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TUTORIAL - Starch method of applique prep



While there are numerous ways to prepare your applique pieces, my favourite is the Starch Method.

Tools for Starch Method of Applique
 Let's start with the tools - you need fabric - something for the background )make the background an inch larger than needed to allow for shrinkage) and of course something for the appliqué (make sure there is contrast). Freezer paper, starch (any liquid starch, fabric finish or double starch in a can or bottle will work), an ironing pad (this one is a special one which is made of a special material which will not scorch), a small container (I use a film canister) to put the starch in, a stencil brush (found that this works the best), a small travel iron (Rowenta is my ALL-TIME favourite), a sharp pair of scissors and water-soluble glue (my favourite is Roxanne's Glue-Baste-It)


Cut the freezer paper template to the finished size of your appliqué piece. In this case, I am making  an appliquéd drunkard's path block. One advantage to this method is that the freezer paper templates can be used over and over. Many times!!!!!!!  This one below has been used about 35 TIMES!!!!   It is FINISHED and should have been retired a while ago - but we always push things. It literally has no more wax left on the under side. If you are going to use a template more than once, you probably want to stabilize the template by doubling up the layers of freezer paper. Take TWO pieces of freezer paper. Trace your design onto the MAT side of one of the layers. Take the shiny side of the other piece and layer it over the first one - place the shiny side of the top one on the mat side of the bottom one. Yes - your traced design will be sandwiched in between the two layers but you can still see it through the top layer. Now you should have a double thick layer of freezer paper with a shiny side on the bottom and a mat side on the top and your drawn design sandwiched in between. While it is not critical that the drawn design be in between the layers - it does prevent that pencil mark from coming off on your fabric or the iron.

Then cut out the template. The smoother you cut this - the smoother the edges of your appliqué will be.


Freezer paper template (well used)
Then you are going to iron the template (shiny side of template to wrong side of fabric) onto the WRONG side of your fabric. Cut out leaving about 1/4" seam allowance all around the template. No NOT make this too large and it becomes difficult to bring all that extra fabric to the back and if you are too skimpy on the seam allowance you also will have a hard time and your fabric will want to fray. There is no need to mark this - just eyeball it. Trust yourself!!!!  or get a ruler and study what 1/4" is and that will make it easier.
Template ironed onto applique fabric and cut out with approximately 1/4" seam allowance
 Then take some of the starch and pour or spray it into the small container. Using the stencil brush, "paint" the seam allowance with the starch. More is NOT better - you don't want the starch to cake up when you iron it.
Painting the seam allowances with starch

You can see where the starch has "wet" the seam allowance. 
 The using your iron (I used my big iron in this picture because the piece was large, but I normally use the small travel iron - it works better and is not as heavy), pull the seam allowance back over the freezer paper. The edge of the freezer paper becomes a guide to pull the seam allowance against. If you use steam - you must be QUICK or you will burn your fingers. I like to position the applique piece as illustrated in the picture. Pull the seam allowance towards yourself. I rotate the piece as needed. This is easier than pushing the seam allowance away from yourself.
Ironing the seam allowance

Seam allowance pressed over the freezer paper template
 Now you can remove the freezer paper template and reuse it for the next circle.
Freezer paper template is removed and can be reused for next circle. 

Here is the prepared circle and the background fabric

Now we need to position the appliqué onto the background. I want the circle centered on the background so I used a ruler to make sure that it was approximately in the center. 
Using a ruler to center the circle on the background square


Now that the circle is positioned correctly, you do not want to move it to put the glue on the back.  Fold down one half of the circle  

Fold back one half of the circle

Add dots of glue around the edge of the circle on the folded  under seam allowance. 

Use a bamboo skewer or wooden toothpick to help poke under any stray edges or threads

Repeat the process on the other half of the circle

The circle is now glued to the background and is ready to sew. 
Tools needed for appliqué by machine
 At this point - you can choose to appliqué the piece by hand or machine. This next part will cover appliqué by machine. You will need an open toe appliqué food, thread and needles. I like to use a VERY FINE weight of thread to appliqué. I use Bottom Line by Superior Thread or Invisifil by Wonderfil. Use them in the top and bobbin. I drop down to the smallest needle size I can get - 60/8. Your needle threader will NOT work with this small of a needle so if you can't thread it manually - bump up to a 70/10.
Use a zigzag stitch - 1.5 LONG and 1 WIDE.

When the needles goes into the fabric on the right hand side of the zig zag, it is just skimming the appliqué piece and goes through the background fabric ONLY. 

When the needle goes into the fabric on the left hand side of the zig zag, it is 100% on the appliqué piece. 99% of the appliqué stitch is sitting on the appliqué piece NOT the background. 

The front of the piece when finished

The back of the piece when finished (I used a different one so you could actually see the stitches)
I promise to get a macro lens so it will be easier to see these pictures.


CAREFULLY make a slit in the background so that you can cut the background away from behind the appliquéd circle

Background completely cut from behind the appliquéd circle

Trim the block which was intentionally made a big larger than needed to allow for shrinkage. 

Then using TWO rulers (only because my brain doesn't work properly sometimes) I make a vertical cut HALF WAY through the block

Then using TWO rulers I make a horizontal cut through the block
FOUR drunkard's path (appliqué method)
And there you have it. This method can be used for other shapes - works like a charm on leaves, flower petals and many more. It may not be the choice for really small pieces.

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