Applique Blocks - Episode 2

Last week I left you hanging after applying the first piece of your artwork to your backing fabric. Today, I am going to show you how it works when you start layering pieces of your design on top of one another to build your images.

So, after you have sewn the first piece of your design onto the backing fabric, removed the paper template, and pressed it out nicely at the ironing board, it is time to add another piece.

In my project, it is the beginnings of a ship.

I broke my ship drawing up into 3 pieces. This way I can create depth with lighter and darker fabrics along with some hand embroidery to be added when all the pieces have been machine sewn to this block.

I created the next piece in the same manner shown in Episode 1, placed it where I wanted it, and stitched.

Turning the block over to the backside, I cut away the backing fabric and the hill fabric from behind the boat piece (leaving at least a 1/4" seam allowance), ripped out the paper template, flipped back to right side and pressed.

Continue building your images piece-by-piece. If you are like me, after your pieces are all added, you will hand-embroider over your machine stitching for a finished look. (This is why I chose to straight stitch the pieces on.) But that is by no means the most popular way. Most folks will use a zigzag or satin stitch on their machine when sewing on their applique pieces. This creates a nice finished edge and makes it unnecessary to go over it again.

When I'm building a more free-form block like this, I am constantly "mocking up" the block with paper pieces and fabric as I go. Like this:

This is how I realized that my trees need to be thin and sparse and the ship's steering wheel was going to take quite a combination of fabric and embroidery. Those thin pieces don't really work so well with the technique we just went through. But, don't worry...there is a different way.

Lemme talk to ya about something called "fusible web". Yet another technique to create an applique block. Fusible web comes in sheets or on a roll and basically it is paper-backed fabric glue that you can iron on. The process works similarly to the one above.

Iron a freezer paper template on to your fabric:

Cut a piece of the fusible web just a little larger than the size of the template. Flip your fabric over and put the web face down on your fabric and press. (Making sure glue side is in contact with your fabric and paper side in contact with the iron.)

Cut out your template without any seam allowance, peel the paper backing off the fabric, position it on the quilt block and press. At this point you can machine stitch the piece on with a decorative stitch or hand embroider. The edges won't fray on this piece because of the glue. Awesome huh?

Ready to be stitched!
There are many ways to assemble applique quilt blocks, this is just what has been working for me. I would love to hear tips, tricks, products, and techniques that you all love!


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