Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tutorial - blanket stitch applique...

Being a visual learner I am better able to understand a sewing technique if I can see it being done, rather than 'explained' in a written pattern. This is why I have so many step-by-step photos in my Elefantz HOME e-zine.
I teach the way I learn.
For those who have asked me how to prepare a block for blanket stitch applique, this is for you!
I've chosen to take you through the preparation for one of the larger blocks from "Shabby Roses Home".

When you print up your pattern pages, you'll see that I have a set of 'reverse' templates. 
Let's look at the larger pieces.
There is a roof and house.
Look closely and you can see that the two blank shapes are a mirror image of the house block design...

NOTE: I use Vliesofix for all my applique. It is a fusible bonding paper, and not as thick as some of the other brands so it doesn't have as much glue. It's much improved from years ago and if you suffer from carpal tunnel or arthritis this brand will not give as much resistance to your fingers/hands when stitching through the applique layers. My hands suffered from the other brands I've tried, so I stick with Vliesofix all the time now.

There are two sides to all fusible bonding papers - a rough side and a smooth side. Trace the reverse shapes onto the smooth side of the bonding paper with a pencil. Keep 1/2" space between all your shapes, and cut them out leaving a 1/4" 'edge' around each piece...

Choose what fabrics you're using for each applique section. I have chosen the aqua pindot as my main house section, so I lay the rough side of the traced house shape down on the back of a piece of the fabric and I fuse them together with a warm dry iron. This only takes a few seconds...

Repeat this with all your applique shapes on their chosen fabrics.

To cut out your shape, you need to do two things for accuracy and ease.
In this main house section there are long straight edges, and small curved sections.
To cut out those little 'in-and-out-and-round-a-bout' curvy parts, use a small pair of sharp embroidery scissors...

When  you have long straight lines to cut from your shape, use a large pair of scissors...

Once you've cut out all your reverse applique shapes, it's time to position them on your block.
With the house blocks for Shabby Roses Home I have sewn two different fabrics together for the background...

NOTE: The two pieces are 4" larger than I need for the finished block, but I'll explain why later.

Peel all the bonding paper from the back of your applique shapes and discard.
For large applique pieces like we're using in this block you need only look at the design on the pattern sheet for your placement. Sit the house body along the top of the green/white border line and fuse in place with a warm dry iron. 
Add the roof and the chimney - if you're unsure of the exact placement just lay the block on top of the pattern sheet for help...

Again, using the pattern sheet (or the finished block photo in the pattern) for help with placement,  fuse the door and windows in place...

Now we'll lay the block over the pattern sheet and trace the roses, path lines, and smoke from the chimney...

The final step of preparation is to fuse a 'same sized' square of stitchery stabiliser to the back of the block.
I use Weaveline when I have applique on a block (and sometimes Whisperweft if it's only stitchery)...

It's thinner than the fabric, but a tighter weave and prevents the fabric from stretching as you stitch.
Just iron the Weaveline behind the block on a warm dry setting. Press both the front of the block and the back of the block as sometimes air bubbles can occur between the block and Weaveline...

 Now remember I said that I cut my block background fabrics a bit larger than I need?
That's because once I have the stitchery stabiliser fused to the back of the block I use pinking shears to cut around all four sides until the block measures about 10 inches square.

The 'pinked' edges prevent any fraying of fabric while I applique and embroider.
When I complete all the stitchery and applique on my block it will be trimmed to 7.5 inches, ready to be pieced into the quilt.

I hope this has helped you to confidently begin a blanket-stitch applique block if you're new to this type of stitching!

Congratulations to TAMMY who won my Elefantz Starter kit!




  1. Hi Jenny
    It's always great to see how the professionals do it!
    I know that you are a fellow Aussie, are you able to share where you get some of your supplies from?
    Thank you

    1. Hi Vicki,
      Vliesofix and Whisperweft I just buy from local quilt stores, or from Fee's Shabby Shack for Weaveline.
      Fabrics I buy from the US.
      Linen I purchase wholesale on the bolt.

  2. Hi Jenny, very good explanation, thanks!
    I'm happy with my first blocks!


  3. Thank you for this excellent tutorial, Jenny!

    I am starting this project tonight!

  4. Jenny this is ao clear to understand, will be refering back to it, many thanks

  5. Thank you. Lovely to learn the correct way to applique pieces.

  6. Vielen Dank Jenny für deine Information, genauso mache ich das auch. Ich finde es toll zu sehen wie es bei dir geht. Ich mache es also richtig, ich habe mir das Nähen selbst beigebracht und bin mir nicht immer sicher, ob ich es richtig mache.
    Ganz liebe Grüße Annerose

  7. Hi Jenny,
    I have always admired your beautiful designs and creations. This morning your adorable little house caught my attention and now I can't wait to start pulling fabrics to make some cute blocks. Thank you for a fabulous detailed explanation on how you work your blocks.

  8. That is close to what I do, except I've only recently started using the Weaveline. I do like it a lot. Thanks for this explanation. I haven't pinked edges, but I recently acquired pinking shears, so I'll try it next time.

  9. I've also just been introduced to Weaveline recently and will get my pinking shears from dressmaking days out again, great idea for stopping the fraying.
    Thanks for continually sharing your ideas.
    Take care

  10. Thank you Jenny. I am so excited to win the giveaway. To be able to see and feel and use some of these products that you use. I know our supplys of products are diffferent over here in the USA. But hopefully I will be able to match them up a litttle better now with the real deal to go by. Thank you so much for your tutorial also. I need to use the pinking shears. Thank you again Jenny.


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