Appliqué is cool. I love it. I gravitate towards those quilts at shows and markets- any form, any kind. I am always blown away by the intricacy, the level of commitment an appliquéd quilt requires, both hand sewn and machine done appliqué. As I was wandering through the quilt show at Market in Houston this year, the quilts I loved the best were (for the most part) appliquéd. Amazing!
I think I have tried almost every kind of appliqué out there. Sometimes I pick a project to do simply to learn a new type of hand work, or how to accent my fusible appliqués with pretty machine stitches.
In my “travels” through this quilting medium, I have come to love several products I wouldn’t be without. Although there are a fair number, I limited my choices to those I use for hand appliqué.
Frixion Heat Erasable Pens
I love these. I can’t say enough about them. I am a terrible eraser, and trying to erase pencil markings on fabric is a disastrous prospect for me. Even when I use ceramic lead. These pens have changed my appliqué life. I can clearly see lines, I don’t get smudges on my fabric, and they disappear when ironed. What could be easier?
Roxanne’s Baste-It Glue
This is great for just getting a little bit of glue right where you need it. I especially love the precision tip that allows you to be very accurate with the glue. It washes out with water, but lasts forever if it doesn’t get wet. (Now is the time to confess that I’ve had a project hanging on my closet door for well over a year with the pieces simply dotted on with Roxanne’s. Haven’t fallen yet!)
I am a needle bender. I guess I don’t know my own strength, but I go through a lot of needles, and have learned I need good quality needles that can stand up to my man-handling. I have heard many recommendations over the years, and have tried many of them, but really, the choice of needle you use for hand-work comes down to how it feels in your hand. I like straw needles for my appliqué. And my favorite brand is Jeana Kimball’s Foxglove Cottage. There are various sizes to get depending on what type of thread you use. She also carries a line of Embroidery needles for Redwork and embroidery. Each case comes with 16 needles, which lasts me quite a while.
Have I mentioned that I collect thread? It’s true. Ask my friends. And my Wolf Scouts. (They think I’m weird, but then, they’re only 8- and boys, so what do they know? *smile*) When I was first learning needle-turn appliqué, the advice I received was to either match your appliqué piece, or the background so as to make the thread disappear into the quilt. I tend to like to match the upper piece, but that means you need to have A LOT of matching thread. Now, I have that. But when I started out, I didn’t. I found, though, that there are some thread colors that are “Magic.” These colors tend to match just about any color or shade you have, and seem to “melt” into the fabric. My current favorite “Magic” thread shade is Champagne, #650, from Superior Thread. It is from their Bottom Line collection, which is generally a wonderful bobbin thread, but also makes a great polyester hand appliqué thread. (Just as a note, when I do match my top pieces, I love using silk thread- Superior’s Kimono is my favorite line).
In a previous post, I raved and raved about my newest favorite tool: the Roxette thimble. I have never been a thimble girl, but this little bad girl won me over instantly. It was love at first sight. When I know I am going to be doing any handwork, my first thought is always “Oh, goodie! Now I get to use my thimble again!” They come in various sizes, too, and the color indicates which size they are.
So, there you have it! My favorite Appliqué tools! We have put all of these tools into an awesome bundle for you- just click through to order!
(NOTE: The bundle only includes ONE thimble- either medium or large. Please indicate which size you would like. Also, it includes 3 different needle sizes: 8 (for Embroidery and Redwork), 10, and 11 (both straw needles for appliqué).