Sunday, March 22, 2009

Applique Tutorial

Important - this isn't my method. I learned to do this from Margaret, who leads our Little Women's Club at Momma Made It in Longview, WA. Thanks Margaret!

This isn't really a new method for hand applique - rather a new method for preparing the applique. Usually I don't like fussy preparation methods, as I'd rather just get to the sewing. I've decided I to like this, however, for several different reasons.
  • There is no marking on the fabric at all, so no worrying about getting the black line completely turned under while stitching.
  • All edges are nicely turned already, especially the curves, which makes the stitching go SO much faster!
  • Because the edges are already turned, it makes placing all the pieces correctly in a complex applique piece much easier.
  • Because of #3, it's easy to thread baste all pieces in place so I don't have little pins in the project that fall out or catch my thread as I sew.
  • Because the edges are already turned, I can fold the back fabric as I stitch, making it much easier to catch only a couple threads on the fold of the applique, and thus my stitches are hidden much better.
  • Unlike the starch method - similar to this except starch is used instead of water - I don't have any messy residue and I don't have to worry about bugs being attracted by the starch.
Click on any picture for a better view of the details
Tools you need - a small iron that gets HOT. I have the little wand iron, but it doesn't get hot enough. I love my Rowenta Craft (used to be called Travel) iron. A seam ripper or a stiletto. I love using the stiletto. A paint brush. I like mine because of the slanted cut to the bristles and the plastic cushion where I hold it. Margaret had one like this, which she got at Joanne's. A small container for water. I like the small ironing pad also so I can sit down while I do this instead of standing at the ironing board. Freezer paper, scissors and a fine tip permanent marker.
1. Trace each applique piece onto freezer paper. If your design isn't symmetrical you will need to reverse the image. I do this by tracing on the shiny side of the freezer paper rather than the smooth, paper side. I like to cut a shape for each piece instead of using the same piece several times, as then I can do all the cutting and ironing at the same time. Cut our all the pieces.

2. Iron the freezer paper shapes to the wrong side of your fabric, leaving seam allowance space between the shapes. Put the curved parts of each piece on the bias whenever possible. Cut out each piece, leaving 3/16" seam allowance all around the piece (think a very fat 1/8", but less than 1/4").

3. Using the paint brush, wet just the seam allowance. If it's a big piece I do this in sections, pressing each one before painting the water onto the next one.

4. Using the stylus or seam ripper, fold the seam allowance over right at the edge of the freezer paper, using your fingertips of your other hand to hold it down as you turn. Press the edge well with your DRY iron. You shouldn't burn your fingers as long as you don't try to use steam. Because the fabric is wet it will crease nicely. Do just a little bit at a time - if you try to do too much your fingers won't be able to hold it down. (You don't see my fingers holding down the edge as I'm turning here because my other hand had to hold the camera!)

5. Curves turn under easily if they are on the bias. You will need a clip or two at inner curves - just make sure every thread turns under. For outer curves just fold a tiny bit at a time to keep the edge smooth. Try to have no large folds, as they will make a point instead of a smooth curve. Use your stylus and turn only a tiny bit at a time, holding the SA under with the tip of your finger as you turn.

6. Work your way around the entire piece. Give it a final good press on all the edges - both back and front. Fix any points that you see by opening up that spot, wetting it again, ironing it flat and then turning it again. When done, just pull out the freezer paper. Fabric has wonderful memory, and the edges will turn back very nicely even if they flatten a bit while waiting to be stitched down.

It will go a bit slowly to start with as you get used to turning the edge and pressing. At first I pressed under part of the freezer paper too, resulting in an edge that wasn't smooth. It took me a couple sessions of practice before I could do this easily and quickly. Don't give up right away if at first you find it a bit tricky and time consuming. You will soon get the right feel of the process.

If you've tried needle turn and given up, try this method. The stitching is so easy when the edges are already turned in place. I first tried this method on the little gold "vases" on the outside borders of Heirloom Stitches. It seemed to take forever to prep those 20 little pieces. I wondered if it was worth the effort - until I started to applique them. That's when I fell in love, because the stitching went so very fast. The second time for this method was the center block in the "Holiday Inn" medallion. The prep went very quickly on that one - just part of one evening. That's when I became totally sold on the method.

One more hint - the circles are still done with the Mylar washers. Check my other applique tutorials to see how to do them.

20 comments:

julia said...

Hi Patti,
great tutorial ;o)
Just a tip: I use 2 layers of freezer paper so the template is stiffer - for beginners it's easier to get the edges right.
Cheers, julia

MJinMichigan said...

Patti, that was a great tutorial. I got the latest issue of Fresh Vintage from Fig Tree Quilts and found info in it about a great new gadget for this applique technique. Instead of using a brush to apply the starch, Joanna uses the Clover Fabric Folding Pen. She fills it with liquid starch instead of the marking fluid that comes with the pen. The pen is refillable and allows you to 'draw' the starch onto the fabric and starch can be left in the pen for future use. I can't wait to try it.

Shasta said...

I've doing needle turn applique, and prepping the fabric does seem like a lot of work. But I do think I need to try doing that to get better curves.

Barb said...

I am not that great at applique but that is how I do it or the interfacing way. I will keep plugging away at it. Thats for the tut...

MJinMichigan said...

Oops. I just reread the tutorial and realized you don't use starch. I'm sure the pen I mentioned in my previous comment would work for water as well.

Carol said...

That was great Patti...love the water idea...I make such a mess with starch. I'm going to give this a whirl. Thanks bunches.

janet said...

The method looks better than starch, I'll stick to my needleturn but I can see this method is great for those that have trouble with leaf tips or smooth curves.

Crispy said...

Thanks for the tutorial, but was wondering... You said that the prep time was quite long. I may try this method (using 2 layers as mentioned above - great tip btw) and time how long it takes, than do the same thing using regular needle turn. It may be awhile before I try this but have noted it in my journal.

Crispy

Annemiek said...

Aha! wetting it does the trick!I iron dry fabric around the freezer paper and that doesn't work as well. I do burn my fingers from time to time :( Thanks for the tutorial

Judy said...

I don't ever hold with my fingers but use the end of the seam ripped and start pulling a bit, then hold down the iron over it, pull a bit more over, inch the iron forward to hold down and keep going. By the time you get the curve done the whole curve is under the iron tip. I use starch with a bit of water but I never get any residue from it. I use two layers of FP too.

Quilter In Paradise said...

great tutorial! I usually do needleturn - I'm not that good at points yet, this might be just what I need to get the perfect point!
Beth/Dallas

Helen said...

I do this method too, except I use spray starch, which I spray into a little container to make it liquid. Removing the paper before stitching it down is the bit I like the best. I didn't like the idea of cutting into the back and removing the paper after stitching. Far too much like hard work. Once the prep is done (and there is always some prep whichever method of hand applique is used) the stitching is so relaxing. I have discovered YLI silk thread and I loved it so much I splurged on as many colours as I could obtain here in NZ.

Darlene said...

This is exactly how I prep all of my applique pieces, Patti. Great tutorial.

sewprimitive karen said...

Hi, Patti, is it OK if I link to your tutorial on my Dear Jane blog? I posted one and would like to add yours as well.......

HOUNDDOG's NEWS said...

I just now found your blog and love the tute about applique. I will be trying this soon.
Love your blog
Darlene

Sheila said...

Patti,

Hope this goes through this time.

I love your work. I'm wondering how you mark the placement of pieces on the front side. Do you use chalk or pencil ? I'd like to be able to carry some larger projects from place to place.

Sarah said...

This sounds like a great way for a person who was not crazy about aplique. How about trying Mary Ellen's Best Press clear starch alternative, it is light and leaves no residue.

nlcalendar said...

Just found this tutorial and I think it is just what I need. Thanks for putting this up. All the tutorials are such good learning tools. M

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Julierose said...

Hi Patti--I've just read through this tutorial and am going to give it a try--I am one of those people who don't mind ironing at all. Sort of a meditation, I feel. Thanks for the tips...Julierose