If you are participating in the RDQG program on machine pinned accurate applique, step by step instructions for preparing for the mini-class will be available shortly. Check back tomorrow. If you haven’t read this page, do so while you’re waiting.
I don’t get to applique for long stretches at a time. Because I pick my applique up and lay it back down fairly frequently, I’ve been working on a technique that not only lets me do really fine and accurate applique, but it also holds everything together and in the correct relationship no matter how often I pick it up and put it down. This technique also lets me do applique designs that would normally only be possible using iron on applique.
This technique works really well for me for a couple reasons. I’m no longer jabbing myself on pins when I pick up my applique and I’m not having to repin because pins fell out. I’ve finally got a method that meets all my needs.
I used this technique for the fish on the back of the Ichthy Bog Coat, a fussy bit of applique with 16 separate pieces of fabric that all had to be in the correct orientation for the fish to come to life. The seeds of this technique started with the background of the koi pond web quilt.
This method produces beautifully flat applique. It looks like it’s been ironed on without being ironed on. The horse head work you’re seeing here hasn’t been pressed but it looks like it has. Yup, it’s that flat. The only limitation is that of the weaving of the applique fabric. The finer woven the fabric, the skinnier the stem or trace possible.
With this method I can do curves, points, valleys, narrow lines . . . the works, and have it come out beautiful, clean and accurate. This technique isn’t any slower than any other method of applique. I don’t have to transfer patterns or cut out and iron on butcher paper shapes. Every piece ends up exactly where it should in relation to all the others. I can work off a sacrificial photo copy of the pattern with no additional prep. No butcher paper, no cutting out patterns, no tracing designs, just machine baste and go. This method rocks!
Because I’m demonstrating this technique at Guild, I thought I’d get all the info and images in place here as a reference.
So here we go, in text and pictures, machine-basted applique. If you can think of a better name for it, please share.
Here are the basic steps. This technique can be used for regular or reverse applique.
- Transfer the pattern to paper. Do not use vellum or tissue paper. It will not hold up through the process. You can use butcher paper if you must, but take care that you don’t iron your work until the pattern is removed. The back of wrapping paper is good pattern paper but a piece of reinforced paper is almost a must for a big and/or complicated design. This is the only time you’ll need to transfer the pattern. The pattern will be reversed so now is the time to fix that if you feel it’s necessary. For smaller designs, copy paper works just fine. For larger designs, blank news print works but a slightly heavier paper would be better. If you plan to do a whole quilt top, you can cut the pattern into manageable sections and work one section at a time. This will require adding registration marks to the pattern before it is sectioned and transferring those registration marks to the background so each subsequent pattern piece can be accurately positioned.
- Machine baste the pattern to the back of the background fabric. If the pattern is large, baste between or around the elements of the design to further stabilize the pattern.
- Starting with the pieces in the back of the design, pin fabric to the front of the background fabric and machine stitch using the pattern on the back to fasten that fabric in place.
- From the front, start trimming, picking, turning and appliqueing the fabric to the background working in 1/2 to 3/4″ sections.
- Repeat steps 3 and 4 until all pieces have been appliqued down.
- Remove the basting holding the pattern to the back of the background.
Below is a picture representation of the steps with individual explanations.