Learning to Quilt One Block at a Time: Appliqué

Appliquéing is the process of attaching pieces of fabric to another larger piece of fabric to form a picture or a design. Over the years I have sewn many appliqué projects using a satin stitch or straight stitch on the sewing machine. One of the lessons in the Craftsy 2015 Block of the Month taught me how to do needle turn appliqué by hand. This method creates beautiful “pictures” with fabric.

I did not have all of the tools used by the instructor so in researching this method online I discovered many different processes for achieving this appliqué look. With things I had on hand, here is what I did.

Using a light table I reversed the original pattern and traced the shapes and all labels and marks onto the dull side of a piece of freezer paper. The dots represented areas on each piece that would be under the neighboring piece. Each piece was cut out on the solid lines. These pieces of freezer paper became the templates for the appliqué.


I separated the pieces according to the fabric I chose to use for the design. Then each piece was placed on the back side of fabric allowing about 1/4″ seam allowance around each piece before ironing. I cut around each piece leaving a seam allowance to turn under.


On any piece with curves, I clipped only the inside curve of the seam allowance. Instead of using a regular iron, I have a muti-purpose heat tool with a small iron tip that worked quite well to press the seam allowance over the freezer paper template. Since I did not want to burn my fingers, a seam ripper worked great as my extra “hand.” The dotted areas which were to be overlapped by another appliqué piece were not turned under.


I lightly traced the basic position of the flower pattern onto the front of the quilt block basket I made in this post. Using my version of the needle turn appliqué method, I hand stitched each fabric piece into place (after removing the freezer paper on the piece I was working on.) The result looks beautiful!


I found this video which explains clearly how to do needle turn appliqué for you to watch if you are interested in trying this method of appliqué on a creative project.


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