New Orleans House Project

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Slow Sunday Stitching: Practicing a New Applique Technique

Since starting work on my Eagle Quilt project, I have developed a desire to try more applique projects.  So far I've only used the freezer paper and starch method for preparing my applique pieces.  I like the technique because it gives me a well-defined shape to applique to the background fabric.  The drawback is that it requires a fair amount of preparation: making freezer paper templates, ironing them to the back side of the applique fabrics, then cutting the shapes and using starch and an iron to press the applique seam allowances into submission.

I had heard about an applique technique known as back-basting, so when my LQS offered a back-basting class I decided to take the plunge.  Class participants were encouraged to get a copy of Back-Basting Applique Step by Step by Barbara J. Eikmeier.  The book has been a good source of techniques and tips, and I've appreciated having an extra teacher to help me along at home.

Back-basting is sometimes called "template free" applique.  The applique shapes are traced onto the wrong side of the background fabric.  The fabric to be appliqued is positioned on the right side of the fabric, covering the shape traced on the back of the fabric.  Using a large needle and a heavier-weight thread, the applique shape is basted to the background fabric.  The large needle (such as an embroidery needle) and heavier-weight thread (such as glazed hand-quilting thread) create perforations in the fabric which then make it easier to do needle-turn applique.

On the right side of the applique piece, the excess fabric is trimmed away from the applique shape.  The basting thread is snipped and pulled out a few stitches at a time as the raw edge is turned under and appliqued in place. 

So far, my applique pieces are a bit wonkier than I like.  I definitely think practice will help improve the accuracy of my stitching. I like the technique because the prep time is shorter than other applique methods.  It doesn't take much time to get everything ready to begin stitching the applique shapes.  

I've been enjoying some Slow Sunday Stitching today as I attempt to improve my back-basting skills.  It's been too hot for much slow stitching - sitting under a quilt while I stitch the binding or do some hand-quilting is not a fun activity even in an air conditioned house!  I'm going to keep practicing my back-basting technique and maybe someday I'll be sharing a finished project.  

Linking up with more Slow Sunday Stitchers and enjoying a piece-ful Sunday evening!


  1. Good luck with this. I've tried it and I'm not very good at it. But I have several friends that love it.

  2. I use this technique on larger shapes as it keeps everything where it needs to be. You are right it's all about practice. It was the only technique I found to do the curved handles on some urns I did last year so you can't go wrong learning a new technique. I have tried all the preturning techniques and don't know how anyone can put up with all that prep work. Needleturn is my favorite and like all hand work it is never perfect but that is what appeals to me. I have also learned to relax and enjoy the stitching once quilted and laundered it will be just gorgeous!

  3. I've done them all :) Way back in the shadows of time Georgia Bonesteel covered them in her PSB shows. I found starch and press the best for me. I enjoy the prep part as all part of the quilting experience, and once you start sewing the applique goes like the wind! Sharyn

  4. Very good example! I need to try this method some day. It looks very intriguing!

  5. Good for you to try a new technique! It does look interesting!

  6. I love back basting... probably because I hate all the prep work for other types of applique! Glad you are trying something new =)

  7. I was always curious about that technique! Thanks for taking care of that for me. Very cool.