Welcome back! I hope you learned a lot from last week’s introduction to needle-turn hand appliqué. If you missed the post from last week, you can find it here. Next week’s post will be the last in the series so you have time to comment and ask questions and be entered into the drawing for my appliqué prize package on October 4th!
Last week’s post covered my preferred and recommended needle-turn hand appliqué tools, how to prepare templates and use them and how to prepare the appliqué shapes for stitching. This week, we will cover preparing your quilt top or background block, laying out the appliqué design and the appliqué stitch.
Preparing the Background and Design Layout
First, whether your background for your appliqué design is a pieced quilt, a pieced block or just a plain piece of fabric, I recommend reinforcing the edges of the project with Fray Check.
The quilt or piece of fabric to which you will be stitching your appliqués will be handled a lot and can develop frayed edges. In the past my background piece frayed so much into the seam allowance that I had a hard time stitching blocks together or having a seam allowance to attach borders or binding. Applying Fray Check has stopped that. I. no longer have to worry!
Next, if my background is a plain piece of fabric I will fold it to make creases so I can find the middle of the project. I sometimes will draw chalk lines (very lightly) to also be used as a design layout guide. Rulers are also helpful in placing appliqué pieces. Below is a photo of a background I have folded to create lines.
On projects where the appliqué is in a border or along the edges of a quilt or blocks that will have to be pieced together, I like to draw a line 1/2″ in from the fabric edge (see below). This allows for the 1/4″ seam allowance and an extra 1/4″ to keep your appliqué design away from any future seams.
Before I did this, I would often get an appliqué stitched down and then notice it was too close to the edge of my project. Time to remove stitches & re-stitch…. and I like to avoid that as much as possible!
Finally, below are photos of using what I talked about above in laying out my design. I’m using creases in the background and my ruler to lay out my design. With stems, I also use other appliqué pieces as a guide to make sure they are placed in the correct place on the background.
Stitching the Appliqués
To start out, if an appliqué project has stems that will have flowers on them and have the raw ends covered by other appliqués, I recommend laying out and stitching those down first. Use the other design pieces to get the stems positioned correctly (as shown above) and then use small dots of Roxanne’s Glue Baste-it to secure them in place for stitching. I also use little dots of glue to place other appliqué pieces down for stitching:
Be sure to use small dots. Too much glue can seep through the fabric piece and show on top. Also, this glue is water soluble, but if you use too much it will still leave a small stain. Once you position the appliqué piece into place after gluing, it should be affixed after 30 seconds with a little pressure from your hand.
Now, it’s time to stitch that appliqué piece you just positioned. I like to start on a side of the piece that is the straightest. However, if you are stitching a circle, no side is straight! The goal when you are stitching is to hide the stitches on the top of your project as much as possible. That’s where thread color, good lighting and even a magnifier comes in handy (the lighting and magnifier was discussed last week). You can either use a thread that matches the color of your appliqué or use a neutral thread that blends in well with any color.
So here are the stitching steps:
First: use the tip of your needle to sweep the clipped seam allowance under, up to the drawn line, in the direction you will be stitching. You can hold it in place with your thumb as you move to the next step.
Next, start your stitch from underneath your project pushing the needle up and catching the edge of the fold on the appliqué created by sweeping the seam allowance under.
Then, push the needle back down, into the background fabric only, right next to where your needle came up initially. In the photo on the right, once the needle is pulled back through from underneath, you can see how the stitch is just a little “dot” visible on top. That’s what you want the stitches to look like… barely noticeable.
Here’s a few more photos up close of stitching on a different project:
So, that’s stitching! Below are two videos in my appliqué mini video series that covers what I talked about here. In the first video (part 3), I cover laying out the design and in the second video (part 4), I demonstrate the stitch.
Thanks for joining me again this week! Next week I will cover making stems from strips of fabric and stitching points and inside corners on an appliqué piece. Remember to leave your comments or questions below and you will be entered into a drawing for my appliqué prize package!
The drawing will be on Monday, October 4th after this appliqué series of blog posts is over. Time to get stitching!
Happy Quilting & Stitching!
Sally Garon says
Thanks so much. Enjoyed.
I haven’t done much applique, only raw edge. Thanks for the tutorial on needle-turn applique.
Lorraine Leblanc says
With only 1/8” turned under after being clipped close to the line will the appliqué hold up to being able ashes without raveling we’re clipped?
If you plan on adding applique to a quilt that you will be washing, I suggest cutting out your applique pieces with a wider seam allowance, closer to 1/4″.
Sandra Hicks says
I enjoy reading your instructions, blog, and looking at the pictures. It is just like having the Teacher right beside me. I read #1 the other day and re-read it today before reading #2. Can’t wait for the final #3. Keep up the good work!
Enjoying your tips! Looking forward to #3!
Your videos & instructions are great for learning to applique. Marking the 1/2″ seam allowance on borders before appliqueing is a great idea.
Regina Bohannon says
Thanks for this! I’m not sure why it scares me so?? Some day I’ll work up the courage to try and until then I’ll continue working with wool!
Patti Howard says
Thank you for this tutorial! I couldn’t quite tell…is the thread doubled up or are you appliqueing with a single thread? And about how long is the thread length that you are working with?
The thread is not doubled. It’s 100% silk finished cotton thread in 50 weight. I usually pull out a piece no longer than 18″ at a time. Any longer and it’s harder to handle and seems more likely to tangle.
Patti Howard says
Thanks so much for the time you give us and all the expertise. I look forward to more!
I will be getting some of the fray stopper. I have had the issue of my edges fraying so badly I can’t sew anything to them! Thanks again for the tips!
Kaye Mattson says
This series is very timely for me as I am working on a needle-turn applique wall quilt right now. I have some experience with applique, but want to improve my skills! Would you please address stitching circles so they don’t have little points, but are smooth and round. Thanks.
When stitching circles, it’s important to have a lot of clips in the seam allowance and closer together than on a piece with straight edges. As you are working your way around the circle, carefully sweep seam allowance under and shape the circle with the needle as you are working.
I am planning to do a mini tutorial on stitching a circle in the near future.
I have done a little needle turn appliqué and your videos have shown me where I could have made it much easier. Thank you for the easy to understand instructions. Where can I get the supplies that you are using?
I sell the Sewline pencils, needles and Roxanne’s glue in my shop in the Notions section.
The Mettler threads are found at many quilt shops or here:
Fray Check can be found at any place that sells sewing supplies, like Joann Fabrics.
The best part of needle turn applique is the calm and peacefulness it brings me! Thanks for your tutorials!
ToniAnne Potter says
An appliquéd quilt is on my bucket list, even if it ends up being a lap sized quilt. Great tutorial, thank you.