June 18, 2010

I’m delighted today to turn the blog over to appliqué author, designer, and teacher Cheryl Almgren Taylor.

Cheryl Almgren Taylor

Cheryl Almgren Taylor

Cheryl: I am excited to be a guest on Kay’s site today and want to thank her for the invitation to be a part of her blog.

I have loved quilts since I was a small child but never ventured into quilting until 2000. I had been sewing since I was 13 so I had some basic skills down. But I discovered, like many of us, that quilting is a whole new world.

I got into designing because of my grandson Michael and my love of storybooks. I spent 14 years teaching in the elementary grades and loved “read aloud” time with the kids. Several years ago I wanted to make Michael a quilt that would go with his favorite story Going On a Bear Hunt, and this led to the creation of a whole series of quilts that coordinate with childrens’ books. I was surprised and delighted when Martingale & Company (That Patchwork Place) chose to publish my designs in a pattern series entitled Storybook Snugglers.

There were six patterns in this original pattern series from 2007, with two quilt designs in each pattern–one easier version and one more detailed. There are still some patterns available from Martingale.

Monkey Business by Cheryl Almgren Taylor

Monkey Business by Cheryl Almgren Taylor


Last summer my first book Deck the Halls was published featuring a collection of Christmas quilts.

Editor’s note: If you haven’t seen it, check out the post from last November, when Deck the Halls was our featured appliqué book.

Although I love pieced quilts, I am especially drawn to appliqué. Applique enables us to make shapes that are just not possible with piecing, and you don’t have to worry about your quarter inch or matching points! I especially love using batiks and fussy cutting shapes so that the design has shading provided by the fabric. I also like to use a variety of fabrics in the same tonal range when repeating a shape, rather than making everything match. I think it gives more interest to the design. When I’m designing I am almost always telling a story (at least in my head) and my favorite technique is fusible-web appliqué finished with machine blanket stitching.

Wrapped Up in Love from Deck the Halls

Wrapped Up in Love from Deck the Halls

For those of you who have never ventured into the world of fusing, here is some advice I think you might find helpful.

First off, purchasing fusible web can be overwhelming if you don’t know what you are looking for. There is everything out there in fusible land, from fusible interfacing to fusible batting. If you have never ventured into this department before, you can become overwhelmed and confused. And depending upon where you are shopping, the store clerk may not know a piece of fusible web from a French fry. The item you want to purchase is paper-backed fusible web. Brands that may be familiar are Heat ‘n Bond, Wonder Under, and Steam a Seam (as well as many others) and I highly recommend a lightweight product.

When using fusible, remember that if your design is asymmetrical you must trace the pattern in reverse on the paper backing of the fusible product. Also remember to trace each piece separately. If you have a large pattern piece, cutting the center portion out of the fusible will create less stiffness in the finished design. My books and patterns all have a section that gives detailed information on this process.

Another important thing you should know about lightweight fusible web is, that it’s a temporary bond. It must be stitched down around the edges or it will eventually float away. This is not true for all fusible webs—only the lightweight type. However, using a heavier fusible makes a stiffer quilt and I don’t recommend using them.

And now we get to the fun part of fusing—finishing the edges! There is such a choice of fabulous threads out there in different weights, colors, and fibers. It’s awesome! So the first thing you have to decide is what element you want the threads to play in the finished product. Do you want them to recede into the background or pop out as a design element? Do you want them to add some pizzazz or blend in? This is an important design element in your quilt and you will be happier with the finished quilt if you decide how this element should look just the same as you select your color choices.

I have developed some personal choices that work for me, but please bear in mind that I don’t work for these companies, receive compensation from them, or guarantee their products. I’m just sharing my personal experiences with you. My “go-to” thread for finishing appliqué edges is Mettler 50 wt. Silk Finish cotton thread in a matching or coordinating color. The thread is thick enough to make it viewable, but it doesn’t distract from the design. If you want your thread to recede a little more, consider using a 60 wt. Mettler or a 50 wt. Aurifil, again in a matching color. Using YLI silk threads in a 50 wt. can give a beautiful, subtle sheen to edges but since the thread is a finer consistency, you may want to be selective in its usage. If you want your thread to pop out and become a design feature, try a slightly darker hue or be bold with a darker thread choice. Using a thicker 40 wt. thread will also make the stitching a dominant part of the design and some people even use a 25 wt. thread, which will be very thick. It will give you a primitive, country feel. Finally, when you want a little glitz, consider a Sulky rayon/polyester or metallic thread. These threads can bring glamour and pizzazz to your work.

I hope this advice is helpful and has inspired you to launch into a new appliqué project. I can only say that if you’ve been afraid to try fusible web before, give it a try. It’s a very user-friendly technique.

Happy quilting!

Kay: Thank you Cheryl! It was a treat learning more about you, and your appliqué wisdom is much appreciated. We’re “like this” in so many ways. Can’t wait to see what you do next!

Until next time,
By Kay Mackenzie


13 Responses to “Spotlight on Cheryl Almgren Taylor”

  1. Mariana on June 18th, 2010 8:54 am

    I loved this text!!!
    Thank you a lot for your informations!!!
    Best regards,

  2. Kay on June 19th, 2010 8:54 am

    Barb from Elizabeth, Illinois, wrote:

    Wow! I always love your writings and have been inspired and learned so much from you. Your featured guest was terrific too! Wonderful explanations to take the mystique out of machine applique. She inspired me to purchase her book and make the table runner for Christmas runner for myself and a gift.

    Thanks again, Kay and Cheryl.

  3. kathy on June 19th, 2010 10:46 am

    facinating read, very pretty quilts. Loved the part about her being surprised when the boys got sick on the quilt she made & she wondered why he was using it such a beautiful quilt for everyday..how I understand..I make 2 for kids..1 for the wall to look at & 1 to use.. funny

  4. anna on June 19th, 2010 11:00 am

    I loved your article! I can never get enough info tips on how to applique or how to use fusible interfacing. Thanks so much for your entertaining journey thru quiltmaking. Your quilt are divine.

  5. Carrie P. on June 24th, 2010 11:06 am

    Great post. I have used some fusible but I still like to do it without. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Inspirational Appliqué : All About Applique on November 1st, 2011 7:01 am

    […] want to thank Kay for inviting me to her blog today. I had the opportunity to be a guest on her blog once before and enjoyed the experience very […]

  7. Janet on November 2nd, 2011 8:14 am

    I love to applique but have never tried fusable. Love to do needleturn

  8. Judy on November 2nd, 2011 10:09 am

    I love the look of applique and am relatively new at it. When I look at the possibilities I get excited. Thank you for printing this. I made several notes.

  9. Alin on November 2nd, 2011 6:48 pm

    I loved this article! The tips on fusible applique are helpful. What kind of fusible do you use?

  10. Take a class with Cheryl : All About Applique on July 12th, 2012 11:06 am

    […] Almgren Taylor, whom we’ve met before on the blog as the author of Deck the Halls and Inspirational Appliqué, dropped me a note to let me know that there’s still room in her […]

  11. Susy Lindgren Aungst on May 17th, 2013 8:10 am

    Cheryl Debbie’s Fullerton friend here. I met you at the Long Beach quilt convention. You website is super nice. I am interested a “Sun Flower” quilt pattern? Do you have one.

  12. Tara Schneider on December 7th, 2013 7:48 pm

    Hi! I have just stumbled on to your site via pinterest! it’s great! I can’t wait to read more! I am wondering how I can find the pattern for the Wrapped up in love table runner by deck the halls. I just love it and I’ve googled it and can’t seem to find it any where! Thanks Tara

  13. admin on December 8th, 2013 3:44 pm

    Hi Tara! Deck the Halls is a book by Cheryl Almgren Taylor. You can get it on amazon or from the publisher, Martingale. Enjoy!