I thought I would show you the method of needleturn I use on this little fella...
Can you tell that I REALLY love this pattern from Kim McLean?!!!
To begin with you need to work out which pieces of applique will need to be stitched first, that is, if you have any pieces that will need to be layered. Using this bird for example, his back wing needed to be stitched first as well as the vine leading up to the birds beak.
then the body, then the front wing.
When beginning to stitch, send your needle from the back of your fabric, through to the front. The very talented Janet from Quiltsalott has done a wonderful tutorial on how to begin and end threads in your applique. Her tute is so thorough and clear I didn't want to repeat it here, rather to urge you to check it out for yourself!
Ending your thread without a knot
Photo courtesy of Quiltsalott
Photo courtesy of Quiltsalott
I work from right to left taking tiny stitches...poke the needle down into the fabric directly behind where your thread has come up, then bring it back up again a small way along. Catch a little bit of the fabric on the edge of the applique shape, pull the thread through, then repeat the step.
Using the flat of your needle (not the tip), push the fabric gently downwards to fold it under. This is where finger pressing comes into its own...as you push the edge under the fabric will naturally fold to where it has been pressed making the needleturn a very easy step. Using your left thumb and forefinger to hold the folded edge down as you work will be a big help too. As you stitch around pull the 3/4 inch pins out as you come to them.
As you stitch around your shape don't make any cuts into the curves until you are near them and ready to stitch them. When you do cut into the curves, simply cut up to the drawn line (not over it).
In curves like this I generally make 3 cuts - 1 directly in the middle of the curve and one on either side of that. As I stitch around the curve I then turn under the fabric between each cut, one at a time using my thumb to give the edge a press as I go. I find turning under bit by bit stops a lot of fraying and turns the edges under very nicely.
When it comes to stitching points, these are even easier! Cut off the tip of the triangle...this will mean there is less bulk when you turn the fabric under.
Stitch up to the point of your drawn outline.
Turn under the corner with your needle, I usually do it in two tucks. Once the fabric is tucked under the point nicely, tug the thread gently outwards to make the point sit flat.
Put a stitch directly into the end of the point, then keep stitching around the shape, cutting into the curves as you get to them.
Remember as you are layering your shapes, any parts of the applique that will be covered by a top layer will not need to be stitched. For example in the pic below the top wing will cover this area I have left unstitched.
This is what the applique will look like from the back. Small stitches with no starting and finishing knots showing (thank you Janet!).
So that's about it! Thank you for coming on this long needleturn ride with me. Please don't hesitate to ask any questions, I'm not that good at writing clear instructions so I'm hoping I haven't confused more than helped, but it has been fun xo