Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Machine appliqué - a tutorial

Wendy from Snippets of a Quilter graciously posted a tutorial on her favourite hand appliqué method a while back. I was intrigued, as I did use a similar method for machine appliqué but I would glue my edges down around the freezer paper template. Once I had sewn the block to the background, I would have to wet the block in order to remove the templates.

If I used starch, I felt that the freezer paper was not sturdy enough for me when I ironed the edges over the template. The paper would often curl from the dampness of the starch. What I decided to do for this project, wanting to master the "no block wetting" method, is test 2 (two) pieces of Reynolds freezer paper ironed together. Because paper shrinks with heat, I iron each sheet separately prior to combining. Make sure your ironing board is clean of debris, otherwise be prepared to use fuzzy paper. lol

For this method, I prefer using my rotary cutter and ruler to cut the freezer paper. I just seem to cut the paper straighter this way! ;o) I'm also certain that they will be similar in size when I iron them together.

When I need the same shape repeatedly for a quilt, I'll make a sturdy master template.

I'll trace the shape on a single sheet of freezer paper, roughly cut out the shape and iron onto a cardboard. I tend to use Strathmore Bristol Vellum for this. It's thick enough to provide me with good pencil support while allowing for easy cutting.

Once your shape is cut, you can either remove the freezer paper or wait for it to fall off on it's own, which is what I tend to do! lol

I will label my master template with a B for back as well as the dimensions I need for cutting the freezer paper. I always seem to forget what size I should be cutting that freezer paper! lol

I iron the cut 2 layered freezer paper template on the wrong side of the desired fabric. Cut out the excess fabric, leaving approximately 1/8 to a 1/4 inch all around. I prefer to over estimate and trim later.

When I'm ready to prepare the shape for machine appliqué, I'll trim the excess and do the necessary clipping of valleys etc, if required.

Using an artist paint brush, I will apply a light amount of starch between the edge of the ironed template and the seam allowance. I have a paint brush that I use strictly for this method. I find that a good quality paint brush is worth every penny. It makes it easier to control the amount of starch you apply, avoiding soaking your piece.

Whenever I use starch, I cover my ironing board with a piece of muslin. This way I don't have to worry about an excess build up of starch. It's a lot easier for me to throw the protective cover in the wash then to take my ironing board cover off.

I use a Clover Iron Mini Iron II "The Adapter" to iron the seam allowance unto the template.

Word of caution, it gets hot!

Once, I mistakenly left it on and it burned a hole on my ironing board cover. I find that if I keep the control setting midway between the center and "high", it's plenty hot to iron a crisp edge. I found this out yesterday when it left a burned mark, yet again, and this time I hadn't forgotten about it!

Any iron can be used for this method, just make sure you turn the steam setting off so that you don't steam your fingers! Ouch!

When you remove your freezer paper template, this is what the edges of your shape will look like. By the way, the template can be re-used for another block. I just keep using it until it decides not to stick anymore!

At this stage, I will use a regular iron to continue pressing down the edges. It makes it easier for me when I have to deal with the right side of the piece.

Once well ironed, I turn my piece over and iron it flat. This way I make sure that my edges are crisp. It also allows me to ensure that the piece lays flat. Funny, every time I look at that photograph, I panic thinking I've got to get the iron off my fabric! lol

I will then transfer my shape unto the desired background.

You can either pin or baste glue the piece unto your background. I find that glue baste works better for me, there is less shifting. I tend to use Roxane Basting glue or Elmer School glue. What ever glue product you use, please make sure it's the washable and acid free kind.

In this example, the appliqué piece is pinned and you can see that it doesn't lay completely flat.

On the back of my block, I use a water soluble stabilizer called Aqua Magic Dissolvable Stabilizer. This helps me avoid any puckering that might occur while sewing. The product is designed for machine embroidery but I like to use it specifically for machine appliqué. It is fully dissolvable and leaves no residue. Do not iron your piece with this stabilizer on the back, the stabilizer will shrink from the heat/moisture.

note July/2008: I no longer use a stabilizer behind my applique work. As long as you do not tug or pull, there will be no puckering.

I'm using the Bernina appliqué foot number 23 that I bought out of curiosity. It's a multi purpose foot, in that it can also be used to sew small pipping.

I like the way the foot applies an even pressure across the edge of my appliqué piece. I did use my stiletto to make sure that the fabric was properly aligned for the stitch as this piece was pinned. Hum.... hence why I like the glue baste better. There seems to be less shifting for me.

For machine appliqué, I like to use the blind hem stitch on my Bernina 1090 Stitch #4 and on my Bernina 180 it's stitch #3 - Vari-overlock stitch and mirror image. The zigzag and stitch length were both set at 1 (one).

An open toe embroidery foot (#20 for Berninas) will work just as well for machine appliqué. The open toe makes it easy to see where you are stitching. I haven't decided yet if I'll keep using the #23 or switch back to #20 foot. Time will tell!

As for thread, I like to use Mettler Fine Embroidery thread. It's a 60 weight cotton thread and available in an array of colours. I match my top thread to the appliqué piece. In the bobbin, as much as possible, I use a thread that matches my background. The colour light grey is a good forgiving colour for most light backgrounds.

I hope you enjoyed my first tutorial. I had fun writing it. If you are on the market for an excelent reference on machine appliqué, check out Harriet Hargraves book called Mastering machine Applique: The complete Guide. I'm sure there are other great references out there, I am just pleased with this one and haven't looked for others.

Thank you for stopping by. Have a great day every one!


Karrin Hurd said...

Great tutorial. I will have to try the double freezer paper idea. Everything else I do the same though. Harriet's book is a great one!

Yvonne said...

Great tutorial....you did a wonderful job. I'm going to give it a try. :)

Julia said...

Thanks Carole! I generally do the raw edge applique with a fusible product, but I think that I might give this a try. What kind of starch do you use?

CONNIE W said...

Carole, Thanks for this excellent tutorial. I don't do machine applique but I'm going to start. Up until now I've been doing all my applique by hand. I like the idea of knowing how to do both.

Darlene said...

Awesome tutorial. I don't machine applique but sometime in the future I might have to give your method a try. When I come to visit you'll have to give me a real lesson. LOL

Teresa said...

I just read through your tutorial and it is very well done. I want to try your method. I do use freezer paper, but I hand baste my pieces down and then machine sew them. I had not thought about putting stabilizer behind them and I want to give that a try. I simply adore the Blue Bird pattern and I just may have to order that one myself. I wonder how it would look with all the nine patches done in various blues. The embroidery is so pretty.

Congratulations on your long arm machine purchase!

Sew Create It - Jane said...

What a super tutorial! I like the idea of the vellum to make the template more durable. I'll have to try that.

Paula, the quilter said...

Thanks for the tutorial. Here's a tip for you: use an old ceramic coffee mug for a holder for your little iron. Just plop it in head down when you need to rest it. Works great!

julieQ said...

Really nice tutorial! I love not having to turn those edges as I applique. I spray mine really well with spray starch before I iron them and they stay turned!

Sweet P said...

Great tutorial!

PS - Sounds like you had a wonderful time at MQX.

Unknown said...

Great tutorial, thanks.

Nicole said...

This is the best tutorial on applique I have ever seen! Thanks!

Pam said...

That was a very good tutorial. I like the idea of ironing the freezer paper template to cardboard for a master template. I have not really done machine applique - usually I just use the iron on "steam a seam" and then do a machine button hole stitch. I like the Mettler 60 weight thread for hand applique. It is very hard to find though. Do you have an on-line shop that you buy it?

Judy said...

Good tutorial, after Wendy showed hers, I went to 2 sheets because one just fell apart!

Needled Mom said...

Great tutorial. I think that you covered everything really well. I will have to check out that #23 foot as I have always used the #20. I, too, have always used the glue baste and never thought of the Elmers.

Wendy said...

Well done on the tutorial. I haven't tried the 2 sheets together, I'll have to give it a go next time. It would be nice if you provided a link on your side bar for finding this post again. Well done.

María Isabel said...

Hello,Carole nice to work
doing, I'm just starting to make `patchwork here in Uruguay is not very widespread quilting, there are few materiales.Me like to visit your blog as much admire your work

Thabks for the tutorial
Greetings from Uruguay

Elaine Adair said...

This is the SECOND time I've carefully read your instructions on applique (why I haven't actually DONE applique? who knows?), so whatever you're doing, keep it up! Your photos are great.

BTW, I just visited Amazon.com to oder the Harriet Hargrave book. 8-) Thanks for the reminder - I've been wanting to do that for some time. I ALWAYS order the 'used'. Wow, as soon as you place an order, a gazillion other fantastic items show up and a person has to look at them all, using up another hour! 8-)

Miri said...

Thanks alot-I've been thinking about trying the starch method and you just gave a great lesson.

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