Archive | February 2012


First – I don’t know all the tricks!  But I have learned a few over the years and even this time around!

Patterns – you can find plenty of patterns for applique quilts out there but sometimes it is fun to do your own – anyone can!  A great place to start as a beginner is with coloring books – find one that has simple straight forward drawings.  Trace onto scrap paper – you can simplify more or move a line or add a curve.   Add color – with pencils or crayons or even scraps of fabrics you plan to use.  Decide on the order – start at the bottom and work up – you don’t want to do the eyes first!  And then we start…

One of my favorite products for quilting applique is Heat Bond Lite. Your going to trace each shape onto the Heat Bond paper side.  Couple of things to remember:

1 – Reverse your shape, especially letters.

2 – Trace some extra fabric/heat bond to areas that overlap another fabric shape  – like a seam allowance, but only where there is overlap – you’ll see later on why this is important.

3 – Cut out the heat bond larger than the traced shape.

Next simply iron the  Heat Bond to the back of your fabric piece.  And then trim to the traced design – remember  not to trim the extra allowance of the overlap areas.

Do this for each piece of your design   – don’t it look great!

Now for my grandson’s quilt – I had 16 blocks to design, trace, cut out, bond, cut out again and layout!.  Quite an endeavor but it looked great at the end.

Now you’ll need to decide on a background for your applique – in a block? A quilt border?  Throughout  the quilt top?  Unless it is scattered throughout the quilt top – best to apply the applique to the quilt piece before putting the pieces together.  I like to cut my blocks about a 1/2-inch larger and then re-square them up after applying the applique just in case the applique has altered the shape.

Because I chose a white background it was easy to put the original drawing behind the block to help in the placement of the pieces.  Note the extra allowance of fabric at the edge of the fabric.  Start with the piece that is on the bottom – here it is the hull of the ship. I was able to go ahead and iron on two more pieces that didn’t overlap.  Then I added the other three pieces – now here’s where I forgot to add some extra for overlap – note how the pieces are flush with the  lines of the pieces that go on top.  Not good – when it comes time to stitching the pieces there is no fabric underneath the top piece to catch in the stitching.  Whoops!

You can see in the below photo that there is some overlap with the hull of the ship and the top piece on it as well as the water. Whew!  But not so much with the other two.

All the blocks are ready!

Time to sew!

Now in the past when I did applique before Heat Bond  – I would have added a 1/4-inch to seam allowance to each piece, straight stitch the perimeter at the 1/4-inch seam line. trim closely to stitching and then stitch again with a zigzag stitch  – at your desired width & stitch length.

Now with the Heat Bond – I simply just go straight to the zigzag.

Again we start at the bottom and work upward.  To minimize thread changes I would do all the same color that was on the bottom or stand alone on all the blocks and then move onto the next color.  I begin & end with tiny straight stitches to lock in the stitching  – zigzag is notorious for coming out.

Ending can be done either directly on the zigzag or down the edge where it will be hidden by subsequent zigzag.

Another option for ending – needs a bit more patience – but is great for tips of leaves – anything that has less than a 90 degree angle.  You simply decrease the zigzag width while stitching – or decrease, sew a couple of stitches, decrease, sew a couple of stitches… like I said requires patience.

Using  additional stabilizer – a good idea!  I used a light weight tear-away type – when I remembered!  You can see how the one sailboat is not as smooth as the car.

You can simply tear it or use small scissors to trim it away on the insides.  Cuticle scissors are a great little tool to have near the sewing machine!

Time to square up!  Fairly easy if you cut your background a bit larger than planned.  Use a grid & ruler to check your design is center and begin on one edge.  Using the first edge as your guide for the other cuts.

Now it’s time to put your quilt together!  Have fun!  Feel free to share any tips you’ve learned doing applique with the rest of us!

My newest grandson’s quilt – ready to quilt!

I did a lot of freehand quilting on this quilt as well as stitch-in-the-ditch and some custom scripting.

And of course one more ~ the star of the show!