Freezer Paper Applique

13 10 2008

I continue to plug away on my UFOs.  One I’m focusing on now is “Prairie Flowers.”  I started the quilt while taking a beginning applique class a few years ago.  The blocks have been done for years and I’m finally getting to the border.  In the class we used freezer paper applique and this whole quilt was done using that method.  It certainly isn’t for everything. If the applique pieces are fairly large and simple it works great.  So without further ado here is a tutorial on this method.

Trace the pattern pieces onto the rough side of freezer paper.  If the pattern is not symetrical it is necessary to trace from the back of the pattern or make a mirror image copy of the pattern before tracing.  Also if pattern pieces repeat it is not necessary to trace each piece.  For example only one flower would need to be traced for a block with four flowers.

Layer freezer paper below the traced copy.  In this case, I was making four flowers so I have the layer I traced plus three more layers.  Staple through all layers for each piece.  I prefer at least two staples so the pieces don’t slip.

With paper scissors cut out each piece and then remove the staples.

Press the shiney side of each freezer paper piece to the wrong side of the applique fabric.  Leave enough space between each piece for a seam allowance.  It is easier to turn the applique pieces smoothly if as much of each piece as possible is on the bias.

Cut out each applique piece allowing a scant 1/4″ to turn under.

Trace the pattern onto thin clear vinyl.  This will be the placement guide.  Use a ball point pen to trace.  Permanent pens like Sharpies will smear.

The following picture shows the vinyl being used as a placement guide.  For the border I marked the stem and the corner of the border as guide lines.  When using for placement on a block I mark crosshairs for the center of the block.  Those crosshairs match up with the creases achieved by pressing the block into quarters.

The next picture shows the new applique piece slid into place under the vinyl placement guide.

Pin the applique piece into place and remove the placement guide.  I use at least two pins so the applique pieces don’t rotate.

I’m now ready to stitch down the petal.  I prefer Size 11 Straw Needles for applique and Mettler 60/20 cotton embroidery thread for applique.  The fine needle and fine thread make a huge difference in the finished applique.  The needle does bend with use, but is still usable.  I use the needle to turn under the fabric about 1/4″ ahead of where I’m stitching.  Turn the fabric tight against and under the freezer paper.  For the petals the inside edge does not need to be closed so I start stitching right on that edge.

Once the piece is stitched down I use a hemostat to remove the freezer paper.  Hemostats can be purchased at quilt shows from tool booths.  However, my favorite hemostat is the one I kept when Jesse’s finger had to be stitched in the emergency room when he was 3 years old. 

Use the hemostat to loosen the freezer paper from the applique piece.

Grip the freezer paper with the hemostat and pull it out.

When appliqueing a closed shape, try to start in a fairly straight section.  Stitch around the piece until about 1/2″ from the starting point.

Turn under the remaining portion, but don’t stitch it yet. 

Crease the unstitched portion the best you can.  Then breathe on it and hold the section tightly with your thumb for a few seconds.  This has the same effect as a steam iron and will create a very clear crease.

Notice the sharp crease.  At this point use the hemostat to remove the freezer paper as shown for the petal.


Now it is possible to stitch the opening closed.  Using this method it is not necessary to slit the background fabric to remove the freezer paper.  This means the background stays stable and does not stretch out of shape later.

That’s all there is to it.  here is a picture of a block made with these flowers and this method.



9 responses

14 10 2008

FINALLY!! You think you’ve been having blog withdrawals!! We’ve missed you terribly. Sure did enjoy your new entries. Thanks for the applique tutorial. The quilting on Jane’s quilt is astonishing. Absolutely beautiful. Thanks for the enjoyment and may your shins feel better soon.

15 10 2008
Jeanne McBrayer

Wonderful tutorial- thank you for taking the time to photograph and explain so clearly.

1 04 2009

Thank you, I loved the totorial! 🙂

23 05 2009

I LOVE this pattern. I cannot find such a pattern under the name “Prairie Flowers”. Could you please tell me what quilt book/magazine it came from?
Thanks for any help. I see this quilt in my future!


11 06 2009

This post has gotten a lot of traffic this week for some reason. I would love to hear why all of a sudden so many people are finding this particular post. Can anyone enlighten me? Please!

24 07 2009
Susan Rosenstein

I needed this reference quickly and clearly. Thank you so much for doing this.

3 12 2009

I am going to teach a class on applique and wanted to see how you presented it. Very well done.

18 04 2010

Well, thank-you so much! Your tutorial made soo much sence to me, I can’t wait to try this. I think I can.

16 11 2010

hi sonya
hi am current developing a website for my new little quilt pattern company
i am interested in linking to this tutorial on freezer paper applique
would that be ok.
all credit would go to you, of course
thanks, rana

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