and cut out the fabric about 1/4 inch bigger. I sewed a running stitch around the outside, slipped the cardboard inside, and pulled the running stitch up tight.
Then I took it to the iron, and pressed it really well, then I starched it. Voila! Perfect little circle that "wants" to stay in it's perfect little circle shape. I took out the stitches, and took out the cardboard, and it is still a beautiful perfect circle! See how it wants to pop back into it's new shape?
Now my friend does perfect hand sewing, and beautiful applique work. My motto used to be, "If you can't do it on a sewing machine, why bother?". Luckily I have matured a little since that time. I do enjoy some hand work now, every once in a while, but I took my perfect little circle, pinned it in the middle of my Dresden plate, and went over to my sewing machine. I used the blanket stitch, but I made it so that it just takes the tiniest little bite out of the applique, used thread that matches really well, and it looks fantastic! I'm so happy! I love my new sewing machine! I didn't have a nice blanket stitch on my old machine, so this would never have worked before. I also used that tiny blanket stitch and machine stitched my plates on to the background fabric (before I put the circle on), in probably a fourth of the time it would have taken me to hand applique them on! Yeah! I only want to take shortcuts if they can still look beautiful, and I am very happy about this one!