Saturday, November 12, 2011


You know how sometimes days don't turn out quite the way you thought they would? I had one of those kinds of days today. I thought I'd spend the whole day appliqueing except for a little bit of time cleaning the refrigerator and doing the grocery shopping. Ha!

First of all, when I say cleaning the fridge, I mean CLEANING the fridge--taking everything out, checking sell-by dates, washing jars down, washing the refrigerator shelves and parts, and then putting it all back again.

Recently, low back pain has made it hard for me to stand for more than about 15 minutes at a stretch, so during the course of cleaning the fridge, I took a couple breaks. All in all, by the time I was done and everything was back together again, it was early afternoon.

Then there was the grocery shopping to be done and the crazy crowds of people at the grocery store today. Once that was done, of course, it all had to be put away.

THEN my sister-in-law stopped by for a little visit. And suddenly it was time to go out to dinner, and I still hadn't set foot in the Sweat Shop! ARGH!

But I did finally get into the Sweat Shop after dinner, and I can show you a little applique, as promised.

I use two different methods of applique, but for both, I use freezer paper. [It can usually be found at the grocery store with the plastic wrap, foil, and waxed paper. By the way, don't confuse it with waxed paper--it is different.]

Freezer paper has a paper side and a shiny side that's similar to waxed paper. The shiny side can be ironed onto fabric and it will temporarily stick. That's what makes it idea for applique.

First, I place a piece of freezer paper over the applique pattern and trace. If I have a hard time seeing the lines I need to trace, I can place the drawing and the freezer paper on a light box, and that will help me see the pattern better so I can trace it. A window with the sun light coming through will do the same thing.

After I trace my pattern, I cut the freezer paper on the drawn line. [The main thing to remember about tracing a pattern is that the appliqued image will face in the opposite direction from what's drawn. In other words, if I trace a bunny hopping toward the right of the page, when it's finally appliqued onto fabric, the bunny will be hopping toward the left of the page. Sometimes, I simply decide my pieces will go in the opposite direction from the original, but sometimes I decide to stay true to the original design. Although it's harder to write on the shiny side of the freezer paper, it's possible to do so in order for the applique to face the right way. You can also trace one pattern on regular paper, flip it over, and trace it onto the paper side of the freezer paper.]

The next step is to iron the freezer paper pattern onto the "wrong" side of the fabric. Trim around the pattern, leaving about 1/8" to 1/4" of fabric around the outside. [I'm demonstrating on a circle, but if you have shapes with "V" or inside curves, at this point, clip the seams where necessary.]

Using a basting stitch, fold the fabric around to the freezer paper side and baste.

Here you can see what the top of the basted piece looks like.

Press the appliqued piece so the edges are crisp. [Although this photo shows me pressing it on top of the background fabric, it's not necessary to do so--they don't stick together.]

Next, position the piece on the background and pin in place. [I like using long, thin pins, although "applique pins" are very short. It's really a matter of personal preference--try a few things and see what you like best.]

To start, make a knot in a single strand of thread. Use thread that matches in color the applique piece, not the background piece.

From under the background piece, bring the needle up at the edge of the appliqued piece, catching just a couple threads at the edge. Go straight back down with the needle through the background fabric, positioning the tip just under the appliqued piece. Pull the stitch tight enough so the thread is buried in the fabric but not so tight that it puckers.

Continue all around, taking stitches that are about 1/8" long. Remove the pins as you go and watch to make sure the thread isn't caught on the pins.

Knot the thread on the bottom of the background. Remove the basting thread.

To remove the freezer paper, you can either cut a slit in the background fabric under the applique (you can feel the paper with your scissors and should be able to cut without cutting through the paper and the applique), or you can trim away all of the background fabric under the applique piece, leaving 1/4" seam allowance as I've shown here.

The freezer paper should pull out fairly easily.

Press with a hot iron and make sure there are no puckers or bubbles.

You can continue to add applique layers in the same manner, but be careful that when you cut the back to remove the freezer paper, you do not cut through any of the hand stitching.

This method of freezer paper applique is really one of the easiest methods for a beginner to pick up. I've continued to use it because I can also design my own patterns directly onto the freezer paper.

If tomorrow goes as I've planned, I'll show you another method I've recently learned that also uses freezer paper.

1 comment:

Darlene said...

You make the hand applique look so easy! I am getting ready to start my first applique project (by hand). It's like you just knew I needed good directions! Thank you!