Appliqueing On A Large Background


Have you ever looked at a quilt with a large background and wondered how to even start something with such a large background? Quilting Contessa offers a few ideas.

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Appliqueing On A Large Background

How To "Fit" All That Fabric In Your Hands

Have you ever looked at a quilt with a large background and wondered how to even start something with such a large background? Do you have "tiny hands" and think it just won't work? Here Quilting Contessa offers a few ideas on how to get started working on a large background piece. The answer may surprise you!

Appliqueing On A Large Background


Some designers do not provide recommendations on the best order in which to pin and stitch your applique pieces, but give excellent instructions on the stitching itself, so here is a little pointer on working with that large background.


Stitch From the Center Out


When working with a large piece of background fabric that will remain large (it will not be cut into blocks) it is best to start your pinning and stitching in the center of your design space both vertically and horizontally. In that way, you can roll the background fabric in a tube up close to the area you will be working in so that it will better fit in your "non-stitching" hand and so that it will not cramp as you stitch. I like to only pin the first few pieces in place using short applique pins with a large head that make them easy to remove, but that won't get caught as easily in your thread as you work. (Please note that you do need to make sure that you are placing your appliques in the correct order so that pieces that are to be behind others are either left loose for the others to be tucked behind later, or stitch them in "layer order.") By starting in the center and working your way slowly all of the way around, you are rolling up less pieces keeping the portion of your background as thin as possible as you work. This also keeps all of the fabrics looking as fresh as possible since you will not be working over top of appliques that have already been attached the oil from your skin will not be constantly coming in contact with the appliques.

Stitching to the Outer Edge


But What About Placement – Will It All Fit?


When there are a lot of appliques we sometimes feel that we need to place them all first to see if they are going to fit properly before you stitch, but never fear there is a wonderful product called Tru-Grid that can help ensure that your placement is correct. Tru-Grid is a wonderful non-woven non-fusible white "fabric" with squares marked on it for helpful alignment that generally can be found in your local quilt shop near interfacing and fusibles. It used to be used by clothing seamstresses to make a more durable pattern that could be used much longer than the tissue paper patterns that are purchased in stores. This miracle product can be placed over the layout diagram of your quilt pattern and using a fine tip sharpie marker, you trace the correct placement for your appliques. Then, you use large basting stitches to attach the Tru-Grid to the top of your background fabric. You may then place those first appliques in place right under the Tru-Grid, line them up with the diagram you drew and pin them in place. The Tru-Grid can then be rolled up like a window shade and tucked out of the way as you start your applique. When you have finished stitching the first pieces in place, you then unroll the Tru-Grid and place additional applique pieces as you did previously. This prevents the bulk of having so many applique pieces rolled up in your hand as you stitch as well as making sure that all of your appliques are positioned properly and that you won't get your thread caught on so many pins as you work. The "extra" benefit of the Tru-Grid is that if you will be making several blocks that are all the same, you may reuse it again and again since the product does not stretch and can be basted onto the next block easily assuring yourself of consistent placement of your appliques.

Tru-Grid Guide


Don't Forget To Stretch!

Yes as quilters our chosen entertainment is not considered "physical", but stretching out your hands, wrists, and shoulders can be quite beneficial before you stitch as well as during your stitching. Stretching can keep the blood flowing freely and keep us from tensing up as we work. You don't have to purchase any special equipment for this stretching, just use your own body parts.

Place your hands together at chest height with palms facing each other (like you are praying), then slowly bring your wrists out away from one another using your fingers to push against each other while you are spreading your hands out as much as possible. Next, position your hands with the backside of your hands facing one another at chest height and your elbows pointing straight to the sides. Slowly roll your hands together to point toward the ceiling as you bring your elbows down toward your sides. Finally, roll your shoulders first forward then backward to loosen the muscles of your neck and shoulders.

Remember, hand stitching is not a sprint-to-the-finish, you don't have to finish your project in one day. Take breaks, talk to your loved ones and enjoy the process as much as you will enjoy the final piece.

Happy Stitching!

Rolling Background up to get to stitching


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Attaching individual pieces of fabric to a background to form a design.

Same As: Appliqué

See Also: Freezer Paper Applique, Needleturn Applique, Machine Applique, Reverse Applique, Shadow Applique
Background Fabric
The fabric used as the background when placing Applique pieces.
A temporary method of holding the quilt Sandwich layers together while you finish assembling it. This can be conducted using Basting Sprays, pins, clips or temporary stitching called a Tacking Stitch or Basting Stitch.
The basic unit of a quilt top, usually square but can be rectangular or other shapes. Blocks can be pieced, appliqued or plain.
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