How about a method of appliqué that gives super-accurate results, yet uses no glue, no starch, no freezer paper, no fusible web, no fusible interfacing, no vinyl or tracing paper. Just fabric, needle and thread, scissors, and a marking implement. Pretty cool, huh?

I promised awhile ago that I would write more about the back-basting, aka no-template preparation for hand appliqué. It’s really quite ingenious and is now my favorite way to work by hand. As I was stitching a Heart in Hand block today I took some pictures along the way to show how it works.

Use a reversed pattern for this method. Start by marking the reversed pattern on the back of the background fabric. I use the blue water-erasable pen. You can also use a marking pencil.

Rough-cut a hunk of the appliqué fabric that’s bigger than what you’ll need. Lay it in place on the front.

Pin the fabrics together. On the back, baste the two fabrics together with a small running stitch, exactly on the drawn line. Use a thick or fuzzy thread for this and a big honking needle. I use a size 7 cotton darner.

Baste all the way around the shape. This is what it looks like on the front.

Now trim the fabric to the shape of the motif, leaving your preferred turn-under margin outside the basting.

Clip and remove a section of basting stitches. In this freed-up area, start turning and stitching. Keep clipping and removing the basting a few stitches ahead of your appliqué. The thick needle and heavy basting thread leave behind temporary perforations that help the fabric turn along the stitching line. I use a size 10 milliner needle and DMC 50-weight cotton machine embroidery thread for appliqué,

Continue all the way around. Don’t press the block yet.

Hmm, not bad. A benefit of this method is that you can flip the block over to see how you’re doing. The marking serves as a built-in stitching guide!

Repeat the same process for the heart.

Once the block is completed, remove the markings from the back. I dip a Q-tip in water and stroke it along the lines. Let the block air-dry and check to make sure none of the blue has reappeared. (If so, just wet it again.)

After all the marks are gone and the block has air-dried, give it a quick press. All done!

I have really come to love this method, since it gets me on the sofa stitching a lot quicker instead of fiddling around with freezer paper templates at the ironing board. I hope you enjoy it too. Like anything new, it takes practice, so give it a whirl and then another. If you’re stalling because you don’t have the right needle or the perfect thread, well then there’s a kit available over at Quilt Puppy that has pattern, instructions, fabrics, both needles, and both threads all in it, to give you a jump start on becoming introduced to the method.

Until next time,
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

Vine and sugar bowl border

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Pam Crooks is one of the members of the small quilt group I’ve been stitching with for over 12 years. She’s a super-busy gal, working full-time and traveling for her position with a banking institution, plus participating in so many appliqué projects it could make your head spin. Yet she has been a fabulous supporter of my publishing work, finding the time to contribute beautiful original samples when I have a new book in the works.

Here’s what she made for Teapots 2 to Appliqué. I just love it!


Pam was at Round Robin Fabrics here in Santa Cruz, a quilt shop that specializes in ethnic, beachy, and not-your-ordinary-calicoes. Some Kaffe Fassett prints and some rusty batiks captured her imagination that day.

Pam has a habit of giving me her project for photography without telling me a name for it. I was considering “Sugar, No Milk” or maybe “With Sugar Please” because of her adorable vine-and-sugar-bowl border. Before the book went to print, I ran my ideas past her, and a funny look came over her face. “Not so much,” I said to myself. Turns out that Pam was thinking more like “Tea With Kaffe” because of the K.F. print she used for the teapot. Well, I already had a “Tea with…” quilt, so we came up with “Tea Garden” to include the beautiful twining vines.

Pam in her generosity also gave me a hand-drawn pattern for her original border. So if you order Teapots 2 to Appliqué over at Quilt Puppy and you’d like the border pattern, just type “Pam’s border” in the comments area and I’ll put one in with the book.

Thanks Pam!

Until next time,
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs

Faded Glory

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I think my favorite pattern that I saw among the designers at Festival was Verna Mosquera’s new one, Faded Glory. Oh my gosh I just love the way that quilt looks. If you’ve never seen an appliquéd tricycle, click on over to Verna’s pattern company The Vintage Spool and take a look.

Until next time,
Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs