Welcome back for part 2 of this appliqué series. I guess I didn’t scare you off after last week. If you have not read that post, you can find it here.
Last week I talked about my preferred and recommended needle-turn hand appliqué tools, how to prepare and use templates, and how to prepare the appliqué shapes for stitching. This week, I will cover preparing your quilt top or background block, laying out the appliqué design and the appliqué stitch.
Preparing the Background
Step 1: Whether your background is just a block or a quilt top, I recommend applying Fray Check to the edges of the fabric as shown:
Since the background is handled a lot while the motif is stitched down, adding Fray Check to the edges limits the chance that the seam allowance will fray away by the time the project is finished. This is an optional step, so you can choose to do it or not.
Step 2: When laying out an appliqué motif, you can create a guide to help get the design in the right place on the background fabric. To do this, either fold the piece of fabric to make a grid or use your chalk pencil to draw light lines. The photo below shows the fold lines from that technique:
Of course the folding technique will not work with a full quilt top, but you can use the chalk pencil lines in that case. My finger (in above photo) is pointing to the center where the fold lines cross. Knowing where the center is comes in handy if the appliqué motif needs to be centered.
On projects where the appliqué is in a border area, like along the edges of a quilt, or blocks that will have to be pieced together, draw a line 1/2″ in from the fabric’s edge (see below). This allows for the 1/4″ seam allowance needed in piecing the quilt and adds in an extra 1/4″ to keep your appliqué design away from any future seams.
Before I came up with this step, I would finish stitching my appliqué and then realize I got too close to the edge of the fabric and into the seam allowance. So, I then had to remove the stitches & re-stitch the whole area, which is something I like to avoid that as much as possible.
- Helpful TIP: Appliqué stitching can shrink down your block as you stitch the design. If your block or blocks are supposed to be 12 1/2″ when you are done stitching, consider cutting them larger (easy to do if it’s not a pieced block). In most of my newer patterns, for example, for a 12 1/2″ block I will have you cut your background pieces 13 1/2″ so there’s an extra 1/2″ to play with on all four sides. Then the block is trimmed down to 12 1/2″ when the stitching is done.
Step 3: Below are photos of a design layout using a few of the tips I talked about above. I’m using creases in the background and my ruler to lay out my design. When positioning stems, I use other appliqué pieces as a guide to make sure the stems are placed correctly on the background.
If an appliqué project has stems, I recommend laying those out first following a diagram or photo in the pattern. Use the other pieces from the design 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. After the stems are done, use little dots of glue to secure the other appliqué pieces for stitching:
Make sure not to use too much of this glue. A little goes a long way and the bond becomes secure after about 30 seconds of pressure. Too much glue may bleed through the appliqué piece and show on the top of the appliqué piece. Roxanne’s glue is water soluble so if you accidentally get some on the top of the appliqué or background, dip a Q-tip swab in water and rub it gently over the area to remove it. Be sure only to use water soluble glue to affix appliqués.
Begin your stitching on a side of the appliqué piece that is the straightest. However, if you are stitching a circle, obviously there is no straight side! 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 neutral threads of various shades that blend in well with any color. So on to the stitching steps:
Step 1: 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. Hold this in place with your thumb as you move to the next step.
Step 2: 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.
Step 3: Push the needle back down into the background fabric only, right next to where your needle came up initially. In the photo (below, 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. As you get more familiar with the stitch, you will be able to combine these steps into a fluid motion.
So that’s it for this week. The stitching demonstration should give you something to practice. Consider grabbing a scrap piece of background fabric and tracing out a shape to appliqué onto it for practice.
Until next week, here’s parts 3 and 4 of my needle-turn appliqué mini tutorials. Part 2 will show up next week because that’s where I demonstrate making stems.
Remember to comment or ask questions below to be entered into the drawing for the appliqué prize package below:
Leave a comment or ask a question below and you will be entered into this drawing! The winner will be chosen from all the commenters during this three week series and the will be announced on Monday, July 17th.**We have a winner! Congrats, Mary Borocz!**