May 10, 2010

Week 3: Applique with no pins!

Centering and basting your wedges:

I cut a fabric square out of Kona white 20 1/2 inches wide. My finished wedges were 15" wide. I'll trim the finished block later, since applique can sometimes distort and shrink the block. Fold the background fabric in fourths.


Use these folds to center the Dresden plate wedges. Pin in place. Use the largest stitch setting or free motion basting stitches, around the the edges. Use a thin needle and remove all of these stitches when you are done hand appliqueing.


Applique methods for the center:

Machine Applique Method:

Trace the shape on the wrong side of the fabric or non-shiny side of the fusible interfacing.

Fusible interfacing comes in different thickness, and with one or two sides covered in fusible adhesives. I always try to find the thinnest for this. Make sure the side with the adhesive is facing the right side of the fabric. (The adhesive side can sometime look shiny or have dots on it.) When the piece is turned inside out, the adhesive will be on the outside.

You will sew on the traced outline.

Fusible applique

Cut out your shape 3/16"ish  from the sewn line. Cut a slit in the interfacing and turn it inside out. This why it is sometimes called balloon applique or inside out applique.

Fusible applique

Finger press to make your shape smooth. I feel as though there is always too much bulk, so I trim the interfacing on the outside of the traced figure and some behind the shape. (Not necessary.)

Fusible applique

Use a piece of scrap fabric to cover the work, and steam the piece to fuse it to the background fabric. You can sew it down with a machine or by hand.

Fusible applique

I do not use this handy method, but it will work with machine applique methods very easily.

I have seen this done with used dryer sheets. (There is no adhesive, but you can make smooth curves.) I think this will work great for those everyday craft projects like a pillow or a bag.

I feel slightly embarrassed showing this next part, but practice on drawn lines and adjust your stitching width/length/tension when using your machine's blanket or buttonhole stitch, or edge-stitch around it with the regular straight-stitch.  I don't use my machine for this! This was the first time I actually used this stitch. Can you tell?!  Practice! (My tension needs to be adjusted for these stitches to lay flat.)

Machine applique practice

I know some of you are great at this. Share and I will link to it!
Try this link to start with.

Getting Ready To Hand Applique:

Trace a cup from your kitchen cupboard with the desired size onto cardboard. (Plastic templates will melt or shrink!) Cut a template from a cereal box and cut a piece of fabric 1/4" larger. Sew a running stitch around the template as a guide and pull the thread taut. Press this circle with steam, front and back. You can use starch. Remove template.

Use this template to trace a circle on Reynolds freezer paper. (This is found next to your Ziploc bags in the supermarket.) Cut out and place, shiny side down, on top of your new fabric circle. Press, without steam, on the fabric. It will stick.

Applique circle

Use this as a guide when hand appliqueing. Push the fabric under the paper with the needle and hold down the paper and fabric with your right thumb. (Righties usually applique counter-clockwise and lefties applique clockwise.) I found when I just used the circle, it lost its shape while being handled.

Center this and hand baste it down on the fabric. Use the folds that were left by folding the fabric in fourths.

Basted circle

No pins is my favorite part! I especially like avoiding pins while there are babies and kids around.

Ready for handwork

Hand Applique:

When I hand applique, I do it a bit differently. After I start the thread,

Applique 1

I push the needle down at a slight angle and against the fabric to be appliqued. This is not at the usual 90 degree angle.

Applique 2

I pull a little bit of the thread down and start back up through the fabric fold. At an angle, I come out the side of the fabric fold.

Applique 3

Then, I pull all the thread.  Otherwise, I have had too much tangling of thread on the bottom of applique pieces. Many times I turned to find the tangled mess many stitches later which resulted in me pulling stitches in frustration.

I always stitch twice at all corners or pivot points. This is what the red stitches look like from the starting point above to this corner. Don't pull too tightly or the stitches will pucker.

Front of applique 5

This is the back.

Back of applique 4

When done appliqueing, cut and pull all your basting stitches. I even pull the one used to make the center circle, as I hand applique it.

I use Mettler 50 wt thread that matches the color of the piece to be appliqued. If you want to buy extra 60 wt embroidery thread, it is easier to hide your hand stitching. I use the 50wt to piece and embroider.  It seems to work and saves me money. If you can't find a perfect match, go lighter in color.

So is this understandable? Leave a comment and let me know. What are you working on? Do you have finished blocks to share or just have some pretty fabric we can peek at? We all need inspiration. Pretty please? Post about it on your Flickr or blog and link back here! Or drop it in the group pool. We can all show our progress at whatever speed you want to go.


  1. Thanks for all the great tips and instructions!

  2. I love the idea of fusible interfacing applique. Great tutorial once again!

  3. Excellent tutorials! Thank you very much.


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