Threaded Quilting Studio

pieced applique

Attaching appliqué to a quilt top

Jessie Zeigler1 Comment

Thanks for joining me in Part Two of this applique tutorial! Part One covers preparing the appliqués by turning their edges with starch prior to attaching them to the quilt top.

In this tutorial, we'll take a look at the process I used for attaching the appliqué to the quilt top for this Purple Petals baby quilt.

I had 23 of these petal shapes to work with, so I began by playing! This design definitely evolved as I began working. I can't tell you how much it helps me to not only step back from my design wall as I'm working but to TAKE A PICTURE! Seeing a picture of your work will help you gain a new perspective. There is such a thing as getting too up close and personal with your work!

Playing with petal placement ideas

Playing with petal placement ideas

Trying a more organized approach to arrangement

Trying a more organized approach to arrangement

Trying different placement of appliqués on my design wall

Trying different placement of appliqués on my design wall

This was the first time it occurred to me that my petals looked a lot like orange peels!

This was the first time it occurred to me that my petals looked a lot like orange peels!

Design evolving...

Design evolving...

This is the placement I landed on (after a few picture texts to my sister asking for advice)!

This is the placement I landed on (after a few picture texts to my sister asking for advice)!

Once I decided on a design and placement of the applique, I pinned the appliques to the background fabric and moved it to my cutting table/workspace. I started by aligning the middle row of petals so that I could off-set or stagger the appliques in the row above and below it.

Appliqués pinned down in their designated space

Appliqués pinned down in their designated space

Petals are staggered or off-set from row to row

Petals are staggered or off-set from row to row

I used a Frixion pen from Pilot and a ruler to mark registration three straight lines horizontally across the width of the quilt. Ink from Frixion pens erase with heat or friction from the attached eraser but I would not use them on any parts of the quilt that would ever be visible. Since I knew these lines would be covered by appliqués, even if the marks would come back, they'd be covered. I needed to include that disclaimer! These pens can be a great tool if used appropriately, but since there have been accounts of the lines reappearing in cold temperatures, I would never risk using them to mark quilting lines, for example.

Registration lines made with a Frixion pen

Registration lines made with a Frixion pen

On the back side of the appliqué, I used an Elmer's purple washable glue stick and applied it around the seam allowance area. I didn't have to use any on the middle of the shape, although you could if you wanted or needed to.

On the bottom row of appliqué, I began by placing a petal that I wanted to be right between the petals in the row above. I also tried to get the end points of the petal shape to align with the drawn line. After the first petal was in place, I continued gluing and sticking the rest of the petals one by one across the entire drawn line. I pressed each petal down with my fingers so the glue made contact with the background fabric. I waited until all petals were glued and positioned before ironing.

Appliqué shapes positioned end-to-end with no space between

Appliqué shapes positioned end-to-end with no space between

After I had all of the petals glued and stuck into place, I and trimmed the petals that extended beyond the quilt top.

I carefully moved the quilt top to my ironing board and used a hot, dry iron to press each petal into place. 

Your milage my vary, but I wanted to share a photo of my sewing machine display so that you could see that I used a zig zag stitch and made it narrower and shorter than its default setting. You could use a different size of zig zag stitch, blanket stitch, satin stitch, invisible hem stitch, straight stitch... whatever you like! Experiment on a fabric scrap until you get the look that you like.

I positioned the quilt sideways so that the petals were aligned vertically and the 3rd (bottom) row of appliqué was under my needle. I stitched all of the way down the right edge of the appliqué petals. I did not travel all the way around each shape, but instead I continued along the right edge of the next petal shape as shown in the photo below.

When stitching applique into place using a zig zag stitch, I aim for the right position of the needle to land just beyond the appliqué shape into the background fabric as shown in the next photo.

As the stitch progresses and the needle transitions to its left-most point, the needle should come down on the appliqué shape as shown in the next photo. With this particular design, I was able to steer around the gentle curves without a whole lot of stopping, starting and repositioning. In other words, it was PDQ (pretty darn quick)!

Petals sticthed continuously along the right edge

Petals sticthed continuously along the right edge

Instead of stitching along the left edge next, I worked on the right edge of the 2nd (middle) row of petals. I did this because the rhythm of the zig zag stitch and its orientation to the needle and the appliqués is exactly the same. You would hate to kill the flow, too! :)

After the second row of petals was stitched, I moved on to the first row of petals, again, stitching along the right hand edge of the appliqués and working my way down the entire row.

If you can set your needle to be in the down-position when it stopped, it's very handy when doing this kind of work, especially if you do need to pivot or rotate.

Once all three rows of right edges were stitched down, I rotated the quilt 180° so that the unstitched edge of the appliqués was positioned on the right. I continued stitching in the same manner as before: petal after petal without stopping. 

First petal row is compete

First petal row is compete

Second petal row is stitched

Second petal row is stitched

All appliqués secured with stitching

All appliqués secured with stitching

After all the edges were stitched down, I folded the quilt in half. With the folded edge close to me and the selvedge edges from the bottom and top layer carefully aligned, I used a rotary cutter and 24" rotary ruler to trim a clean edge. I finished the top by trimming the other side and lastly the top/bottom edge.

At this point, I loaded the quilt top on my longarm frame and went to town on all of that yummy negative space! I recorded a video tutorial about how I do the overlapping spirals design shown, if you'd like to give it a go. The overall texture can be so amazing on solid fabric with that expansive "canvas"!

I hope that by giving you a peek inside my studio for the making of this quilt, it'll inspire you to try something out of your norm! It can be so refreshing and fun!

How I turned my appliqué edges using starch

Jessie Zeigler2 Comments
Close-up of pieced appliqués, tutorial for background quilting found here:  overlapping spirals

Close-up of pieced appliqués, tutorial for background quilting found here: overlapping spirals

I recently made this baby quilt that prominently features appliqué. To a degree, this style of quilt is out of the norm for me, but when I finished I thought: Why don't I do this more often?! It was a lot of fun!

The tutorial that follows is the process I used to achieve this look, but there are so many ways to make and use appliqué! If this doesn't trip your trigger, you should find another way that does. There is something about the versatility of appliqué that can make you believe that any design and any idea is achievable in quilting. And I love that feeling of empowerment! Go forth and create something new!

Another note before we get started: I specifically wanted to use scraps and so I pieced all of the appliqué shapes in this quilt, but this technique would totally work (and be simpler) using a single, non-pieced chunk of fabric. :)

1) I sketched out a very fast "petal" outline on a piece of cardboard and cut it out. It was imperfect and organic-looking. Instead of trying again to make a more smooth, symmetrical shape, I just went with it. Next, I traced around my petal cardboard template multiple times directly onto the paper side of a section of freezer paper. I made as many petals as would fit on the section of Reynold's Freezer Paper I haphazardly cut from the roll.  BTW—I didn't notice this until later—the shape I drew looked very much like an orange peel, which would have had some fun applications!

2) To make my templates more durable, I doubled the thickness of the freezer paper. To do this, I ironed a new section of freezer paper—larger than in step 1—shiny side down directly to my ironing board until it adhered and was firmly in place. Then, I ironed the freezer paper that I'd traced upon in Step 1 directly on top of the base freezer paper, also shiny side down until it was completely adhered. {The marked freezer paper is stuck to the base freezer paper is stuck to my ironing board at this point.}

3) Next, I peeled the double-thick freezer paper from the ironing board and cut the leaf shapes out on the drawn lines.

The idea I had first envisioned was to make a variety of petal/leaf shapes. And then I didn't. Instead, I used the same shape over and over again and decided that I was going to vary the fabrics used in the petals. I stitched together a bunch of odd-shaped purple fabrics I had leftover from using Tri-Recs rulers in making this quilt:

Purple triangle quilt made with  Tri-Recs  rulers, free-motion quilting tutorial here:  feathered spirals

Purple triangle quilt made with Tri-Recs rulers, free-motion quilting tutorial here: feathered spirals

Scraps used for the appliqué

Scraps used for the appliqué

4) I began by pairing and sewing my scrap pieces together. For this particular quilt, I wanted the pieces to look scrappy, which meant that my intention was to sew fabrics that had contrast next to each other. I continued to add to the "clusters" of fabric until the piece was large enough that the petal templates fit comfortably inside while also accounting for a seam allowance of at least 1/4" (although I was aiming for a seam allowance more like 3/8" but I didn't do any exact measuring).

Contrasting fabrics sewn next to each other

Contrasting fabrics sewn next to each other

Seams pressed open, template fitting inside the fabric piece

Seams pressed open, template fitting inside the fabric piece

5) Next, I pressed the petal templates shiny side down to the wrong side of the fabrics, as shown above. Once the templates were firmly adhered, I used a pair of scissors to trim around the outside of the templates. As I mentioned before, I left a 1/4" - 3/8" seam allowance.

Real-life "seasoned" pressing surface :)

Real-life "seasoned" pressing surface :)

6) I used a can Faultless spray starch and sprayed it into the lid to get a concentrated liquid amount. Then I applied the spray starch from the lid to the fabric by using a paintbrush. I started by wetting (not soaking) both ends of the petal shape.

Folding starched tip over template

Folding starched tip over template

7) After wetting the ends with starch, I folded the fabric at the tip back against the freezer paper template as shown above. Using my iron, I pressed the fabric into place until the fabric dried and stayed in place (see next photo).

Both ends pressed into place

Both ends pressed into place

Bottom curved edge with starch applied

Bottom curved edge with starch applied

8) Once the ends were pressed into place, I applied more starch along the bottom curved edge of the petal as shown in the above photo. Then, I folded the edge fabric against the template and pressed it into place. My curves were gentle enough that I did not need to clip any seam allowances, but if you have sharper curves or angles, you may need to clip or notch the seam allowances to get the fabric to fold smoothly over your template.

Lower edge of the petal pressed toward the template

Lower edge of the petal pressed toward the template

9) Then, I repeated applying starch and pressing the remaining seam allowance over the last edge.

Each edge starched and pressed into place

Each edge starched and pressed into place

10) At this point, I peeled the template away from the fabric.

Template removed

Template removed

11) After the template was removed, I took a moment to re-press the edges neatly back into place.

"Finishing" press after the template is removed from back side

"Finishing" press after the template is removed from back side

Prepped appliqué from front

Prepped appliqué from front

12) I was able to reuse the freezer paper templates several times. Because I wanted to make the petals  "assembly line" style, I worked with a batch of 6 or 7 freezer paper templates at a time. They will last for many more applications, too.

Part Two of this tutorial can be found here.