Saturday, July 21, 2012

Needleturn Applique Tutorial Part 2

...with lots of other applique tips!

Above are all the Roseville Album blocks I have made so far. The block I am working on is the top right hand block.

When selecting fabrics I have 2 fabrics I have included in every block.

I have a selection of fabrics I choose from. Some are chosen because they are already in adjacent blocks and some because I can fussy cut them. Fabrics with flowers, circles or curves in the design that match curves in the pattern pieces are chosen.

The 2 fabrics below can make great leaves, the below left fabrics can be fussy cut for flowers and there are lots of circles in the design of the below right fabric.

This last one has flowers, swirls and curves all of which can be fussy cut.

After choosing which fabrics I will use for each pattern piece I iron the freezer paper on the front of the fabric and cut out each piece roughly. I leave the smaller circles till last. At that point I can see which colours can be used to "balance" the look of the block.

The next step is to trace onto the fabric around each piece of freezer paper. For this I use a white lead in my pencil. If a fabric is very pale I substitute a grey lead. Having a larger seam allowance around the freezer paper makes tracing easier and there is less chance of frayed edges.

The first pieces to the appliqued to the background are the stems. These are 1/4 inch bias strips which I made earlier.
To secure the stems to the beackground ready for stitching I usually choose from using either short applique pins or a tiny amount of water soluble glue. There are advantages and disadvantages in both methods, so it is really personal preference. Give both ways a try and see which way you like.

 In order to place the stems in the correct position I place the background under the clear plastic overlay I prepared in the previous post. I tape the top of the overlay to a large cutting mat so it doesn't shift.

Carefully line up the stitching lines on the background fabric with the placement lines marked on the overlay.

 Now I lift the overlay, slide under the fabric and pin or glue it in place.

Below I have pinned the centre stem and glued the 2 other stems.

 With the overlay on......

...and without....

I use a very fine thread for my applique. I find YLI silk in taupe (235) is a good choice because the stitches "disappear" into the fabric. I use a sharps or a fine applique needle (Clover gold eye applique no. 10 is a favourite as well as the Roxanne's sharps in the photo below.)

When stitching down the stems I take tiny stitches (maybe 1/8 inch or 2 mm in this case.) and bring the needle up in the fold of the fabric, like below. Stitch the inside curves first, then the outer edge of the curve. Smaller stitches are used on tinier pieces of fabric, or when stitching some curves. ( for example, the convex curves to and from the point in the top of a heart shape.)

Now I trim the seam allowances on each piece back to about 1/8 inch. Place the background under the overlay again, line it up, then slide under one piece at a time. Pin or glue down each of the pieces. If you are using glue you only need a tiny dot in 2 or 3 places to hold down the fabric. Take note of any layering. Where pieces overlap the bottom pieces are applied first.

Here where there are 2 stems that overlap the bottom stem is stitched down completely before the top stem is pinned. I leave all the freezer paper on each piece until I am ready to stitch it down. (sometimes they do fall off, that doesn't really matter!) I have placed just a few of the pieces on the background to start with.

Now we can start stitching down the pieces.

To needleturn applique firstly place the point of the needle in the seam allowance and push the fabric towards your thumb, so the fabric lifts and curves...

Tuck under just enough fabric to hide the white line and hold it gently with your thumb.

Now I take my needle and thread (which has a tiny knot in it) and come up from the back through the background and into the folded edge. To take the first stitch, take the needle down into the background right next to where I came up and just under the folded edge, then come back up about 2mm along into the folded edge.

For the next stitch again place the point of the needle in the seam allowance and gently push the fabric under till it folds along the white line.

Hold the fabric with your thumb and take the next stitch, again going down right next to the previous stitch and coming out in the fold.

Repeat around the shape.

When all those pieces are sewn down, slide the background under the overlay, making sure it is aligned correctly, and pin or glue the next lot of fabrics. Where fabrics overlap, stitch one piece, then use the overlay to place the next layer before stitching down that piece.

I hope all the step and photos are clear and I have included enough information and photos. I am happy to try to answer any questions.

Happy sewing!!!!


  1. Your tutorial is amazing Miriam, there are so many steps but you explain them clearly. Your results are stunning. The Kaffe fabrics are fabulous for fussy cutting.

  2. It's always nice to see how other do their needle turn. Your tutorial is really nice and I thank you for sharing it!
    Have a wonderful weekend,


  3. Thank you for sharing your method. One of these days I'll get around to trying needleturn...hopefully.

  4. Miriam, Great pictures and instructions! Your applique is beautiful.

  5. Excellent and well explained tutorial Miriam. Thank you for taking the time to put these tuts together. I am just getting into the rhythm of needle turn but I am becoming addicted to this method.
    Thanks again

  6. Great tutorial Miriam with superb photos!

  7. Well done!
    Love your close up photos of you stitching!

  8. Oh, almost forgot!
    Stunning blocks! WOW!