Beginning Machine Appliqué

Beginning Machine Appliqué

Let’s talk about appliqué. If you’ve always wanted to try it out, but imagined it might be intimidating, we’ve got the tools, techniques, and tips to change your mind. Appliqué is a lot easier than it looks – and it looks pretty spectacular personalizing and decorating your quilt!

Beginning Machine Applique

Our newest class at Missouri Star is Beginning Machine Appliqué with Courtenay Hughes. In this online class, you’ll learn approachable machine appliqué tips that will build your confidence. You’ll learn:

  • Fusible appliqué techniques with two different fusible webs
  • How to layer multiple fabrics and shades to create your appliqué shape
  • Three beginner-friendly stitches that look great with matching or contrasting thread
  • How to conquer curves and perfect your points as you work with tricky shapes
  • And more expert machine appliqué tips!
Beginning Machine Applique

We talked to Courtenay about machine appliqué designs and tips…

Q: Courtenay, how long have you been sewing machine appliqué? 
A: I have been quilting for over 25 years. I’ve had about 20 odd years of practice at machine appliqué. And I am really looking forward to sharing some of that with you

Q: What’s your favorite part of teaching appliqué for beginners?
A: My favorite part of teaching is when students who aren’t sure they can complete their projects get to the point where they realize that, yes, they can make them—and they will be beautiful! Whether that’s how to machine appliqué small pieces, how to hand appliqué in the car on road trips, or how to let loose and try something completely new, like a free-motion zig-zag “heartbeat” stitch that looks complicated but is actually very freeing, I love seeing students succeed!

Beginning Machine Applique

Q: What shapes can you make with machine appliqué?
A: Anything you can imagine – and any pattern in your library, really. I like to show you tips for leaves, stems, circles, stars, hearts, petals, and working in layers. While a lot of my patterns are flowers or animals – ask me about placing bunny ears – the sky is the limit. You can decorate any quilt with appliqué, in blocks, borders, even your quilt label.

Q: What are some tools you recommend for appliqué?
A: This depends a little bit on which method you’re using, but some of the applique essentials are:

For Machine Appliqué:

  • Fusible Web  – Use this to temporarily glue fabric pieces in place while machine stitching.
  • Appliqué Pressing SheetPlace over the project diagram to use as a guide while layering fabric shapes.
  • Marking PenUse a fine sharpie or marking pen to trace designs onto projects.
  • Scissors A good pair of scissors come in handy for cutting fusible and fabric pieces.
  • Machine Needles – A sharp needle that is great for stitching through layers of applique pieces. 
  • 50wt Thread – A strong thread that blends with fabric shapes. Or black thread for a “folk art” look. 
  • Self-Threading Needles An easy way to bury threads after stitching pieces to background.
  • Iron and Iron Cleaner – An iron for fusing paper shapes to fabric, and iron cleaner.
  • Embroidery Hoop – (optional) These come in handy when stitching pieces in place on background, especially when using the free-motion zig-zag “heartbeat” stitch.

For Hand Appliqué:

  • Appli-Glue or Lapel StickUse this to hold fabric pieces in place while hand stitching.
  • Freezer Paper Draw a design on the dull side, cut it out and lay the shiny side down on the project to use as a guide.
  • Bias Tape MakerUse this to make stems and more, especially when doing floral applique!
  • Marking PenUse this a pen to trace designs onto projects.
  • Precision Appliqué ScissorsA smaller pair of scissors come in handy for cutting smaller pieces.
  • Hand Needles A smaller point for hand stitching, but also a bit enough needle to prevent hand cramping.
  • Mini Iron – A tiny iron will give more control over tiny fabric pieces.
  • Appliqué PinsThese come in handy when fitting several pieces into place.
  • Fusible Web (optional) – Melts to adhere the fabric pieces together.
Applique Tools

We think it’s time to give appliqué a try!

We have two classes for beginners at Missouri Star Quilt Company. You’ll learn multiple methods, troubleshooting tricks, how to machine appliqué a quilt or how to hand appliqué a quilt. Each class also comes with a FREE quilt pattern so you can show off your newly mastered skills! Try appliqué today!

Let us know if you enjoyed the class by posting a picture of your next appliqué project here ⬇️

How To Figure Yardage For Quilt Backing

How To Figure Yardage For Quilt Backing

Once you’ve pieced your beautiful quilt top, it’s time to choose your backing! There are so many fabrics out there and using 108″ wide backing does make things easier, but we will help you know how much fabric you need when using standard 42″ wide fabric.

Here are some items you’ll be needing:

  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Calculator
  • Your finished quilt top
  • A measuring tape or template

Step 1: Measure the length and width of your quilt top.

Step 2: Add an extra 8 inches to both the length and width of your quilt if it’s going to be machine quilted, that’s 4 inches on each side and 4 on the top and bottom.

Step 3: Take your measurements, add them both together, and divide it by 36. This is the amount of yardage you will need.

  • If your quilt is less than the backing width, congratulations! You can simply cut your backing to the same length you figured in Step 2. But, if your quilt is wider than your fabric, you’ll need to figure out how many fabric widths you’ll need to piece together and then multiply that number by the quilt backing length from Step 2. That’s the number of inches of fabric you need to buy.
  • If your quilt is more than about 42 inches wide, which is the typical width of a yard of fabric, you will need to keep in mind that you will have a seam in the backing, unless you use 108” inch wide backing.

Step 4: Cut the fabric to your backing length and piece together with 1/2″ seam allowances.

Now you are ready to quilt!

Wide fabrics make backing a quilt seamless. Visit our Backing & Trims store to find your next quilt’s back!

Tips and Tricks for Backing:

  • Measure your quilt top vertically and horizontally. Add 8 inches to both measurements to make sure you have an extra 4 inches all the way around to make allowance for the fabric that is taken up in the quilting process as well as having adequate fabric for the quilting frame.
  • Trim off all selvages and use a 1/2″ seam allowance when piecing the backing. Sew the pieces together along the longest edge. Press the seam allowance open to decrease bulk.
  • Use horizontal seams for smaller quilts (under 60″ wide) and vertical seams for larger quilts.
  • Don’t hesitate to cut a length of fabric in half along the fold line if it means saving fabric and makes the quilt easier to handle. Note: large quilts might require 3 lengths.
  • Choose a backing layout that best suits your quilt. Think about the direction of the pattern and pattern matching.

Example Quilt:

Once borders are added, the finished quilt top dimension is 58″ x 66″
Take quilt top width + 8″ = backing width
58″ + 8″ = 66″
Take quilt top length + 8″ = backing length
66″ + 8″ = 74″
Determine the number of Widths of Fabric (WOFs) you need for your backing by dividing your width measurement by 40″
66″ divided by 40″ = 1.65 
Round up to 2. You need 2 WOFs to make your backing.
Take your backing length measurement and multiply it by the number of WOFs you need.
74″ x 2 = 148″ This is how many inches of fabric you need.
Now, divide that number by 36″ to get how much yardage you need.
148 divided by 36″ = 4.1
Round up to the nearest ¼ yard and you get 4 ¼ yards.