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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Hand Applique by Machine ~ Lesson One

Hello everyone!

Blackbird Designs Trick or Treat basket block
Until about a year and half ago, I didn't think I'd ever learn needle-turn applique!  I didn't think I'd have the patience for it....but then, Blackbird Designs book, When The Cold Wind Blows came out and I fell madly in love with the little basket blocks.  I adore basket blocks!  While at a quilt guild function, I had an opportunity to learn needle-turn applique from a fellow guild member, and make one of these basket blocks.  I was smitten!!  I've been making these blocks ever since, and to date, have 66 of the needed 297 blocks finished.  It may take me several years to complete all of the blocks, but that's OK!  I'm thoroughly enjoying the journey.  Still, I don't think that traditional needle-turn will be something I strive at, although I'm happy to have the skills now. 

Many years ago, I learned the following method of applique, which gives the appearance of needle-turn.  It's faster, keeps the applique soft and pliable, gives you the option of hand or machine stitching, and removes the freezer paper from the back before stitching it in place!  It's good to have several  techniques in your stitching arsonal!

As promised, here is the first demo of how I get the look of needle-turn hand applique without the hand work.  Since the Remember Me block is a nice, easy circle, I'll demonstrate with that block, but know that I use this technique for any and all applique shapes and sizes.

Preparing the Applique

Trace the applique shape, including the dotted line, onto the paper side of a piece of freezer paper.   (The dotted line is an added steps for this project only.)  For this method, you don't have to reverse your applique. 

Cut the shape out on the solid line. For this block, cut the applique on the outer line only for now. 

With the waxy side against the fabric, press onto the wrong side of your fabric/block.

Trim the block into a circle, removing the excess fabric.

Lift and separate the freezer paper from from the fabric all around the edges of the circle, keeping it attached in the center.  Cut the freezer paper off on the dotted line.  Repress the freezer paper to the fabric. 

This gives you the 1/4 inch seam allowance, and the block is ready for the next step.

The first solid line of the circle template easily enables you to center the circle more precisely on the block since it extends from edge to edge.  Trimming the freezer paper on the dotted line then allows you to accurately trim a quarter inch seam allowance.  Normally when I use this method for applique, I trace the shape onto the freezer paper, cut it out on the line, iron to the wrong side of the fabric, then give myself a seam allowance when I cut it out. 

Stay tuned for Lesson Two coming soon!


  1. Thanks, Pam. I'm anxious to learn this.

  2. Brilliant! Thanks for the great tip!

  3. Hi Pam,

    There's just no way I'll ever be able to do needle turn applique, but I love the look of applique, so I'm excited about your method here. Keep up the great work! I'll be watching!!



  4. I can't wait to see the rest! Did you use starched fabric for this too?

  5. Great written and visual instructions. Diane

  6. Great tutorial! Very easy to follow, can't wait to see more. Thanks