June 8, 2015

Have you ever finished an appliqué block and then had second thoughts about the background fabric you chose?

Maybe It doesn’t look the way you thought it would. Or the appliqués end up blending into the background a little more than you’d like. Maybe the project ended up taking a different direction. Whatever the reason, sometimes you wish that cute block you stitched was on a different background.

Maniac that I am, I have actually twice successfully swapped out the background on a completed block, without starting over!! I’ll show you how I did it, then you can decide if it’s crazy or total genius.

Note: This applies to hand-appliquéd blocks, not fused or machine-stitched.

Here’s the Apples block from my first Martingale book, Easy Appliqué Blocks.

See, there it is, right on the cover.


Now, that beige stripey background is okay, but when I was looking for a block to use for this tutorial, I got to thinking, wouldn’t that bowl of apples look nice zhuzhed up on some red polky-dots?

I’ll walk you through the process. You will need to do some basting, some trimming, some tweezering, and some re-stitching. BUT you will not have to restitch everything! Where one motif goes over the top of another one, that part does not have to be restitched. (Except for a little overlapping to secure threads.) Here’s my attempt at telestration in Photoshop to show you those areas.

What you’ll need:

• A new background fabric
• Needle and threads
• Sharp-tipped hand scissors
• Tweezers
• Seam ripper

Start by cutting a square of the new background fabric that is the same size as the existing one.

Take a deep breath.

On the back of the stitched block, cut away the background fabric inside each appliqué piece, close to the stitching. Keep the lower blade of the scissors on top of the turning allowance.

Starting to cut away the interior background.

Remove the interior background fabric.

Those little lines of background behind the stitching that is going to remain… just leave ’em. Okay, if they really bother you, you can tweezer them out, but leaving them in place will keep the stitches tight, and will not affect the appearance of the refurbished block.

Interior all cut away, leaving lines in place that do not need to be restitched.

Layer the block on top of the new background.

Both right-side-up, of course.

Baste them together all around the perimeter of the appliqués, a scant ½” inside the stitching lines.

Basted together, inside the stitching.

A closer look.

A little at a time, use the seam ripper to remove the previous appliqué stitching. Once you get it started, this is easily done by lifting the edge of the appliqué. The old background fabric outside the perimeter will come loose and you can cut it away in hunks. Tweezers come in handy for removing little bits of thread and background.

Old stitches removed, a hunk of the old background gone, starting to restitch.

Restitch the appliqués to the new background, changing thread color as needed. You’ll find this to be easy stitching! The edge is already turned and creased, and behaves itself beautifully, acting like prepared-edge appliqué.

When you come to a place where one motif crosses on top of another one (as shown in the telestrated example above), sew over the area a little bit to secure the existing stitching, then continue on around the perimeter.

Halfway done!

Once everything is restitched, remove the basting.

Presto Change-o!

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie
Kay’s Etsy Shop

Comments

6 Responses to “Swapping out the background”

  1. Quiltmouse on June 8th, 2015 9:37 am

    Thank you for sharing this technique. I would like to share it on my Blog’s Tuesday Tips. I’m just beginning to learn Appliqué and any help is appreciated.

  2. Evie H on June 8th, 2015 9:40 am

    Very clever! Thanks!

  3. Helen LeBrett on June 9th, 2015 2:24 pm

    That is really brilliant Kay!! The change looks really good with the new background fabric: you were right about thinking the switch would be good. And I missed you at the Santa Rosa Quilt show. I was just coming around the corner, but it was closing time on Saturday, and you had left your booth quickly. Hopefully we can say hi the next time our paths cross! Hugs, H in Healdsburg

  4. Kay on June 9th, 2015 2:33 pm

    Sorry we missed each other Helen! We vendors do tend to vacate with alacrity LOL! See you next time.

    QuiltMouse and Evie, so glad you find the info useful. :)

    K.

  5. Tuesday Tips–6/9/2015 | QuiltMouse on June 9th, 2015 9:40 pm

    […] Appliqué – Swapping out the Background – Kay Mackenzie is a designer that has frequently had her blocks included in Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks.  As a tester, I have had the privilege to test a couple of them.  In this Blog post Kay shares step-by-step her trick for removing the background and replacing it with another fabric. […]

  6. Mrs. Plum on June 9th, 2015 9:58 pm

    Thanks for this genius tip. The mini dots do perk up the background.

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