Ways With Words

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I conspired with my friend ellen edith on an article in the latest issue of American Quilter Magazine (Projects 2007). I called the article “Ways With Words.” It ended up being “The Write Stuff: Ways With Words.” As you might be able to tell, the article talks about several different ways of including words in quilts. Appliqué is of course a natural choice.

For the article, I made a little quilt called “Time 4 Tea.” It’s 24″x 18″, and in the magazine is living large on about a half a page!

The letters, the large curly 4, the clock frame, and the teapot are fused and machine blanket-stitched. The clockface numerals are inked on with a permanent fabric pen.

Over at the Quilt Puppy Show & Tell Center, there’s a beautiful quilt (also tea-themed) with words on it that were exquisitely hand-appliquéd by Cheryl Booton. Go see Tea Time For Good Friends.

Super circles

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Designer Anna Maria Horner posted a great photo tutorial showing an ingenious way to make prepared-edge circles using aluminum foil! Visit her blog.

Upon graduation from my beginning quilting class (think 1992), I took off like a rocket on my own. I made a big sampler quilt, hand-pieced and hand-quilted, and loved every minute of it.

An early heartHere’s one of the blocks I made using a freezer paper template on the back. This is a good method for a beginner, and lots of appliquérs prefer to appliqué this way.

Step 1For this method, trace the shape on the paper side of the freezer paper.

If the design is asymmetrical, you’ll need to reverse the pattern first.

Step 2Cut out the template on the drawn line and iron it to the wrong side of the appliqué fabric.

Tip: Ironing on top of a piece of cardboard creates a better bond.
Step 3Cut out the fabric, leaving about ¼” beyond the template.
Step 4Turn the fabric over the template, basting the margin to the freezer paper as you go. Clip any notches almost to the template, and sparingly clip any inside curves. (This heart doesn’t have any inside curves.)

Here it is, partially basted.

Step 5All basted-ed.

This is a method of prepared-edge appliqué, as the edge is turned before you start to stitch. However, it’s only roughly turned, and there will be bumps (aka “pokies”) along the edge that you will need to work out as you go.

Step 6
Back view.

Step 7
Baste the motif in place on the background fabric.

Now there are two rows of basting.

Step 8Appliqué the motif, using the needle to smooth and refine the turned edge as you go.

Here it is, all stitched.

Step 9There are three ways of removing the freezer paper. As seen here, you can completely stitch the motif, remove all basting stitches, slit the background fabric, and pull out the template. Here the template has already been pulled out.

Step 10Instead of just slitting the background fabric, you can cut it away, leaving about ¼” inside the stitching.

Or, to preserve the back, you can remove the basting and pull out the template before you have quite finished stitching the block, finishing up the stitching with no template inside.

All doneAll done!

• Edge is turned for you
• Easier to place motif accurately, since edge is turned
• Freezer paper template provides a crisp, well-defined sewing line
• Accurate results

• More prep time (double basting)
• Freezer paper feels stiff and crackles while working
• Sometimes you sew through the paper
• Extraordinary measures must be used to remove template

Every quilter weighs the benefits and tradeoffs of any particular method, and it is up to you to decide which way the balance swings. The “right” method is the one that’s right for you.

Making this heart was a nice trip down memory lane for me. Since I made the sampler quilt I’ve learned a few other appliqué methods. And, let’s just say I’ve also learned the benefits of more quilting in a quilt!

Let’s hear from you appliqué fans about this method. Is this your favorite? Any tips? Did I leave something out? Chime in!

Until next time,

My first appliqué

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A blast from the past! When you see these “classic” fabrics you’ll probably recognize the year as being circa 1992. I enrolled in a beginning quilting class at Jordan’s Quilt Shop in Mt. Vernon, Ohio. Little did I know how that class would affect my life. I know you know what I’m talkin’ about.


We made a four-block sampler. I told my instructor, Ann Jordan, that I liked the Dresden Plate block the best. She said some fateful words to me that day… “Well, you just might be an appliqué person.”

Did she shape my fate as a quilter with those prophetic words? It turned out to be the absolute truth.

When I quilted my sampler, I went back and showed Ann how the appliqué stitches in the center circle pulled out a little. She said. “That’s why the stitches need to be really little, and tight.” It was an epiphany. Gone forever from that day forward were the big honking stitches perpetrated on my projects in 8th grade home-ec.

Thank you Ann! I hope you are enjoying your retirement. I’ve since moved away from Ohio, and I heard that Jordan’s now belongs to someone else, though they kept the name.

Deep breath. Here goes.

I created this blog to explore, celebrate, discuss, and generally delve into the wonderful world of quilting appliqué. I love appliqué. I do it all the time, and I create designs for it. This does not tempt me to proclaim myself an expert. I can happily claim that I am impassioned about the subject. I’ll write about what I know, and a lot of other entries will serve to point appliqué fans toward something interesting.

For more on me and my designs, please visit the “About” pages.

Until next time,