Monday, March 16, 2009

A Bit of Applique

In yesterday's post, I promised to do a little tutorial on one of the applique methods I occasionally use. It's not quite as nice looking as hand applique but it's much quicker and looks very much the same unless you look close. This is the method I recommend in the Bette Bunny pattern for anyone who wants to use cotton instead of wool because the pieces can be stitched and the quilting done at the same time--just like my directions for using wool. This method could also be used for the applique in the Spring! quilt pattern or any other simple applique design. Are you ready to get started?

The first step is to trace the different applique pieces onto freezer paper. If you haven't used freezer paper before, it's very simple and quite a nice tool. Just trace the pattern onto the dull side of the paper and cut out the pieces.

Next, iron any creases out of the fabric you wish to use. You'll need two layers of fabric for this applique method. The under layer can be muslin, a non-fusible, lightweight interfacing, or a second layer of the same fabric you're using for the top layer. The third option is the one I prefer, because unless you're very careful, whatever you use for the bottom layer may show around the edges; if you use the same fabric for bottom and top, it's less noticeable.

With the two layers of fabric "right" sides together, iron the cut-out freezer paper pattern onto the fabric that will be the under layer.

Next, stitch around the freezer paper pattern. If an edge of your applique piece will be placed under another applique piece, leave that portion unstitched. If, however, all edges of the applique piece will be visible, continue stitching all the way around the freezer paper pattern.

Trim around the applique shape, leaving a 1/4" seam allowance or a little less. With your scissors, snip the seam allowance along any curves or points, cutting to within about two threads of the stitching line. Remove the freezer paper.

If you've left an opening, turn the layers right side out through the opening. If, however, the applique piece is stitched all around, cut a slit in the center of the under layer (being careful not to cut the upper layer!) and turn the fabrics right side out through the slit.

At this point, poke and manipulate the fabric along the seam line to get a smooth seam. My favorite "tool" for this is the blunt tip of a bamboo skewer and sometimes the tip of my seam ripper to just tease out any stubborn seams. Press the seams with an iron as you go.

Repeat the process with all the applique shapes. Once the shapes are made and you've tried them out for positioning (as in the photo below), if you are concerned about having too much bulk in the various layers, you could trim away some of the under layers, but make sure to leave at least 1/4" or more all the way around. Personally, I kind of like the slightly raised, somewhat dimensional look, but it's possible your sewing machine, thread, or needle might not like all those layers.

Once all the pieces are prepared and you've checked them for fit and positioning, it's time to sew.

Except it's too late to get started on that tonight--time for bed! I'll show you the next steps tomorrow. By the way, those eyebrows are tough to make! I left a little bit of the top seam unstitched to turn them right side out and then tucked the seam in and pressed. If you're making this pattern or something else similar, you might consider a different method of applique for such small pieces or, in this case, you could substitute embroidered eyebrows for the applique.

See you tomorrow!


Anonymous said...

Kim, what a nice tutorial!!! It really helps a lot. (I was always thinking how is it that your wool is behaving properly :-))) Thank you and have a nice week.
Cheers, Jana S.

Thearica said...

I use lightweight interfacing as my back layer and sew it together to my fabric piece. Cut a slit in the interfacing and turn wrong side out. There is no paper to remove and it irons really nice and flat.

I have a friend who uses your method. Her work always looks nice too!

Thanks for the tutorial.

Anonymous said...

Do you face or line your wool, too, Kim? CAthy Trumble

Mary on Lake Pulaski said...

Kim, this is a great option for lots of applique pieces. Thanks again for sharing your experience and knowledge with us.

Judy said...

I think this is Cheri Payne's preferred method of doing applique pieces for her patterns too. I used this method in pieces that just don't work for traditional applique and I like the dimension it gives!!

Cute bunny is looking good!

Kim said...

Very nice easy and clean. Thanks for the tips!

Shirley--Knot-y Embroidery Lady said...

Happy Monday to you.
Thanks for the tutorial. So much to learn and so little time... Love your work.

Anonymous said...

Very smart! You don't have to mark on your fabric and you can re-use the freezer paper pieces.

Anonymous said...

It seems like it is bunnies everywhere. I bought a cute little project from Bearpaws &
Hollyhocks that is a bunny out of wool. The only missing part is the tail. I am going to add a bit of fluff for the tail and it will be perfect.

Have a lovely day tomorrow.

Nan said...

How wonderful to spend time inside your extremely creative mind, Kim! Thank you for a lovely tutorial.

Sue Redhead said...

How fun to come across another quilter in Northern California doing the Shabby Fabrics cottages BOM. I love them too and am eagerly awaiting June's (I have the houses for June and July appliqued already)
Sue R
Campbell, CA