Have you ever admired a quilt with a beautiful appliqué motif and said: “I want to do this!”. Well, I hope you have. Needle-turn hand appliqué has been a passion of mine for almost as long as I have been quilting. Now, I know many of you do not like hand work and are afraid of the “A” word. But you don’t have to be! You can do your appliqué by machine. I just love the added something that appliqué gives to a quilt top, whether it is pieced or just a plain background.
I have done appliqué posts in the past talking about many of the different steps for doing hand appliqué but have never done a full post on making stems. So, here you have it …. a blog post on stems! If you are interested in appliqué instruction from start to finish, consider purchasing my video class Sew on the Go with Needle-turn Hand Appliqué. Once purchased it’s yours to keep forever!
I like to create my stems from bias cut strips since those are easier to manipulate into curves than straight cut strips. I usually use either a fat quarter or fat eighth depending on how many stems I need. Here is how to cut bias stems.
Press your fabric and lay it on the cutting table as shown:
Align the 45° line of your long (24″) ruler with the bottom of the fabric (the arrow in the photo is pointing to the 45° line):
Now, using the rotary cutter, make your first cut:
Then measure and cut out the amount of strips you need. If you need stems longer than the strips produced, you may have to stitch a few strips together before preparing them into stems.
Cut your strips 1/2″ wider than the width of your finished stem. For example, if you want 1/2″ stems you need to cut your bias strips 1″ wide.
Now it’s time to prepare the strips into stems. To do this, I use a bias tool. They come in sizes from 1/4″ to 1″. The size of the tool in the finished size of the stem. So, for a 1/2″ stem, we will use a 1/2″ bias tool.
Feed the strip, right side of fabric down, into the larger end of the tool until it comes out the smaller end. When it comes out of the end, the sides of the strip will be folded over as shown. Use the iron press this fold all the way down the strip to make the stem.
When you are done making stems and are ready to put them onto your quilt background, you will affix the stems with the raw edges down. Here’s a project I have in progress to show you how I am shaping the stems:
Stems are usually stitched onto the project first because they are usually covered with flowers and leaves or other parts of the appliqué motif.
Here are a few of my favorite appliqué patterns:
So, that’s making stems! Not very hard to do and they add so much to an appliqué design.
Leave a comment below in this blog post on your favorite type of appliqué project and win a free pattern for my newest design Summer Serendipity.
I will draw for the winner in 2 weeks! **Winner has been chosen** Congrats Sharon Aurora!**