Wednesday, March 13, 2013

why Needle Turn Applique?

A question for the wise... what is the deal with needle turn applique? 

I often hear it whispered in reverent tones as if it is the cream of the crop in applique techniques.  But, when demonstrated it does not seem faster or more accurate than some other methods (especially compared to freezer paper applique).  Also, it takes significant practice to make perfect, so I'm kind of floundering in the way of motivation.

morning stitches

I ended up using freezer paper to turn under the raw edges of these hearts and stitching them on by hand this morning, with brazenly visible stitches.  My hand stitching is never shy.

pondering applique today

So, those with applique know-how, what do you prefer?  What are the winning attributes of needle turn applique?  Or, just what's your favorite method?  I'm pretty keen on freezer paper applique and muslin-backed applique (where you turn the work in a opening cut in the muslin).  But, I always like to keep my head up for new things to try.

Queen of Hearts

My Queen of Hearts block eatures two charming florals from Shelburne Falls on a Kona Rose background.  It just so happens that Denyse Schmidt's Shelburne Falls has a whole color story that fits with my quilt's color scheme.  Lucky, lucky.

47 comments:

  1. If I do needle-turn my curves never end up smooth so I like to do fusible interfacing. Much like muslin, once you turn it out, you can fuse the piece to your top and then applique it on. Easy peasy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I'm going to try that stat! Thanks.

      Delete
    2. I prefer this method too!

      Delete
    3. I love that method too! It works great for larger applique shapes. You can see a tutorial for this technique on my blog at: http://thecraftyquilter.com/2012/04/turned-edge-applique-tutorial-may-day-basket-part-2/

      Delete
    4. I like needle turn applique because; 1 - it can be done anywhere, 2 - it can look awesome when done correctly - which like anything worthwhile takes time -watching the tent makers of cairo work on their projects might affirm that for you, 3 - I find it is the best way to do small pieces. It is also the first method I learned. I do other methods for different projects.

      Delete
  2. I kind of feel like needle-turn is one of those things that people pride themselves on being able to do, but it rarely looks good and doesn't seem worth the effort to me. I liked AMH's method she used for her "super circles"--I've used that a lot.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Really? Well, that would explain my confusion. Yes, I've done AMH foil circles too. There are so many ways to applique!

      Delete
  3. I actually like the needle turn method but only because there is so little prep work involved. I hate spending more time preparing my applique pieces than stitching them. I am relatively new to hand applique but, as you mentioned, I find it's all about the practice you put into it.
    Regardless, I don't see there being a 'right' or 'wrong' way of doing anything in quilting and I find that many people prefer to spend more time prepping than stitching (I find that needle turn does slow the final process down). It's all about what you like and what makes the process more enjoyable.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for adding to the discussion! Yes, more time is definitely spent with the needle, and I can see how that can be more relaxing in some cases than preparing the pieces...at least once you're good at it!

      Delete
  4. I think you should use the method you are happiest with. I learnt to needle turn with a freezer paper template on top of the fabric but prefer just to draw on with a pencil. Besides I don't like everything exactly the same - if I applique on leaves I want them to be different like real ones. I use silk thread in beige or grey as one of those will blend in with whatever fabric and hardly be noticed!

    The main thing is that it should stay attached!

    ReplyDelete
  5. and I have know idea what needle turn means!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha! Yes, well, it's that you actually turn under the edge of the applique with the needle while your stitching the applique down. The needle does all the work.

      Delete
    2. I was wondering the same thing. That sounds super hard! I like the idea of the other methods mentioned much better! I've been really into English paper piecing lately so anything similar to that is comfortable for me.

      Delete
  6. When I needle turn applique I sew a line of baste stitching with my machine first. It's very easy to then turn the edges under as you go because they hit the stitch line. It's quicker than any other method of applique I've used, besides raw edge of course.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Dude! I should totally send you a picture of a project I started in Hawaii -- at a Hawaiian Quilting Class. It is ALL needle turned applique. Hard core...they they are good at it! I actually enjoyed the process, slow and steady. All they do is baste their design to their backing with large stitches and then start doing the applique -- no fusible nothing. I'm sure this makes no sense at all. ha ha!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually, that does make sense! They are definitely famous for their applique. One thing I can say is that needle turn is the cheapest way to applique since you need no other products (fusible, muslin, freezer paper). So perhaps if you're doing a lot of applique that would be a big deal.

      Delete
  8. I use freezer paper on top. I then trace around it and take the paper off before I stitch. I then use those really small appliqué pins. I have tried many different methods before I came up with this one. I finger press and use my needle both to turn under my edges. Just keep trying different things to come up with what works for you.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Needle turn is immensely relaxing and very portable ONCE you have found a technique you like and feel comfortable with. I struggled for a long time and now I generally use a technique from Sarah Fielke. Good luck, it may seem challenging at times, but it is worth it.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I like all kinds, but I am still in the learning stages. You should check out Sara Felkie's method on Craftsy. It's wonderful.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I love needle-turn applique, and found it very easy to learn. It's not nearly as scary or difficult as it sounds! All those "easier" methods require so much prep-work they would send me screaming from the room. Funny that I have endless patience for the actual sewing, and none at all for fussing with freezer paper or pressing seam allowances under ahead of time. Which is why needle-turn is my fave way: just pin (or baste) and go. But as with all other quilting rules and methods, do what works for you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Venus, I am exactly in agreement with you. I trace my finished shapes from my Adobe Illustrator-generated design, on a light table and roughly add a 3/16" seam allowance when I cut them out. I baste with big stitches to my background and just start stitching. And even the basting I skip if I don't want to take the whole square somewhere to work on. As a once-fastidious commercial artist I question the obsession with 'accuracy'. There's charm in an obviously hand-stitched appliqué and a nice bit of puff that you don't get if you've glued, starched or otherwise knife-edge-flattened the shape.

      Delete
  12. Im pretty in love with whole plum, navy, light teal color scheme right now. This quilt is hitting the nail on the head for me. So pretty!!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I have to admit that I have a foot in both camps applique wise. I use needle turn for Hawaian style applique projects, nothing else really works for those due to their size and complexity, and I love love love me some Hawaian applique. For applique that involves small pieces, such as your heart shapes, I prefer the freezer paper method using pearl perierra's techniques (I hope I spelled her name correctly). That is what works for me, I hope you discover your favourite method. As long as it works for you it doesn't really matter a jot what anyone else thinks does it?!

    ReplyDelete
  14. If you happen to have the Denyse Schmidts Modern Quilts book, turn to the Broderie Perse quilt and tell me that's not gorgeous. : ) Needleturn is the "very" traditional method, so there might be something to wanting to do things the way they've been done for a long time. The prep and materials need are also minimal, you don't even need an iron. It also allows the stitcher to make in the moment decisions about how to fold fabric at points and valleys, which can help make a piece look more seamless in my opinion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I so agree about changing things up as needed!

      Delete
  15. I find needle turn very relaxing and I love the look. Once you learn the little tricks it goes pretty quickly and gives me a sense of satisfaction. It also gives me my hand sewing fix as I don't hand quilt.
    One thing to think about is that some feel you weaken the integrity of the quilt by cutting out the back (to remove the freezer paper.
    Prep work with all that freezer paper, gluing etc takes time and I would rather be stitching! Overall I think you should do what works best for you, after all this is fun, not a job!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, everyone, for adding to the discussion! I'm definitely getting the sense that this is a meditative skill, like hand quilting. That defines its places in the range of techniques a way that makes more sense to me now.

      Delete
  16. I love needleturn appliqué. Partly because prep and supplies are minimal, but mostly because I can get incredibly smooth curves. Also, for me, it's the easiest way to get nearly invisible stitches. I've done pieces where you can't see a single appliqué stitch. Saying that though, I've had 15 years to get there. My first couple years didn't produce anything pretty.....

    ReplyDelete
  17. I love needle-turn applique! I don't like to spend a lot of time on prep so I just trace my shape onto the fabric and stitch. Simple and direct is the way I like it :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. No pride involved here with my love of needle turn! Its the first method of hand appliqueing I learned and the only thing I knew for years....which means its what I got good at. I've tried a myriad of other methods and always come back to needle turning. My favorite part is that its the least prep work for me. I dislike spending hours prepping pieces in other methods.
    I think whatever you use and get good and comfortable with and like your results is the method to use. :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. I love using freezer paper, and I leave it in while I applique. The needle glides along the paper and exits under the fold, making a totally invisible stitch. And it's effortless! The compromise is that you have to cut away the backing to get the paper out, and I know that gives some people the shivers.

    ReplyDelete
  20. i was also recommend you check out sarah Fielkes class on craftsy. it's really good. however, i don't see anything wrong at all with yours, they are beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I think its because you can make incredibly delicate work with many details. I'm into antique quilts and the needle turn applique designs on those things is insanely complicated and well done. Invisible stitching. But remember those ladies were also hand piecing and hand quilting their quilts with insanely small stitches. In the 1800s you weren't considered good at quilting unless you could get at least 12 stitches per inch. I don't know if you've ever tried to do that but WOW. Check this one out . . . the stems are really hard to do b/c its such a tiny piece of fabric. http://www.trocadero.com/stellarubin/items/952620/en1.html

    ReplyDelete
  22. I do love the technique but also love the rustic appeal of applique with good ol blanket stitch ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  23. Oh I hate needle turn applique- even doing it the sarah fielke way.... It always goes a funny shape for me and my stitches are ugly. I prefer to use the glue stick technique of folding one edge over and keeping the joining edge raw. I've not found the best way of machine stitching these together yet but I have heard that a blind hem stitch works well with matching colour thread.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I use most of the appliques techniques in my arsenal!

    If I am doing a "one of" then needle turn might be the best choice. If I am doing 100, then freezer paper may be better.

    (I also like the unmeltable template plastic & spray starch method & fusible web & fusible interfacing, &, &, & there are many menthods!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, and it's good that there are so many methods because, like you, I tend to change methods based on the project!

      Delete
  25. Yes, I like needle-turn applique because it's calming, it satisfies me tactically and because there is nothing to plug in, it's very quiet :-)

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hi! I am a major needle turn appliquer! I always have at least 1 project on the go! I use a very light fusible (light Wonder Under or Misty Fuse) stiffner on the back of the applique pieces. I trace the piece's shape on the paper side, then iron to the wrong side of the fabric. I cut out the fabric piece, making sure to allow for at least 1/4 inch seam allowance.
    Before sewing, I go around and clip curves, and clip away from a point, or make a Y into an inside point, (like the heart).
    Then I take the paper off.
    I used to use pins, but I found with lots of small pieces or one large piece, sew tacking or basting, I guess, the piece down with a contrasting coloured thread to make it easy to see. I find the appliqued piece doesn't get warped away from the original design.
    Tight curves, especially outside curves like hearts, need a little more seam allowance as that is what gets folded under. I find the Misty Fuse on the back of the gives a firm edge to help the needle, turn under the seam allowance. The clipped seam allowance helps the piece lay flat.
    I learned from needleturn applique gurus, to gather stitch in the seam allowance, then gather to shape the piece, like for circles (think making Yo Yos), and then finger press the edge, helps with sewing too.
    I use YLI silk thread in a colour matching my applique fabric or the back ground fabric with a small applique needle, using a blind stitch, coming up in the fold of the applique piece, makes my stitching INVISIBLE!!
    For me, to use machine applique, it never looks good to me. To use freezer paper or the muslin backing technique is bulky to me and if the machine isn't perfect around a curve, then the applique isn't perfect.
    I guess it is about your comfort level, but it all takes practice. I find my method very relaxing.
    Using my technique, I can prep several blocks at once to take on a trip!
    Good luck!
    Take care, Leslie

    ReplyDelete
  27. I think your applique looks great! I started doing applique again last summer after not doing it for years, and hating it when I did do it 10+ years ago. I'm working on a basket quilt that has 290+ baskets in it. Repeating the same thing over and over again and applique would be two things I'd normally hate, but I am having such fun. I love doing hand work because it's so soothing. I started out doing starch & FP but it was taking SO long to do that. Now I'm doing Theresa's http://fabrictherapy.blogspot.ie/ method for gluing the fabric into place before applique--it seems to be the only way that my pieces end up looking as they were intended. I tried doing needle turn with a basket block recently and let's just say that if it was real life, that basket wouldn't have been fit for the TJ Maxx 50% aisle. LOL I trace the shape and then work on gluing everything while watching TV with the family, and just use a small bit of glue. I think, as others have said, do whatever works best for you.

    Also, I was at the LQS earlier this week to buy more red thread for my applique & the owner sold me a 100 wt YLI silk thread for the darker fabrics--she says it sinks into the fabric and isn't seen. I haven't tried it yet. I have a big stash of Mettler cotton 50 wt threads from my previous applique life, but have been using some 60 wt cotton thread for the lighter applique and there's a huge difference between 60 & 50 wt.

    Now, if I can figure out how to stop sewing through my fingers, life would be great. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've heard so many recommendations for YLI silk thread. I'll definitely want to get some if I want my stitches to be invisible. At this point, I'm not sure I do!

      Delete
  28. I love the way applique looks and have done just a little of it. Really don't have a favorite way to do it ~ I've tried it a bunch of ways. I was lucky enough to take a class with Gwen Marston and got to watch her needle turn. She's amazing and makes it look so simple. Of course, she's been doing it for forever and her points are perfect!
    Love your hearts ~ the fabric is wonderful.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I didn't care for Needle turn until I watched Nancy Lee Chong's stress - free techniques video for 2 Fabric Applique. She has a fantastic video that I think you would find very helpful. Look her up at http://prqc.com/videos.htm#2FAQ-video
    It's a very fun way to do needle-turn.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Love needle turn appliqué. I seem to favor using Mylar templates and starch. Nice crisp edges! It's so very therapeutic!!

    ReplyDelete
  31. You are not alone. I have tried and mostly discarded needle-turn. I had lessons, but it wasn't precise enough for me. I use freezer paper templates now and finger-press the shape around the paper before removing the paper and sewing the fabric down.
    I do find the needle-turn technique handy when navigating pointy corners.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I did give needle turn applique a try recently. I was wondering why everyone fears it. It wasn't that complicated after seeing a video on youtube. But my stitches are far from perfect. There's some practice needed but that's always the case, isn't it? I don't know what I prefer. My needle turn applique project kept moving while stitching what I didn't like, so maybe that's a con for this technique. But again: that might be my fault because of lack of experience.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts with Thumbnails