I love hand appliqué! Now, I know not everyone does, but for those that do, or those that want to learn more about it, I’ll give you a few tips and hints, as well as my favorite tools for needle-turn appliqué. I was originally going to do this all in one post, but it just got too long, so I’ll focus on the appliqué products in this post, and do a “part 2” with the tutorial and hints!
There are a number of different methods of appliqué, but the method I use is pure needle-turn, with pieces either glued on or pinned on. I’ll deal more with that in part 2.
The first thing that is important for needle-turn is your appliqué needle. I like a straw needle, which is a long, pliable needle. My two favorites are John James milliners needles, and Jeana Kimball’s straw needles. I like size 10’s, but they come a little larger and a little smaller.
John James milliners needles and Jeana Kimball’s straw needles.
Next is thread. I like silk thread, and a good one is YLI silk thread. The advantage of silk is that it is very fine and disappears into the fabric. You can use a dark and light taupe for almost everything, and it blends in. The disadvantage is that is slips right out of the needle more times than I care to count! Superior Threads also makes a silk thread, called Kimono. I haven’t personally used it, but I love Superior Threads, and use their thread for my long-arm and regular sewing machine.
YLI silk thread in dark and light taupe.
And that brings me to cotton thread! I used to exclusively use silk, but I switched to cotton thread, because it’s a little easier to use. In cottons, you match the thread color to the fabric color. My favorite product for appliqué is from Superior, and is their 100% cotton Masterpiece thread by Alex Anderson. The coolest thing is their Frosted Donuts, which are pre-wound bobbins of 35 colors. There are two different colored donuts. I love that there are tons of colors, but just a small amount of each color. I’ve had mine for years and haven’t run out of a single color yet! You don’t really need a whole spool of thread in each color!
Superior Threads Frosted Donuts of Masterpiece cotton threads in both color ways.
Another fabulous cotton thread is DMC Cotton Machine Embroidery Thread. I love this thread! It’s probably my favorite cotton, but it’s a little hard to find sometimes, and it doesn’t have the advantage of the bobbin size.
DMC Cotton Machine Embroidery thread.
I use glue to put my pieces on the background fabric, and my favorite is Appliglue from Jillily Studio. This glue holds well and doesn’t leave any residue on the front of the piece. You only need a few tiny dots of glue to hold the pieces in place. My second favorite glue is Roxanne’s Glue-Baste-It. This is a great product, too, and it is easy to reposition pieces with this glue.
Appli-Glue from Jillily Studios and Roxanne’s Glue-Baste-It.
The only other thing you need are marking pencils and freezer paper. I use a white mechanical marking pencil for dark fabric, and a regular, old mechanical pencil for medium and light fabrics. And that’s really about it for products! You don’t really need much more than that for hand sewing!
Look forward to the tutorial on my method in part 2, coming soon!