More Appliqué Experimentation

I continued experimenting with appliqué technique, this time glue basting and starch basting.

I’ve used a small glue stick successfully for glue basting hexagons, so I expected to like it for turtles too.

But no. The perimeter of the turtle shape was jerky. Where there should be gentle curves on the turtle’s side, there were short straight sections joined by points. The feet and tail were also jerky.

Conclusion: In my hands, glue basting works well for straight lines and for simpler shapes without acute curves or points. For a more complex shape like my turtle, it doesn’t work well.

On to starch basting. Demos of this technique look awesome, so I was really pumped to try it. I set myself up for success with some new equipment.

I’ve been wanting a mini-iron, so this was a good reason to buy. While shopping for the iron, I found this clever little finger stiletto (hopefully to avoid finger scorching!). A large bottle cap to spray the liquid starch into, a small paint brush, and I was all set.

Such disappointment. Painting the starch onto the fabric was easy. But even using my new fingertip stiletto and mini-iron, I could not manipulate the fabric into the gentle curves and acute angles of the turtle shape. (Look particularly at the two magnified areas.)  I simply could not get the fabric to cooperate into curves without points.  Experiment aborted without being finished.

Conclusion: Starch basting is probably useful for larger or less complex shapes.

I’m putting together my personal favorite pearls for hand appliqué in my next post. See you then!!

Improving Hand Appliqué

A little detail, a big appearance improvement in my applique!

I was looking at my little white turtles on their bright backgrounds. Why, I thought, do they look so uneven and sort of spiky? After staring fixedly for a while, I noticed that some of the ‘spiky-ness’ was from the little white applique stitches.

But wait! I could improve that! I did a little more applique focusing on tucking each stitch into the background material just a thread or two under the edge of the applique piece. Et voilà, a slightly smoother appearance.

I hope this turns out to be just one insight in a chain of future insights taking me closer to mastering hand applique!

Hand Applique Techniques

Here is the organizational hierarchy of Applique Techniques that I have figured out so far. This includes only completely hand-done applique, and does not include raw edge, Reverse Applique, Mola techniques, etc.

A.  Fold applique edges under as you sew
1.  Cut and go- traditional needle turn
a.  Cut applique piece ⅛” larger than seam line, pin to base, turn under while sewing
b.  Same with stitch basting or glue basting of template to base
2.  Back baste on seam line, cut ¼” larger than template, remove a few stitches at a time as sewing
3.  Front baste ⅛” inside seamline, turn under ⅛”, remove basting stitches when done sewing

B.  Fold applique edges under before sewing. Use ¼” seam allowance around shape.
1.  Hand baste to paper, remove paper after sewing
2.  Glue baste, remove paper before sewing
3.  Starch baste and iron, remove paper before sewing
4.  Freezer paper baste with iron, remove paper before sewing

These white turtles on their colorful backgrounds look good from a distance- but the closeups are a different story.


Here is technique A1a: Cut applique piece ⅛” bigger than seam line, pined to base, traditional needle turn of raw edge.


Here is technique A2: Baste the applique piece from the back on seam line, from the front cut applique piece ⅛” to ¼” larger than seam line, remove a few basting stitches at a time to permit needle turn of raw edges.



Here is technique A3: Baste applique piece from the front, ⅛” inside the seam line. Trim applique piece to have a seam allowance of ⅛”. Use needle turn or fingers to turn under the raw edge to meet the basted line and sew in place. Remove basting thread after sewing in place.


Here is Technique B1: hand basting the applique edges under the paper template. Pin or glue baste applique piece to base fabric, sew around the edges. From the back, separate the two layers of fabric and remove the base fabric that underlies the template (¼” interior seam allowance). This permits removal of the paper.



Turtle Paper Applique

In my hands, so far, I think technique A3 is working best- but there are more techniques to trial. Next task: trial the other techniques above.