Following on from last week’s tutorial on raw edge applique, let’s have a look at using invisible thread. This tutorial follows some of the processes to create my Flower Power Quilt.
Last week, with raw edge applique, we sealed the edge with thread. If the thread had been invisible, we would still be able to see the raw edge, so we need to create turned edges on the applique pieces for this thread. Let’s go through the three steps again, and this time prepare the pieces with turned edges and sew with invisible thread.
Step 1 – Preparing the Applique Pieces
There are several ways to create beautiful turned edge applique pieces. I will share the two I use most.
I trace the applique shapes onto lightweight fusible interfacing. Don’t be tempted to buy cheap interfacing as it is rubbish. Next, I cut the shapes out with at least a ¼” seam allowance. Then, with the applique fabric face up, the cut-out shape of interfacing is placed glue side down on top of the material. This step seems wrong, but it is right – honest! Now I sew the sandwiched interfacing and applique fabric together by sewing around the traced lines. Finally, I cut a small hole in the middle of the interfacing and turn the applique fabric through the hole, easing the seams out carefully.
The applique piece will now have the right side of the fabric on top and the fusible side of the interfacing underneath. The piece can be pressed flat by press it on a Teflon sheet, so the glue doesn’t transfer. Then the applique shape is ready for the first fix onto the background.
Freezer Paper & Starch Method
The interfacing method is excellent for simple shapes with little details. If the applique shape has lots more information, then this method will yield better results.
First, I iron together two pieces of freezer paper larger than the applique shape I am making. Then I trace the outline of the body onto the double layer of paper. I cut this out carefully on the traced line. Then I cut the applique fabric ¼” bigger and place the freezer paper shape centred on the wrong side of the material. I spray some ‘Easy Iron’ or spray starch into a small cup (or the lid of the spray), and using a painting brush, I brush the edge of the fabric with starch and turn it over the template edge. In curved need to be clip to within two threads of where the turn will be. If you clip too close, the cut will be visible on the right side of the applique piece. I use a dry, hot iron the press the folded edges in place as I go. Once complete, I remove the freezer paper template, which is reusable.
Step 2 – Creating a First Fix
My applique with interfacing on the back is ready to fuse onto the background with a hot, dry iron. I use water-soluble glue to hold the applique piece I created with the freezer paper method. I use a Prym glue pen or Roxanne Fabric Glue
Step 3 – Sewing in Place
It is good to practise with invisible thread before sewing the applique pieces. I buy YLI or Guttermann invisible thread. The success of the invisible stitching is dependent on the quality of the thread used. The bobbin thread should be a thin cotton 70w or 80w or a very fine polyester thread. I also reduce the top tension on the sewing machine. It may take you a couple of attempts to get the machine threaded correctly, but persevere the final effect is worth it.
There is no point using a fancy stitch as they will be invisible, so the stitch is a blind hemming stitch. The straight part of the stitch will miss the applique and tuck near the edge but on the background. The zig-zag portion of the stitch will extend across the applique piece and hold it in place. The width of the blind hemming stitch I use is two, and the length is 0.6.
A blind hem stitch is not complex. I stop and turn on a straight stitch, and that will work fine. If you want to reset the stitch, then go ahead and do that. It is great to practise. This stitch is narrower, so the need to reduce the width as you go towards pointing corners is not significant; however, you could do that.
There are only two problems I have encountered when using invisible thread for applique. First, sometimes I can see the bobbin thread on the top of my work. In this case, your bobbin thread may be too thick, or your top tension may be too high. The other issue is the invisible thread breaking. This happens because the thread is not feeding through the top tension and guides probably. Rethread and rethread again. It will work.
If you would like to make the Flower Power Quilt then click here.