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How to make a one-of-kind applique with small fabric pieces

by Jennifer Houlden

 

Yesterday I had so much fun playing with Sulky’s Tear-Easy stabilizer to foundation piece the background blocks for my autumn table runner. It’s definitely something I’ll be doing again in the near future but today my focus is to create intriguing applique with small fabric pieces.

This is a really easy technique and a scrap stash buster if you like using scraps or if you’re like me I just cut a strip off a piece of fabric and start from there.

Beautiful rust and orange fabrics

Beautiful rust and orange fabrics

 

Stabilizer choice

This technique requires that the stabilizer stays in place so a cut-away, wash-away or tear-away will work.  The only catch is that it needs to be fusible. I decided to go with the Sticky Fabri-Solvy to build my piece of fabric. Since it’s sticky I won’t need to fuse the pieces in place before sewing.

My plan is to make maple leaves and since I live in the forest I was able to just pick a leaf, trace it and use it for my template. Because I live where the leaves are already changing color my mind is seeing reds, oranges, yellows and rusts for this project.

I’ve chose several batiks and cottons and decided to add in some of the lighter batiks from yesterdays fabrics.

This technique does work best if there’s a good balance of light, dark and medium valued fabrics.

Strips of fabric in a variety of lights and darks

Strips of fabric in a variety of lights and darks

 

How to create the intriguing applique

Step 1 Cut strips from pieces of coordinating fabrics. They only need to be 2″ wide x WOF.

Step 2 Layer the strips and cut into varied shapes and sizes.

Pieces of fabric in various shapes and sizes

Pieces of fabric in various shapes and sizes

 

Step 3 Place in piles. This allows you to easily see what you have and pick for placement. It also tells you what fabrics you like best as some of the piles deplete faster than the others.

Each fabric has its own pile

Each fabric has its own pile

 

Step 4 Peel off the paper from the stabilizer and place the stabilizer on the table with sticky side up.

Paper removed for stabilizer, sticky side facing up

Paper removed for stabilizer, sticky side facing up

 

Step 5 Place fabric pieces on the stabilizer using all the fabrics and making a pleasant arrangement of color. Don’t overthink the placement as this piece of fabric is going to get cut up again. Make sure all the stabilizer is covered and no white is showing – the fabric pieces will overlap at strange angles.

Placing pieces on stabilizer

Placing pieces on stabilizer

 

Step 6 If using a fusible stabilizer now is the time to fuse the fabric to the stabilizer. Because I used the Sticky Fabri-Solvy no heat is required and the fabric pieces stick in place.

Step 7 Stitch down all raw edges of the fabric pieces with a zigzag stitch or decorative stitch of your choice. I used a free motion zigzag stitch and a 30 weight Sulky Blendables thread in a matching color. The variegated thread changes color approximately every inch and it is a seamless change with the variation of the colors used. This is one of my absolute favorite threads and I have an addiction to them. Remember to change your needle to a 90/14 topstitch since the thread is of a heavier weight.

Sulky blendables

Sulky blendables

 

The fabric is made and all the raw edges have been stitched down. I love the thread and how the yellow in the thread gives it a bit of a glow.

When I first started quilting I was never going to put yellow in any of my quilts – now if you look at my quilts most of them have yellow of some sort in them. Amazing how we change our tune.

Just like I would never mix batiks and cottons in the same quilt and now I do it all the time because it gives lots of texture to the piece especially with this technique.

Raw edges stitched with zigzag stitch

Raw edges stitched with zigzag stitch

 

I’ll draw out my maple leafs on some HeatnBond and fuse them to the new fabric I created above. It will fuse just fine to the stabilizer.

Cutting them out is a bit tougher than just a regular piece of fabric so sharp scissors are a must. I use my KAI scissors for this job as they’re very sharp and cut through the layers with no problem.

Maple leaf and sharp scissors

Maple leaf and sharp scissors

 

Tomorrow is the day it all comes together and hopefully I’ll have a stunning table runner to adorn my dining room table for the autumn months.

Create intriguing applique with small fabric pieces and make your applique designs stand out.

 

This is part 4 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 3: 4 great reasons to foundation piece with tear-away stabilizer

Go to part 5: 4 helpful tips for auditioning quilt block layouts

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