Monday, September 17, 2012

Appliqué Tips Via a Free Pattern

Hi Everyone, I have wanted to do an appliqué tutorial for some time, but wanted to do something a little different than just share how I do appliqué.  So, I came up with the idea to share a pattern, show you my favorite appliqué technique, and along the way also share some tips I've learned along the way.

One of my favorite things to have around my house is standard size bed pillows with fun shams.  These are great to get cozy with and are less expensive than a lot of the custom sized pillow forms.  They are also easy to change out based on your decorations and the season of the year.

Starry Nights Pillow Sham

I chose to make my first pillow using a Halloween theme.
What You'll Need:
- 3/4 yard Heat 'N Bond Lite Iron On Adhesive
- Scraps of fabric for stars
- 1/2 yard of fabric for background and corners
- 1/8 yard of fabric for borders
- 3/4 yard fabric for pillow sham backing
-----Everything Else-----
- 1 regular or large size rotary cutter 
- 1 small rotary cutter (optional)
- Scissors
- Cutting mat
- Sewing machine
- Thread for sewing machine and to match your appliqué
- Iron & Ironing board
- Pen for tracing appliqué
- Ruler (My favorite and a good basic to get started is the Creative Grids 6 1/2" by 24 1/2" ruler, because it isn't too bulky and it's just the right size for cutting strips of fabric cut from the bolt)
- Pins

Step 1:
- From the background fabric, cut 1 piece at 14½" by 24½" and 4 squares at 3½" by 3½".
- From the border fabric, cut 2 pieces at 3½" by 14½" and 2 pieces at 3½" by 24½"

Step 2:
Sew the side borders to each side with 1/4" seam allowance and press seams towards darker fabric.

Step 3:
Sew the squares to each side of the top & bottom borders.  You will have 2 when finished.

Step 4:
Sew the borders from Step 3 to the top and bottom of the pillow background sewn in Step 2 making sure to line up the corners and pin frequently.  Once sewn, press seams towards darker fabric.

Step 5:
Now the fun!  Appliqué!  I like to keep my appliqué technique simple, quick and to the point. Appliqué is an awesome way to add uniqueness to a project and it's super fun!

I use Heat 'N Bond Lite and have found that this works really well on a multitude of projects, but will tell you about some tips & tricks I've found along the way.  I get mine at Joann's and because I use so much I like to wait until there's a good coupon and stock up on 5 yards, 10 yards or even a bolt of Heat 'N Bond at a time ... yes, that's how much I love this product.

One of the great things about Heat 'N Bond Lite is that you can see through it, see for yourself ...

You will want to trace the stars you would like to use onto the Heat 'N Bond.  There are six options I have given you attached here and here.  I used a combination of 3 left leaning and right leaning large stars, 2 medium stars (1 left leaning and 1 right leaning), and a combination of 3 left leaning and right leaning small stars, but you can use any combination you'd like.

From here, you will want to cut around the stars.  One of the things I struggled with when I first started appliquéing was when to cut the centers out.  So, I wanted to make sure I gave an example of when to cut and when not to cut in this tutorial.  For the large and medium size stars you will want to cut out the centers, not the small stars.  The reason for this is it simply helps eliminate the bulk of the final project.  Heat 'N Bond tends to make things stiff when used, so by cutting excess out you are cutting down on the bulk. 

Below is an example of what a large star will look like when the center has been cut out.  I have a tiny (28 mm.) Olfa rotary cutter that I use, but you could use scissors or a larger rotary cutter.  Using a rotary cutter gives a very smooth edge, but if you use a larger rotary cutter be careful to not go too fast, because a larger surface is being cut and you don't want to cut through your outline!
Step 6:
Iron the non-paper surface of the Heat 'N Bond to the wrong side of the fabric, cut out the stars along the edges and take off the paper backing so your "glue" is showing.  Place your stars where you would like them and when you are sure of their placement iron them in place.

Step 7:
Once your stars are ironed down, you are ready to sew your decorative border to secure them permanently.  I prefer to use the blanket stitch for all my appliqué.  Occasionally I will use the zig zag stitch, but definitely experiment with your machine and some scrap material to see which you prefer!

Some tips for sewing the appliqué stitch:
  • If you have never appliquéd before I highly recommend you take some scraps of fabric and test your blanket stitch to get comfortable with it and to see visually how it looks.
  • Make sure you put your needle in the Needle Down position.  This is especially important for when you rotate your stars corners to keep your needle in place.  It's also helpful if you need to readjust you fabric in the middle of a line.
Needle Down!
 Step 8:
For the sham's back, you will need to cut one piece at 15½” by 20½” and one piece at 18½” by 20½.” 

Iron one long edge (20½”) down 1/4", like this:

And then sew down with a zig zag stitch.

Step 9:
Now you're ready to put everything together and have a finished pillowcase!  Lay the 18½” by 20½” piece face down (so your raw edges with the zig zag are facing up).

Next, lay the 15½” by 20½” piece over this so the entire front of your pillow does not show and pin down frequently.

Sew all around the pillow sham at 1/4" seam allowance and turn inside out ... voilà ... you are done!

For another idea on what this pillow could look like, here's a different spin.

This pillow has endless options ... Christmas, 4th of July ... on and on and on!

I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial and I would love to see your finished pillows (you can send photos to my e-mail at!



1 comment:

  1. Great idea and tutorial, Megan! Love stars--Thanks!


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