Just because you’re die cutting doesn’t mean you’re limited to fusible or raw-edge applique. I know of at least four different techniques for applique using your dies, and I’d like to share a couple of those techniques with you today as we explore the Happy Happy block by Jen Kingwell.
At first glance, this block doesn’t have much die cutting action going on. The 7-1/2″ background square isn’t a standard size, and because of the embellishments, you don’t want to cut the square to exactly 6-1/2″ because you may lose some length & width depending on how aggressive you are with embellishments. So what’s a die cutter to do?
Forge ahead anyway.
(Because this is mostly applique, I don’t have an EDeN Chart for this, although while working on this block I realized that I need to change how circles are specified in the chart. I’ll be updating the chart in a couple of months coming out of Spring Market.)
The first thing I did was place a 6-1/2″ square ruler over my background and draw in the cut lines. That way I know where to position elements of the design to make sure it doesn’t get cut off or stitched into the seam allowance.
Cutting & Stitching the Vase
For the vase, it looks like a tumbler to me, so I went hunting through my stash of dies for the ones I have.
The one on the left is a 3″ finished tumbler which is pretty much the perfect size, but what if you have a larger tumbler?
Here you can see I’ve positioned the square of cardstock so that the lower edge intersects the tumbler on the left and right sides.
A tumbler cut this way to serve as the vase will be shorter and fatter than the original, but it’s still a cute shape!
Here’s my other tumbler cut from the same cardstock.
Now, personally I think this vase is too tall; however, with the type of applique I have planned, this will be taken care of in short order. I call this technique mocklique, or mock needle-turn applique. It combines the best of fusible interfacing, the look of needle-turn and the speed of machine applique.
This technique is best with shapes you don’t mind coming out smaller than intended. It doesn’t work well with small pieces or with really intricate shapes, because dies do not have a built-in seam allowance for applique shapes.
Mock Needle-Turn Applique
For my vase, I cut out a 4″ square of fabric and a 4″ square of fusible interfacing. Not fusible web; that’s not a typo. I really do mean fusible interfacing.
Fusible interfacing is fusible on one side only; here I am using quilter’s grid.
Layer both squares on the tumbler die, with the fusible facing the RIGHT side of the fabric. Bear with me here! Once the shape is cut from both layers, pin them together and take them to the sewing machine.
Using a 1/4″ seam allowance, stitch completely around the shape through both layers. Once the shape is stitched, grade the seam allowances at the corners; this just means cutting some of the bulk out of the corners to make them easier to turn.
Carefully, separate the two layers and cut a large slit in the interfacing only.
Turn the tumbler right side out through the slit, making sure not to stretch or rip the interfacing.
Gently use a point turner to get the corners pushed out. If you want to push a little more, make sure your point turner is between the layers of fabric and not just behind the interfacing so you don’t rip it.
Now you have a fusible shape, with all the raw edges concealed!
To fuse, position your vase where you want it (well away from the cut line) and tack it down from the front with a couple seconds of heat. Then turn the piece over and press it from the back.
Now, thread your needle with either a matching thread or invisible thread. I like to use this stitch on my machine; it does a straight stitch for 3-4 stitches, and then it zigzags to the left for one stitch. You may have to experiment with your machine settings. (Oh! And I also added tear-away stabilizer to the back of my piece. That helps to keep it from puckering. I didn’t include a photo because it’s not that interesting to look at.
For the straight part of the stitch, you want the needle riding just to the right edge of your applique, not on top of it. The left swing of the needle should just bite into the edge of the applique, but not too much!
Here’s what that stitch looks like from the back:
And here’s what it looks like from the front. I probably could have reduced the zigzag even more, but this doesn’t look too bad! You can see the shape has a little bit of dimension and movement, because the vase fabric itself isn’t fused to the background.
Circles, Circles Everywhere!
I love circles. I have tons of circle dies! But I wanted to show you that you probably also have circles, even if you don’t have a circle die. There are lots of dies that include small circles because they are the centers of flowers, or eyes for some creature, or berries and grapes. I found lots of circles on my flower dies, including the perfectly sized ones on my GO! Round Flowers die (#55007).
For this next technique, I’m going to make some dimensional elements using fusible. I’ve cut several pairs of fabrics in different sizes to cover the circles on the Round Flowers die.
This technique works great with small and medium sized pieces where you want to add a little dimension and do not intend to stitch completely around the shape during the applique process.
I then apply fusible web to one fabric in each pair.
After the pieces have cooled, remove the paper from each square. Then place the 2nd fabric in the pair on top of the piece you just fused, with wrong sides facing, and fuse together.
Once the double-sided fabric has cooled, you can cut it out using the die cutter. Remember that fusible counts as a layer, so don’t overload your dies. Each of these fused fabrics count as 3 layers, so I can only cut two at a time on my GO! die.
After the shapes are cut, I apply Fray Check all around the outside edges.
I was having so much fun cutting, I couldn’t help but add a couple of small flowers to the party! Here they are all drying for a short period of time after applying the fray check.
Finally, I’ve done a rough layout of the flowers and circles, using my washable pen to audition placement for stems. On your own block, make sure your embellishments are at least 1/4″ away from the cut line, so they don’t get stitched into the seam allowance.
Speaking of stitching, these may not get stitched into this block until I actually assemble the quilt and get it loaded onto my long arm for quilting. In general, I like to hold off on adding dimensional elements until after quilting so I don’t run into them while I’m quilting.
My last task to finish this up is to trim this block to 6-1/2″ and put my embellishments in a baggie so they don’t get lost.
I hope you have fun looking at your dies in a fresh way, and coming up with your own vase design!