The winner of Nature’s Beauty in Appliqué is Helen Lebrett! Congratulations! Helen, be sure to reply to my email so that I can get your prize sent out to you.

I subscribe to the Checker News Blog. Checker Distributors is one of the largest companies supplying our independent quilt shops with everything they could need and more. Their news blog is geared toward retailers, but reading it is a great way to see what’s new, cool, and groovy in Quiltland.

Penny Haren, author of the Pieced Appliqué series of books, is a consultant for Checker and does most of the blogging. Recently she posted the story of an old appliqué top that was relegated to the closet for a number of years after the fabrics faded, and how she was able to bring it back to new life. I found this fascinating!

Penny’s Appliqué Repair

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mckenzie

Hello everyone! Back safe and sound from SoCal. I’m excited… this post has been cooking for over a year now! I met Australian quilter and stitcher extraordinaire Helen Stubbings at Market a couple of times, and we finally got it together for her to do a guest post on her method of appliqué! You are going to love this! Take it away Helen!

Glue stick Applique
By Helen Stubbings of Hugs ‘n Kisses

This easy or some would say ‘cheats’ method of needleturn applique takes the scare factor out of needleturn. Most of the work is in the preparation, leaving the actual stitching as the easy bit.

The method uses two products – Hugs ‘n Kisses Applique Paper and a glue pen – I use the Sewline Water-Soluble Glue Pen.

Method:
Place a sheet of applique paper with the shiny (glue) side down on top of your template or design printed sheet. It is semitransparent so you can easily see the design through the paper. Trace each design or template shape onto the paper – I like to use a Sewline Ceramic pencil which glides on nicely. Note: if your applique design is directional you need to reverse it for this method.


Cut out each shape carefully on the traced lines. This is the important part – be as careful as possible as this determines your final shape.


Fuse each shape to the wrong side of your chosen fabrics. You need to leave a large ¼” between shapes for seam allowances.


If you wish, you can fussy-cut your fabrics by positioning the shapes to suit.

Cut out each shape leaving an approximate 1/8” seam allowance.


Using the glue pen, run a line of glue along the edge of the paper template –- it only needs to be light and right on the edge.


Using your thumb and forefinger, gently press over the seam allowance onto the glue. You want to fold the fabric on the edge of the paper –- but you don’t want to fold the paper as well, it doesn’t take too long to get the feel of the edge of the paper and where to fold to.


If the end of your applique piece is going to be under another piece in the final design you do not need to glue and fold these edges over.

You do not need to clip into outer curves. Our seam allowance is small and often on the bias so clipping is not necessary. Just gently fold/pleat around curves a small step at a time so you do not get points. If you are having trouble eliminating points try trimming back the seam allowance a little further.





If you have tails like on this leaf, just leave those and they will be dealt with later.


Your prepared shape!


You will need to clip on inner curves – but not as much as you may be used to. Just clip where you absolutely need to to enable the seam allowances to fold in nicely. Inner points need to be clipped to the edge of the paper.


Continue glueing until all shapes are prepared.


Position your background fabric over the design sheet. Use a light box if you cannot easily see through the fabric.


Position and layer all applique pieces following the design you can see underneath. Use the glue pen or for larger projects Roxanne’s Glue baste it to secure all pieces at once. Just layer them up until the complete block is ready for stitching.



Now you can stitch all pieces down as you would for your normal applique method. I use Hugs ‘n Kisses applique needles and Superior Bottom Line threads but you can use your thread of choice. When stitching down those tails that are showing, stitch to the point and do a double stitch to hold, tuck under the tail with the tip of your needle and continue in the new direction.

No need to remove the papers – when it is washed they will just dissolve and soften into safe fibres in your quilt project.

All of our Hugs ‘n Kisses applique patterns include the full design sheet along with reversed where necessary templates and applique shapes for tracing. We are considering including pre-printed Applique Paper in our patterns in the future –- so you can just cut out, glue and stitch!

Happy appliquéing!
Hugs,
Helen

Every couple of years, my small quilt group the Nite Needlers collaborates on a project that we donate as a fundraiser to our guild or another worthy cause. This year we hit on a red-and-white basket quilt.

I drafted some basic traditional-looking baskets in my trusty Illustrator program and handed them out with the finished dimensions to all the gals. We’re each making five blocks, and our ground rules are that we’re using turkey-reddish fabrics for the baskets and white-to-cream-with-red for the background. Sticking to the basic basket shape, we can do whatever we like as far as sub-piecing the body, adding appliqué, etc.

OF COURSE I had to do some appliqué. Here’s what I came up with.

Okay imagine for now that there’s some red print on the white.

I had my plan. Now for the execution part. I was presented with some conundrums.

IMO, raw-edge appliqué is for decorative purposes, like wall quilts. This project is going to be bed-sized, so I really felt that my appliqué should be turned-edge. “Hand appliqué!” you might be saying. As well you might, knowing me.

But there were other factors to consider. I knew that Janet, who never does anything by hand being the mistress of the machine that she is, would make her handles using turned-edge machine appliqué. Plus, I wanted to delineate the edges of the appliqué motifs to distinguish between the flower and the leaves a little better, and the machine blanket stitch in the dark red color would work well for that.

So there it was. Turned-edge appliqué with a machine blanket stitch. Hmm….

I reached deep into my appliqué bag of tricks, and even ended up inventing a new trick that I threw back in with the rest when I was done!

First, the handles. I used Holly Mabutas’ glue-stick turned-edge preparation method, where the turning allowance is glued back onto itself using a freezer-paper template on the front as a guide. All went well.

Then the flowers. Another conundrum, factor, wrinkle, challenge, or whatever you consider it to be. These were white flowers on a red background. Can you say “shadow-through?” I wanted to line them.

Thinking cap, thinking cap. I could have used faced appliqué, but I was in the glue-stick groove. Got it! A hybrid fusing/glue-stick method!

I hauled out scraps of my favorite paper-backed fusible web SoftFuse, and made some templates with the centers cut out.

I fused them to some white scrap fabric and cut them out actual size.

I removed the paper backing and fused them onto the back of the red-and-white print for the flowers, and cut them out leaving a small turning allowance.

Back to Holly’s method, except this time I glued the turning allowance over onto the white lining, using it as my template. It worked!

Then I turned to Karen Kay Buckley’s Perfect Circles™ templates to make turned-edge flower centers.

Stick them all together and you’ve got a motif ready to pop onto a basket and stitch.

Here are my five baskets, ready to turn in at the next Nite Needlers meeting, and another thing off my list! Thanks Holly and Karen Kay!

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

In response to last year’s Call for Topics, Donna A. wrote:

I need to know everything! I have a wonderful teacher but she lives a long ways from me. I pretty much just drink in all the information I can get my hands on. Make more books and more patterns — there can never be enough!

Donna, I’m workin’ on it . :)

Donna also wrote that she need to know the pros and cons of glue basting.

Personally I don’t use glue or starch (with the exception of a dab of glue stick in certain specialty situations) but I know that many appliquérs couldn’t live without glueing the edges of their pieces over. It all depends on what you prefer. Myself I’m in the camp of less prep and let’s get to the stitching, but then again needle-turn is like breathing for me. Other appliquérs do not enjoy the edge-turning process and would rather have it done in advance. It’s all good! Whatever gives you the satisfaction in the process and the happiness with the result, that’s what you should do.

Here are the pros and cons of glue from my personal perspective.

PROS

• It’s a prepared-edge method, which means you don’t have to turn the edge while stitching. You just get to stitch away.

CONS

• You get glue on your fingers. Ew.
• You have glue in your project.
• It’s more prep time before getting to the stitching.
• You have to make templates.

If you know of more pros and cons, please chime in!

glue-stick

Here’s a roundup of glue-related posts from the blog. (I got this by clicking on “Glue stick” in the Category list.) I’d pay particular attention to Holly’s method and Laurel’s book.

Glue stick.

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

In other news, Anne Sutton posted about an upcoming on-line sewing competition show called Sliced. Ooooh that has got to be good. I can’t wait!

Reminder: I’ll be at the upcoming Pajaro Valley Quilt Association’s annual show, February 25-26. My booth is #30, the first one on the right as you come into the main building, aka the Crosetti building. Our featured speaker is amazing pictorial quilt artist Linda Schmidt. There’s a fashion show and a quilt auction, a bed turning, door prizes, guild flea market, children’s activities, and a whole lot of fun at our show.

This just in from my pal Holly Mabutas of Eat Cake Graphics:

I’m SO excited to announce a new project! I’ve teamed up with author Terri Thayer, actually she’s the one that approached me with the project over a year ago. She’s writing an 8 month series of stories called Tales of the Quilt Shop, and I’m creating an applique project to go along with it called Sugarplums.

You have GOT to go and take a look at the first block on Holly’s Blog Sprinkles of Thought. If there were anything cuter it wouldn’t be allowed by law. Way to go Holly! Not only that, Holly includes a link to her glue-stick turned-edge hand-appliqué tutorial.

Back soon,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

Remember this photo, of me and Annie Smith holding each other’s books?

annie-n-kay-april-2011

The Ultimate Appliqué Guidebook from C&T Publishing is our featured book this month.

applique-guidebook

Full disclosure: Annie is a buddy of mine. For years we’ve followed one another’s progression as we strove for and attained career goals. A goal that we each held dear was the publication of an appliqué book. I’m so thrilled for Annie that her wish came true last fall when this gorgeous book came to life.

I’ll start by telling you that this is not the ultimate guide to every method of appliqué that’s out there. It’ something very important, a sourcebook of appliqué design elements and a gentle guide through the process of finding inspiration, encouraging it, recording it when it strikes, and translating it into your own unique appliqué quilts.

Starting with the basics, Annie goes through choosing fabrics, playing with fabrics, employing a focus fabric, and determining value. There’s a comprehensive section on tools and supplies for appliqué.

Wow.

Wow.

Then she moves on to detailed instructions for her own favored appliqué methods: raw-edge fusible machine appliqué and Holly Mabutas‘s prepared-edge method for hand appliqué, where freezer-paper templates are ironed to the front and the turning allowance is glued to the back. All through the book there are specific, detailed photographs to help you see exactly what Annie’s talking about.

Then comes a section on the basics of design for blocks and quilts. These are important concepts that in my experience are not covered all the time. A beautiful gallery of quilts follows, to give you even more inspiration. Check out an earlier blog post of mine that shows Annie’s gorgeous coat and accompanying quilt, both of which are pictured in the book.

Following that are several lovely quilt projects to get you started, with pull-out patterns in the back Then comes a whole long catalog of appliqué design elements! A 50 page appliqué shape-a-palooza! Mix and match these as you like!

elements

Many of the elements are given in a variety of sizes, and you can always enlarge or reduce on a photocopy machine. And, you can use any method of appliqué that you like. Another great thing about this book is that it has a lay-flat binding, so you can smooth it out flat for tracing without worrying about breaking the spine. Very cool!

Annie gave me an autographed copy of her book to give away to one of my readers in a drawing. Thank you Annie! If you’d like a chance to win, leave a comment by 7:00 p.m. California time on Saturday, June 4. Contest open to U.S. and Canada addresses only. Good luck!

Until then,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

P.S. In case you might not know, Annie does a podcast for quilters. Check it out at Simple Arts.

The winner of the Quilted Crow Girls pattern is… ! Congratulations

One of the Schoolhouse sessions that I attended during Spring Market was a presentation by Tri-State Printing. Tri-State is a well know name in the quilting industry. I’ve never used them, but I’ve been aware of them for a long time. They are extremely knowledgeable about our industry and its printing needs, and they print for a ton of quilt designers. If you need a little or a lot of help with your printed materials, from pattern covers to brochures to self-published books, they would be a good company to contact.

I went to a fun presentation from the Quilted Frog! Aka Carla Scott and Leanne Smith, who just came out with a new book from AQS Publishing called Lady Bug & Friends Quilts.

lady-bug

The Quilted Frog gals have developed a distinctive, cartoony, and very fun style they call Easy Outline Appliqué™. You have to go to their website and see the quilts from the new book! They are so different looking, really fresh and appealing!

Over on their website they also have tutorials and videos, so be sure to poke around all the great resources they offer.

There’s more from Schoolhouse and Market. I’m trying to wrangle some guest posts, so stay tuned!

Whilst I was tramping around the aisles of Market, I stopped by the Creative Crafts Group booth. They’re the ones who publish Quiltmaker and the special 100 Blocks issues, among many other publications. I was tickled to see the cover of the recent 100 Blocks Volume 3 blown up to poster size. A staffer insisted on taking my picture, and she told me to point to my block. This cheesy maneuver caused me to slump down, which made me look like I gained back that 10 pounds I just lost, but oh well. :)

ccg-booth

In case you ‘re interested in getting that special issue and haven’t found it yet, I have it available on my website now, on the Patterns page.

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

First of all, thank you so much to everyone who visited during the recent blog hop and left nice comments about my Party Frock. Several people suggested that the block would look nice done up in multiples, with different dresses. Great idea! That may just to be something that I need to revisit in the future!

A couple designing buddies of mine have just come out with new patterns that are extremely high on the cuteness scale.

Last fall I blogged about the Tokay Stitchers show, where I had the good fortune to be next-door-neighbors with Rita and Debbie of Lady Bug Lace.

The gals just put out a new pattern called No More Monkeys.

no-more-monkeys-quiltIs that fun or what??

Rita and Debbie told me that since some of the appliqué pieces in the pattern are large, they decided to print one large copy of the design, thinking this would be easier for the quilter than taping several smaller pieces together. The drawing can be taped up onto a sliding glass door or a large window to trace the appliqué pieces, and you can also use the whole drawing to place under the background fabric for placement of the appliqué pieces.

That is certainly an added convenience for the quilter! No More Monkeys is available from their Etsy store.

Neeext… Holly Mabutas of Eat Cake Graphics is at it again! She has just released a darling new quilt pattern called To The World.

to-the-world

This pattern started out life as a rubber stamp, like many of Holly’s do, and is now available for quilters. The very cool thing about Holly’s patterns (besides their adorability) is that Holy includes instructions for her freezer-paper-on-top-glue-to-the-back method of preparation for hand appliqué.

To The World is available over on the quilt pattern page at Eat Cake Graphics.

I’m off to Salt Lake City tomorrow for International Quilt Market, Spring Edition. My publisher has lined up a couple book signings for me, which are so much fun and quite a heady experience. See you after I get home!

Until then,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

I’ve long been an advocate of finding your own method of appliqué, one that’s right for you and gives you results you like. That’s not the same for everyone, and I believe there’s no right and no wrong way, only what pleases you. When quilters stop by my booth at shows and make faces at the “A” word, I tell them they just haven’t found their method.

So I was delighted to take note of a new book by Laurel Anderson called Appliqué Workshop: Mix and Match 10 Techniques to Unlock Your Creativity!

applique-workshop

Here’s some information straight from the author herself.

Laurel Anderson:

I wrote this book with the idea that everyone has different design needs and different technique requirements.

The quilter who wants to occupy her time while on a fishing boat or in a doctor’s waiting room will be more interested in hand appliqué or cutting out fused shapes for three-dimensional or fused appliqué. The mother of four with limited time may be delighted with the speed of machine appliqué or the raw-edge technique. The artist who wants creative freedom may mix many methods into one piece of fiber art.

The techniques in the book are grouped into turned-edge, raw-edge and needle-turn appliqué. Each technique has a summery of its best uses. For instance: the Turned Edge with Starch or Glue makes very sharp points on leaves or petals. The 3D Broderie Perse method makes fast and easy daisy petal shapes for wall hangings. It is easier to be creative if you have your choice of many design tools.

Coneflowers by Laurel Anderson

Coneflowers by Laurel Anderson

The book offers ten appliqué methods, two edge-finishing facings, and several different template ideas. As a bonus, there’s a section on color and a chapter on dying fabric for flower quilts. The pullout section gives six full-size, ready-to-use patterns. The instructions teach several techniques for each pattern. If you make them all you will have tried all the techniques!

The book is available from Laurel’s website, Whisper Color. Laurel says to be sure to send her a message in an email telling her who to sign to book to. (There’s a Contact button on the website.) And while you’re on the site, check out the 100% bamboo batting and Laurel’s latest stand-alone pattern, Winter Amaryllis.

Winter Amaryllis pattern

Winter Amaryllis pattern

Isn’t this gorgeous?

Thank you, Laurel, for telling us about your exciting new book. I’ll be directing those face-makers to it!!

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

On The Quilt Show website, there’s a link for a series of Bernina Educational Videos that are free for the watching… you don’t have to be logged in.

I found this one on invisible machine appliqué that shows the freezer-paper-template-and-glue method for doing turned-edge appliqué with the blind-hem stitch. The link starts up the video right away.

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

As promised, today I’m learning a method of hand appliqué preparation that’s new to me. Holly Mabutas of Eat Cake Graphics gave me her pattern insert with instructions for what she calls “glue stick turned edge appliqué” and I’m trying it out! What intrigues me about this method is that the margin of the fabric is glued back on itself. I’ve tried the other kind of glue-stick appliqué, where the margin is turned and glued over freezer paper, then after stitching you soak the block, slit the back, and get the freezer paper out. That method never ‘stuck’ with me, no pun intended. Now I’m going to try it this way, where the freezer paper is on the front of the fabric.

The first thing I did was to go out and get a brand-new glue stick. I happened to know that the ones I had were a mite dried out — moral of the story, don’t buy them too far in advance, or try keeping them in the fridge as a friend of mine told me.

As it happens, we’re having a heat wave in Santa Cruz. There are just a few days a year when we roast… yesterday it was 102º and I was sweating just sitting upstairs in my studio. So today I gathered up everything that I needed and put up my handy-dandy little table from Costco downstairs in the living room to work in cooler conditions.

bunny1.jpgFreezer-paper templates traced and cut out.

I used the bunny block from my Spin in the Garden pattern.

I had to run upstairs to iron the templates onto the right sides of the fabrics. I used a piece of cardboard underneath, which helps create a better bond.

The next step is to trim the motifs, leaving a scant ¼” turn-under margin. Here are the pieces, trimmed and clipped. There’s a dashed line on areas that are going to be overlapped by another piece.

bunny3.jpg

bunny4.jpgGluing the margin back onto itself on the wrong side. Holly says to use an awl… I didn’t have one so I used a stylus with a tiny, sharp tip. The moist sponge is for cleaning off the glue stick when it gets thready. I’m working on top of an plastic sheet protector.

bunny5.jpgHere are all the pieces glued and with templates removed.

I wasn’t a whiz at the previously unused fine motor skills required to turn the margin with the implement, but I’m thinking I can smooth things out as I stitch. And, as Holly says, “Don’t be too hard on yourself if things aren’t perfect the first time or even the second. With a little patience and practice you’ll do just fine. :)”

bunny6.jpgAgain using the sheet protector, I’m positioning the pieces to join them together into units. No background fabric involved at this point! Holly advises using little dots of Roxanne’s basting glue for this step. I didn’t have any so I hauled out some really ancient stuff called Border Patrol. Turns out this was a misstep on my part, and I’ll tell you why later. Anyway, I used it on the edges of the tail and ears that were going under the body piece, and glued the bunny together.

bunny7.jpgHere’s a whole bunny, separate unto itself, edges turned and ready to hop onto different background fabrics until it finds its favorite one.

bunny8.jpgHere I’ve positioned all of the elements on the background fabric and have used the liquid glue to secure them in place. Still hoping I can work out those pokies.

bunny9.jpgAll stitched… and it worked! I was able to manipulate out the little bumps. For the more serious ones, I dipped a cotton swab in water and soaked the edge of the motif. The glue released immediately and I was then able to smooth out the curve with my needle.

bunny10.jpgOkay so here’s why the liquid basting glue I used was not a good choice. Turns out, unlike Roxanne’s, it’s a permanent glue, and I used it in some injudicious places. See the little spot on the bunny’s paw? It’s confusing, but when you look at glue labels, you want it to say “water soluble” or “washes out.” “Washable” means it doesn’t wash out!

Anyway, aside from that little “learning experience,” I’d say this is the best method of turned-edge glue stick appliqué I’ve tried. For one thing, you don’t need a reversed pattern… what you see is what you get. Plus, you don’t have any freezer paper to remove once you’ve finished stitching. Holly appliqués these by hand, and so did I. If the templates were on the inside you’d have a crinkly, crunchy time of it, but here, where they’re gone already, it was a pleasant stitching experience. And a big thundercloud came along and cooled things down considerably.

Thanks a million, Holly, for sharing your preferred method with me, and allowing me to show it other appliqué fans. If you like an edge that’s already turned before you start stitching, this might become your favorite too! Get one of Holly’s adorable patterns and try it out for yourself.

See A Spin in the Garden over at Quilt Puppy.

Until next time,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

I met Holly Mabutas a year and a half ago at a quilt show in Hollister, California. When I saw Holly’s Eat Cake Graphics booth, I was instantly captivated by her darling appliqué style.

eat-cake-booth-1.jpg
eat-cake-booth-2.jpg
eat-cake-booth-3.jpg

We became friends right away. I’ve been bugging her to give me an interview because I’m fascinated with her story of rubber stamps and appliqué designs. Here’s Holly and Puppy Tucker, the star of her blog, Sprinkles of Thought.

holly-and-tucker-shot.jpgKay: Holly, how did you get your start in cartooning?

Holly: You know, I can’t ever remember a time when I didn’t doodle. I do remember seeing my mom do a little sketch of our dog when I was young. I was fascinated watching the pencil lines come to life and wanted to be able to do the same.

I started out by trying to duplicate the drawings in my coloring books. With a lot of practice I got better, started drawing my own ideas and from there I guess started developing my own style. I don’t really have a formal art background – I took a few art courses in junior college – I’ve just always loved to draw. And I guess when you do something you love and practice over the course of a lifetime you’re bound to get better at it. :)

Kay: Where do you think the inspiration comes from for your adorable style?

Holly: I’ve always loved the cute and whimsical world of art. I was a HUGE fan of the comic strips Calvin & Hobbes and Bloom County. I also love children’s book illustrators – and have quite a few books (is that bad to admit for someone over 40 whose children all have fur and tails). I also think that I’m drawn to whimsical stuff because with everything going on in the world I want to focus on something happy, so that’s what I draw.

Kay: Tell me how you started up your rubber-stamp company.

Holly: I actually worked in a rubber stamp store in Los Gatos, California, for quite a few years. I was in there all the time and they asked if I’d like a part time job – I jumped at the chance, of course I never really did see a paycheck. Then I was approached by an acquaintance of my mom’s. She wanted to know if I might like to go into business, again I did a happy dance and said yes.

Eat Cake Graphics came about when my business partner and I decided to go our separate ways. I actually “opened” (although there were no balloons or fireworks) in January 2000.

So here I am, eight years later with over 600 images and still trying to figure out the ins and outs of online shopping carts – good grief does it ever get easier!

Kay: Tell me a little bit about how you segued into quilt patterns.

Holly: I never really thought I’d be designing quilt patterns! I walked into a quilt shop in the mid/late 90’s and saw a quilt on the wall using a technique called appliqué. I thought it looked fun so I signed up for a class. It was fun but it wasn’t until I stumbled upon another appliqué technique, using a gluestick, that I really became hooked (probably more like obsessed). In one of the ongoing monthly classes I was asked if I could come up with some simple blocks to go along with a project we were stitching. I said sure.

I think it was then the light bulb went off and I thought, hey, I really like seeing what my little sketches could become in fabric. I took some of my stamp images and on my computer played around with the layout, took the printout to a local copy shop, enlarged it, came home and started playing with fabric. It actually worked and when I showed it to people they asked about a pattern…and well, here I am.

Kay: Thank you, Holly, for giving us the back story. Here are some of my favorite of Holly’s patterns.

windy-wintry-day.jpg
Windy Wintery Day

dont-drink-and-fly.jpgDon’t Drink and Fly

home-in-the-middle.jpgHome in the Middle

Holly gave me her pattern insert with instructions for her turned-edge gluestick appliqué method, and in my next post I’m going to give it a whirl. I’m always interested in learning new ways to appliqué! This one combines glue-stick prepared-edge with hand stitching. Stay tuned!

Until next time,
Kay
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

When it comes to stems or vines, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. (Just an expression, I’ve had three cats for seventeen years and haven’t skinned any of them yet :) .)

Here’s a photo tutorial on stems and skinny stems, two ways each. That’s four stems! In all cases this is hand appliqué, however, they can be adapted to be sewn on the machine.

Here’s how I was first taught to do stems.

Cut a bias strip 1″ wide or wider and press it in half, wrong sides together, lengthwise. Mark the stem or vine on the front of the background fabric.

Sorry if you can’t see the pencil mark too well… there’s a big storm in California today and there’s no good natural light.

Place the folded bias strip over the marked line, kind of averaging its position. Fold over the raw edges to where they fall short of the other side and crease to give yourself an idea of the stitching line.

Stitch the vine to the background fabric using a small running stitch (left side of picture). Then roll the folded edge over the stitching, covering the raw edges of the other side. Appliqué the fold down (right side of picture). Disregard the position of the needle in this picture; I laid it down in haste.

To make a skinny stem the same way, just stitch much closer to the fold.

Trim away the excess, very close to the stitches. Roll and sew the same as before.

A pretty good skinny stem.

Now, on to the method I use most of the time now, with my trusty green gadget, the Clover® ¼” bias tape maker. Cut a bias strip that is 5/8″ wide. Yes, just 5/8″! Cut the top so that it angles upwards to the left — it seems to feed through better this way.

Poke the strip right-side-up into the wider end of the gadget until you can see the fabric in the slot at the top. Use the tip of a pin to pull the strip through the slot until it sticks out the narrow end. Pin the strip to the ironing board. Use a glass-head pin, so you don’t have to worry about melting a plastic pin.


Using a hot iron and plenty of steam, pull the gadget along the strip in one smooth, fairly rapid motion, following it closely with the iron. Don’t stop part-way through, or try to back up. Smoothness is key.

Important: Hold your iron so that the steam vents are not directed at your fingers.


You can make bias strips fusible by applying thin strips of paper-backed fusible web. I do this as a second step. I actually cut the strip of fusible in half lengthwise to make a very thin strip, which I find is enough. The product comes on a roll and is found alongside the bias tape makers.

Using a dry iron, press the fusible strip to the back of the bias strip. Remove the paper backing and steam-press the stem over the marked line. Then it’ll be ready to stitch.

To make a skinny stem this way, make another bias strip with the gadget, and press one side out flat again. Trim along the crease.

Get out your glue stick and run it along the wrong side of the strip. Pick up the strip and pinch the raw edge back over to the center. It should stick with cheerful obedience. It if doesn’t, use a little more glue or make sure the glue stick is fresh.

If you prefer to skip the gluing, you can use a hybrid method! Appliqué the folded edge first, then tuck under the raw edge on the other side as you stitch.

All four, placed improvisationally on the background and, for some strange reason, from bottom to top!

I hope this has helped you if you were looking for information on how to make stems or skinny stems. There are other methods too… remember those cats I mentioned?

Over at the Quilter’s Newsletter website, I did a quick search and came up with several tutorials on how to make skinny stems. Check them out as well!

Until next time,
Kay