Tuesday 10 March 2020

Creating Turn Edge Applique on Curves

Consider this simple flower shape. When creating applique pieces, there's a huge advantage to using a fusible that doesn't need to be washed away. The fusible is the white you see. The fusible has been cut as per the pattern sheet - that is, it's the true actual size of the applique piece. It's ironed onto the fabric and then the fabric is cut around the fusible shape with a quarter inch seam allowance. It's this allowance that provides us with the lovely edge we want in our pieces. 
When I talk about fusible, I'm pretty much always referring to Floriani Stitch N Wash Fusible. This is my preferred fusible product. It doesn't need to be removed at any stage and after applique, it doesn't bulk out your applique and the quilt can be washed and handled as usual. I'm not associated with Floriani and I don't even get a discount on their products, I have simply found this to be the best fusible for applique so far. I also have trouble finding it outside of the US, so check with your local quilt store and get your hands on as much as you can afford. It can be really irritating to stall a project whilst hunting it down. There may be other products that work just as well as Stitch N Wash, but my location means that I simply don't get access to the large array available to so many North American quilters. I suggest you experiment with as many fusibles as you can to find one that works for you. 
When you cut your fusible shape out with the seam allowance, respect the shape of the applique motif. You'll notice I cut my seam allowance with gentle curves to follow the fusible.With the shape plus seam allowance cut out of the fabric, dab the sides with glue. This is to hold everything into position until you're ready to sew( by machine or hand) your applique into it's position. I often use Elmer's Glue in Disappearing Purple. I find that it doesn't gum up my machine or cause any stitching problems. It also washes away later. There was some talk a few years ago that this glue was so good because it was essentially a starch.. and then it was discovered that it actually wasn't a starch product at all and some quilters went off it. Personally I don't care that it's not a starch, it works fine for applique and washes out easily. If you're one of those quilters who doesn't wash her applique, don't worry about it because you won't end up with a stiff cardboard applique shape anyhow. 
Once you've glued the seam allowance, snip carefully around the fusible shape. Don't snip right up to the fusible white shape or the cut marks will show on the right side. This takes practice and a sharp pair or narrow scissors.
As you clip each side, turn the edges inwards neatly and press down to keep then down in position. As you approach the tip, you need to make smaller, finer cuts and tuck in the excess fabric to create the neat curved edge. This is more than your hands can accomplish alone. You also need an orange stick. The wood is good because it won't break the fibres of your fabric whilst you're manipulating the fabric. You could also use a thick pin to do this work, but be careful of breaking down those fibres.
When I reach tip points that are curved, I neatly pleat the seam allowance as tightly as possible all the way around.
This means that curved points will always look fuller on the wrong side than other parts of the turn edge. After you've created a few, you'll pick up a technique that works for you. I find that pulling the pleats down towards the fusible as tightly as possible and then holding them down until the glue fastens (about a minute) works for me.
 Now to create the top edge of the flower shape. You'll notice that I first snipped the larger area into 3 sections, this will allow me to create 3 x pleat zones, which will give me the neatest result. If I tried to just follow the curve without breaking it down with a snip in the 'dips', the shape would lose it's detail and look overall rounded.
 After snipping your zones, add your glue. It's best to add glue in stages and not all at once so that you can handle the shape cleanly and can use as little glue as possible. If you add your glue too early and take too long to come around to the area, it will dry out quickly.
Next, pleat and turn each area as neatly as you can, pulling the fabric towards the fusible and holding it down.
Whilst still drying, you might want to try rolling your applique to help flatten it. I often beat my applique edges with a small rubber hammer to get them really flat and reduce bulk built up on tight corners. It really works, give it a go.
This is where I ended up using this shape. It's from a block in my quilt design Secret Garden.
I also went on and adding highlighting to this shape for added dimension with a process that is pigment fast and permanent.
 Not bad for a simple applique shape, eh?


  1. Thank you as I have trouble getting my curves down with good shape.
    I will try this.

  2. Wow! That is so detailed! Thank you for all the tips and the fab photos of each stage!

  3. Lovely tutorial! Thank you for taking the time to post and may toy and your family be well.

  4. Thank you Esther...very clear and concise. I hope your daughter is doing better.

  5. What kind of colored pencils do you prefer?

  6. What a fabulous tutorial, Esther! What kind of pencils do you use for your highlighting?

  7. Thank you for the detailed instructions! I will apply these to my next project.


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