Friday, February 7, 2014

Fused Applique Mini Tutorial

Now that the nine patch, four patch, and scrappy blocks; have been reviewed, let's take a closer look at the fused machine applique technique.

Applique Blocks

I have seen lots of very creative applique blocks come in on Facebook, already; however, for anyone that is new to this technique or would like a more detailed approach, here is a mini tutorial using our Week 6 applique design.

Once the PDF is downloaded, the template page(s) printed, and your fabric selected; you are ready to follow these steps:

Fusible Web:
Follow instructions provided with the fusible web product you are using.  (Here I am using Wonder Under by Pellon.)

With the template page face up underneath the fusible, trace out each design. Draw on the paper-side of the fusible, as all my templates have already been reversed. If you draw on the other side (web side), they will face in the opposite direction, from what the pattern applique layout shows. (If your images face the opposite direction, that is okay too.)

To help identify all those pieces:
--Write on its corresponding letter or number.
--Draw on directional arrows, when needed (for proper placement on fabric prints.)
--When doing more appliques at the same time, separate them into Ziploc bags, for easy storage and retrieval, when ready to begin each block.
Additional things you can add (where pieces are large enough or where necessary):
--Template parts: head, left arm, right foot, etc.
--Color of fabric you want to use (so when you go to place pieces you're using the correct fabrics).
Once the images have been traced; cut them apart either separately or as a group (if they are going on the same fabric). I prefer to leave a narrow white edge around the hatched lines, to make accurate cutting easier.

I find the fabric is less flimsy to cut when you cut through both the fabric and fusible web paper. If you need to release an edge to aid in removing the paper, this makes that easier, as well.

My preferred fusible was Steam-a-Seam 2; however, since it isn't available at present, I am using 805 Wonder-Under by Pellon.  The one problem that I have is getting the paper off the fused applique. So, this is what I do; and it de-stresses this process:

1.) Slide the tip of the seam ripper in between the paper and fabric to loosen one side or corner for easier removal, once the piece is cut out. (Depth: about 1/4".)
2.) Place a pencil mark at this location, to instantly know which side you've lifted. Because as sure as anything, when it comes time to separate the paper and fabric, you'll probably not remember which spot you separated. (This easily happens when doing a lot of pieces, at the same time.)
3.) It is best if you do it before you trim the piece, as the extra fabric on the edge gives it more stability.
4.) Since one cannot loosen too much on very small pieces, we want at least half of the piece to stay fastened to allow for cutting out the design.
Releasing Edge of Template

--Use a permanent marker instead of a lead pencil. Why? It doesn't rub off and get on your hands, while working or while using the iron. The lines are easy to draw and see; and will not fade as much as a pen or pencil mark does.
--I like to use a hatched line when tracing out my templates. This eliminates the need to use a ruler, which needs to be wiped, or else collected ink from the edge can smudge other  template pieces as the ruler is moved about. Also, one need not worry about an unsteady hand, causing crooked lines, as it is easy to lift the hand when tired, and then continue tracing.   
--If drawing circles is difficult, you could also use an item the proper size, and trace around it; (IE: bobbin, spool, plate...) 
--Use a small piece of masking tape to help secure your page to the table, as you trace out the templates, when appropriate.

Select the fabrics you will be using; press if necessary to remove wrinkles.

To aid in applique placement, you can mark the center of the block, but adding a crease line vertically and horizontally on the block.

Marking Center of Block With Creases

If there are many pieces to layer in a design, you can carefully do a quick press (iron down, iron up) with the iron, then continue adding more pieces, to keep them from sliding about. Then fuse all when ready. (However, only do this when you know you have pieces where you desire them.)

Only fusible with sticky backs can be re-lifted and re-arranged during the placement process. That is why so many people liked Steam-a-Steam 2. (Wonder Under does not have a sticky back.)

To get pieces to align properly while arranging them on the quilt block; use your rotary cutting ruler (or any clear ruler) to keep them straight. This way you can see through the ruler and ensure your design is placed where you want it.

Using the Ruler to Place the Swing's Seat

--Where many pieces cross, I sometimes like to fuse on the bottom pieces first; go stitch them on; and then go back and add the ones on top. This is helpful when you are changing thread colors; or when it is more difficult to stitch the bottom piece(s) without affecting the piece(s) that overlaps it.
Two examples might be: 
(1) A railroad crossing... Stitch around all the short pieces; and then, add the long pieces.
(2) A grouping of flowers... five in the design with three in the background. Stitch on the three in the back row; and then add the final two in the front row. 

Embellishing the Blocks:
Sometimes, you will want to add extra elements to the applique that are not made from fabric; such as: extra rows of stitching, buttons, lace, rickrack, bias tape, etc. to embellish the quilt blocks.

Stitching Lines:
A machine-stitched line is quick; and works much better when an applique piece would be so narrow it would not really be worth the trouble. (Like the swing's rope here.) You could also do this step by hand with an embroidery stitch.

It will depend on the color of your fabric; however, in this block we can use a pencil to draw a light line to mark the stitching line.

I like to use a 2.5 stitch length and stitch on the drawn line; with the needle down in the fabric, turn the block and stitch over the first row of stitching; and if I want more definition, do it one more time. Then, I pull the threads to the backside; and knot. (I used three lines, on this block.)

Drawing on the Lines for the Swing's Rope

Lines Ready to be Stitched

Other Embellishments:
If pieces are very small, they can be replaced with buttons, sequins, googly eyes, or fussy-cut fabrics. To embellish and decorate a block; we could add decorative stitching, embroidery, lace, bias tape, piping, rickrack, etc. 

Extra care must be taken with blocks that are embellished, as to not nick or melt the attachments, when using the iron.

Sewing the Block:
Before we stitch our applique designs, we'll need to decide what:
--thread type(s) and color(s) to use
--type of stitches and size
--adding applique pieces in one or more application(s)
--any embellishments and when they are added to the block

Thread Type and Color:
Generally, it is recommended to use cotton thread for cotton fabric. But if you don't have cotton thread and have lots of other blends of thread, use them. I like the polyester/cotton blend for appliqueing. 

Color Options: 
You can match the thread to the fabric, use one thread color throughout, or use a combination of thread colors; to embellish and decorate the blocks, as you desire. I have used all three in different projects.

Types of Stitches:
I like using a buttonhole or blanket stitch in a 2.5/2.5 size; and the zigzag stitch for finishing the edges on my appliques. I do recommend using a zigzag stitch for small applique pieces. I generally use a 2.0/0.5 or sometimes a 1.5/0.5 stitch size. The zigzag stitch is also quicker, if time is a factor. And since not all machines have the extra fancy stitches, the zigzag stitch still looks lovely used on appliques.

Personally, I have no tolerance for needle-turn applique, and hand sewing I only reserve for the quilt binding on small projects; and therefore, I love this fused machine applique technique. 

I hope this tutorial was helpful, and if you have any other concerns, please email them to me. I can do another applique post, if there are enough interest. Thanks for reading....

And happy stitching....

Tree Swing Block:
This is just one way to do it; as you could fuse the complete design and then add the stitching.

In my example:
The tree trunk and swing were done before the tree top was fused and stitched. Since the top of the trunk is covered by the leaves, a straight stitch can be used to get to the other side; and then continue with the selected stitch type.  (This is optional.)

Stitching the Swing and Tree Trunk

After adding the tree top; a few lines of additional stitching was added to the tree trunk. These lines were done with machine stitching. (Can also be done by hand or left out.)

Showing the Finished Applique


With Valentine's Day coming up, let's share the love....

To enter my "Share the Love" draw leave a comment on this February 7, 2014 blog post for your chance to win 1 of 3 patterns from my Craftsy pattern store. Winners will be drawn on Feb.14.

Draw Rules:
1.) Post a comment about something you LOVE about this applique mystery quilt along.
2.) Contest is open to ALL participants. (Both free and paid versions.)
3.) You must have a valid email address to claim your prize, if you are a winner.

To make this extra special: Non-participants can also play. And if your name is chosen as a winner; you will receive the February paid version, so you can join in all the fun the group is having. 


Happy Quilting....

You can check out this blog entry for more examples of  Applique Stitching . 


bellezza squillace said...

So fun...thanks for the special drawing! Win, win, win!

carolyn hunt said...

I love wonder under and I also wish I had this swing in my backyard.

Michelle Collette said...

I love appliqué so when I saw this was a mystery pattern I had to join. In fact this is my first time joining a mystery project. I love that your tree block shown isn't using the traditional fabric choice for the leaves.

jean95552 said...

just hoping to learn more than quilting this year. Maybe your way of posting will help light me up for futhering my use and knowledge of the net and pc use.

Cindi Young said...

I have been enjoying this quilt a long with. I wish I would have found you last year. I love that I can pick out my own colors and not be influenced by your selection. Makes this my own "Life's Journey". Thank you, when I have some extra money I will be buying some of your other patterns. Thank you for your time. Cindi

Capi said...

I love this is manageable and interesting. Thanks for all of the work you have done to put it together for us.

Marion Johnston said...

Thank you for the lessons, This is the first time for me to join in anything

Sandy Gallo Lee said...

Thanks for doing this! Mystery quilts are always fun!

Diane in Delaware said...

This quilt along is a real learning experience for me. I've never done applique work, so everything is new! Having fun adding to my quilting experiences! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I love that the instructions are so user friendly. This is my first applique so I really appreciate it. I also love that I have a chance to win a giveaway so close to my birthday! Thank you so much!

Tiff Winchester said...

My favorite part of this quilt so far, there's a giraffe....what else is there to say! I love the looks of the quilt already....thanks for such a great opportunity to win.

Trish said...

Thanks for doing this pattern! I love that this quilt is reminding me of my life's journey. I'm using bits of fabrics that are special to me, like old clothes, etc so that the finished quilt will be really special and become a family heirloom.

Andie Eggering said...

Thanks is all can I say!!!

I am new to quilting and brand new to Applique and find it so relaxing.You have been doing an outstanding job in this and I appreciate all your time and effort and willingness to help others to learn the craft.
Andie the cute twin

Anonymous said...

Fairly new to applique and love to do mystery quilts and scrap quilts are my favorite. You have combined all three in an inspiring way. Thank you for your talent and time.


Gina Clabough said...

Thanks for the applique lessons. I have put together quilt tops for year, but have yet to do one with applique. Love the challenge!

Anonymous said...

I enjoy receiving a new pattern each week and having it develop before my eyes.

Jeanette Menegay said...

I love that you make these lessons so that people like me who are on fixed income can still feel creative. Thank you so much

quiltedgrandma said...

It's so fun to create and though we are following your patterns you have given us so much leeway to create something unique. Thanks.

Flora said...

I love the stitching it makes the picture come alive! Well I really love the pictures!

Carla Carlson said...

I love how easily these blocks are going together. It's a real mystery to see what the next block will consist of. Fun! Fun! Fun! I Love It!

Soupbeans said...

I LOVE that the appliques are fun and easy to do in a week. Thanks for doing all the hard work.

Starchaser06 said...

I simply love how easy it is to follow and I am getting more used to working with the applique...Thank you so much for sharing the quilt with us :)

Sandi said...

I enjoy the simpllcity of the quilt and the items we will be appliquing.

Unknown said...

I love the whole idea of this quilt taking the maker down memory lane as each block has a different memory. Even for the lucky recipient of the quilt each block will hold a different memory for them as well. Great idea!! So enjoying taking the trip down memory lane...

RB said...

I've always been a little afraid of machine applique. Thanks for giving little bits at a time to grow my courage.

anglars said...

Love the variety of applique so far - and am looking forward to it coming together. Also love the opportunity to do this. Thank you

Garnhekta said...

Thanks for this tutorial, and thanks for the nice small blocks. I love them and I love how they take me trough me life. My three is now finished and I will post it on your facebook page

Deb Van Caster said...

Thank you for the tutorial! What I love about this quilt-a-long is trying something new - applique scared me before. This quilt is helping give me a lot of room for practice and creativity!