Last week, we started sharing Diane’s Roseville Album quilt blocks, and we promised to show you our favorite hand applique method. We drew this flower design for a class that we taught over the summer as a good way to practice. We tried to include the basic inner and outer curves, a perfect circle, and some skinny stem/leaf shapes. You can print out the shape below and try it for yourself.One of our secrets for hidden stitches is to use fine silk thread. We love YLI and mostly only use three basic colors–white, pale pink, and this taupe neutral.
The first step is to trace your design onto the back side of your background fabric. If your design is directional, i.e. letters, you will want to trace the mirror image onto the back. You can use pencil, chalk, Frixion pen, or any other fabric marking tool for this.
Once your design is traced on the back, put a few pins around the shape to help with fabric placement on the front. We’re showing you an example from the Roseville Album, where the design was traced in red onto a dark background.Flip the fabric over and you will see the pin outline.Lay the applique fabric over the pin outline, making sure to leave a generous border.Pin the fabric in place. Using a heavy contrast thread, start basting the shape in place from the back side of the fabric, following the outline you drew. We usually use bright yellow or orange thread.Once you have basted all the way around the shape, turn the fabric over and trim around the basting, leaving a scant 1/4″ border for turning.Now, back to our flower. Notice that you want to do the leaf shapes in the back first.For shapes with inside curves, you need to snip the corners to ease the turning.Snip your basting line in 1-1.5″ sections, and pull the thread out. Thread your favorite applique needle (we like long and fine needles) and knot the silk thread. Insert the needle in through the back of the fabric and begin applique.Turn the fabric as you go with the point of the needle. The thick basting thread will leave small holes in the fabric to guide you along the shape’s edge as you sew. Stitch as close to the edge as you can for nearly invisible stitches.Here’s a trick for inside curve management: If you pull it wider open than it needs to be, you can take a couple of stitches to the inside point of the curve to hold and prevent fraying.After you stitch to the inside point, pull the fabric back along the basting line and continue on your way.
That’s pretty much all there is to it, ladies. For a complicated pattern, such as the Roseville Album, this is the only way to get everything exactly where it goes.
This is also the method we used on our Forever Bound heritage quilt, and pretty much any hand applique that we do. It mixes well with wool felt for a mixed media look. Once you get all the pieces basted on, this is a great project for on-the-go. All you need is your needle, thread, and scissors!