Needle Turn Applique part 1

Posted by Ruth on 5 July 2012 | 0 Comments


Many of our patterns at Arbee Designs include applique designs. Mostly we use fusible web applique but for many, you can do the applique by hand. It's very relaxing and rewarding to do hand applique and you can take your project to do almost anywhere. 

Cynthia Foster's new pattern Desert Blooms is ideal for hand applique so I decided to make some of the flowers to show you my method of needle turn. There are a number of different alternative but this works the best for me.

What do I need to get started?

Fabric, matching thread, applique needles, freezer paper or template plastic and the usual items of scissors, pins and marking tools.

Match thread to applique fabric

I use very fine applique needles, you might be more comfortable with slightly bigger. I match the thread to my fabric, as close as possible. Using a slightly lighter thread is better than a darker thread.

Applique needles


Start by drawing the templates out. I used freezer paper this time, but template plastic is ideal especially if you are making many of the same piece. I'm starting with flower 4 on the pattern so need to draw two sections, the petal and the center.

Trace template to freezer paper or template plastic

I pressed the freezer paper to my fabric - it doesn't move that way and it makes it easy to draw around.

petals drawn on fabric

I then cut out each petal leaving a scant 1/4". Tip: If you plan on taking your project to work on, it's quite a good idea to have all your pieces cut out. I use a ziplock bag to keep them in and label it so I know which flower it is.

first petal cut out

Next I traced the outline of the whole flower onto my background section.

trace complete flower onto background

I'm using a light background that the template easily shows through so I could draw the outline. If you have a dark background, you can use a lightbox to help see the design clearly. Alternatively, you could tape the pattern to your window and hold the fabric up to it for drawing - if you have a lot to draw though, your arms will begin to ache!

After the outline is drawn, I can position the first petal in place so the drawn lines match exactly to the outline on the background fabric.

Position first petal exactly on drawn lines

I used a couple of pins to hold it in place. I'm now ready to start stitching. Tip: Only pin one section in place at a time. You will stitch that in place first before adding the next.

Secure with pins

Tomorrow I will should you how to do the actual stitching. You can thread up your needle ready to start. See you then!

quilting classes available at the Academy of Quilting

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