Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Starch Method of Applique (Photo Heavy)

Today I'm going to show you my starch method for preparing appliques. You will need an applique pattern, some freezer paper, paper scissors, a pen, fabric, an iron, liquid starch, water, a glass jar with lid and a small paint brush (or a cotton swab). I like to use an inexpensive paint brush because I buy inexpensive cotton swabs which often times shed lint on my applique shapes. Use what you have.

I'm using my Modern Monday block for this week as my demonstration block.

Step 1: Trace your pattern onto the paper side of your freezer paper.

Step 1
Step 2: All but the stem have curved edges and I like to double the freezer paper for curves. So I cut out my stem, right on the drawn lines. For the rest, I just cut them out as a group then put them on top of more freezer paper and ironed the two layers together.

Step 2
This may not be necessary for most folks, but I'll show you why I do it. I dug the piece below out of my cutting table trash bag!

Why I double the freezer paper
Look where the scissors are pointing on the petal shape in the above photo. See how that edge isn't a smooth curve where the scissors are pointing? I didn't double the freezer paper when preparing this piece and the freezer paper curled up as I was turning the seam allowance under with my iron. Because of the starch, this is virtually impossible for me to correct. I ended up throwing this piece away and just making another one. I doubled the freezer paper for the second one!

Step 3: Cut out your applique shapes on the drawn line. Cut carefully and smoothly because these shapes will end up being your fabric shapes too.

Step 3
Step 4: Pick your fabrics for each shape.

Step 4
Step 5: Iron the freezer paper to the wrong side of your fabrics leaving at least a 1/4" seam allowance on all edges. If you are putting multiple shapes on one piece of fabric as I did on my gray fabric, be sure to leave 1/2" between shapes. Note: I used solid fabrics for this block. If you are using prints, be sure to iron the freezer paper to the wrong side of your fabric!

Step 5
Step 6: Cut out your shapes leaving 1/4" seam allowance on all sides. I just eyeball the 1/4" seam allowance.

Step 6
Step 7: Now you need your starch. I use Sta-Flo liquid starch purchased in the laundry aisle of my local grocery store. This bottle will probably last me the rest of my life! Mix it with equal parts water in a small glass jar. I didn't measure this out. Fill the jar about half full with starch then add water until the jar is full of liquid. Shake well! 

Step 7
To store the remaining starch/water mixture, screw on the lid of the jar tightly. The starch will settle to the bottom of the jar if you haven't used it in a while. Just shake it well to mix it up again before using it next time.

Step 8: (Optional) Have your starch inspected by your cat/kitten to make sure it is safe to use.  LOL!

Step 8
You may skip this step if you don't have a cat.

Step 9: I'm going to start with an easy shape, the stem. Straight lines are pretty simple. Lay your applique piece, wrong side up (freezer paper side up), on your ironing surface. I lay down a cotton dish towel to protect my ironing surface from starch build up. Dip your paint brush (or cotton swab) into the starch/water mixture and paint one edge of the applique shape.

Step 9
Step 10: Fold the wet edge over the freezer paper and press it down.

Step 10
Step 11: It should look like this, one seam allowance pressed over the freezer paper (the top edge) and one patiently waiting its turn.

Step 11
Step 12: Paint the other edge with the starch mixture and press it over the freezer paper.

Step 12
Step 13: Gently pull back the seam allowances you just pressed over. Make sure they are cool before you do this so you don't burn yourself.

Step 13
Step 14: Separate the freezer paper from your fabric and remove it.

Step 14
Step 15: Yes, you just messed up the neatly pressed seam allowances but you've got to get the freezer paper out some how!

Step 15
Step 16: Just press those seam allowances back how they were. The starch gives the fabric memory of how it needs to go.

Step 16
Step 17: And now you have one stem ready to be appliqued to your background. Note: I didn't turn under the short edges of my stem piece because they will be hidden underneath another applique and in the seam allowance of the block.

Step 17
Now I'll show you how to do this with a circle.

A circle
Circle Step 1: Clip the seam allowance of your circle. This is a pretty small circle (about 1" diameter) so I clipped about every 1/4". On larger circles you don't need to clip this closely.

Circle Step 1
Circle Step 2: Paint the seam allowance on about 1/3 of your circle with the starch/water mixture. Peel up the painted edges and gently run the iron along the outside of them, not on them as in the photo below. This allows you get them properly positioned before starching them down. It also helps to avoid making the mistake I did, shown at the beginning of the post in Step 2. The doubled freezer paper provides a sturdy edge so you can get a good curve.

Circle Step 2

Circle Step 3: Once you have a good curve going, press the seam allowance all the way over the freezer paper. Repeat the above step two more times until you have all of the seam allowances on your circle shape pressed over the freezer paper.

Circle Step 3
Circle Step 4: Now open up the seam allowances so you can remove the freezer paper.

Circle Step 4
Circle Step 5: Separate the freezer paper from your fabric and pull it out.

Circle Step 5
Circle Step 6: Repress the seam allowances back down. Now your circle is ready to be appliqued to your background.

Circle Step 6 - Back

Circle Step 6 - Front
Finally I'll show you how I do a leaf or petal shape and get a nice sharp point.

Leaf Step 1: Just like for a circle, you need to clip your seam allowance and I clip off a bit of the two points while I'm at it.

Leaf Step 1
Leaf Step 2: Paint one edge (I did the top edge in the photo below) with your starch mixture and gently peel the seam allowance up and over the freezer paper. I press the edge as I did in Circle Step 2 before pressing the seam allowance all the way over to the back on top of the freezer paper.

Leaf Step 2
Leaf Step 3: Do the same with the other edge (now the top edge in the photo below).

Leaf Step 3
Leaf Step 4: Notice the seam allowance is peaking out at the two points.

Leaf Step 4
Leaf Step 5: Gently pull the seam allowance at the points back and cut off the bits that are sticking out. You can see the parts I cut off next to my leaf shape in the photo below.

Leaf Step 5
Now you need to remove the freezer paper from your leaf shape and repress it. I didn't take pictures of this since I've shown this step for both the stem and the circle. It isn't any different with a leaf!

Now your shapes are ready to be appliqued to your background fabric either by hand or machine using whatever method you prefer.

I'm not going to show you how to actually applique them down in this tutorial. There are plenty of other good tutorials for that. Personally, I'm going to topstitch these shapes down by machine using matching thread. You'll have to wait until Monday when I do my weekly Modern Monday post to see the finished block.

If you have any questions about this tutorial please leave a comment. If you are a no-reply blogger I'll answer your question with another comment on this post. Otherwise, I'll just respond to you directly via email with an answer.

Disclaimer: This tutorial shows you how I do the starch method to prepare my applique shapes. There are probably other ways to do this, but this is what works for me.


CBH said...

Thank you so much for this post. I want to let you know that I posted a link to your blog in Creative Busy Bee Craft Inspirations, under the Page 4 post on Sep. 26, 2012. Thanks again.

Linda said...

You make it look so easy! :-)

Mama Pea said...

Same strategy I use, but I use spray sizing and spray it into the cap of the can. I use a stiff stencil brush to apply mine as well. I don't clip my edges for leaves. I haven't for circles either. Maybe I should. If you iron your leaf on on the bias (i.e., going kitty corner on your fabric), there's enough stretch, I find, to not need to clip.

I was going to do a tutorial on sewing it down, too, but I can't wait to see yours!

West Michigan Quilter said...

Great post. I do pretty much what you do, but I use three layers of freezer paper. I guess I have a heavy hand, and it works better for me. And the template seems to last longer, which is important when making 260 tea leaves.

meg said...

Fun to read you'r applique method! Especially since you are from Alamosa and posted a picture. I know just where you are as I grew up in Monte Vista. I will be using you'r method today. Thank you.