30 05 2009

I’m pretty sure that I’ve mentioned before I have a short attention span and am easily sidetracked.  Hence my long list of UFOs.  The story on this wall hanging is a perfect example of how easily I get distracted.


On April 3 I talked Michelle in to letting me teach math first thing in the morning so I could skip out of school to the Quilt & Stitch Expo of Pueblo with Ann and Bobbie.  We had a good morning.  Shopped a little and were home by about 2:30pm.  The boys had kindly done most of the house work after they got home from school so I headed to the basement to load a quilt.  I had set my measuring tape down somewhere and while I was looking for it I was sidetracked by the patterns I had purchased.   One of them was “Spring Hare Line” produced by Bloomin’ Minds.  As I looked at it I thought, I’ll bet I have everything on hand to make it plus I need more pictures of different types of applique for a guild presentation this summer.   And just that easily I moved from one project to another.  I did stick with this one for a few hours and by that time the top was finished and I had the pictures for the following tutorial.

Fused Raw Edge Applique — Plus

For raw edge applique I use a fusible.  My preferred fusible web is Wonder Under.  I’m not saying it is the best, but I’ve used it for years and know what to expect from it.  I’ve tried others and always come back.  So now I buy it by the bolt.  (By the way don’t buy a craft fuse.  It is too stiff and gummy to stitch through easily.)  The applique pattern to be traced needs to be in reverse from the final product.  Many pattern designers will reverse the pattern for you.  If they haven’t these are some options:  make a mirror image copy, if the pattern is blank on the back side trace it to the back, or put the pattern upside down on a light table.


Trace the applique pattern onto the paper side of the fusible web.


Rough cut the applique pieces from the fusible web.  This is not the time to cut on the traced line, leave some margin.  It isn’t necessary to be as neat as I was in this picture, but I’m also cheap and don’t like fusible web on my scrap fabric because I might want it for something else.


Notice the rabbits are white and my background is black.  If I had just fused the white pieces to the black background I would have had shadow through.  So before I fused the traced pieces to the fabric, I applied a light weight fusible interfacing to the fabric.  Then I fused the traced pieces to the wrong side of each fabric.  Follow the fusing directions for whichever type fusible you purchase.   This picture shows the piece fused to the white fabric with the interfacing.


If the fabric isn’t so light that things behind it will show through, just fuse directly to the fabric.  Here are the rest of the pieces fused.  (Notice how small some of my fabric pieces are.  This is why I save fairly small scraps.  These small scraps are in a bin.  However, I have sorted them by color into gallon zip lock bags.  You never know when that little piece will be exactly what you need.)


Once the paper is fused to the fabric it’s time to cut out each piece on the traced line.  I use dotted lines when I want them for placement I do not cut on those lines,  just the solid ones.  Apparently, I forgot to take a picture of the pieces after they were cut out so you will have to use your imagination.

We will now take a break from the fusible part of this tutorial to present the “plus” portion.

Aside from the short attention span another of my characteristics is the need to take the complicated or difficult route.  The springs in the pattern were also traced and fused as shown above.  I couldn’t leave well enough alone and decided I would prefer bias strips for those springs.  So I’m going to show how to make the bias and how I applied it.  I use the same method to make bias for hand applique, but since I was doing the project by machine I’m going to show one way to attach it by machine.

First a 45 degree angle is needed from a piece of fabric.  Most rotary rulers have a 45 degree line on the ruler.  Line that up with one of the straight edges on the fabric it could be on a selvage or on the cross grain. 


Cut along the ruler.  There is now a 45 degree angle to line up with while cutting the bias strips.  When cutting bias strips I cut a width of fabric twice as wide as my desired finished width.  In this case I was make 1/4 inch bias tape so I cut strips 1/2 inch wide.


I did make sure my bias strips where long enough for each spring to avoid piecing these bias strips.  You can check the needed length of  a strip by putting a measuring strip on its edge and running it around curvy pieces on the pattern.  This is a picture of the cut bias strips.


My favorite tools for making bias tape are the Clover Fusible Bias Tape Makers.  I don’t usually make my bias tape fusible.  However, precut rolls of fusible web are available to use with the tools.  They work great without the fusible.  This picture shows the 1/4 inch and the 3/8 inch.  They come in several other sizes and I’m pretty sure I have them all.  I have used both of these several times, but I like to store them in their original packaging.  The cardboard slides out of the plastic cover so it is easy to put them back in and I can then hang them from hooks.  (My husband would tell you that is when I manage to get them out of the laundry room and put them away!)


The bias strips are threaded through the maker.  In the picture below the right side of the fabric is toward the slit in the maker.  A pin, needle or stileto is extremely helpful for pulling the first bit through the maker.


Once the tape is started it is helpful to pin the end to the ironing surface.  In this picture I have pressed the first little bit, and then place the pin (actually needle — too lazy to go get a pin).


After that it is just a matter of keeping the hot iron next to the bias tape maker as you slowly pull it.  I do use steam.  I live in a very dry environment.  Places where there is higher humidity might not need the steam.


Let the bias tape cool before removing from the ironing board.  If you don’t plan to use the strips right away they will need to be stored in some manner.  I usually make the strips as I need them, but if you don’t have time to use them right away here are a couple of options for storage.  On the left is a piece cut from a swimming pool noodle and on the right is a toilet paper tube covered with cotton batting.


Now it’s time to put the springs in place.  Because I was working on a black background I couldn’t see through it for placement so I used a light table.  I’m fortunate enough to have a commercial light table that a printer friend wanted to get rid of.  It has a glass top so I can use it in ways it wouldn’t be possible to use a small light box with a plastic top.  I taped the pattern in place on the table using painters tape (it comes up easier than masking tape even from paper).

app-tut-14I lined up the background fabric over the pattern right side up and taped it to the table. 

Since I watched Sharon Schamber’s video where she used Elmer’s Washable school glue in her binding process, I’ve been using it for all sorts of basting applications along with the Plaid Tip Pen.  It is inexpensive, washes out and works great! 


I just put dots of glue to hold the bias strips.  You will have to look close since the glue is white but it is in this picture around the lower loop.


I postitioned the bias tape following the outline and added glue as I went.  To start I just finger pressed it in place.


Once the pieces were placed as I wanted I pressed them with a hot iron to quickly dry the glue.  I did this directly on the light table because I have a glass top.  Don’t do it on a plastic light box!  After that they were ready to be stitched down. (I’d have used pins rather than glue if I was hand appliquing, but I didn’t want pins in my way for the machine.)


I used an extremely narrow blind hem stitch with monofiliment thread to stitch the pieces in place.  The bite on the blind hem stitch should just barely catch the fabric.  On my Bernina I can narrow the stitch as much as I want.  On my Pfaff I can only narrow so far.  However, it is possible to trick the machine.  Engaging the double needle function will decrease the width even further, so consider that when trying to get the narrow width.  I also use an open toe foot when doing machine applique so I can easily see what I am doing.

When using monofiliment thread it is necessary to loosen the upper tension on the machine.  I used a lingerie and bobbin thread in the bobbin.  It is a good idea to test the stitches before starting on the applique to be sure the bobbin thread isn’t pulling to the top.

This picture shows the bite of the needle into the fabric.  This is actually very small when you consider that bias tape is only 1/4 inch wide.


The straight stitches of the blind hem stitch should butt up right next to the applique piece on the background fabric.  This picture is a little blury, but hopefully you will get the idea.


We will now return to the fusible portion of this tutorial.

Once the springs were in place I was ready to fuse the rabbit heads.  I have cut the pieces out on the line and now need to peel the paper backing off.  Sometimes it is difficult to get the paper started.  Rather than picking at the edge and fraying the fabric, score the paper with a pin or needle.

app-tut 21

Now it is very simple to tear the paper away starting at the scored line.


I again placed the background over the pattern and because I was using a black background on a light table.  I could then get accurate placement for each piece.


To determine placement of the noses I used the paper backing from the rabbit heads.  If you will recall I had traced dotted lines for the noses.  I placed the paper over the applique piece and used it to find the alignment for the nose.


Once you have figured out placement press again following the directions on the fusible web.  You can fuse one piece at a time or layout groupings and then fuse.


Once everything is fused in place, it is time to stitch around the edges.  I opted for a blanket stitch with black thread on this piece.  My preferred thread in these circumstances is Mettler 30 weight cotton embroidery thread.   Because it is a heavier thread a needle with a large eye is best — a top stitch needle or an embroidery needle will work.  I have not found stabilizer to be necessary with fused applique.


Before starting to stitch take the time to play with the length and width of your machine’s blanket stitch.  There aren’t any hard and fast rules, so find a setting that pleases you.  Stitch out samples until you find the one you want.

I try to start stitching in an inconspicuous place, like where the applique crosses another piece if possible.  The first thing I do when stitching is bring the bobbin thread to the top by taking one stitch and pulling the top thread.  This means I know exactly where that bobbin thread is and I don’t get a nest on the back of the quilt top.


When stitching a blanket stitch the object is to keep the stitch that swings into the applique perpendicular to the edge of the applique.  (Actually that is the object with satin stitch as well.)


The straight portion of the blanket stitch should be on the background fabric butting up next to the applique piece.  Any pivoting should be done on these straight stitches, not on the stitches that swing into the applique.


I try to always have a stitch swing into the applique exactly on corners and points.  Don’t be afraid to slightly shorten or lenthen the stitch to hit that corner or point.


Finally a picture of the stitched applique.


I have another tutorial in the works that covers other things about fusible applique.  This time I got sidetracked cleaning up my sewing area.  It was more interesting to do the fusing and cutting than put away the traced fusible web 😉




5 responses

4 06 2009

Thanks for the tutorial – that’s a cute wallhanging!

12 06 2009

I love looking at your blog and appreciate all of your tutorials!

18 06 2009
Northern Lights Table Runner (+tutorial) « Welcome to

[…] for years to show the process.  There will be some things that were not covered in my previous tutorial, but I also won’t go into some of the details I did in that […]

5 10 2009

I just love ur blog, it’s very friendly for quilting dummies, Ha! I could follow every word, it was great, keep up the work, if u have time.

26 11 2009

Sonya, you are brilliant! I’m determined to extend my quilting to applique in 2010 and have already started a project from Laurel Burch’s xmas book. This is a real challenge! I use a Pfaff 2030 and am exploring satin stitch, blanket stitch and the decorative stitches on the machine. One problem is creating too much thickness by fusing multiple layers on top of a background rectangle. You mentioned light weight fusible interfacing, and this might solve the problem– I could “piece” the background on top of it, then embellish the joins. Anyway, you’ve given me some great ideas and I’m keen to try them out. Cheers from Perth Western Australia.

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