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The “A” Word

One of my favorite people in the world, Jan Krueger-Wilson, used to refer to appliqué as the “A” word. She didn’t do appliqué. I could respect that. BUT learning how to do appliqué opened a whole new side of quilting to me! It was exciting that I could take shapes and make them into fun images or realistic images! My background is in Graphic Design so typography was also something I used frequently in my work - both in quilting and in my print design work.

I started really getting excited about appliqué when I owned my shop. There were two designers whose work I really liked: McKenna Ryan (her design is above,) and Nancy Halvorsen. Both of them have a whimsical element to their work, but their styles are very different. I started making samples of their patterns and selling kits and teaching the classes. It was fun and very rewarding. The type of appliqué they use is called Raw Edge Applique.

If you have never done this technique, know that it is fast, easy and gives great results. (I’m a sucker for instant gratification!)  No need to be afraid of this technique! Let me walk you through it…

  • Raw Edge Applique uses a paper-backed, heat-activated sheet of glue that you press to the wrong side of your fabric. It is generically called Fusible Web. Make sure you are using a light enough (or heavy enough) product for your project. I like Wonder Under - there are several different kinds - so if you’ve never tried this technique before, it might be wise to purchase a small amount of several different kinds and experiment with them before you use them in a project you’ll want to keep. They come on a roll, so you can buy a little or a lot.

  • When you are ready, trace your shapes with a fine line sharpie pen onto the paper side of the fusible web. Many patterns have numbers on the shapes. Make sure you number your pieces. ALL the shapes INCLUDING LETTERS should be in REVERSE. In the patterns, the shapes are typically broken out into individual pieces that are already reversed and numbered. Group your tracings by color and trace each piece onto the paper side of the fusible web. (That is the side that is smooth.)  Cut the fusible web in a general cut around the group of shapes for each color.

  • Press the traced shapes onto the wrong side of your fabric. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions! It is better to have the iron slightly cooler because the glue layer could evaporate if your iron is too hot or held on it for too long. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE GLUE SIDE OF THE FUSIBLE WEB FACING the WRONG side of the fabric!

  • Once the fabric has cooled, you can cut out the shapes on the lines you traced.

  • I use a Silicone Pressing sheet when I press. It keeps the surface of my pressing board clean. This will also let your pieces peel off of the sheet easily. If you’re new to this, it is wise to put a pressing cloth over the fusible web before you press it. (Using a pressing cloth will prevent your iron from getting mucked up if you make a mistake and press it glue side up!) Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for heat and length of time for pressing.

  • If you are creating a larger appliqué unit with multiple layers I suggest you do this on top of the Silicone Pressing sheet. They are typically see-through, so you can lay the pattern underneath the pressing sheet and start layering - the numbers give you the order to place the pieces.

  • Start with the first layer or the #1 piece and peel off the paper backing from the shape and place it where it belongs. If the first piece is moving around a lot, just press it very lightly onto the Silicone Pressing Sheet to keep it in place. Line it up with the pattern underneath the Silicone Pressing sheet and continue to add pieces in numerical order (be sure to peel off the backing paper.)

  • Once you have everything where you want it, you can press it. The Silicone Pressing sheet will allow the pieces on top to stick to those pieces underneath it and you can peel the whole shape off of the sheet as a unit to lay in place.

  • Lay your design in place on your project and press. Stitch around the edges with matching thread (or contrasting thread if you like!)

This is one of the techniques I use a lot in my designs. You can try it out on a small project with my four FREE Seasonal Tea Towel patterns.  Just go to my website: , enter your email and the patterns are sent directly to your inbox.

Mastering this technique isn’t hard and will open up a lot of possibilities for you in your quilting journey!  Please send pictures that I can post of your appliqué projects and your Tea Towels!

Quilt with joy!


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