Monday, June 11, 2012

Let's Begin

I thought that tonight I'd start the applique tutorial I've been promising you. The method I'll demonstrate is the one I prefer, but there are many, many methods and variations of hand applique--none are wrong and none are exclusively "right"; it's just a matter of trying methods and finding the one you enjoy the most. This method is usually referred to as the freezer paper and starch method.

An applique pattern will look something like this:

The main supply you'll need for the first part of this method is freezer paper. Note that freezer paper has a dull, paper-textured side and a shiny, somewhat waxy side. You'll also need a pencil or pen--I prefer pencil because I don't want to worry about ink transferring onto the fabric. You might like to use a light box, but most of the time, I don't find I need one for this part of transferring the pattern onto paper. An acrylic ruler comes in handy too.

Each pattern designer has his/her own way of writing patterns, and the patterns should come with instructions. Bunny Hill patterns--and this is one I'm using to demonstrate--are very helpful in numbering the pieces. The pieces are numbered in the order they'll be placed onto the background. The pieces are usually drawn with a solid line, but dotted lines signify that portion of the applique piece will be underneath another, and the edges of the piece don't need to be turned under.

If you look at the first picture above, you'll see the two pumpkins. Piece 7--a stem--is placed first, and piece 8, a pumpkin, is laid on top. See the dotted lines showing what part will be under another part? Same thing for piece 9, another stem, and piece 10, a second pumpkin. And if you look again at the dotted lines, you'll see that pumpkin 10 overlaps pumpkin 8, right?

The first step is to place freezer paper over the pattern, with the dull, paper-textured side up. Trace all parts of the pattern that would look the same going in either direction. For instance, the pumpkins aren't facing in any particular direction. If the pumpkins were turned over and the right sides became the left sides, they would look pretty much the same. All of the pieces I traced below are pieces that don't have a particular direction.

If part of the applique piece will be placed under another piece and the edge doesn't need to be turned under, you may want to make some type of mark on the freezer paper template that will alert you that particular edge doesn't need to be "finished." I normally finish most of the edges whether they need to be or not, so I don't bother marking my paper pattern. I know I'll remember not to turn under the major ones--like the top of the birdhouse where it lies under the roof. You may also want to mark the pieces with the number so you remember which pieces to lay down first. Marking details such as these are a matter of personal preference. See what works best for you.

When I want to trace a piece with straight lines, I use an acrylic ruler to help keep the lines straight. Usually the pattern can be seen through the freezer paper, but if not, placing a light box under the pattern will help in accurately tracing it. Here I could see the pattern lines, so I didn't use a light box. (A window during daylight hours can serve the same purpose as a light box.)

For pieces that DO face a particular direction, in order for them to turn out facing the same way as the pattern, we need to trace them onto the shiny side of the freezer paper. I know it's harder to see, but I've traced a bird on the shiny side of the paper, and the pencil is just visible enough for our purpose--cutting out the shape. (Sometimes pattern designers will provide a mirror image of a directional piece so it can be simply traced onto the dull side of the freezer paper--check the instructions to find out if the pattern has already been reversed for you.)

Once all the applique pieces are transferred onto freezer paper, cut the shapes on the drawn lines. Usually I like to lay them all out at this point, just to make sure I haven't forgotten any of the pieces.

To test to make sure the pieces are all facing in the correct direction, lay them out with the shiny side of the paper facing up. Does the layout look like the pattern? Then so far, so good! If any of the pieces are facing the wrong direction, redraw them onto the other side of the freezer paper and recheck the layout.

In the next step, we'll move from working with the freezer paper to the doing the starch part of the process, and the block will begin to look like this:

See you back here tomorrow!


Donna said...

Thanks for the applique lesson (s - to follow). Applique is on my learn to do list for this year although all I have done so far is collect Shabby Fabrics free BOM. I need to get started.

Tina said...

This is great! I've never used freezer paper before - I thought you always had to use Applique Template Paper and it only comes in 8 1/2 x 11 inch packets. Freezer paper is a super idea.

Miss Jean said...

Do you cut the background a little larger?

Anna said...

very clear and will be a applique saver!!!

AnnieO said...

I also did not know you could use freezer paper for the starch method--not much applique has happened in my stitching world, obviously. Laying out all the freezer paper pieces before cutting into the fabric is a great idea.

Marla said...

I am excited that you are doing this Kim! Applique always scares me a little. So many steps! I think you are going to make it a little easier though for me to learn!