The next step is cutting patches. Start with your motifs. Pair each pattern or pre-made motif with the fabric of your choice. I do a lot of tracing paper transfer, so you will see in the picture below that this is what is pinned to each patch. If you’re using another method of transfer, you might have to do the transfer before you cut your patches. This would be true for transfer methods like the pounce method, transfer pencil or light box. Then cut generously around the motifs, being careful to not always cut straight lines. Leave at least 1″, if not more, around each motif. This allows for 1/2″ seam allowance and 1/2″ for embellishment. Allow for some space around the motif also. Place each patch on your background fabric in an arrangement that pleases you. Once you have the layout approximate, remove any patterns.
This photo shows the loose patches placed on the background fabric approximately where they will be basted. It also shows the motifs being removed and the start of pin basting in the center.
Starting in the center, start folding back your seam allowances and pinning. Use pins that hold up to heat. I use dressmakers silk pins that are around 1″ long. Be mindful to layer your seams in the best order to prevent bulk or darker fabrics showing through. For instance, the white silk dupione in the photo is laid flat on the background, while the green silk next to it has been folded under to creat the seam. If it had been done the other way, there would likely be a green shadow on the white. Here’s a close-up photo of that area.
Notice that the pins are placed parallel to the seam and close to the fold. Also notice that the point of the pin in the green fabric exits the fabric right at the point of the fold. This is important to keep sharp points where you want them.
Work in this manner out from the center until your project is completely pin basted, taking care to keep the piece as flat as possible. Make adjustments to your layout as you wish. You will realize that the idea you originally started with may change. It happens from actually handling the fabrics. It’s just pinned together at this point, so this is the last chance you will have to easily make changes to patches and layouts. Don’t be surprised if you need to add fabrics to cover blank spots.
Once your piece is pin basted and everything is where you want it, turn it over and give it a light press to encourage the seams to crease. Be wary of heat sensitive fabrics! If you’re not sure a fabric will hold up to a press, test a piece. If it scorches easily, test it again with a press cloth. Since you will be pressing from the reverse side, it’s as if you have a pressing cloth. I do not use steam for this press. Steam can distort fancy fabrics permanently. Also steam heat is hotter than dry heat and some fabrics will melt or scorch with steam, but not with a dry iron. This photo shows the pin basting complete. Most of the fabrics lie flat. The satin types skew and stretch when you work with them. Over pinning them can cause runs and snags, so I don’t worry if they’re not perfectly flat at this point.
Next, starting from the center and working out, hand baste all the seams. Before stitching, make sure the piece lies as flat as possible.
This photo shows the seams basted. They show up best on the green fabric. I used inexpensive, ordinary, hand sewing thread. The basting will be removed or covered over by the embellishments later. I leave the pins in until I have basted around all sides of a piece. Notice the pin at the point of the blue fabric. I couldn’t sew around this pin, so I removed it enough to get around it, leaving it piercing through the point so I didn’t loose that point.
Here’s the piece ready for embellishment. The satin pieces still roll a bit. I’m not worried about it because I’ll be embroidering and that will take up some of that slack.
Next I put the patterns back onto the piece with pins and it’s ready for transferring the embroideries. I’ll show that process in the next tutorial on embellishment.