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Now, we by no means claim to have invented this technique! It is just one that is sometimes overlooked because it does require a little prep work before you get to stitch. But if traditional needleturn appliqué stresses you out, and just isn’t fun, or doesn’t look just the way you want it to...then PLEASE, give this a try! Because once you get the hang of this (and we promise it won’t take long)... then you will just want to appliqué everything in sight!
Supplies needed for appliqué:
Freezer Paper (Reynolds brand, sold on a roll at grocery stores, OR... we prefer freezer paper sheets that are 8.5”x11” and sold in quilt shops)
Spray Starch (we prefer Magic Sizing aerosol brand, sold in grocery stores)
Roxanne’s Glue-Baste-It (in quilt stores... trust us, it is great!)
Small craft iron (the ones a little larger than “curling iron” size work best)
Small cheapo paintbrush (or q-tips, or...well, we’ll give you more ideas later)
Lapboard ironing surface (optional...but kinda not. Because the best part about this
appliqué technique is that you can do it in your jammies on the sofa while
watching a chick flick)
1. Prepare your patterns...
Trace your pattern pieces onto freezer paper. We like to use a fine-point Sharpie marker. You MUST reverse your pattern pieces before tracing, since the pattern will be the reverse image of the finished fabric appliqué piece. We use a SOLID line in tracing to indicate that we must turn and stitch, and a DOTTED line to indicate where we don’t need to turn and stitch (because that part of the pattern will lie underneath another pattern piece.) Just our little code, so we know what to do later. J Oh, and don’t forget to mark your pattern pieces so you know where they go later!
TIP - You can re-use the paper patterns several times, so keep this in mind while you are tracing patterns. And, if you want to have several of the same patterns use the 8.5x11 freezer paper and copy your traced pages..it works great in a copier!
2. Double up!
Before you cut out your patterns... DOUBLE the freezer paper layer to make it a little heavier. Use an iron to adhere the layers together...(keep the pattern side up so you can still see your cutting lines, and make sure there is still one dull side and one shiny side).
3. Cut out your pattern pieces, right on the solid lines. And just to the outside of the dotted lines, so you can tell where they are. The smoother you cut, the smoother your fabric will look when appliquéd..so take your time around all the curves.
4. Press the shiny side of your patterns to the WRONG side of the fabric.
5. Cut the fabric around the patterns, leaving a scant 1/4” of fabric on all sides (maybe a little more if the fabric is prone to fraying). Clip ALL inside curves just halfway to the paper pattern..clip inside V’s almost to the paper pattern.
Now, this is where our method gets a little strange. We pre-turn our edges, so we don’t have to experience that needleturn agita later. So you will need to heat up your small iron, and get your magic sizing ready. IF the seam allowance edges are just slightly dampened with sizing, then the edges will lay nice and flat and stay turned under even when the paper pattern is removed. Lift off the cap of the spray can, and carefully spray a small stream of sizing into the lid, liquefying the sizing. Now you can “paint” it onto your fabric edges without spraying your entire sofa or ironing board! (Use a cheap tiny paintbrush or a Q-tip to do this. You may want to get an applicator bottle similar to the Roxanne’s glue bottle to keep your sizing in...then you just squirt it along the edge of the freezer paper and it is really quick and easy!)
6. Moisten just the edges of the fabric pattern piece. Use your iron to press the edges over the paper pattern (and because it is double-thick, this is much easier). Press until the sizing dries and the edge is laying flat.
7. For outside curves, use the side of your small iron and curve around the paper pattern, pressing the fabric carefully as you go. It will pleat as you press, just make sure the pleats are on the back only and not to the outside edge. You will get better at this and will be able to make entire curves that are completely smooth! And so your appliqué will look fabulous! IF you press a point or pleat in there that you don’t want, moisten it a little more, and try again. Much easier than ripping out appliqué stitches later that you are not happy about!
8. For inside curves, again, use the side of your iron and press the fabric right up to the paper edge. You will be pressing the bias out of the fabric as you go, which gives you a nice flat, smooth curve. Treat inner points just like you would an inner curve press the fabric in there as much as you can and your results will look great.
9. For outer points, just don’t worry right now about all that sticking-out-fabric. After all, we can do a little needleturn when we stitch! Press the point first in one direction, then the other, and worry about the rest of the fabric later. You will definitely burn your fingers if you try to get it all tucked in with the iron, trust us.
10. All those dotted line areas... Freebies. Just ignore them. They will be covered up!
11. When you have pressed the appliqué piece, and it is dry, then carefully remove the paper pattern. You can use your iron to then press the piece one more time to make sure those edges stay down.
12. When all of your appliqué pieces are ready to go... You can lay them ALL out on your background piece. We like to use a small light box..lay the paper pattern down first, then your background fabric (masking tape will help keep it in place). You should be able to see through enough to place your shapes in the proper place. Be sure to center your background fabric. (You can do an extra couple of steps here, and make a tracing layout, or trace the design onto your fabric... But the light box works great and saves a lot of time).
13. Layer the appliqué shapes from back to front. (If your pattern uses a numbering system, then start with #1 and go from there.) Glue the reverse of each piece SPARINGLY, on the seam allowance. We like Roxanne’s Glue-Baste-It because it has a hollow needle applicator tip that allows a tiny dot of glue to be applied JUST where you want it, and although it holds great without pins, it can be removed and it also washes out with water. Glue just a few dots here and there well below where you are going to stitch.
For points, do not glue right AT the point leave it free so you can tuck in the excess fabric when you stitch.
14. So, now your WHOLE appliqué block is turned, and secured in place. No pins to catch your thread on... No chalk marks to erase later no pattern pieces to remove later. And no extra stitching underneath the shapes... just stitch all the outer edges, and be sure not to miss any! We like to use silk thread in a matching color (neutrals or black work almost all of the time), but any good cotton appliqué thread will do.
15. Stitching those outer points... Stitch all the way to the point and take one stitch RIGHT at the point. Turn and using your needle, or tip of your scissors, or whatever, push the excess fabric under where you are stitching and continue your stitches. You should have a nice sharp point. You can trim a bit of the fabric away first (if there is a lot), but if you trim too close it will be much harder to have a nice, clean point.
Voilá! Now wasn’t that easy? You deserve a piece of chocolate pie!
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