Saturday 19 November 2011

Appliqué on a Little Shopper Tote...

I recently did a Guest Post for Kadie, at Seven Alive. In case you missed it, here it is...

Hi, I'm Pam, from Threading My Way and I'm thrilled to be guest posting for Kadie today. I first met Kadie, when we both entered the Retro Pillow Challenge. Throughout the month of the challenge, I saw Kadie's ideas evolve into a fantastic pillow. In making her pillow, Kadie had to step out of her comfort zone to learn and master the skills of reverse appliqué and machine quilting. I admired the way Kadie didn't give up when the going got tough and so I started reading and gaining inspiration from Seven Alive. In case you haven't seen Kadie's fabulous pillow, here it is.

As I sewed my Retro Pillow, I also learnt new skills and became better at old ones. Today I'd like to share with you, some of the techniques I used in making my pillow; appliqué and a little hand stitching.

Appliqué and hand stitching on my Retro Pillow...

According to Wikipedia: In its broadest sense, an appliqué is a smaller ornament or device applied to another surface...... The term is borrowed from French and, in this context, means applied or thing that has been applied.

In the context of sewing, this means applying one (or more) pieces of fabric to another, in this case, sewing a star onto a child's tote. Here's how to do it:


I used cotton fabric: Troy Corporation - Riverwood Collection - Abigail's Album and Denim
    • 2 pieces 26cm x 26 cm - main colour for the outside of the bag
    • 2 pieces 20cm x 4cm - main colour for the handles
    • 2 pieces 26cm x 5cm - contrast colour for the top outside of the bag
    • 2 pieces 26cm x 29cm - contrast colour for the lining of the bag
    • 2 pieces 20cm x 4cm - contrast colour for the handles
    • 1 piece roughly 20cm x 20cm - contrast colour for the star
    • 1 piece roughly 19cm x 19cm - double sided fusible webbing for the star
    • 2 pieces 20cm x 4cm - sew in medium weight interfacing for the handles


    All seams are 1cm, unless otherwise indicated.

    Outside of bag - sew contrast fabric to main fabric:
    1. With right sides together, sew the contrast to the main fabric.
    2. Finish the seam with a zig zag stitch.
    3. Finger press the seam towards the contrast fabric.
    4. Topstitch 3mm from the seam.
    Steps 1- 2: sew contrast to main
    Step 4: topstitching

    Glueing the appliqué shape to the fabric:
    You will need double sided fusible webbing to glue your appliqué to the material. Do NOT cut the appliqué shape out until the fusible webbing is glued to the fabric. One side of the fusible webbing feels rough or bubbly. This is the side you will iron onto the fabric to appliqué. The fusible webbing should be slightly smaller than the fabric.
    1. Place the rough side of the fusible webbing on the wrong side of the material to appliqué.
    2. Place an old cloth under the fabric and on top of the fusible webbing before you iron, so glue doesn't get onto the iron or the ironing board.
    3. If using cotton fabric, set your iron to a cotton setting and don't use steam.
    4. Press the iron rather than sliding it, to attach the fusible webbing to the fabric.
    5. Trace the appliqué shape onto the paper side of the webbing.
    6. Cut out the appliqué.
    7. Peel off the paper. There will be a thin film of glue left on the wrong side of the fabric.
    8. Place the appliqué onto the front piece of the bag.
    9. Put the old cloth under the front piece of the bag and on top of the appliqué.
    10. Press as in Step 4, until the appliqué shape is glued to the fabric.
    Steps 1- 4: cloth to protect iron...
    Step 5: trace shape onto webbing...

    Step 6: cut out the appliqué...
    Step 7: peel off the paper...

    Step 9: put star on fabric...

    Sewing the appliqué shape to the fabric:
    You can hand or machine sew the appliqué to the fabric. This will help to prevent it from fraying. Experiment with stitch types, lengths and widths to achieve the look you are after. I use an appliqué foot, simply because it makes it easier to see what I'm stitching. It is not necessary. For this project, I have used a zig zag stitch, with a width of 4.5 and the length .5.
    1. If your machine has a knot stitch, begin with that. Otherwise do a couple of straight stitches and backstitch before you zig zag.
    2. Begin at an inside point on the star with zig zag.
    Begin zig zag stitch...

    Sewing the outside corners of the star:
    I find points much harder to appliqué than rounded corners. You can see from the pictures, that my points are far from perfect. If you have any tips about perfecting points on an appliqué, I'd love to hear them. Here's how I did my points.
    1. When you reach the point of the star, lift the presser foot, with the needle still in the fabric.
    2. Turn the fabric.
    3. Lower the presser foot.
    4. Put the needle in the up position.
    5. Raise the presser foot.
    6. Move the fabric slightly so it is lined up.
    7. Lower the presser foot and sew to the next inside corner.

    Sewing the inside corners of the star:
    1. When you get to the inside point of the star, have the needle on the inside of the appliqué fabric.
    2. With the needle in the fabric, raise the presser foot.
    3. Turn the fabric.
    4. Lower the presser foot.
    5. Put the needle in the up position.
    6. Raise the presser foot.
    7. Move the fabric slightly so it is lined up.
    8. Lower the presser foot and sew to the next outside point.
    Continue till the star is finished. If your machine has a knot stitch, finish with that. If not backstitch with a straight stitch. Cut the threads, thread to the wrong side and knot again.

    Hand stitching around the star:
    As you can see from the picture above, the star doesn't stand out. If I had used black thread for the zig zag, it would stand out better. However, using red zig zag will give the effect I want, when I add the red and black hand stitching. The red and black hand stitching will enhance the star. For the hand stitching, it's probably best to use 2 -3 strands of thread. On my retro pillow I used three strands of embroidery thread. I didn't have red embroidery thread and was keen to finish, so I tried cotton machine thread. 4 strands of the cotton thread ended up working just fine.

    1. Knot the end of the thread. I begin underneath the appliqué, so I can add an extra knot.
    2. With a running stitch, sew around the star using 4 strands of red thread. I didn't measure. I just eyeballed it.
    3. Make the stitches above the material, longer than the stitches underneath the material.
    4. Securely knot the red thread when you get to the end, or when you need more thread.
    5. Cut 4 strands of black thread and knot securely.
    6. Take the black thread underneath each red stitch. It's probably easier to see this in the photos.
    7. Knot securely to finish.
    Step 2: running stitch...

    Step 4: securely knot the thread...

    Step 6: take the black thread under each red stitch... 

    Detail of the hand stitching

    Sewing the rest of the bag.:
    Use these instructions to finish off the rest of your tote.

    Please feel free to let me know if anything doesn't make sense, or if you have a question. I'd love to see your appliqué and little totes...



    1. Oh Pam, that looks so cool! Great tutorial!

    2. Great way to make the applique pop! i love how you weaved the thread together! Fun...

    3. Thank you. I love needle work and want to do more applique.

    4. Love your handstitching technique, it adds so much!


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