This will be the first of a 3 part post on how I do my needleturn applique. There are quite a few ways you can accomplish needleturn applique, the way I show it here is the way I found to be the easiest for me. My main inspiration was an applique book that I picked up from the Piece O' Cake girls called The New Applique Sampler, however it looks as though they have newer resources you can use now.
The first step then, is to assemble your tools. Apart from your pattern, fabric background, and fabrics for the applique, you will also need:
I love to use Rasant thread. I use it for all my hand applique as well as anything I do on my sewing machine, both piecing and quilting. I have tried other threads in the past but find that nothing matches up to this one. It comes in 1000m rolls which go a very long way. Rasant is a poly cotton mix and doesn't tangle as easily as other threads can when on the needle. I buy it from here and here.
It is so handy to have a lot of bobbins filled with as many colours as you like, these can sit next to you as you stitch and you can easily match your threads to the fabric you are about to sew. I attempt to use the exact thread colour to the fabric I am using. If the fabric is a multicolour then I find the light tan colour is a good one.
Applique Needles, 3/4 inch Pins and Thimble
These Piecemakers applique needles are beautiful to use, very fine and small (size 12) for all those tiny applique stitches you need to make. I buy them from Tennesee Quilts shop in America.
I use these 3/4 inch pins to hold my applique onto the background fabric (instead of tacking it on). I sit my magnetic pin holder next to me to place pins onto quickly as I am stitching around my applique shape.
A thimble is a must have for your middle finger to push the needle into the applique. Make sure you get the right size thimble for your finger, nothing worse than having it fall off every time you move it, or red rings around your finger from wearing it too tight!
Sharp Scissors, Pencils, Freezer Paper and Rubbish Thingy!
Sharp scissors are a very important tool in your applique, they are used for cutting around the fabric shapes, the smaller scissors for cutting into the curves of your applique and for cutting your threads. You will also need some paper scissors for cutting around the freezer paper shapes (never use the good sewing scissors on paper!!!).
White washaway pencils (and a lead pencil for the very light fabrics) are needed to trace around the applique shape before attaching it to your background. Try not to drop them on the floor as this breaks the leads (something I do a lot!!!). An enclosed pencil sharpener is handy to have nearby as you do go through a lot of lead.
Freezer paper is what I use to cut out the applique templates, I will show how it is used in the next post.
I have my Rubbish Thingy sitting beside me at all times for all the tiny thread ends, clipped fabric bits and used freezer paper shapes (see this post if you want to make one).
The last tool you will need is a light box for tracing your applique pattern onto your background fabric. This is where I do it a little differently from the Piece O' Cake girls. They use a vinyl overlay (which would be more accurate), however I find tracing the outline onto the fabric then placing the applique pieces over that outline seems to work for me.
Next post...The Preparation!