Learn the secrets to perfect points, curves and corners from an applique expert.
Take a quilt block from ordinary to extraordinary using applique. There are basically two categories - prepared and non-prepared applique - and you can use templates with both.
Prepared applique involves turning the raw edges under before sewing the applique piece to the fabric.
Non-prepared applique is simply cutting the pattern piece and turning the raw edges under with the needle while sewing. No preparation is done when using this method.
Materials and Tools:
long needle (sharp or a mariner's needle)
fine silk thread in a neutral color
office dots or garage sale labels
Steps for Prepared Applique:
The best time to use the prepared applique method is with a design that has tight curves. Try either of these techniques for curvy appliques.
1. Use an office dot or garage sale label.
Trim the applique fabric leaving a 1/8" seam. Place the office dot (found at office supply stores) with the sticky side up on top of the fabric and, using a seam ripper, turn the edges over to stick to the dot, creating a perfect circle. Once the applique has been stitched on, make a small slit in the backside of the background fabric and gently remove the dot.
2. Make a template out of freezer paper, shiny side up.
Begin turning the fabric edges over the freezer paper and use the tip of an iron to adhere the fabric to the paper. The same principle applies if there is an inside corner. Clip to the inside point about 1/16" from the turn line and then turn the edges over. Tack down with small consistent stitches to the background fabric.
Steps for Non-prepared Applique:
1. Cut out the desired template shape and place the shape on the applique fabric. With shiny side down, press with an iron.
2. Pin the applique fabric to the background fabric. Pin the threads on the backside so the thread won't get snagged on the pins. Remember to keep applique stitches to a small and consistent size.
3. For needle-turning: When fabric has a straight edge, cut and leave about 1/4" seam. (On tighter curves cut more fabric away.) Tuck the 1/4" fabric under with the point of the needle, gather just a few threads of background fabric, and come up through the applique fabric catching the fabric that was tucked under. This is a tack stitch.
4. Create a perfect point by going one stitch past the point. Next, use a pair of scissors to push, pivot, pinch and pull the fabric. Push the point of the fabric under; pivot to tuck the fabric back towards the already stitched side; pinch the fabric to hold in place and pull the thread to create a perfect point. Continue needle-turning the fabric to finish the applique.
5. Corners and inside points: Approximately 1/2" from an inside point, cut into the point approximately 1/16" from the turn line. Place the needle at the inside point and use the side of the needle to turn the fabric under. Using your thumb, pinch down the fabric and slide the needle to turn under the fabric.
The Elly Sienkiewicz Applique Academy