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Anyone who has heard me talk about my love for quilting, knows that Lori Holt is my quilting hero. So, when Riley Blake Designs asked me to participate in the Bloom Sew Along, I was ecstatic. I might have broke out into a happy dance that would make my son roll his eyes. It was one of those moments I know will always be a highlight of my blogging career. So, without further ado, I give you my Bloom Sew Along Block 12 and a few of my tips for hand applique.
I didn’t really change up my Bloom Block or give it a new spin because… well, I think it is perfect the way it is. Instead, I wanted to share with you what I have learned about hand applique. Of course, I have to give the disclaimer. The Bloom Sew Along is my first large hand applique project. I am in no way an expert, but over the last 12 weeks of the Bloom Sew Along I have learned a thing or two that would love to share that with you…
Try different methods:
First of all I want to say one method isn’t right for everyone. If you have been frustrated with hand applique, I encourage you to try a different method. Chances are someone has come up with a way that might work better for you. I watched a frustrated fellow quilter almost give up on hand appliqueing. Thankfully she decided to try a different way and she loved it! So, please try another method before you retire that applique needle.
Thread weight and color matter:
I always try to match my thread color as closely as possible to the piece I am appliqueing, and I use only 60wt cotton thread. These two things make my stitches blend in so nicely and almost invisible.
When appliqueing you want your stitches to be taut. But, I found the more I tried to tighten up my stitches the more it caused puckers and gathers in my background fabric. I learned that taking small stitches was the only way to have taut secure stitches, without gathering. I have to work really hard at this one. It is my tendency to get in a hurry and take larger stitches. I constantly have to slow myself down because, I know it will make a huge difference in how my finished piece looks.
This is another example of where you should try different methods. I was taught to pin baste, but my applique pieces never lined up like I wanted. Glue basting has worked out quite wonderfully for me. I don’t have to worry about my pieces shifting, and I’m not getting stuck by a bunch of pins while I work.
Draw the shape outline on the background fabric:
If you are worried about your shapes shifting or lining up, draw your design on the background fabric. It makes it easy to sew your shapes along the lines and creates a great guide.
A few helpful tools:
I have also found a few tools to be helpful in hand appliqueing. Below you will find the (affiliate links) products I use and why I love them.
- Frixion Pens for drawing lines. The ink disappears as soon as you touch your iron to it.
- Spray Starch is helpful for small pieces and makes it easier to handle when sewing.
- Thread Heaven helps prevent knots from forming in my thread while sewing.
- Scissors with a sharp serrated blade will keep fabric from fraying as much, which is helpful since fraying is bound to happen while handling.
I hope you found these tips helpful. Like my son says, “Practice makes great!” So, don’t forget sometimes it just take a little more practice.
I would love to know if you have any other helpful applique tips. Are you participating in the Bloom Sew Along? I would love to hear about your progress or what method you are using.