• A Few Tips For Appliqué

    Appliqué is an artwork made out of small pieces of cloth sewn together to get patterns of interest on a larger piece of cloth. This art work can be seen in most parts of the world and the designs are always exquisite and peculiar to a particular culture. Although there is diversity in designs, the basic materials needed and the difficulties therein for the work remain the same.

    Usually a template is created for the design and it is traced on pieces of cloth to get the patterns as per wish. The most often used material for templates is cardboard which is not only easily available but also easy to use when there are shapes such as circles, and simple shapes as leaves, flowers etc. However, when one has to deal with geometric patterns or shapes that have points that need to come out nice on the finished work, it takes a patient and a little experienced person to handle the situation.

    Here are a few tips to get a perfect pointed finish to geometric and similar patterns that need pointed edges. Usually points are not for the novice but those with inherent skills can try with these tips to get a better handwork.

    1. Choice of cloth -- this is a very important aspect if one is new to applique work. Starched cotton cloth is the easiest to work with for beginners and also for those who want the work done faster. Those experienced can use silk or other soft material depending on their individual skills.

    2. Use of thread to stitch the patterns -- usually silk thread is very easy to work with. However I suggest the use of single fine quality long staple cotton thread. When there is the need for use of colored threads it is preferable to use a darker shade as it enhances the quality of design.

    3. When the pattern is cut on the template, leave at least 1/4" to 1/2" on the sides for stitching. Also beginners should try working with larger or broad points such as rectangles and squares than narrow points like triangles to get perfection.

    4. Cutting the pointed ends of the pattern and folding it like a gift wrap gives a pointed shape. You can spray some starch to keep it in place/hold. During folding the fabric may overlap on the wrong side of the pattern. It can be basted to hold in place so that it is not visible on the right side of the design. How you trim and tuck the extra pieces of fabric is very important and that comes out of experience and use of common sense.

    5. While stitching, take care that the area where the point has to be prominent is stitched carefully. Sewing together with large stitches is applicable to all other patterns but not sharp points. When working at the points take care to end the stitches at the point. Do not wrap a stitch at the point. That is two straight stitches on either sides of the point will give the point the definite shape.

    6. Do not knot the thread when coming to the point. Knots make the work look clumsy.

    These few basic tips to points can make a master quilter in you

    Subscriber comments:
    Instructions for applique that have worked well for me:

    Cut template from heavy aluminum foil or thin cardboard, iron margin to be turned under over the edge of the template, remove template. With cottons, saturate edge w/ 1 part water, 2parts liquid starch (I use a sponge "brush"), press again, and sew. I have found that simply water will accentuate the crease on slippery fabrics, because of that, I may overaccentuate the narrowness of points while i am ironing; it is easer to tease fabric out than to push fabric in under the foldline!.

    I also want to publish today a bit about making triangles -- you really need to know this method! It's a reply by a subscriber to the method described in issues 39 and 40, which you can read here and here (in the middle).

    Subscriber comments:
    I like the idea of your subscriber who adds 7/8ths to her half-square triangle units. We go one better, marking one piece of fabric on the wrong side into squares 3/4'' larger than the desired finished square (now I will make the units larger). Then we mark the diagonals in one direction (i.e., a series of parallel line pass through the grid). Then, we place this right side down on the right side up fabric that will form the other half of the squares, carefully aligning the grain. Straight pin at intersections. we stitch parallel and 1/4" away from each side of the marked diagonals. Then cut all horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines (rotary cutter, of course!). Press and trim. voila! lots of matching pieces, fast.

    Thanks Sonya! This is a really great method!
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