Scribbly stitches appliqué tutorial

In December, I made a knitting bag for a friend. At the time, I promised to show how I sewed the appliqué when I made another knitting bag for myself, which I have done.

So, here are some step-by-step photos showing how I sewed the appliqué.

Free-motion appliqué tutorial

The first step is tracing your design onto fusible paper. Remember to trace a mirror image, unless you do not mind the image flipping.

I found images online and used them as templates to trace the appliqué shapes, including the ball of wool and the knitting needles. The oval is part of the Ric Rac pattern, but I decided to also make that an appliqué shape instead of embroidering two lines . You can appliqué any design you like.

You can also use any type of fusible paper you like. Just follow the manufacturer’s instructions. I used Vliesofix as it is readily available here.

Free-motion appliqué tutorial

Use your paper scissors to roughly cut out the shapes.

Free-motion appliqué tutorial

Iron the roughly cut shapes to the back of your fabric.
(In this photo, I then cut out the centres of the ovals just because I was testing the colour before I went too far ahead. You do not need to do that.)

Try to avoid getting the glue from the fusible paper stuck to your iron. Protect your iron and ironing board with baking paper.

Free-motion appliqué tutorial

Neatly cut out the shapes, following your traced lines.

Free-motion appliqué tutorial

Peel away the backing paper and iron the pieces in place on your background fabric.

Free-motion appliqué tutorial

Use a washable or otherwise erasable fabric marker to mark any lines you might need to help you.

Free-motion appliqué tutorial

Pin or baste your layers together. I have just pinned the fabric to the bag batting here, but for quilts using this technique I sandwich three layers: the top, wadding and backing.
Set up your machine for free-motion quilting, do a test-piece and start sewing!

Because I was making a bag, I cut over-sized pieces of fabric and batting and sandwiched the two together, and I cut out the pattern piece for the front of the bag only after I had finished the appliqué. This allowed me a bit of fudge room.

When I have made small quilts using this appliqué technique, I fused the appliqué pieces in place on the quilt top, sandwiched the three layers (top, batting and backing) together, and then started sewing the fused pieces in place. Quilting and appliquéing at the same time = no fuss!

Setting up your machine for free-motion quilting is where your sewing machine’s instruction book comes in handy.

Free-motion appliqué tutorial

I outline each shape with 2–4 lines of stitching. I try to stay a whisker in on the fabric’s edge, but I often miss and go off course (bottom right).

Free-motion appliqué tutorial

Keep sewing, slowly building up the lines of stitching.

Free-motion appliqué tutorial

Pull the threads to the back, knot them close to the fabric and sew them in between the layers. I do this as I go so I do not end up with tangled threads.

Free-motion appliqué tutorial

This is what it looks like finished.

Free-motion appliqué tutorial

And here is another finished example.

Free-motion appliqué tutorial

The back looks like this. The baby quilts I made this way were almost reversible, with the designs showing through on the backing fabric.

As I was lining bags, I did not use a fabric backing. If this were a quilt, you would not see the batting; instead, the stitches would show on the backing fabric.

Ric Rac, work-in-progress bag pattern

The bag in the front already has my knitting in it.

For the bag itself, I used Ric Rac’s work in progress bag pattern.

You can see two other examples of baby quilts I made using this technique here. (Look for the sheep and the birds.)

I find the magic part of this technique is that one wonky line of sewing looks wonky, but three wonky lines of sewing over the top of each other suddenly start to look deliberate and neat. The drunken scribbly lines seem to average each other out.

I would not use this method of appliqué for quilts that get a lot of wear and need frequent washing, but it works well for wall-hangings and things like a knitting bag, which I will probably only wash now and then – when it gets really grotty or when I spill my tea (or red wine) on it.

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18 thoughts on “Scribbly stitches appliqué tutorial

  1. Two more enviable bags. Why do you insist on providing me with ideas for lots of things to make when my list is already ridiculously long! And I need a crochet bag now because of the Mystery Woolly Thing, which is now too large to carry around tidily…

      • LOL! Maybe! 🙂 We even have a NHL hockey team with that name. Of course I’m kidding. People usually write Canuck with a “C” (like the Vancouver hockey team) and at first, in the 19th century, Americans would call french-Canadians like that. But now it’s just a nickname for Canadians in general.

  2. I have been thinking about raw edge applique for a while – you make it seems so easy – I think I might have the confidence to try it now – I just need to find the time. Thanks for sharing.

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