New Orleans House Project

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Machine Appliqué: Trying New Techniques

Back in January, I wrote about trying different machine appliqué techniques this year.  My plan was to use machine appliqué to complete a BOM being offered by my LQS, Quilted Owl.  Since that blog entry, I have been playing with different methods of preparing templates and the fabric appliqué shapes.

I started my experimentation by following a tutorial by Julie Baird, from her website Generations Quilt Patterns.  Her method involves using water soluble stabilizer to create templates for the appliqué shapes.  Julie's instructions are great and I can't do them justice in just a sentence or two, so if you're interested, go check out her technique.  
I had the pattern Julie used for her tutorial - Trick or Treat Baskets from When the Cold Wind Blows, and I went ahead and used that pattern for some practice pieces.  I didn't have any of the water soluble stabilizers recommended in the tutorial, so I tried what I had on hand.  The Pellon stabilizer worked fine for the template preparation technique, but after washing, the appliqué shapes remained very stiff and inflexible.  I'll try this technique again after I've got one of Julie's recommended stabilizers on hand.

Next, I used my "tried and true" method of appliqué prep: freezer paper templates and starch.   After prepping the baskets, I used a tiny bit of fabric glue to hold the pieces in place and commenced to sew.  

I used YLI Invisible Nylon Monofilament thread for the appliqué.  I already had the thread on hand, and it performed beautifully in my sewing machine.  I set my machine for zigzag stitching and adjusted the stitch length to 1 and the stitch width to 1.  It's a very narrow stitch and it mimics hand appliqué very closely.  I used Aurifil 50 weight thread in the bobbin.  I didn't need to adjust my tension, but your mileage may vary.  I tried taking a close-up of the actual stitching, but my camera is lousy for that. 

I heard about another prep method - this one used by quilt designer Kim Diehl.  In her book, Simple Appliqué, she describes several techniques, but the one I tried involved using freezer paper in a different manner.  The freezer paper is glued to the wrong side of the fabric for the appliqué shape, then the sticky side of the freezer paper is used to adhere the seam allowance AND adhere the appliqué shape to the background fabric.  

The appliqué shape is then machine-stitched to the background, using the same narrow zig-zag stitch and invisible thread.  When the stitching is complete, the background fabric is cut open or cut away, and the freezer paper removed (the above picture shows the back of the appliqué after removing the freezer paper).

I didn't dislike this technique, but I found it difficult to remove the freezer paper.  Even though the appliqué stitch was narrow, it still caught the edges of the paper, and it took careful manipulation to remove the paper.  I can see where it might come in handy for large or simple shapes, but it was akward for the baskets.

Now that I've started making the appliqué basket blocks, I can't seem to stop!  I have no plans to make the original quilt from When the Cold Wind Blows - it requires almost 300 blocks - but I will probably keep making these just for fun!

And...with that said, I've finally finished all the freezer paper and starch prep for my first Gathered Harvest block.  I need to make a few more bits of bias tape for the stems, but otherwise, everything is ready to be glued in place and machine appliquéd.  It will be an interesting week for Fabric Therapy!


  1. Thanks for the machine applique technique critic. I prefer the freezer paper starch method. I don't have to cut out the back or wash anything away. I love your newest applique. Very pretty.

  2. Beautiful Gathered Harvest block--lovely applique on it. Hugs, Julierose

  3. Oh how beautiful! I appreciate your sharing this great technique. I am however hopelessly addicted to hand applique so it is unlikely I will ever accomplish anything so wonderful on my machine. I admire your determination to learn a new technique and to carry through with it. The outcome is sensational!

  4. Thank you for the all the links Angie !
    Your basket blocks are beautiful and the appliqué center with birds is awesome ! I guess you have found your technique !
    Congratulations !

  5. Interesting Post on machine applique. I love the Gathered Harvest Block!

  6. Your Gathered Harvest block is gorgeous! I made the Trick or Treat quilt several years ago--actually I think it took years to make--lol! I used the freezer paper/starch method so there was nothing to remove and I didn't have to cut anything away. For the little square, I would draw it on with a chalk pen, slash an X and flip the corners in and stitch. I think that was the easiest part! I've been seriously thinking about doing machine applique so I can get more done. I took a class from Kim Diehl, but I'm not totally crazy with her method. Can't wait to see more of your applique!

  7. Thanks for all the technique testing! I've done some machine applique, but I've never been happy with it. (I'm a needle-turned hand-appliquer at heart!) Maybe I should try out some of these ideas - now that you've shown the way!
    I love those little baskets, and that center block is gorgeous! Can't wait to see where these go!

  8. Beautiful Block ! Glad you found a process you like

  9. You are SUCH an enabler -- I have ordered the book and the rinsaway and hope to give this a try. I have done machine appliqué but never anything quite so refined as what you are sharing (and I ADORE those little bitty baskets).