Appliqué Experiments

A couple of years ago, sometime before I damaged the tendon sheaths in my hand and wrist, I started a quilt with a Feathered Star in the middle, and I planned to border it with a Jinny Beyer border print. I was kind of hoping to enter the quilt into a show that year. I was going to appliqué the border with Jinny’s Soft Edge method, so it would look like this:

Appliquéd border

Well, after the hand problems started, I had to put it aside, and I just can’t see that I’ll be able to do that much hand appliqué again, ever. I can do delicate work like needle-turn appliqué for about ten minutes before my hand starts hurting, so it’s probably not going to get done that way. I pulled this project out of the UFO stash the other day to see what could be done to salvage it. I started trying to see if I could do the appliqué by machine with a really narrow satin stitch.

First satin stitch attempt

A couple of problems here; first, the satin stitching is way too bulky and just looks out of place to me, and second, when I was stitching it on the machine, it was difficult to keep everything flat and nice while the machine moved along. The border print fabric layer kept getting pushed out of place ahead of the foot. Definitely not satisfactory results.

Now, I’ve never been a fan of fusible anything. It’s just not my thing, especially for quilts that are…well…really nice quilts, like I would send to a show. Fusible webbing has its place, it’s just not on my show quilts. Even so, I tried fusing the border print layer to the background to see if I could live with the stiffness that the fusible web would add. I also switched to 100 weight silk thread for the satin stitch, and it was slightly better:

Second attempt with fusible and silk thread

The border print fabric stayed in place better, but I still didn’t like the black thread. The silk thread was better, but it still looked too harsh and out of place. I initially thought that black thread would be the answer, since the edge of the appliqué piece was black, but I decided to try a bronze sort of color at that point. Much better results!!

Third attempt with bronze silk thread

The tension on the machine could have been loosened on the top a bit so that the bobbin thread didn’t show at all, so that was the next modification. So here’s the real test, on the pieced background borders:

Final result

I’m really happy with the look of this now. It will be easier to get the tops of the border design to match up with the seam in between the two top pieced borders there since it’s fused in place before sewing. When I was needle turning it, it was difficult to get it to line up just right at that spot every time. It’s flatter and neater as well, as long as I can be really attentive and perfect when I do the satin stitching on the machine. The silk thread is really perfect for this effect, since you can do a super narrow satin stitch with it, like .2mm, and it doesn’t look bulky and lumpy. I did use a piece of tear-away stabilizer behind the satin stitching as well, to cut down on possible stretching during stitching.

It’s still a bit stiff, and I’m not sure I’ll be ecstatic about that when it comes time for quilting it, but at this point, I have to find ways around the whole handwork thing since I really can’t do it any more. A major part of the problem with fusibles is that the regular weight always slips away from the paper backing before you can use it for anything, but the heavy weight is, well, too heavy. sigh. I may try to order a different kind of fusible web, in hopes that it will perform better, since the Wonder Under that I have around is just trash really. Still, it was a successful day of experiments!

5 thoughts on “Appliqué Experiments

  1. Experimenting really does pay off! I can imagine that, once you’ve quilted the whole thing, the satin stitch will look even more integrated. Gorgeous 🙂


  2. Hi Kristin,

    Thanks for stopping in! I am really looking forward to quilting it, as that’s really the fun part for me lately. I might be a bit longer getting to that than you think though, since I actually started piecing the borders before the inside parts were done, so I still have a long way to go. So I’m kicking myself back to the sewing machine for the day!


  3. I have problems with the paper too, so I spray adhesive the paper back on when I really need it to stick. I need to re-read Quilter’s Home article on fusibles from last month to see if there is something more reliable than Steam a Seam. (I have problems with the paper on Lite or Regular.)


  4. Hi Kelly,

    You mean Steam a Seam isn’t any good either?? Ugh! I’d heard some good things about that, but I just hadn’t gotten around to ordering any yet. Maybe I won’t! Let me know if that article has some miracle fusible in it to save us all, will you? I don’t have that mag…

    I did come across a better way to stick the regular weight Wonder Under back to the paper though: I have some parchment paper for cooking (made by Wilton) in the kitchen, and it works perfectly if you use a large piece, and press the fusible web between it and the original paper. Let it cool and then remove the parchment paper. Good as new!

    Thanks for stopping by!


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