Learning to Quilt

Lesson Four --Learn To Applique

One of the most worthwhile purchases you will ever make is a good book on quilting...one that covers all the basics. There are MANY of these on the market! In the mean time, I will cover some of the basics of Appliqué here! Applique is generally done with long thin needles, like a size 10 or 11 straw needle. Threads used will most commonly match the fabrics being sewn on.  If you are unable to find an exact color match of thread, the rule of thumb is to go a shade lighter if you are appliquéing to a light background, a shade darker if you are appliquéing to a dark background.
The most commonly used stitch, for appliquéing your pieces to a background, is called the Blind Stitch.  I have it exaggerated here so you can see the stitching, yours' should barely show!
To do this stitch, knot the end of a single thread and bring up your needle from underneath the background fabric, barely piercing the fold edge of the piece you are appliqueing on. Insert the needle back into the background fabric, directly opposite where you came out and JUST over the edge of the piece being sewn on. Bring the needle back up through the fabrics, about 1/16th of an inch away from the previous stitch. Continue taking tiny stitches all the way around the piece you are sewing on. Bring thread to the back, and knot. 

When working around inside curves, you may find it helps to make clips up to, but not through, the seam allowance. When working around outside curves, cut out small notches of fabric to make the fabric turn under more smoothly. 
Before sewing past an inside corner, clip the seam allowance to the seam line. Before sewing past an outside corner, clip off the excess seam allowance at the tip.

** Getting The Pieces Ready **

I prefer the Freezer Paper Shiny Side Down method...so that's what I will show here! I do a slightly different version of this method personally, which I will show below this, the more common version. There are COUNTLESS methods of preparing your pieces to appliqué however...so you will need to experiment, and find your favorite!

Start by placing a sheet of freezer paper shiny side down over the pattern of your choice. Using a pencil copy the design onto the freezer paper. Cut out the design you just drew.

Place the freezer paper template shiny side down on the WRONG side of your fabric. With a hot (dry) iron, Press the freezer paper shape. It will adhere to the fabric. 

Using scissors, cut around the shape, leaving a 1/8" - 3/16" seam allowance all the way around.

Starting at the point, fold  the seam allowance straight down over the paper template and press. Snip off the tip of the point to reduce bulk in that seam.

Work your way around the piece, folding and pressing the seam allowance over the edge of the paper template. You may need to clip (inside curves) or notch (outside curves) the seam allowance as you go to make it lie nice and flat. WARNING! Be careful you don't burn your fingers doing this! Remove the freezer paper. Applique the piece to the background, using the blind stitch....

** Or ** 

To do the Needle turn method, which eliminates the pressing under of seams ahead of time...Begin sewing, using the blind stitch, and using the tip of your needle to turn under the seam allowance ahead of you as you go.

When you get to within one stitch from an outside point, snip off the excess fabric at the tip.

Then use your needle to turn under the seam allowance going down the next side. Take a stitch at the very outside point, and pull this stitch snug, to make a nice "pointy" point! 
This next leaf has an INSIDE point. Begin sewing, again using the needle tip to turn under the seam allowance ahead of you. Before you get to the inside point, use small scissors to clip to the seam line. Use your needle to turn under the seam allowance past the inside point.
Take a slightly deeper stitch at the very inside point, to keep this from raveling, or if needed take several stitches very close together.

** Reverse Appliqueing **

Reverse applique is much the same as appliqué, except that you are working with two or more layers of fabric, cutting away top layers to reveal fabrics beneath.
Reverse Applique isn't scary! To do this, cut out your top piece, adding 1/8"- 3/16" seam allowance. Cut out the piece to be revealed from underneath the FINISHED size...(.the same size, but without adding seam allowances!) Now transfer the design area that you will be cutting away onto the RIGHT side of the top fabric.
 Cut away the inside of the design area from the top piece of fabric, leaving 1/8" to 3/16" seam allowance to turn under. Now layer the fabrics. Be sure both fabrics are FACE UP.
Pin both layers to your background, and appliqué around the outside layer first. Then begin appliqueing the inside seams, remembering to clip and/or notch seam allowance as needed to keep it lying flat. Clip to seam allowance at inner points. Snip off excess at outer points.

** Now the Method I Use **

Press the freezer paper shape, shiny side down on the RIGHT side of the fabric.
Using scissors, cut around the shape, leaving a 1/8" - 3/16" seam allowance all the way around.
...but...I leave the freezer paper ON as I work, needle turning the fabric ahead of me as I go, turning under the edges so that they just align with the paper shape. NOTE* I am working right under the very edge of the paper into the fabric I am  ...NOT through the paper...
Here's a side view enlargement of what I mean, showing the background fabric, the green piece I am appliqueing on, and the paper piece on top. The paper would actually come out right even with the part I am sewing and I would be working between the background and the paper. If need be, you can pin on your paper piece if it starts to come off in the piecing process.

Applique is a BLAST...so go forth and Make some Great Quilts!

and as Always...Happy Quilting!

Marcia :o)

June 5 2001 Marcia Hohn

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