How to hand applique tutorial

This is seriously a wonderful hand applique tutorial!!

This is written by Corrie of Chitter Chatter Designs.  A very talented designer who shares her quilts in her shop.

how to hand applique - interesting and it uses freezer paper. need to give this a try

This tutorial is all about using freezer paper for your applique.  It seems a little bit different, but in the end it makes the process of needle turn applique so simple.
You’ll learn how to trace, fuse, cut and sew to your background fabric. It’s a great way to overlap or layer your applique pieces as well.
Learn how to hand applique. Freezer paper technique. It's not that hard!
Necessary items…
Freezer Paper: If you live in my area… you can find this in the grocery store -the isle with aluminum foil, saran wrap, and sandwich bags.


Pencil: I prefer a mechanical pencil because it always has a sharp point.


Scissors: Paper and fabric scissors.


Pattern: It’s up to you. I am using my “OLD MacDONALD” pattern.


Pins: Preferably applique pins, they are really short pins, sequin pins work well too.


Needles: I prefer Bohin Appliquer Long needles, size 9 or 10.


Thread: Use coordinating thread. It tends to hide your stitches better if matched with your fabric.


Fabric: This one is a given right?

How to Applique by Hand step by step

I start with a big piece of freezer paper. Freezer paper has a shiny side and a dull side. The shiny side is the side that sticks to your fabric. On the dull side of the paper, draw out your entire design. (Do not reverse…or add seam allowances on this step. This drawing should be the finished size of the pieces you want to applique.)Make sure you label the pieces if they are appliqued in a certain order, as most of my patterns are.

Next, cut out the whole image in one piece. This picture has an example of the cut out cow with all the pieces labeled and details drawn on. This piece will become a guide for placement, as well as the pattern pieces. Iron your piece onto the background fabric in the exact place you want the finished piece to be.
In this picture, I have also ironed my grass pieces to the right side of the green fabric allowing for a 1/4″ seam allowance to be cut around them.
All of the applique is ironed to the right side of your fabric.
Note: I always cut out my backgrounds an inch or so bigger so that I can trim to size when I have finished. If you are following one of my patterns, that little extra measurement is included in the cutting instructions, no need to cut bigger.


Cut out your appliques 1/4″ bigger than your freezer paper pattern. Allow a very generous seam allowance on the bottom of your grass….or anything that will go to the edge of your piece. I do this to make sure nothing is too short should I need to trim more off the top than the bottom.

Any piece that has a inside curve to it, I make small little cuts to help the fabric turn under nicely. When doing sharp inside curves such as the top of a heart, I cut in until I am about three threads away from the paper pattern, and put a dot of fray check on the cut to prevent fraying.
When appliquing straight lines, I find this technique helpful.

This will prepare your piece so that it follows the line of the paper.

You are turning under the seam allowance to match the freezer paper pattern.

Onto placement… Use the pattern to guesstimate your grass position. You may tape your pattern to a window, or use a light box to place your piece exactly if you wish, but for this project, I was happy with a guesstimate.

Start sewing at the dot, not at the fabric edge. You don’t want to risk cutting your threads when trimming your piece. This picture is a good example of why you have the generous seam allowance to match the fabric edge. When you trim, the extra sometimes comes in very handy!

This piece is somewhat prepared, so the stitch is self explanatory. Try to grab the fabric as close to where the thread comes out as possible. A straight stitch will pull the fabric under just enough to hide the stitch, a slanted stitch will be more visible, and pull your fabric in the direction of the slant.

This is the needle turn method I use most often on my pieces. With the tip of your needle, grab the top of the seam allowance. With a downward motion, pull the seam allowance under to match your freezer paper edge. Use your index finger and your thumb to pinch the fabric keeping it in place until you stitch it down.

Keep working with your fabric in this fashion until it exactly matches your paper pattern. Then sew it down. Be mindful of your stitch keeping it as straight as you can, don’t slant your thread.
Finish up the piece, ending at the edge of the paper, not the edge of the fabric.
No more pulling, cutting, wetting….and all that other stuff the other methods require! Just pull it off and you are finished!

When adding additional pieces, especially those lying under others, I use the bigger piece to place it. The freezer paper will keep sticking over and over again… up to about 10 times, sometimes more if you push it! Use this to your advantage and iron your pieces into place.

For most of my projects, I cut out the entire piece as a whole and iron it into place. After which I cut out the pieces in order and use the big piece like a puzzle to place the pieces back when they are prepared.

I use the iron a lot in the placement process. Lifting away and positioning a piece, then ironing the larger piece back down .

I use a basting stitch in the seam allowance of the sides that I am not turning under to keep them from shifting while appliqueing pieces on top of it.

As you go, it is helpful to make these little tick marks so that you can line up your paper pattern with the finished edges of your applique.

I use this puzzle like technique to applique my little characters and objects to my quilts. I find this is the easiest method for me. I draw my embroidery lines on the paper pattern as well. After I am finished will the applique, I cut out these lines, iron it back onto my applique, and trace within the cutout to mark my embroidery lines.
I told you it was good. Anyone have any other applique tutorials that are wonderful? Let me know!!
How to hand applique step by step - i've always wanted to learn this! this technique uses freezer paper

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  1. Jen

    12 March

    Wow, that is a fantastic tutorial. I never wanted to try hand applique before now.

  2. whosies

    14 March

    I have never tried this method, but I amazed at it's simplicity and it is really do-able. share it if you do try it out.

  3. whosies

    14 March

    I have never tried this method, but I amazed at it's simplicity and it is really do-able. share it if you do try it out.

  4. pamela gray

    24 August

    I really found your instructions easy to follow. Thanks for making these avaliable to all

  5. Johnnie Tate

    16 October

    I can not wait to try this method. All others I have seen seem to complicated. Thank you for the free Tutorial.

  6. Susi

    16 December

    Es un tutorial maravilloso. Así es mucho más fácil hacer un aplique. Ya fui a mi supermercado y no encontré el papel, paro seguiré buscándolo.
    Estuve mirando otros tutorialers y son todos fantásticos.

  7. Vievie

    24 December

    thanks a lot for the great tutorial. After saw your tute, I immediately sat down and tried it and it’s so so much easier..:) will post mine later..:)

  8. Sheila

    9 April

    I LOVE LOVE this….
    I can see this working well with painting patterns that i want to convert to appliqué…
    can I see a pic of the finished cow?
    how do you do the parts like the hoofs that go on top of the other bits?
    I wanna start this right away!!!!

  9. posse boss

    10 April

    sheila– you will have to hop over to cori’s blog and ask her. i imagine they are all done with the same technique, but really don’t know for sure. good luck!

  10. Yvette Shaw

    15 May

    Great tutorial! How would you prepare tiny free standing pieces?

  11. posse boss

    16 May

    yvette— i am not quite sure. i think i would just use a dab of glue to keep them in place. maybe they would be too small for this method. you can ask cori– chitter chatter designs. she might have a better idea than i.

  12. Jessica

    13 February

    Thanks for posting this tutorial; it was a big help as I worked on a quilt for a friend’s baby.

  13. Carina

    22 June

    Great tutorial, thanks. Will try but with something much simpler and more straight lines, ;). Best wishes, Carina

  14. Pauline

    15 May

    Thanks so much for this tutorial – I am about to start a special applique quilt and have been trying to decide which of the many methods to use – I like your method the best and I feel quite relieved to have learned how to do it.
    PS Don’t worry about the person who needed to tell you how to spell voila! Honestly!

  15. Pulung Riswanto

    11 March

    full tips and full image… thanks

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