Monday, April 14, 2008

Needleturn Applique Prep Tutorial

I should start off by saying that this tutorial is on how to prep your pieces for needleturn applique, not how to do the actual applique....though I have plans to do a tutorial for that too very soon.


1) Hunt and Gather

These are the tools of the trade - at least, this is what I use. Nothing more, nothing less!
- Fabric
- Pattern
- Lightbox
- Pencil
- Scissors
- Basting Glue
- Needles and Thread

2) Trace

Don't waste valuable time cutting out pattern pieces and drawing around them. Cut out a couple of steps and trace your pattern straight to your fabric with the help of a lightbox. This will save you a ton of time. I just use a pencil to do this, but you can use whatever you are used to.

3) Cut Cut Cut

Cut out your pieces. I like to leave approx 1/8 inch allowance around the lines. I don't like to have a bigger allowance as it is hard to work with when you turn points under. Now is also a good time to clip any curves which will make your life infinitely easier when you start to sew those curves! In regards to the background, I always cut it a bit bigger (usually 1/2 inch all around) than the given measurements, as applique tends to bring it in a little. Then when you are done with the block you can square it up to the perfect size.

4) Assemble

You now have your pieces cut out and it's time to play! Arrange your pieces on your background until you come up with something that makes you happy. Remember, things are going to look a bit crowded and weird, but never fear, it will look better once the seam allowances are sewn under.

5) Time to attach

I am in love with the glue basting method. I used to use applique pins but my thread would get caught on them and it was quite frustrating. Glue basting is so easy!
- Remember, baste the pieces on the bottom first and work your way up.
- Just little dots. They don't need to be too close - just enough for your applique pieces to stay flat and keep their shape.
- Keep away from the edges - remember, you will be turning those edges under, and you don't want any glue to be in the way. However, if you find you have glued in the wrong spot, just give it a tug and it will separate from the background.

6) Time to sew!

As quickly as that, you are ready to sew! This is also a good time to clip any curves you may have forgotten to do earlier.

I will do a separate tutorial on the actual stitching process as it can be quite involved. Not hard, but it deserves it's own spotlight! However, here are a couple of photos of the basic stitch I use.

When your block is complete you are ready for the next one...prepare to be addicted!

Needleturn stitching tutorial coming soon...hopefully this week.


Purple and Paisley said...

very, very nice and thank you!

Nanette Merrill said...

great job joanna, I've never used glue for needle turn, I'm going to try it! thanks

Wendy said...

I am currently working on my first needleturn project. It's the center applique piece for my BOM. It is very addicting...I like it a lot. I noticed that you don't make any cuts in the seam allowance to help turn it under. Do you ever make cuts? Just wondering...I made cuts and found it okay, but was wondering what would happen if I didn't. You can see my applique project on my blog at I am also tagging you to post 7 random or weird things about yourself...see the rules on my blog.

Teresa said...

Good Morning, and a belated Happy Birthday! I had not checked your blog in a few days and am just catching up.

I enjoyed your tutorial. I have been doing applique for years, but had not tried it using your technique of tracing the pattern onto the fabric and then glue basting it down. I will have to give this a try...soon.

By the way - I love the look of your applique that you are getting with the wool felt background. I can't wait to see the finished project.

Michelle said...

Thank you sooooo much for this tutorial. I've really been wanting to try needleturn applique and this is perfect! Thank you!

Christina Lane | The Sometimes Crafter said...

There is some great information in here that I hadn't thought to try! Thanks for taking the time and i'll be looking forward to your next tutorial on the "stitching". As a beside, I use the same stitch when sewing on my applique and binding...just what is this stitch called?

Heather (How to be a Woman..?) said...

I'm trying to learn how to do this. It's much harder than it looks! Thank you so much for the awesome tutorial! I never thought to baste with glue, or to draw directly on top of the piece.

Chocolate Tart said...

Hi, great post - I've been trying to find a nice needleturn site for a while, and yours was the first on google today! I wanted to ask a question about the glue. Does it have to be special basting glue or will normal PVA glue work just as well? (i'm based in HK and it's really hard to find freezer paper, fusible webbing or other applique items so I'm doing it the traditional way!).

boltandfrolic said...

I was curious about what kind of glue you use here too. Great tutorial, thank you!

Simone de Klerk said...

I googled for appliqué needle turn tutorial and came across yours on my first click.
Seeing you do it, makes me think (hope) that I can do it. Very clear pictures and explanation.
Thank you so much! I will first try with pins, because I'm not sure it will work out.

Jena said...

This is exactly what I was looking for. THank you.

Denilyn said...

This is what I have searching for...thanks so much for posting this. I do have one question that I hope you will answer. I see the drawn seam allowance; how much of a seam allowance do you use...1/4 inch or 1/2 inch?


Joanna said...

Dennilyn, I tried to email you but your email is set to no reply so I hope you come back and read this. The answer is in instruction number 3! I use somewhere between 1/8th inch - 1/4 inch. Hope that helps!

Denilyn said...

Thanks so much....hello denise...cannot believe I missed that but I sure did. That is what happens when you get in a hurry...LOL. Your tutorials are the best...thanks again for taking the time to post these. :-D