A tiny fragment of reverse applique from the Hmong tribe inspired this stylish cushion made by Judith Wilson. The original measures just four inches.
60cm of space dyed fabric in colour of choice
40cm of cream
50cm of lightweight sew in interfacing
Yellow and orange thread for small satin stitch triangle
Threads to match fabric colours
120 x 140cm of backing fabric
18in (46cm) square (adjust outer border to change size)
If you would like to purchase your own sample to work from, John Gillow stocks a range of original samples. See him at the next major exhibition or call and arrange to pay him a visit at 50 Gwydir Street, Cambridge CB1 2LL. Tel 01223 313803.
Trace the template and copy the pattern onto the interfacing. Follow Figure 1 to get the complete pattern.
Cut a piece of cream fabric 16in square and coloured fabric 20in square.
Lay the pattern RS down and place the cream and then coloured fabric RS up on top. Pin together avoiding the lines, as these will be your stitching lines.
Using a straight stitch and a short stitch length sew all the straight lines. Add the outer square at this point making sure the corner angles are square. Repeat for the curved lines but dropping the feed dogs and using free machine sewing.
Figure 1: Pattern showing repeat from template
From the RS cut away the extra fabric. Use small scissors, cut as close to the stitches as possible working a small section at a time.
Satin stitch over all the straight stitch lines using a narrow width of 2.5 and a length of about 0.5 (these settings are for a Bernina, your machine may differ). Before you start draw some of the shapes onto scrap fabric and practise the corners and curves to help decide where to leave the needle when turning. It is possible to stitch a mitre at the corners by turning the width setting to narrow and then increasing it again.
Satin stitch the small triangles with orange and yellow thread. Follow the photo for an idea of placement.
Make into a cushion using the method of your choice. Judith has not added extra quilting to her cushion but you could quilt around the main shapes if you wanted.
About the Hmong
This information was provided with permission by Valerie Kirk
The Hmong are the eighth largest minority group in Vietnam with a total population of about 600,000. They belong to the Sino-Tibetan language family and specifically the Hmong-Dao language group. They migrated from Southern China into North Vietnam over the last 250 to 300 years. They have mainly settled in the remote areas of the North West, near the Lao and Chinese borders. The Hmong has been sub-divided into branches classified by women's costume, dialect and customs. The Hmong of Sa Pa are called Black Hmong, because of their predominantly black clothing. Reverse appliqué, where the top fabric is cut away to make a pattern of the backing cloth, is also worked by the White Hmong. Both the embroidery and the appliqué can be extremely fine.
This sample of Hmong appliqué which has been made into a larger cushion cover using modern methods of reverse appliqué - sewing from the back by machine and then cutting away and satin stitching the edges afterwards, shows modern adaptation of technique and a new application for the work.
First published in Popular Patchwork Volume 12 Number 2 - February 2004