I've been working away on my Joann's quilt and I thought this would be a good time to share my technique for "realistic" applique.
I sometimes will draw out my designs, but more often than not if it's an item that I want to make sure I get "right" I'll turn to the internet for a photo to kickstart me. In this case I wanted a picture of a comfortable chair. So, I went to Google Images and searched for chairs. I tried several searches until I found this chair. I'ts actually pretty hideous pattern wise, (not my style), but I liked the fluffiness of it.
The other thing to look for when pulling images off the computer is to find something with defined lines. This has all of the lines of the chair clearly delineated and it's facing the way I wanted it to. So, it looks like I've found a winner.
If you don't know how to pull an image off the computer it's easy. Just click on the image, then click on "See Full Size." It should come up on a separate screen. Then right click on the image and click on "Save Picture As." Make sure you save the photo as a Bitmap image, not a GIF, it's easier to deal with a bitmap image.
Also, make sure you follow copyright restrictions. If you are using something for your own use it's usually not a problem but if you are entering it in a contest or putting it up for sale, be careful. In this case I'm not going to be using the actual image so I should be OK. I just want it as a starting point for layout purposes.
Now that I have the image I'm going to pull it up in my photo imaging software. I usually convert it to black and white first. Then I create a page with the background size I want and add the image. I then adjust the image to the size I want within the proper sized background. Once this is done I color the background very pale grey and print. If you don't have photo imaging software you'll have to print the image as is and draw it out by hand or trace it. It's more tedious and if you're going to be doing a lot of applique the software isn't very expensive. I use Photoshop Elements 5, you may be able to find older versions for about $30 that will do the job just as well.
Here's the chair, printed on the right sized background. The next step is to create your pattern pieces. I use a black marker to outline the pieces. In this case I wanted the chair without the pillow so I drew in the chair detail behind the pillow image. (I also kept the pillow just in case I decide to add one later).
As you can tell I numbered each piece and put an "F" on some of them. I really want my chair to have some dimension so I've decided that I'm going to fuse some lightweight batting to some of the pieces. That way I can add quilting stitches to make the chair seem more real. I'm going to be adding batting to all of the pieces except 2 and 7. #2 because it's on the side and that part of a chair is usually not too padded, and I want it to appear more indented. By not padding the side the arm and rest will have more dimension. The same goes for #7, the top of the cushion. I want everything around it to have more dimension so I won't pad that piece either.
Now that I have my pattern at the right size and printed on the right size background I'll trace it onto vellum, making sure to transfer all of the marks. Then I can cut and fuse my pieces for my next stop.
It's important that once you have this original image you don't cut into it. Always trace or make copies, you want to have this as a reference for layout once you're ready to applique onto your background square.
Next I'll show you how to cut out your pieces, fuse the batting, and prepare them for final applique.
In the meantime,