How to do Applique (Choose the method which is best for you)
STEP 1 – Tracing and Cutting your fabric Applique pieces
Here are some different methodsMETHOD - USING FUSIBLE WEB
The pdf pattern pieces file provided contains all the pieces you will need to cut. The pattern pieces have been mirrored as you will be tracing the reverse side of the pattern piece onto the fusible web (paper side).
Traditionally we have taped our pattern sheet to a window and used the light to shine through so we can draw onto the fusible web (paper side). Then the web is ironed to the underside of the selected patterned fabric. (These days people use a LED light tracing board instead of the window (light box)).
METHOD - USING A PRINTER AND FUSIBLE WEB You can use modern technology and use either an inkjet printer to transfer the pattern pieces directly onto the paper-side of the fusible web (we use Ste(scan n cut in our photos) you can cut out our shapes after the fabric has been bonded to the Fusible web so it makes the process very fast and less labour intensive.
NOTE - Fusible web
We have tested a range of fusible web products and find they all have their own idiosyncrasies but they mainly all deliver the same result, albeit some are firmer than others are. Instead of fusible web, some people use a glue stick to adhere their applique fabric pieces to their background.
Our product of choice is Steam-A-Seam 2 Lite and there is a write up about the new version at the end of this document.
Once you have your shape traced onto your fusible web, rough cut the fusible web around the outline of the drawing.
Peel off the paper and place the tacky side onto the underside of the chosen fabric.
Neatly cut around the tracing line in preparation for laying out the design. Peel the remaining paper off the underside of the shape; the bonded glue resin is then ready to be positioned and then steamed (heated) into place on the backing fabric.
METHOD - USING A DIGITAL CUTTING MACHINE: (eg Brother Scan N Cut/Cricut)
Using a cutting machine makes for very fast preparation although these is a little more wastage of both fabric and fusible web. The cutting files provided within our pattern are SVG’s and you will need to create your own cutting file in the format your machine can read. (Your cutting machine should have come with software able to convert the file).
Roughly cut a piece of fabric and fusible web just larger than the piece you are cutting.
Note - Steam-A-Seam 2 has a tacky backing on both sides of the web and this is on top of the fusible web. This allows the placement of the product onto fabric really easy as it’s repositionable until heated.
Peel off one side (it is suggested the NON grid side), stick it down to the fabric.
Lightly iron (heat only, no steam) the paper side once adhered to the fabric. This will ensure the paper does not move when the blade is cutting though the layers.
Use a brayer (roller) if needed to adhere the fabric side to the cutting mat.
The standard cutting mat should have a High Tack Fabric Support Sheet added for easier cutting.
Use a brayer or roller if needed but note if the fabric is stuck too firmly to the mat it makes it harder to weed (remove) the cut pieces off the sheet.
Load the cutting file onto the machine (scan n cut shown in the photos), go to the editing screen and scan the mat so the fabric pieces show.
Position the pattern pieces within the perimeter of the scanned fabric edges and then proceed to cut out the pieces.
STEP 2 – Design Layout
There are a few different ways to transfer the placement lines to your fabric as a guideline for placing down your applique fabrics.
Here are some different methods
METHOD - LIGHT BOARD (LIGHT BOX)
If the fabric is not dark then a light board is possible to use but with a darker background, it is very hard to see the lines from the printed template through the fabric.
METHOD - CARBON PAPER
Place the fabric down on a firm surface (right side up) then sandwich the carbon sheet (coloured side facing the fabric that is receiving the design) between the fabric and the design template. Hold firmly in place and with a tracing wheel (or ball point pen) draw/run over the lines from the template being careful not to overshoot the edges of the template, as the applique fabric will need to cover these marks. Carbon paper is generally hard to remove from lighter fabric.
Check to see that you have all the necessary lines for laying down your applique fabric on top of.
METHOD - TRANSFER PENCIL/PEN
Transfer pencils, crayons or pigment pens can be used for this technique. Place the layout template (wrong side up) on a light board or a window (during daylight) and with the pencil/pen mark the lines of the template onto the wrong side of the tracing paper or transfer tissue paper.
Once the design is traced, lay the paper on top of the fabric (pencil side down) and firmly heat with a hot iron (or follow the directions that came with your pencil/pen.
The wax or pigment will melt the pattern onto the fabric. Transfer media is available in many colours, even white.
METHOD - FUSING MAT (our preferred method)
The use of a see-through mat is a good way to mount layers of applique without having to mark up the background fabric. The mat is sealed mesh that allows the printed layout pdf pattern to show through in readiness to apply the layers of shapes on top. The mesh prevents the fusible web from sticking to the paper pattern and the melted web will not stick to the mat once cool. The mat we use is a Fusamat that prevents the hot resin (glue) from spreading outside the cut edges. (Fusamat™ is designed by Sharon Bradley from New Zealand and is distributed worldwide)
Place your layout pattern NOT MIRRORED PDF under the fusing mat.
Lay the pieces in the order you need on top of the mat. (You can “press as you go” with a mini-iron up to 220C/430F).
Once all the pieces are in place, fuse them together and when they have cooled, remove them from the mat and place onto a background fabric (all in one piece) and then press or steam into place. These mats make the process very easy.
METHOD – CUTTING MACHINE
(WE USED A BROTHER SCAN N CUT MACHINE)
Load the SVG file onto the machine and then using either the drawing pens that come with the machine or with a Universal penholder and a suitable fabric marking pen, place the base fabric on the cutting mat (right side up) and then proceed to draw the placement template onto the fabric. For dark fabrics a Mitsubishi 0.7mm uni-POSCA pen works very well in white.
Once you have the layout marked on your background fabric lay down the pieces in suggested order from the pattern. Gather your pieces and peel off the backing. If using Steam-A-Seam 2 you will have a tacky back that will stick into position and be repositionable until heat is applied. Cover the placement lines for the suggested shape.
When building the design pieces there will be an overlaps on some edges of the fabric. This overlap is stitched through all layers to hold the under fabric. Continue adding the pieces until the design is complete.
When all the pieces are in position follow the instructions of the fusible web product used applying the correct temperature and time. Some products like steam and some do not; let the product instructions guide you.
Check that all edges have adhered to the base fabric and that none float free. Try not to touch the work until it has cooled as a fingerprint can become visible on darker fabrics and impossible to press flat once the resin has cooled.
Step 3 - Stitch around the applique to attach it permanently to the background
STITCHES TO USE
Ideally, you are trying to create a hand stitch by sewing machine. Stitches 1, 2 & 3 are traditional machine applique blanket stitches (also called pin stitch or buttonhole stitch). Try to balance the width and length to make a square between the cross bar and the side stitch of the pattern. Some machines can only create stitch 2 with a double stitched edge. Stitch 3 is used for a “needle turned” edge or invisible applique by machine using “MonoPoly” thread (clear or invisible) or something similar. We suggest a polyester invisible thread as a nylon thread tends to melt when pressing.
Novelty stitches can also simulate handwork. Stitch 4 is the traditional Feather Stitch, stitch 5 is Turkish hemstitch and stitch 6 is a Diamond edge stitch used for highlighting an edge. Stitches 7 & 8 replicate stem stitches or echo stitching for creating shadow or outlines depending on their size and length.
Every brand of machine offers a different array of stitches but they need to replicate handwork where possible.
BY HAND (same styles as above but hand worked)
TECHNIQUES FOR MACHINE BLANKET STITCH/OVERCAST STITCHING AROUND APPLIQUE
Using a basic blanket stitch, you can cover the raw edge of fabric to both secure and enhance the edge.
There are different techniques used for stitching around different shapes. To set up your machine, attach an open toe applique foot (either metal or see-through plastic but the metal foot does feed better when dealing with craft cottons, silks and linens). The applique foot has a raised channel on the underside allowing any raised stitching or fabric to glide through the foot without any resistance. Some machines will allow the selected stitch to be worked from either the left or right hand side of the foot opening. Using the right hand side of the foot can help keep a blanket stitch on the very edge of the fabric with ease. Every machine is different in its offerings.
Stopping to pivot every few stitches will help keep the stitches sitting close to the cut edge. Every few stitches, sink the needle into the work on the return stitch from completing the cross bar of the blanket stitch. Lift the foot (or use the pivot function found on some machines) and turn the work, keeping the needle close to the raw edge of the fabric. The cross bar of the stitch should ideally sit at a right angle to the cut edge of the fabric and the stitch needs to form as a single stitch and not as a shallow “V” (which is caused by movement during turning on the go).
Turning a corner can be messy sometimes and it might be necessary to force the stitch to end at the corner instead of after it (force by shifting where the needle penetrates the fabric). When coming to the corner pivot before the cross bar needs to happen, pivot and let the stitch happen on the top raw edge. Carry on stitching.
Points can be done in a few different ways but simple is best, visually.
Like the square corner, often a manual needle drop at the point will be necessary. Before the needle penetrates the fabric close to the point, move it along so it is exactly on the point. Turn the corner but allow the cross bar to form at the top of the corner before proceeding down the edge of the fabric.
Depending on the sharpness of the point, it might be necessary to try to skip the cross bar stitching if it is wider than the actual tip of the point.
LITE STEAM-A- SEAM 2: The new, improved Steam a Seam 2 has a better paper on both sides with tacky-ness on either side to assist with applique, art quilts or other projects, before pressing with your iron and permanently bonding to your fabric. The 'tacky' allows you to position your fabric temporarily multiple times until you determine its permanent position. Once in its final layout position, steam with your iron for 20 seconds so it has permanently fused. Lite Steam-A-Seam 2 is a lighter weight web than regular Steam a Seam 2 but both work equally well. If there is build-up of fabric layers in a design, Steam a Seam 2 will reduce the weight of the layers making it easier to stitch. This product is available in rolls and printer friendly cut sheets (5 sheets in a pack).
We have lots more “How to” Videos and Blog articles on our website at Sewswpea.com https://sewswpea.com/blogs/tutorials