I love the look of hand-appliqué, and I admire the people who have had the patience, talent and creativity to make the masterpieces we see exhibited at museums or quilt shows. I stand in awe of their stitches so tiny, they are nearly impossible to see. Oh, I wish I had the time it must take to make one of those beauties by hand.
But I, like so many others of my kind, am busy. I work, and I watch my grandson when I’m needed. I have a house to care for, laundry to do and all the other many things that occupy my time.
Even though I appliqué by machine, I still want that handwork look. I want all my edges turned under, and I would rather avoid fusing anything in place. I am not crazy about the extra thickness or stiffness one often gets when fusing.
Most of the time, I use freezer paper when I prep the appliqué elements. Even though it is more expensive, I use the 8 1/2” x 11” sheets because they will go through my printer. I find I only need to print one-fourth of the necessary templates. Once I have one sheet printed, I can staple four sheets of freezer paper together and cut the four layers at once. I staple right through the template pieces so the layers won’t shift as I cut.
When I first learned how to appliqué by machine using freezer paper, I was told to iron the shiny side of my freezer paper to the reverse side of my fabric and turn the edges back and use a glue stick to hold the seam allowance in place. I tried it. I hated it. I had glue all over everything, especially my fingers.
Then someone told me to pin my template in place with the shiny side of the freezer paper facing up. I could then just press my seam allowances over onto the waxy side, and they would be held in place and no glue was necessary. I tried it. I loved it. And I had no glue on my fingers.
Another advantage to preparing the appliqué elements by pressing the seam allowances onto the shiny side of the paper is that it is far easier to remove the paper once the piece is appliquéd in place to the background fabric. When I used glue, I had to soak my block in water so the glue would dissolve. Once I eliminated the glue, I no longer had to spend the time it took to soak and press.
It is so easy to remove the freezer paper when one doesn’t use glue. There is such a small amount of fabric stuck to the freezer paper that it takes little effort to get the piece to release. I just slit the background fabric under the appliqué piece and pull the paper out.
Placing the pieces on the background also got much easier when I started turning my seam allowance to the shiny side of the freezer paper. I could press the appliqué elements onto my background fabric. The wax on the paper held them in place long enough to position all the necessary elements. If I made a mistake or didn’t like the placement, I could easily lift the piece off, reposition it and press it in the correct position. I pinned everything in place after I was satisfied with the overall appearance.
Once I got rid of my glue stick, I found I could create an appliqué quilt more quickly, and I enjoyed the process far more.
The block you see is called President’s Wreath, and I made it using the freezer paper technique I’ve talked about. Who knows, I might even get the rest of the blocks made and come up with a complete quilt. If I make one block a day and I make 12 blocks, I can have the top done in 11 days. Oh, I will need a border, too. Let’s just add another week for those.
Of course, if I stay off of the phone and Facebook, I might be able to free up enough time to make one of these for everyone in the family. But then, you know what they say, all work and no play …