Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Glue stick applique, the tutorial: PART TWO...

Welcome to part two of the glue stick applique tutorial.  In part one, I attempted to demonstrate how I use a simple glue stick to facilitate my hand applique process.  Now I will try to show how I assemble the pieces and secure them to the background in preparation to stitching.

You can better see the additional (cross-hatch pencil marks) in the above picture on the pattern edges and ends that will be under some other piece.  This way I know how much of a fabric allowance to add when cutting out my pattern pieces before the glue process.  I am usually too generous because it is easy to just snip and trim away the excess.

With complicated applique, I like to build units.  This usually means I don't just sit down with all my pieces for a block, glue them into a picture and just stitch away.  If a flower, for example, has many pieces, I glue baste, then sew things together in units first, from the top layer down. 

I do this for 2 reasons: 1)  I find it is easier to stitch through just a piece and a background - sometimes that background is simply another piece, 2)  because I tend to hand quilt, I often trim away the background behind large applique pieces so that I can hand quilt without stitching through many layers.  By breaking things down into basic units, I sort of trim away bulk as I sew units together.  This can be very handy when working with light colored fabrics...I can trim excess darker fabrics that might show through.

For simplicity, I just glued most of this block at one time, but I will at least talk about what I consider a "unit" as I go along.

I work on the original pattern as I layer my units.  Here I am starting with the outer flower and the center.  If you find it easier, when you are lining up the layered pieces, you can leave your paper patterns on for a while longer.  Sometimes I peel them all off, sometimes I leave them on.  When working on pieces with many similar shaped pieces, like leaves, it really helps to keep the numbered pattern papers adhered until place.  It is easy enough to remove the papers after gluing, before stitching.

Do you see those TINY dots above in the blue fabric allowance?  That is my Roxanne's glue baste..."dot-dot-not-a-lot," as my friend Ola would say.  Roxanne's has a terrific "hold" once used, so it takes very little to hold things in place.  It dries pretty fast.  By using tiny dots, I can glue right over my original pattern without the glue bleeding through, sticking to the paper, and ruining my pattern.

VERY IMPORTANT:  Pay close attention to where I place these tiny dots...NOT at the edge where the glue might hinder my stitching needle later and NOT out in the center of the design, in case I want to trim the background away later.

When I glue the flower center #14 to the flower #13, my top piece only touches the bottom piece's paper.  See the arrow on piece #14?  That is useful when tracing patterns on pieces that are a little confusing..."up" is always the top of the block for me.

Below I show how I pick up and manipulate pieces with the long tweezers (actually my beading tweezers).  I have difficulty picking up and handling the tiny pieces and the tweezers really save me.  LOL

Once my glue baste dries a little, I also use the tweezers to help remove the ironed on freezer paper pattern (I always secure the glued edge under my thumbnail just in case the glue baste is still a little wet).

Sometimes I remove all the papers and simply use my pattern sheet for placement.

I have to remove the paper pattern on the bottom piece when I am gluing on a layer.  See my tiny dots??  I added this flower center, as the original pattern didn't fool with one.  This method makes it easy to add, change and delete things...I never found that freedom with the needle turn method, once I had  basted my shapes to the background, I was pretty much stuck...I don't like being stuck...     :o)

Here you can see how I have trimmed the fabric a bit where other pieces will be glued.  That way the excess will be completely covered up by the upper piece.

See how stem piece #16 covers the bottom of the bud piece #18.  The raw edges of stem piece #16 will be covered up by a flower on the left side and the vase on the right side.

Here I've glued on the cheddar flower and layered petal and a couple of leaves.

 Here the whole flower sprig is glued together.

Now you are looking at my pattern placed on my light box, layered with my background piece (which is at least a half an inch larger than needed on all sides).  Do you see the the tiny little glue dots on my background?  Since I took the picture with my light box "on," it's hard to tell, but I have gently peeled up that assembled flower sprig.  I will carefully arrange the sprig on the glue-dotted background using the pattern as my placement guide, then I will gently pull up the flower and "dot-dot-not-a-lot" under it too and press the flower down to adhere.

Then I move on to the next unit.

And then the next one.

The vase is the last piece glued down after all the sprigs have been arranged.  Each pattern has to be assessed to figure out the layering order.  Now I just allow it to dry completely before I stitch.  Usually by this point, I have already stitched the more complicated units together, so all I have to do is stitch around the the outside of the more layered, complicated units, and the other, single elements.

This method works on both on simple and complex patterns. I used it for my "Civil War Bride" (Corliss Searcey) and my "All Around the Town" (Sue Garmon) quilts.  It's just a matter of breaking things down into simple, manageable units.

This is a totally portable project at many points.  It is easy to take a baggie or "magic box" project with me that contains pressed on, cut out freezer paper patterns, a stiletto, snips, glue stick and a small acrylic ruler.  It takes no room at a sit and stitch gathering to sit there and glue pieces while talking with friends or sit with a tray in my lap and watch TV with my family.  I've done it at school and church meetings, too.  This is how I work on my appliqued basket project...stolen moments.

Here, in my "magic box," I have switched out the glue tools for applique tools, as I am ready to stitch some down...

I love portable projects that allow me to enjoy people AND sew (gets me out of the quilt cave...).  Too many hours alone in the quilt cave are probably not good for the quilting cave woman.

Now I can find some friends, family, yack on the phone, or just sit outside in the gazebo and do a little stitching on this so I can get ready to show you PART THREE of the tutorial...how to deal with the glue after the stitching is done...(and what to do about weird cases, weird shapes, and exceptions and short-comings to this method, etc...).

I will post part three on Thursday or Friday, after I get my daughter off to Washington DC with her 8th grade companions.  Check out part one, if you missed it.

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)


  1. Yikes...I'm going to have to save up this 'til I'm ready for it. Great lesson - poor student!
    I'll get there.

  2. Very informative post. I have to keep coming back as your tips are just wonderful - my mother does beautiful applique, but does not share. I need to get some basting glue for the 'dot, dot, not alot'.

  3. I'm so fascinated that I'll be giving your method a go. Thanks for another fabulous tutorial. I was wondering if you could show how you cope with sharp points at the top of leaves since the ones in this block are a little rounded.

  4. Teresa, thanks for a great tutorial. I've never seen this method before, I'll be giving it a go for sure.

    Angela in Australia

  5. Very good detailed tutorial! I'm trying to learn all the methods of applique. Your method seems very precise. I'm taking a class right now using glue but it uses templates. I've not tried the freezer paper method but will be! Thank you for such great detail.

  6. Thank you so much for taking the time to make these tutorials! I am ready to dive head-first into the appliqué world and really appreciate your time.

    Do you always use silk thread for your stitching, or was that just for that project?

  7. Fantastic tutorial...so many step by step pictures. Thanks for putting this together...it must have taken ages! I definitely want to try this!

  8. WOW Terresa, I really appreciate you going through all this work putting together the tutorial. Thank you Thank you :0)


  9. Another great tutorial!

    I have been wanting to make those baskets you have there for quite some time. I really need to find that book!

    Thanks again!

  10. Thank you ,Teresa! What a detailed and great tutorial. I love applique and find it so relaxing.My edges Are not the smoothest and Now I see why. Thanks for taking all the time to put this together. It was a great lesson....can't wait for the next one.

  11. definitly i have o try this method!!! thanks for the tuto!!!


  12. Love the turorial! But, how did you get your All around the Town pattern on white paper? Mine is on blue and it makes it very hard to trace even with a light box. I am jealous. :)

  13. This is really great! I look forward to the next installment.

  14. WOW again Teresa....I am so giddy and excited about your method! I was working on my clamshell yesterday and was anxious to see if the dot-dot-not a lot would work on my clamshell rows, you know, instead of having to pin down EVERY one of them...EUREKA..yes...it was great...and I got to the stitching part a lot faster. I did a tutorial on the clamshell and I DID use the glue stick for the top of the clamshell turn down.
    Thank you sooooo much girlfriend. Tutorials are a lot of work/hard to do and I TRULY REALLY appreciate your efforts. This was so timely for me!!!

  15. Oh...I forgot to ask....what is that attached to your glue bottle?? Looks like the top of a syringe????

  16. Fantastic - I don't even have any glue...!! But it looks as if I might have to try this and order some glue....! I am going to study your tutorial. Thank you so much for sharing.

  17. Thank you! You are really good at breaking these steps down...not to mention to an amazingly precise skill at applique! Awesome!

  18. After re-reading your tutorial part 1 and newly reading part 2, I have a question. Because I slightly go dyslexic when tracing pattern pieces onto freezer paper and/or fusible web, can you tell me did you reverse the original pattern pieces before tracing onto the freezer paper. When I do the "starchy-iron on" method I do not reverse the pieces and iron them onto the back side of the fabric.

    Thank you. Did I tell you, your tutorials are the best I've seen on the internet.

    Terry in So. Calif.

  19. The only problem for me is that when I use glue, I end up covered in it!!

  20. you are so nice and neat -

  21. Teresa ~ Thanks for a great tutorial ~ I want to try this ~ just went out and bought the Elmer's gule sticks! I was wondering ~ can you show how you deal with points such as the end of a diamond shape? Thanks

  22. Wonderful tutorials Teresa!!

    This glue method is very interesting and I like the idea of having all the pieces ready to stitch down. This would make for faster finishes once all the prep work was done. What makes me nervous is putting glue on the fabric, you know, the long term effects.

    That sure is a beautiful vase block!!!!

  23. What a great tutorial! I learned needle turn applique last fall and have used the glue stick with plastic templates when doing machine applique. I have the Roxannes but have never used it and have seen/heard of using freezer paper templates (but from the back) and (what Beth Ferrier calls) "docking" your applique parts together.

    But I love that you've put these together in one method and will definitely have to try this as I am obsessed with potential applique projects now and anything that will make it easier is welcome. Thanks again for the tutes!!!

  24. Oh oh gorgeus tuto, definitly i have to try this!!! thanks for teach us.


  25. Thanks, Teresa. Your tutorials are fantastic!

  26. mumble mumble... not sure if I love more the cat pictures or the tutorial...mmm... hard choice... to be on the safe side, I'm printing out and pinning to the board in my sewing studio both of them! :)) thanks so much Teresa, I am going to start tackling a huge baltimora bedspread over Christmas and this is exactly what I need to keep me sane! :)

  27. Is there a reason that you use Roxanne's glue to baste the units to the background instead of using Elmer's glue? I know that you use Elmer's to turn the seam allowance to the back of the freezer paper. I am just curious as to why the difference in products. Also, I tend to use the point of my seam ripper as a stiletto. Is that a problem? Should I invest in a stiletto. It has always served needs as far as I can tell. Could this be one of my stumbling blocks in the process of applique?

  28. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  29. Thank you for sharing your technique. Your tutorial was very well done and I picked up some great pointers.
    You mentioned allowing time for the roxanne glue to dry. I press it with a dry iron and it will dry immediately.

  30. Thanks for the expansion. Really appreciate your generosity.


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