All About Applique! (Part 1)

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We’ve had a number of people stop into the shop with an interest in applique and with our class on the “Turning Leaves” pillow from the Bittersweet book by Nancy Halvorsen coming up this weekend, we thought we’d take a minute to focus on various applique techniques.

This pumpkin wall hanging was created using the fusible method of applique.

The first steps in any method of applique are as follows: select a base for your applique, whether it is a solid piece of fabric for a pillow case, an entire pieced quilt top, a table runner or something else. You must then decide what you are going to applique onto that base – some circles, flowers, vines, words, symbols, the list is endless. Once you know what shapes you are going to use you can determine what type of applique will be best for your project.  If you are doing fusible or machine applique your pieces will be the exact finished size.  If you are doing needle-turn applique you need to add a seam allowance to the finished size of the shape (stop back for our next blog post, which will talk about machine and needle-turn applique).

Once you know the size and shape of the pieces the next step is to prepare them. Preparation will vary depending upon the attachment method. After you have decided on what is essentially your design and layout, and you have the pieces cut and ready to go, it’s time to get to appliqueing!

The easiest and fastest method of applique is to use paper backed fusible web. This is especially good for wall hangings and other gently used projects.  Fusing is done by placing the paper side of the product  (such as Steam-a-Seam),  down on your ironing board. When you do this the fusible part will up and exposed.

Next, place the wrong side of your fabric against the exposed webbing and you are ready to start fusing, making sure to use a piece of fabric LARGER than the piece of fusible webbing. A smaller piece of fabric will result in sticky fusible webbing being stuck to your iron. The applique pressing sheet is quite handy for protecting the surface of your iron from inadvertantly getting fusible web stuck to it when doing this style of applique.  Then PRESS, DON’T IRON the fabric in an up-and-down motion, holding the iron on the fabric for 5 seconds in each spot to allow the heat to bind the fabric to the webbing.

Once the fabric is fused to one side of the webbing you can take the whole unit and draw the shape desired onto the paper side.  Do not remove the paper yet! With the shape drawn, cut the fabric along the lines drawn to get your shapes.  When learning this method it is easiest to use symetrical shapes so you don’t have to worry about accidentally creating a mirror image of the shape you want.

With your shapes cut out, you can now remove the paper backing, position your shapes where you want them to be and press to fuse them.  Once again, using the applique pressing sheet will help protect your iron. You’ve now appliqued! At this point, you can machine applique over the edges to give your project more stability or you can leave it as-is.

This wall hanging was created using the fusible method. It was then longarm quilted over top to give it just a little more stability.

Check back soon for Part 2 of the Applique series where we will discuss machine applique and needle-turn!

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