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!