Have you ever finished an appliqué block and then had second thoughts about the background fabric you chose?
Maybe It doesn’t look the way you thought it would. Or the appliqués end up blending into the background a little more than you’d like. Maybe the project ended up taking a different direction. Whatever the reason, sometimes you wish that cute block you stitched was on a different background.
Maniac that I am, I have actually twice successfully swapped out the background on a completed block, without starting over!! I’ll show you how I did it, then you can decide if it’s crazy or total genius.
Note: This applies to hand-appliquéd blocks, not fused or machine-stitched.
Here’s the Apples block from my first Martingale book, Easy Appliqué Blocks.
|See, there it is, right on the cover.|
Now, that beige stripey background is okay, but when I was looking for a block to use for this tutorial, I got to thinking, wouldn’t that bowl of apples look nice zhuzhed up on some red polky-dots?
I’ll walk you through the process. You will need to do some basting, some trimming, some tweezering, and some re-stitching. BUT you will not have to restitch everything! Where one motif goes over the top of another one, that part does not have to be restitched. (Except for a little overlapping to secure threads.) Here’s my attempt at telestration in Photoshop to show you those areas.
What you’ll need:
• A new background fabric
• Needle and threads
• Sharp-tipped hand scissors
• Seam ripper
Start by cutting a square of the new background fabric that is the same size as the existing one.
Take a deep breath.
On the back of the stitched block, cut away the background fabric inside each appliqué piece, close to the stitching. Keep the lower blade of the scissors on top of the turning allowance.
Remove the interior background fabric.
Those little lines of background behind the stitching that is going to remain… just leave ‘em. Okay, if they really bother you, you can tweezer them out, but leaving them in place will keep the stitches tight, and will not affect the appearance of the refurbished block.
Layer the block on top of the new background.
Baste them together all around the perimeter of the appliqués, a scant ½” inside the stitching lines.
A little at a time, use the seam ripper to remove the previous appliqué stitching. Once you get it started, this is easily done by lifting the edge of the appliqué. The old background fabric outside the perimeter will come loose and you can cut it away in hunks. Tweezers come in handy for removing little bits of thread and background.
Restitch the appliqués to the new background, changing thread color as needed. You’ll find this to be easy stitching! The edge is already turned and creased, and behaves itself beautifully, acting like prepared-edge appliqué.
When you come to a place where one motif crosses on top of another one (as shown in the telestrated example above), sew over the area a little bit to secure the existing stitching, then continue on around the perimeter.
Once everything is restitched, remove the basting.
The blog tourist who came up the winner of a copy of 100 Blocks Volume 11 is… Julie in WA! Congratulations to Julie, who reports that she enjoys every minute of the blog hop and is always sad when it ends. Julie will receive a copy of Volume 11 from Quiltmaker.
Thank you so much to everyone who stopped by, and for your lovely, wonderful words.
The magazine gave instructions for the block using fusible appliqué, applying the black scroll on top of the heart. QuiltMouse, who tested my block for the magazine, used fusible as well but cut the scroll out of the heart and laid it on top of the black, thus devising a form of raw-edge reverse appliqué. Genius!
Some readers referred to Celtic appliqué.
I like it, it has a celtic feel to it.
I’ve always wanted to try celtic applique. This would be a good way to get a feel for it.
I love it! I would do bias tape fusible, Celtic-style.
Celtic-style would be another way to go about it! I haven’t done a lot of Celtic appliqué, but I understand how it’s done. Bias strips with turned edges are interwoven and stitched down to create beautiful knots and border designs. This is regular appliqué. Here’s a current book on the subject.
When we submit our blocks to 100 Blocks, we don’t send any instructions. The editors of the magazine write the instructions. Though the magazine gives directions for fusible appliqué, I stitched mine by hand. I mentioned this in my blog hop post… the outer edges are regular appliqué, and the scroll is reverse appliqué. When reviewing the comments, I noticed a trend.
I love hearts I really like applique but your block looks very difficult
The only time I tried reverse appliqué it was a disaster; it’s definitely time I tried again with good instructions!
that sure is a lot of work, you must love applique.
Stunning – it looks like a load of work but I bet it’s not that bad!
I can’t imagine how you did that reverse applique on those tiny pieces.
I would have loved to look over your shoulder as you created this and learned how you did the turned edge/reverse appliqué.
I have never tried reverse applique before, but it needs to happen soon.
I have been wanting to try reverse applique.
Darling block, got to try reverse applique – I love needle turn applique – so this hopefully won’t be a big stretch to learn!
I’d love to learn reverse appliqué one day.
Maybe this is my chance to take a stab at trying reverse applique.
I have never tried reverse applique before…this looks like the perfect block to try it on!
I think I might try the reverse applique method. It might even be easier than hand applique.
Reverse applique on a curve – wow. I need to try that!
Reverse applique is something for me to learn as it looks amazing in your scrolls on that lovely heart.
I’ve tried a bit of hand applique and really enjoy it, but I’ve not tried reverse applique yet.
Gorgeous heart block! I haven’t tried reverse appliqué, but it is on my list of techniques to try.
This could be a good way to ease into reverse applique–only a few corners.
I have never tried reverse applique, I may have to come back if I decide to attempt with this block.
I have never done reverse applique but think your block would be a good one to try it on.
I find reverse applique to be very interesting but I have never tried it.
I haven’t tried reverse applique in years, but your block tempts me.
Lovely block, I’ve never tried reverse appliqué.
Will you be offering a tutorial?
What’s all this mystery surrounding reverse appliqué? To those who say they have never done it… guess what! It’s the same as regular appliqué!
That’s right, let me say it again. Reverse appliqué is no different than regular appliqué. You’re just revealing the background instead of covering it up.
Under the terms of my agreement with Quiltmaker, I cannot give instructions for the block at this time. However, when the rights revert to me (three months after publication, in mid-August), I will be more than happy to put up a photo tutorial of how I made this block. I’ll take Julie’s suggestion: “I would love to see it tone on tone, with the scroll being a bit darker shade than the heart.” You got it!
In the meantime, check out my earlier post about reverse appliqué for a gentle demystification.
There’s a fabulous hand-appliqué tip from Martingale author Cynthia Tomaszewski on their blog, Stitch This!
Go see What to do when your appliqué fabric frays. This one’s going straight into my bag of tricks. Thanks Cynthia!
The winner of Nature’s Beauty in Appliqué is Helen Lebrett! Congratulations! Helen, be sure to reply to my email so that I can get your prize sent out to you.
I subscribe to the Checker News Blog. Checker Distributors is one of the largest companies supplying our independent quilt shops with everything they could need and more. Their news blog is geared toward retailers, but reading it is a great way to see what’s new, cool, and groovy in Quiltland.
Penny Haren, author of the Pieced Appliqué series of books, is a consultant for Checker and does most of the blogging. Recently she posted the story of an old appliqué top that was relegated to the closet for a number of years after the fabrics faded, and how she was able to bring it back to new life. I found this fascinating!
Until next time,
By Kay Mckenzie
Linda Franz is one of my most revered associates in the quilting world. When I first stuck a toe into publishing, I saw that she had produced the fabulous Quilted Diamonds on her own, and I contacted her with questions. Linda immediately became a mentor to me, answering at length and providing the most wonderful encouragement.
I’ve watched over the years as Linda has continued trail-blazing. She is the inventor of Inklingo, a system of printing on fabric that provides a myriad of benefits for both patchwork and appliqué. Recently Linda posted a tutorial on Quilting Hub about back-basting with Inklingo that you’ll just have to go and see. Among Linda’s many skills is photography, and the quality of her photo tutorials is unsurpassed. You’ll also meet Linda’s friend Monkey, who helps demonstrate during the tutorials.
Coming up: Tuesday is my birthday. I have a date with the hubby for dinner-and-a-movie, but I’m also feeling inclined to do some sort of something here on the blog to help celebrate. And, on Christmas day I post my annual Cavalcade of Kittens, so be warned if you are averse to fluffy baby felines.
By Kay Mackenzie
Hello everyone! Back safe and sound from SoCal. I’m excited… this post has been cooking for over a year now! I met Australian quilter and stitcher extraordinaire Helen Stubbings at Market a couple of times, and we finally got it together for her to do a guest post on her method of appliqué! You are going to love this! Take it away Helen!
Glue stick Applique
By Helen Stubbings of Hugs ‘n Kisses
This easy or some would say ‘cheats’ method of needleturn applique takes the scare factor out of needleturn. Most of the work is in the preparation, leaving the actual stitching as the easy bit.
Place a sheet of applique paper with the shiny (glue) side down on top of your template or design printed sheet. It is semitransparent so you can easily see the design through the paper. Trace each design or template shape onto the paper – I like to use a Sewline Ceramic pencil which glides on nicely. Note: if your applique design is directional you need to reverse it for this method.
Cut out each shape carefully on the traced lines. This is the important part – be as careful as possible as this determines your final shape.
Fuse each shape to the wrong side of your chosen fabrics. You need to leave a large ¼” between shapes for seam allowances.
If you wish, you can fussy-cut your fabrics by positioning the shapes to suit.
Cut out each shape leaving an approximate 1/8” seam allowance.
Using the glue pen, run a line of glue along the edge of the paper template –- it only needs to be light and right on the edge.
Using your thumb and forefinger, gently press over the seam allowance onto the glue. You want to fold the fabric on the edge of the paper –- but you don’t want to fold the paper as well, it doesn’t take too long to get the feel of the edge of the paper and where to fold to.
If the end of your applique piece is going to be under another piece in the final design you do not need to glue and fold these edges over.
You do not need to clip into outer curves. Our seam allowance is small and often on the bias so clipping is not necessary. Just gently fold/pleat around curves a small step at a time so you do not get points. If you are having trouble eliminating points try trimming back the seam allowance a little further.
If you have tails like on this leaf, just leave those and they will be dealt with later.
Your prepared shape!
You will need to clip on inner curves – but not as much as you may be used to. Just clip where you absolutely need to to enable the seam allowances to fold in nicely. Inner points need to be clipped to the edge of the paper.
Continue glueing until all shapes are prepared.
Position your background fabric over the design sheet. Use a light box if you cannot easily see through the fabric.
Position and layer all applique pieces following the design you can see underneath. Use the glue pen or for larger projects Roxanne’s Glue baste it to secure all pieces at once. Just layer them up until the complete block is ready for stitching.
Now you can stitch all pieces down as you would for your normal applique method. I use Hugs ‘n Kisses applique needles and Superior Bottom Line threads but you can use your thread of choice. When stitching down those tails that are showing, stitch to the point and do a double stitch to hold, tuck under the tail with the tip of your needle and continue in the new direction.
No need to remove the papers – when it is washed they will just dissolve and soften into safe fibres in your quilt project.
All of our Hugs ‘n Kisses applique patterns include the full design sheet along with reversed where necessary templates and applique shapes for tracing. We are considering including pre-printed Applique Paper in our patterns in the future –- so you can just cut out, glue and stitch!
My current favorite brand of paper-backed fusible web is SoftFuse.
I carry it on my website and I take it with me to shows.
Yesterday I made a new little visual demo of how to use the product, to lay on the table for those who are unfamiliar with raw-edge fusible appliqué.
I thought, aha! I can take photos as I go and stick them up on the blog!
First trace the shape onto the paper side and roughly cut out, leaving a small margin outside the drawn line.
Cut right through the line and trim away the center of the template, leaving a ring of fusible in the shape of the motif.
Put the cut-away part with your stash of fusible scraps, for future use on a smaller motif.
Fuse the floppy shape to the back of your appliqué fabric, meeting the cut ends together.
Now cut out the shape on the drawn line, through the template and the fabric together.
Remove the paper backing, fuse to the background fabric, and stitch.
The flip side. I used a small blanket stitch and buried the thread tails under the line of stitching.
That’s the basics!
Wow, what a treasure! Over on the Martingale blog Stitch This! there’s a hand appliqué tutorial from appliqué icon Mimi Dietrich.
Mimi is the author of many wonderful appliqué titles. In this illustrated tutorial she gives the “freezer paper on the back” method, complete with stitching tips. Thanks Mimi!
Not only that, Martingale has put her book Mimi Dietrich’s Favorite Appliqué Quilts on sale at 40% off this week. And I was very tickled to see that this sale also includes my book Inspired by Tradition. Now that’s good company!
By Kay Mackenzie
Every couple of years, my small quilt group the Nite Needlers collaborates on a project that we donate as a fundraiser to our guild or another worthy cause. This year we hit on a red-and-white basket quilt.
I drafted some basic traditional-looking baskets in my trusty Illustrator program and handed them out with the finished dimensions to all the gals. We’re each making five blocks, and our ground rules are that we’re using turkey-reddish fabrics for the baskets and white-to-cream-with-red for the background. Sticking to the basic basket shape, we can do whatever we like as far as sub-piecing the body, adding appliqué, etc.
OF COURSE I had to do some appliqué. Here’s what I came up with.
Okay imagine for now that there’s some red print on the white.
I had my plan. Now for the execution part. I was presented with some conundrums.
IMO, raw-edge appliqué is for decorative purposes, like wall quilts. This project is going to be bed-sized, so I really felt that my appliqué should be turned-edge. “Hand appliqué!” you might be saying. As well you might, knowing me.
But there were other factors to consider. I knew that Janet, who never does anything by hand being the mistress of the machine that she is, would make her handles using turned-edge machine appliqué. Plus, I wanted to delineate the edges of the appliqué motifs to distinguish between the flower and the leaves a little better, and the machine blanket stitch in the dark red color would work well for that.
So there it was. Turned-edge appliqué with a machine blanket stitch. Hmm….
I reached deep into my appliqué bag of tricks, and even ended up inventing a new trick that I threw back in with the rest when I was done!
First, the handles. I used Holly Mabutas’ glue-stick turned-edge preparation method, where the turning allowance is glued back onto itself using a freezer-paper template on the front as a guide. All went well.
Then the flowers. Another conundrum, factor, wrinkle, challenge, or whatever you consider it to be. These were white flowers on a red background. Can you say “shadow-through?” I wanted to line them.
Thinking cap, thinking cap. I could have used faced appliqué, but I was in the glue-stick groove. Got it! A hybrid fusing/glue-stick method!
I hauled out scraps of my favorite paper-backed fusible web SoftFuse, and made some templates with the centers cut out.
I fused them to some white scrap fabric and cut them out actual size.
I removed the paper backing and fused them onto the back of the red-and-white print for the flowers, and cut them out leaving a small turning allowance.
Back to Holly’s method, except this time I glued the turning allowance over onto the white lining, using it as my template. It worked!
Then I turned to Karen Kay Buckley’s Perfect Circles™ templates to make turned-edge flower centers.
Stick them all together and you’ve got a motif ready to pop onto a basket and stitch.
Here are my five baskets, ready to turn in at the next Nite Needlers meeting, and another thing off my list! Thanks Holly and Karen Kay!
Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie
Hello fellow appliqué enthusiasts! I return after a week on the east coast sporting “The Bug Bite That Ate Cleveland,” achieved during a hot spell that nearly did me in. We got from the parking lot to the gates of our beloved Duke Gardens and I could go no further. We came back the next day after breakfast and I had a much better time of it (but still had to retreat to the air-conditioned visitor center in some distress, to recuperate). And I understand it’s even worse right now!
Dana and I used to visit Duke Gardens when we were in the courting stage, and during the early years of our marriage. This place has a lot of sentimental value for us both.
After visiting with my folks and our friends in North Carolina, we drove up to see Dana’s mother and her permanent BF Richard. They have a weekend river house on the Corrotoman, a tributary of the Rappahannock in the Northern Neck of Virginia. It was a beautiful locale and a charming little house with all the modern comforts.
They had recently acquired a boat. We set out on the maiden voyage of the season. Just after this photo, looking back on the river house, the motor… quit. And there we sat. It wouldn’t start up again for love or money. I was the first one to get an oar in the water and start talking about Spartacus, but the menfolk quickly took over the paddling chore and I retreated to the scant shade of the canopy.
Thankfully, a little fishing boat pulled up alongside, moored itself to us fore and aft, and puttered us the rest of the way back to the slip. And, it turned out that the woman was a second or third cousin of Richard’s! “That’s the Northern Neck,” they told us.
It was good to catch up with family and friends, but seriously I was never so glad to touch down in northern California once again.
With all this talk about hot muggy weather, you may wonder why the title of this post is about wool appliqué LOL! There’s a great photo tutorial over at Quilty Pleasures, the Quiltmaker blog. If you’re feeling cool enough, be sure to check it out, or, you can always bookmark it for wintry times!
By Kay Mackenzie
In response to last year’s Call for Topics, Donna A. wrote:
I need to know everything! I have a wonderful teacher but she lives a long ways from me. I pretty much just drink in all the information I can get my hands on. Make more books and more patterns — there can never be enough!
Donna, I’m workin’ on it .
Donna also wrote that she need to know the pros and cons of glue basting.
Personally I don’t use glue or starch (with the exception of a dab of glue stick in certain specialty situations) but I know that many appliquérs couldn’t live without glueing the edges of their pieces over. It all depends on what you prefer. Myself I’m in the camp of less prep and let’s get to the stitching, but then again needle-turn is like breathing for me. Other appliquérs do not enjoy the edge-turning process and would rather have it done in advance. It’s all good! Whatever gives you the satisfaction in the process and the happiness with the result, that’s what you should do.
Here are the pros and cons of glue from my personal perspective.
• It’s a prepared-edge method, which means you don’t have to turn the edge while stitching. You just get to stitch away.
• You get glue on your fingers. Ew.
• You have glue in your project.
• It’s more prep time before getting to the stitching.
• You have to make templates.
If you know of more pros and cons, please chime in!
Here’s a roundup of glue-related posts from the blog. (I got this by clicking on “Glue stick” in the Category list.) I’d pay particular attention to Holly’s method and Laurel’s book.
Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie
In other news, Anne Sutton posted about an upcoming on-line sewing competition show called Sliced. Ooooh that has got to be good. I can’t wait!
Reminder: I’ll be at the upcoming Pajaro Valley Quilt Association’s annual show, February 25-26. My booth is #30, the first one on the right as you come into the main building, aka the Crosetti building. Our featured speaker is amazing pictorial quilt artist Linda Schmidt. There’s a fashion show and a quilt auction, a bed turning, door prizes, guild flea market, children’s activities, and a whole lot of fun at our show.
This just in from my pal Holly Mabutas of Eat Cake Graphics:
I’m SO excited to announce a new project! I’ve teamed up with author Terri Thayer, actually she’s the one that approached me with the project over a year ago. She’s writing an 8 month series of stories called Tales of the Quilt Shop, and I’m creating an applique project to go along with it called Sugarplums.
You have GOT to go and take a look at the first block on Holly’s Blog Sprinkles of Thought. If there were anything cuter it wouldn’t be allowed by law. Way to go Holly! Not only that, Holly includes a link to her glue-stick turned-edge hand-appliqué tutorial.
By Kay Mackenzie
Awhile ago, Daniquilter wrote:
I really need to see a step-by-step tutorial of you working through difficult parts of appliqué: inner curves, outer curves, points, what to do when a curve is pointy rather than curvy, etc. In other tutorials I see the beginning and then the end of a piece without the process in between. Love your blog!!
First of all, thank you so much Daniquilter for your nice words about the blog! I enjoy writing it.
It looks like you’re looking for information on hand stitching. It’s all here already! Here’s a roundup of past posts that address these very issues:
Remember that you can always use the Categories and Keyword Search function to find information about topics in appliqué. If you’re subscribed by email, you’ll need to click over to the blog itself, so that you can see and use the sidebars.
My next quilt show is in Phoenix, Arizona, January 26-28. It’s the Quilt, Craft & Sewing Festival at the Arizona State Fairgrounds! If you’re in that area, I hope to see you there!
Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie
First of all, thank you so much to everyone who responded with warm enthusiasm for my foster kitten stories. There’s a followup… but I’ll save that for later.
When a traveling quilt-show vendor specializing in Christmas expressed an interest in carrying the book, I thought I’d make another version of the project that’s the most popular one… Plum Pudding!
It was loads of fun rummaging for the fabrics, and also a little scary. It’s been awhile now since the book came out, but in the scrap bag I found a few leftover squares of the original fabrics used for the patched background! I also had enough of the red sashing and all three fabrics that were used for the puddings!
In my files, I even found the original pattern and tracing-paper overlay! Since the pattern is blown up 200%, this saved me a step. That’s why I keep stuff. You never know.
Once I’d pulled all the fabrics, I started thinking about the great expanse of white that makes up the ‘hard sauce’ part of the pattern. It would be covering a weensy bit of the brown, and also the patched background, and I didn’t want those to shadow through.
Usually, for machine appliqué I would use a double layer to create a light-over-dark motif by first fusing two layers of fabric together and then using that composed fabric to create the motif. This time, the area was so large, and I didn’t want the stiffness from the extra fusible. I thought I’d try something new.
I started out by making two motifs just the same, both with the inside of the fusible web cut out.
I removed the paper backing from both, placed one on top of the other on a nontick appliqué pressing sheet, and tacked them together with a hot iron.
If there are are inconsistencies in the two shapes, just use your scissors and trim them to match.
Now the motif is double-layer and with no fusible web in the middle to make it stiff! Try it! It worked for me.
Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie
In the recent call for topics, Susan wrote: “I would like more information on wool appliqué (fusing) and the decorative stitches (not limited to blanket stitch) that can be used to embellish the wool.”
The next Schoolhouse that I went to was presented by the Quilted Crow Girls, Leonie and Deirdre, who came all the way from Tasmania! That’s a small island off the coast of Australia! They were delightful to listen to.
The Girls specialize in felted-wool appliqué, and at the session they shared their techniques for achieving a neat and soft finished product. First of all, they do not fuse the wool, they simply stick the appliqué to the background with a bit of water-soluble glue stick and then staple it in place! That’s right, staple! “The wool is self healing,” they point out, “and will not leave a mark when staples are removed.”
Their preferred stitch is the blanket stitch. However, in response to Susan’s question, I’m sure there are many others ways to stitch the edges of the wool. A primitive running stitch comes to mind. At Market, there were tons of “woolies,” i.e. designers featuring wool appliqué. Here are the ones that I’ve just added to the blogroll, fresh from Market:
In addition to these, there are many more woolies in the blogroll (right-hand sidebar, at the bottom). Did you know that if you hover your mouse over a link, a little tag will pop up? Look for “wool” in the pop-ups and you’ll find a bunch.
Also, click on the category “Wool” in the left-hand sidebar and you’ll get all of the articles pertaining to wool that have already been published on the blog. A really good one is Kaye Moore’s guest post, and there’s a fabulous photo tutorial on the Cottons ‘n Wool blog.
The Quilted Crow Girls laid a free pattern on their Schoolhouse attendees. Nice!
I’m passing along this gorgeous wool appliqué runner pattern in a drawing. If you’d like to win, leave a comment by 7:00 p.m. California time on Saturday, May 28. In your comment, feel free to pass along any wool tips that you might have to share. Contest open to U.S. and Canada addresses only.
Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie
Thanks everybody for the great suggestions for appliqué topics! I’ve got ‘em all down on my list.
I love this from Sharon Decker!
I spent years not doing the “A” word. Why, because I didn’t realize there was more than one method. Once I learned backbasting, I became a convert. I now tell people who are either afraid of applique or haven’t even tried it that they just need to find the method that works for them. “One size does not fit all.” I don’t think people really understand how many methods there are and they just need encouragement to find what works for them.
Right on sister! You’re preaching to the choir!
Most of the questions were about hand appliqué, in fact a whopping 76%!
The easiest way to start is with things I’ve already written about. (Reminder, there are a bunch of categories in the left-hand sidebar. Click on any one of them and it’ll bring up anything that’s been posted having to do with that topic.)
“I would like to know more about back basting. Right now I use glue basting but some times it’s not always convenient to take glue with you.”
Back in August 2008 I posted a photo tutorial of back-basting. Instead of just linking to it, I thought I’d repeat it here, adding in a few new comments in blue to address some of the back-basting questions.
Back-Basting Photo tutorial
How about a method of appliqué that gives super-accurate results, yet uses no glue, no starch, no freezer paper, no fusible web, no fusible interfacing, no vinyl or tracing paper. Just fabric, needle and thread, scissors, and a marking implement. Pretty cool, huh?
“I must be missing something, as I am hearing such wonderful things about back-basting applique, and how it converts you forever from previous methods, but when I tried it (twice so far), it seemed bulky and hard to handle. So a detailed photo-enhanced tutorial would be terrific.”
No glue, no starch, no freezer paper, no fusibles, no overlays, just fabric and thread… what could be less bulky? I hope the following visuals will help you refine your strategies. Give it another whirl!
I promised awhile ago that I would write more about the back-basting, aka no-template preparation for hand appliqué. It’s really quite ingenious and is now my favorite way to work by hand. As I was stitching a Heart in Hand block today I took some pictures along the way to show how it works.
Use a reversed pattern for this method. Start by marking the reversed pattern on the back of the background fabric. I use the blue water-erasable pen. You can also use a marking pencil.
Rough-cut a hunk of the appliqué fabric that’s bigger than what you’ll need. Lay it in place on the front.
Pin the fabrics together. On the back, baste the two fabrics together with a small running stitch, exactly on the drawn line. Use a thick or fuzzy thread for this and a big honking needle. I use a size 7 cotton darner.
Baste all the way around the shape. This is what it looks like on the front.
Now trim the fabric to the shape of the motif, leaving your preferred turn-under margin outside the basting.
Clip and remove a section of basting stitches. In this freed-up area, start turning and stitching. Keep clipping and removing the basting a few stitches ahead of your appliqué. The thick needle and heavy basting thread leave behind temporary perforations that help the fabric turn along the stitching line. I use a size 10 milliner needle and DMC 50-weight cotton machine embroidery thread for appliqué.
“Backbasting…I have heard such wonderful things about it but I find that when I clip the basting thread and it is suppose to turn under so beautifully, my holes just disappear and I am left trying to figure out where to turn under! It seems that I can’t get the fabric to behave…like a stubborn child. I don’t find my points nearly as neat as with other methods…. it would be easier to do back basting if I could see what I was doing!”
Kat, is it possible that you’re removing the basting too far ahead of where you’re stitching? Try taking out the least amount of basting possible each time. And, the more you practice, the more you know how much to turn under. You’ll develop an appliquér’s sense of it. Also, here’s a tip… I can’t remember where I saw this, but I did see someone suggest that you could run a chalk marker over the basting stitches before starting to sew. That way, when the basting stitches are removed, there’s a dotted line left on the turn line. Lastly, see the next point in the tutorial.
Continue all the way around. Don’t press the block yet.
Hmm, not bad. A benefit of this method is that you can flip the block over to see how you’re doing. The marking serves as a built-in stitching guide!
Repeat the same process for the heart.
Christy B. wrote:
“I would like to know more about back-basting curves. I love the method for vines and leaves, but have a lot of trouble getting smooth curves for rose petals, etc.”
Christy, back-basting is actually a preparation method. The ‘smooth curves’ aspect comes along in the stitching part, which is just like traditional needle-turn. The culprit in chunky curves is the turning allowance and how it’s acting underneath the appliqué edge once it’s turned. First, make sure your turning allowance is not too wide. A quarter of an inch is actually too much. Trim to about 3/16″ of an inch, and distribute the bulk of the turning allowance smoothly underneath as you stitch. Make sure it’s not pleated up on itself under there.
Once the block is completed, remove the markings from the back. I dip a Q-tip in water and stroke it along the lines. Let the block air-dry and check to make sure none of the blue has reappeared. (If so, just wet it again.)
After all the marks are gone and the block has air-dried, give it a quick press. All done!
I have really come to love this method, since it gets me on the sofa stitching a lot quicker instead of fiddling around with freezer paper templates at the ironing board. I hope you enjoy it too. Like anything new, it takes practice, so give it a whirl and then another!
Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie
So many thanks to those who chimed in about their blog-reading strategies. One reason for doing that last post that I forgot to mention is that sometimes I get messages from readers who are subscribed by email, who don’t even realize that they’re subscribed to a blog, and they think I’m sending them emails!
Erin Russek, who writes the One Piece at a Time blog, recently posted a great photo tutorial showing a very cool template-drawstring-and-starch method for getting the edges pressed under on petal-shaped pieces. Check out her Little Bird Top Knots post. Thanks for a great lesson, Erin!
Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie
Sarah answered the call! Recently, when I put out a call for contributions to the blog, regular reader Sarah Vee of Ontario, Canada, got in touch right away. I’d delighted to turn the blog over to her today for a terrific guest post about blanket-stitch appliqué. Go Sarah!
Sarah Vee of Sew Joy, whose motto is “I have found happiness in making quilts – and joy in sharing my quilt making.”
Sarah: I have been a patchworker for most of the time I have been quilting. Almost 14 years now! I shied away from the “A” word for many years, even though some of the first quilts I fell in love with were in the Baltimore Album style.
Eventually I started to try it a block at a time. I made a wedding wallhanging with one large appliqué block –- no one could really tell if I had left anything out — and I did, almost half of the leaves!
When Kay’s book Easy Appliqué Blocks: 50 Designs in 5 Sizes came out, I was lucky enough to win a copy. Who could resist the possibilities! Around the same time, my sister sent my daughter a container that held all of her embroidery floss from doing cross stitch for many years. She was putting it aside to focus on quilting.
My daughter never had a chance! I claimed the box of thread like it was my first box of 64 crayons! I was no longer daunted by the delicacy of appliqué – I had colour on my side.
I put my first blocks from Kay’s appliqué book into a larger pieced quilt for one of my nieces. Instead of having my stitches blend in with my fabrics, I outlined them in black like a colouring book.
I use the blanket stitch because it’s easy (once you get the hang of it). You can change the size of the stitch to work on any piece, and you can work it by hand or machine. You can use it to secure pieces that are fused and also ones that are not.
I’m by no means an technical expert on supplies or technique. I use what I have, look at lots of pictures – and try stuff. Just take a quick look at these photos I took while working on my latest quilt. You’ll see how I made the colours and blanket stitch work for me to create my Bunny Lady quilt.
The basics: I’m using DMC embroidery thread. I use two strands because that seems to give the thickness I need to cover the edge of the fabric. I use a needle that works for me — not sure if it’s the ‘right’ one. The eye isn’t so small I can’t see to thread it, but not so big that it leaves a hole when going through my quilt top. It’s a medium-length needle so that the thread doesn’t glide out of it too easily.
Tip: Use a fairly long strand of thread. You don’t want to re-thread the needle any more times than you need to – just don’t make it so long that it tangles after every stitch (this isn’t quicker – trust me).
To start: Bring your thread up from the back right at the edge of your piece to appliqué. The length of the next stitch determines the length of your blanket stitch – how far it goes into your appliqué. Put your thread into the fabric and bring it back up almost right on top of where you started.
On the leaves I used smaller stitches closer together because I had to turn a lot of corners, and the leaves are fairly small. On the carrots, I took larger stitches because there was more open space in the middle of the appliqué pieces.
You work this stitch counterclockwise (at least I do because I’m right handed). Hold your thread across the edge of the piece working to the left.
From where your needle just came up, take a stitch down and to the right that lines up with your first stitch into the appliqué. Bring your needle up at the edge of your appliqué and go over the thread you are holding in place. Pull the stitch snug (but don’t make the piece pucker).
This space defines how close together your stitches will be. On smaller pieces, or going around a corner, you probably want them closer together.
Keep going until you’re done, or almost out of thread! Make sure you leave a long enough tail so you can make a knot on the back.
You can see how I had fun with colour. I used different shades of orange on my carrots. Changing the colours made it more fun to go around so many carrots –- and also gives the up-close viewer a visual treat. The carrots in the border were not fused down, just pinned in place until I secured them with the blanket stitch.
The bunnies and carrots in the quilt top were fused, then stitched. I used bright, fun colours on them too. I used a fairly large stitch on the bunnies so it would be more visible.
I hope this was helpful and encouraging. I stared at many magazine diagrams and pictures of beautiful quilts before I finally tried my hand at appliqué and the blanket stitch. You’ll never know the possibilities until you try. Thanks Kay for providing so many possibilities with your designs and inspiration-packed blog. I’m looking forward to including appliqué on many more quilts.
Kay: Thanks a million, Sarah, for your article sharing the joy of appliqué! You’ve gone from “A” word avoider to appliqué enthusiast, because you found your method! I love those patched bunnies… reminds me that I have some randomly pieced hunks of patchwork sitting in the UFO pile awaiting their final destiny! Hmm…
FYI, Sarah is hosting a Placemat Party Blog Hop from Monday, June 28, to Friday, July 2. Visit her blog to find a new hostess each day celebrating the release of Sarah’s first pattern, “Eat with JOY! Placemats”. There will be prizes, fun, refreshments, and hostess-gift ideas for summer parties. Sounds like summer fun!
Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie
I just discovered that Alex Anderson is offering a series of videos on hand and machine appliqué over at The Quilt Show website.
If you’re not already a member you do need to register but no $$ involved, the classes are free. Check it out at the appliqué classroom page and follow Alex through many hand and machine techniques. A great resource!
By Kay Mackenzie
Easy Appliqué Blocks sightings!
To make a bday quilt for her little niece, Sarah Vee used designs and blocks she discovered by reading a variety of quilting blogs. For the bright and polka-dotty flowers in the quilt, she printed out the Daisy, Sunflowers, Posy Bunch, and Tulip Trio designs from Easy Appliqué Blocks. Such a fun and cheerful quilt! Lucky little girl.
Mary on Lake Pulaski used the Vase design for a charity fundraising project called Sis Boom Pow. The fabrics she used, by Jennifer Paganelli, are fresh, fun, and modern. Check it out on the Sis Boom blog. In the comments on her post, Mary puts up the URL for a tutorial on the starch method for turned-edge appliqué on Snippets of a Quilter.
Thanks a million, Sarah and Mary, for hauling out Easy Appliqué Blocks! It worked for you just the way I envisioned, as a library of appliqué blocks right at your fingertips.
Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie