Yes! You really can love needle-turn hand appliqué! If you have followed me for any period of time, you know I have been doing hand appliqué for years and I love to teach others how to do it. Once you know the right tools to use and get the hang of it, you’ll love it too.
I’m going to go through the appliqué steps in a 3 part series here on my blog posts this week, next week and the week of 9/27. Among all of you who comment and ask questions, there will be a drawing for a hand appliqué gift package! You will get my pattern, Wildflower Lane, a pack of my favorite appliqué needles, Roxanne’s Glue Baste-it and my favorite small scissors. That drawing will be on Monday, October 4th so you have time to comment and enter the drawing.
So, let’s get started on the basics of needle-turn hand appliqué!
My Recommendations for Supplies
Beginning any project requires having the right supplies. I have my favorites that I will share with you here. You may eventually find other supplies you like better once you start appliquéing, so these are merely suggestions. If you are already doing hand appliqué and have an item you use that you’d like to share, feel free in the comments below.
- First up- the right needle: My favorite needle is John James Gold n’ Glide appliqué needles in size 9.
These needles come in various lengths. The higher the number, the shorter the needle. I like size 9 because I feel it’s the right length for me. I recommend you test different size needles to see which length fits you best.
- The right threads: I recommend 100% cotton threads for stitching your appliqué templates. I like Mettler brand 50 wt, 100% cotton with a silk finish. It comes in a lot of different colors if you like to match your thread to the appliqué piece color.
I’ll talk more about thread matching when we get to the stitching portion of this appliqué series.
- Good Lighting: I think good lighting is one of the essential supplies. If you want to keep your stitches as small as possible so they are almost invisible, you need to have good light to see and, in some cases, a magnifier on that light. Here’s my desk top version I use:
You can use the magnifier or not. See the difference on the right? I can see my stitches close up and make them tinier than if I wasn’t using a magnifier. I also have a floor style so I can stitch while watching TV:
I need to be able to sew anywhere in the house!
- Other Tools: Here’s a few other things I keep on hand. The first is Roxanne’s Glue Baste-it. This was a great invention for we hand stitchers. No more pins to stick my fingers! Also, I like the Sewline brand mechanical pencil for tracing around templates onto fabric. The chalk “leads” come in white, green, pink and yellow so there’s a color available that will show up on any color fabric.
Other items like scissors (both for fabric and paper) for working with templates and appliqué pieces and rulers for positioning appliqués come in handy.
Templates: So now it’s time to move onto the first steps when beginning to appliqué. Most patterns will have their templates printed right on the pattern pages (left). I recommend copying those pages onto card stock and cutting out the templates so you have a sturdier templates to trace around.
Tracing: Now it’s time to trace your shapes onto the fabric for the appliqué piece. For the type of fabric appliqué I do, the templates are traced on the right side of the fabric. If you use a technique where you trace it on the wrong side and fold your seams prior to stitching, be aware of non-symmetrical templates. If you are tracing on the wrong side of the fabric, you will need to reverse a non-symmetrical template so it will face the correct direction when you are stitching it to the quilt top.
My example below shows the method I use. Trace around the template and leave at least 1/4″ between tracings if you are tracing several shapes on a piece of fabric. For needle-turn appliqué, you need this space to cut out the shapes with enough fabric to turn under while stitching (if you are doing a machine appliqué technique with no turn-under, no need for this space).
Prepare the Appliqué for Stitching: Next step after tracing is to cut out the shapes and prepare them for stitching to the quilt top. Cut the shapes out about 1/8″ outside the drawn line. This will be the seam portion that you turn under. Then, you will use your scissors to clip into the seam allowance up to, but not over, the drawn line (last two photos).
The clips in the seam allowance make it easier to turn under the seam and keep the original shape of the appliqué piece. The curvier an area of the appliqué piece, the closer your clips should be and there should be more than you would have on a straight side of the appliqué piece.
So, this is it for this week. Below, I have a link to part 1 of my appliqué mini video tutorial series that covers the things I talked about today.
Come back next week for the the 2nd installment in this series. We’ll talk about laying out the design on the background and learn the appliqué stitch I use.
Here’s the prize package that you are eligible for (below). Like I said at the start of this post, comment or ask any questions you might have and you are automatically entered into the drawing for this prize package.
The drawing will be on Monday, October 4th. See you next week!