Greetings! I am in an “all applique, all the time” mode right now – no piecing, no quilting. I’m sure that will change at some point, but I am focused on appliqueing my Japanese circles and my border leaves and berries for Stardust.
A reader asked me after my last post to explain my use of templates on top of my applique. There are numerous ways to applique. My major method is “needle turn” in which the seam allowance is turned under by the needle (I use a toothpick to help me with the actual turning) and sewn as you go along. Another major method that can be used is “prepared edge” in which the seam allowance is turned under before the applique is applied and sewn to the background. This method usually requires one to iron under the seam allowance using starch or to glue it under, often using a firm template underneath the applique which is removed once the seam allowance is turned under. I’ve tried the prepared edge method and prefer “needle turn”. I think it is important for quilters to try different methods of doing things to find out what you feel most comfortable with.
There are also different ways to do “needle turn.” I was influenced when I started by Elly Sienkeiwicz’s books and by my first applique teacher, Faye Labanares:
Here is what Elly had to say about the “freezer paper on top” method (click to read):
Basically she says the paper on top provides stability and an edge against which to turn the seam under. I did my first applique this way and I found these qualities – the stability and the edge – very helpful over the years. I got used to doing my applique this way and just stuck with it.
When I started I used freezer paper but now I use a softer product which works just as well:
The basting stitches you see above hold the leaves onto the background; the paper sticks to the leaf with ironing. I could just pin the leaves to the background but prefer basting – no pins to get my thread caught on. It takes a little more work, but not that much! When the applique is complete I remove the basting stitches and peel the paper off. It’s always a nice little surprise to see to final piece without the paper!
Before writing this post, I tried appliqueing a leaf with the needle turn method with NO PAPER on top as I hadn’t tried this for probably 20 years since I first started appliqueing! This method involves tracing around a template:
Then one cuts out the leaf leaving about 3/16 inch seam allowance. The edge is turned under with needle (or toothpick), being sure to turn under the marked line, and then stitched down:
I did finish the above leaf and it actually was easy and turned out quite well! The “no paper on top” method is easier because one doesn’t have to make all those paper templates. But I don’t know for sure if, in the long run, I’ll prefer that stability and edge the paper provides. I may try this method for the leaves on the first stem for the next border of Stardust to see if I continue to like it. It’s not a bad idea to revisit old or try new techniques – we should always be open to learning!
I’ve been adding berries to the Stardust border:
This is one of those examples where a little detail makes a BIG difference! I think those few little berries improve the look tremendously. I’m also appliqueing the 5 stems to the next border.
One week ago when I last posted I had 25 Japanese circles – 5X5. Now I have 36 – 6X6:
I’m close to the point when I will need to decide how big I want this to be; I’m pretty sure I don’t want a bed size quilt. My head is spinning with setting and border ideas….
Be grateful, be kind, and cherish each day! Gladi