I’m offering up this tutorial of sorts to demonstrate how I do needle-turn applique.
I’m using a leaf as my example.
Someday I’ll show you how I make perfectly round circles, but I’ll have to get my act together a
little lot more first.
Before we begin, let me state for the record that there is way more than one way to skin a cat (as my grandma used to always say) so keep in mind that this is just the way I do it, and there are many, many other methods out there, so don’t take this tutorial too seriously.
Quilting is fun . . .
Applique is not a bad word.
Oh, and you’ll have to excuse my horrible photography. (I need a new camera, and lessons on how to use it.)
Here we go . . .
In preparation for the applique, in this case, where precise placement is desirable, I’ve traced my design onto my background fabric, so you’ll see my pencil markings. In other instances where the placement is not so important, I don’t bother to mark. I mean, why do more work than you have to?
Since I have lots of leaves to make, I made my template out of template plastic. If I’m only going to use the template once or twice, then I just use plain paper or freezer paper and throw it away after my pieces are cut. But this quilt is going to have about a quintillion leaves, all alike, so I need my template to be able to withstand all the tracing.
If I needed something dark that would show up on a light fabric, I would have used a silver Roxanne’s marking pencil or something else. I have a whole stockpile of marking pencils of different kinds. Don’t be shy — go ahead and admit that you do, too.
And speaking of thread, you should use thread that matches the piece you’re appliqueing down, not your background fabric. When I have an exceptionally “busy” or multi-colored piece of fabric, and it’s hard to choose what color, then I use a neutral gray.
Oh, and I use Applique Sharps, size 12, as my preferred needle.
So, go ahead and thread your needle and we’ll move on to the actual stitching part . . .
For a leaf, I like to begin about 2/3 of the way down one side, so that I can work toward the point comfortably, and I don’t have to start and stop directly on the point.
Here’s where the term “needle-turn” comes from. Use your needle to turn the edge of the piece under to the marked line. In other words, you’re turning under everything outside the marked line.
Now, put your needle back down through the background fabric only, just underneath where you brought it up . . . move over about 1/16″ on the back side, and push it back up through the background fabric and again, barely catch the folded edge of the leaf.
. . . and begin making stitches down the other side. It helps if you take your stitches closer together as you near the point and leave the point (in other words, make your stitches smaller than 1/16″ near the point on both sides).
When you get back to the place where you started, push your needle down through the background fabric to the back . . .
Repeat as necessary . . . in this case, for my quilt, about a quintillion more times! And yes, I fully intend to show you my quilt when it’s finished . . . in a few years.