A Time to Sew Quilt Designs

Cheryl Almgren Taylor


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Quilting Tips
  Appliqué Directions
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About the Designer

About the Web Site's Name

Reversing a Design

Using Fusible Web

Pre-Assembling Appliqués

If you are a new quilter, I recommend using 100% cotton fabric in your quilts. In my experience, cotton is the easiest fabric to work with throughout the quilt making process.

As you begin quilting, it is important that you understand a little bit about the direction of the threads that comprise the fabric. There are three terms that refer to the thread direction: straight of grain, width of fabric, and bias. Cotton fabric is normally sold off a bolt in 42 - 44" widths which is folded down the middle. The edges of the fabric are finished in a special way so that they do not ravel and this edge is called the selvage.

The fabric threads that run parallel to the selvage are said to be straight of grain, and there is no give to the fabric if you pull on it from the ends. The fabric threads that run from selvage to selvage are called cross grain, cross width, or width of fabric. If you pull from either side there is a little stretch to the fabric. Fabric that runs at a 45 degree angle from the selvages is said to be on the bias and these threads have a tremendous amount of stretch. It is possible to totally distort your fabric if you pull your fabric on the bias.

In quilt construction you do not want bias edges to be on the outside of your blocks because bias threads are so easily distorted. When cutting blocks, make sure your outside edges are straight of grain or cross grain.


Appliqué is the process of sewing fabric shapes to a background fabric, enabling the quilter to create designs that are not possible with traditional piecing. There are many techniques that can be used when creating appliqué quilts, some that have been around for hundreds of years and some that are relatively recent. There are many good books available that teach these various methods and because of space limitations, I am only going to address one method-fusible web appliqué. It is the technique that I use most often.

I recommend fusible web appliqué for children's quilts for several reasons. First of all it is fast, enabling you to get the quilt completed in a short amount of time. Secondly, children's quilts that are used and loved require numerous washings and receive lots of wear. To spend hundreds of hours laboring on a beautiful, needle turned heirloom quilt, only to have it dragged around the backyard or left for the dog to sleep on is painful. If you are making a quilt for a child, use the quick and easy method.
Fusible web requires non-symmetrical designs to be reversed. I like to use a master pattern when assembling my appliqué pieces on the background block so I like to have two copies of my designs-one reversed and one as it should appear on the quilt.


Reversing a Design
When using fusible web, you must reverse asymmetrical designs if you want them to face the correct direction on the finished quilt. This is because fusible web goes on the back of fabric, causing the motif on the right side of the fabric to be reversed
To reverse a design, trace the pattern design on to lightweight paper using a pencil. Parchment paper is excellent for this, but standard computer paper can be used, as well. If you have difficulty seeing the pattern beneath the paper, place the design and the tracing paper up to a window. You can also use a light box if you have access to one.
Once you are satisfied with your tracing, go over each line with a fine or ultra fine point black permanent pen. Write "finished version" at the top. Remove the pattern and turn the traced drawing over. Your lines should be easily seen if you used a permanent marker. Retrace the design on this side of the paper using the permanent pen. Write "reversed" at the top. You now have a reversed pattern you can use for tracing on to fusible web and a finished version of the pattern to use for appliqué placement on the block.


Using Fusible Web
1. Fusible web is a glue type product that bonds fabric together and usually comes with a paper backing on it. The paper backing makes it easier to work with. The glue portion of the web is activated by the heat from an iron, but you never, never want to place the iron directly onto the glue side of the product. Always iron on the paper side.
There are a number of types of fusible web on the market. I recommend a lightweight product. Be aware that a lightweight web must be stitched down eventually, however. It is not intended to be a permanent bond.

2. Using the reversed designs you have created, trace your design onto the paper backing with a pencil. Be sure to label each piece.

3. After the shapes are traced, cut out each piece around the drawn line, but not on the line. Leave at least a 1/4" border past the drawn line.

4. To reduce stiffness in the quilt, cut out the center portion of the design if it is a medium or large-sized appliqué. Leave at least a 1/4" of paper inside the drawn line.

5. Following manufacturer's directions, fuse the pieces to the back side of your fabric. Cut out the pieces on the drawn line. Leave the backing paper on the piece until you are ready to fuse it to the block.

6. When assembling the appliqué, use your "finished" pattern version that to help in placing the pieces. If you have a light colored background fabric, you can do this by putting the template underneath the background fabric and placing pieces on top. You can also lay the template on top of the block and slide the appliqué pieces underneath the template. Some people do not like the paper templates and use clear template plastic instead. In either case, if you are using the template on top method, remove the template before fusing the pieces in place.

7. Appliqué patterns are usually numbered to show you the order of placement. If your pattern is not, be sure to note which items are on top of other items. The pieces that are the farthest from the top are fused first. Fuse the appliqué pieces to the background blocks, following the manufacturer's directions. Each brand of fusible web has slightly different directions.

8. Be sure to sew a zigzag, blanket, or satin stitch around every raw edge to prevent your pieces from fraying or lifting. This is especially important for children's quilts which frequently require repeated washings.


Pre-Assembling Appliqués
You may find it helpful to use a Teflon sheet to fully assemble some appliqués before fusing them to the background block. It is possible to assemble your pieces directly on the background block without the aid of a Teflon sheet, but preassembling makes the final fusing easier.

When preassembling, remember to remove the paper backing only in the area that needs to be fused on top of another appliqué pieces. It is possible to tear away small portions of the paper. Do not remove all of the paper until you are ready to fuse the entire piece to the background.


Email: cheryl@atimetosewquilts.com