If you’re looking for information on how to machine appliqué EPP (or anything for that matter) to your quilt, you’re in the right place! Today I have a tutorial on how to machine appliqué some pretty little EPP hexagon flowers to a quilt block background.
Hello and welcome to those participating in the Kingfisher Stitch-Along! “What is the Kingfisher Stitch-Along?” I hear my regular readers ask. It’s a joint project hosted by Rachel from Stitched in Color and Jodi from Tales of Cloth, to sew the beautiful Kingfisher quilt.
This quilt combines hand pieced English Paper Pieced (EPP) blooms, appliquéd (by hand or machine) to a background fabric, with machine pieced diamonds. I think you’ll agree the result is one scrapalicious and gorgeous quilt!
By this stage of making your Kingfisher Quilt you should have a bunch of EPP blooms and some background diamonds to sew them to. You can find Rachel’s tutorial on how to cut your diamonds here.
Before you start make sure you’ve taken the EPP papers out of all the hexigons in your EPP blooms and trim any threads that might extend outside the edges of your EPP (if you glue basted your hexi shapes this is unlikely to be an issue).
Next, fold your background diamond in half from point to point, on both axes and finger press. This is just to give you an easy way to centre your EPP bloom on the diamond prior to machine appliqué.
To fix your bloom to the background, ready for machine sewing, you can either use pins or double-sided fusible web*. I had no problems at all using pins, but if you’re really nervous about the machine appliqué process then you might prefer to use the fusible web. It’s very secure and you won’t have to worry about pricking your fingers. Just follow the instructions on the product to adhere the fusible to your bloom and then to fuse the bloom, centred, to the background diamond.
If pinning, make sure your pins aren’t too close to the EPP edges – you don’t want them to interfere with your sewing machine foot as you sew around the edges.
If you have an open toe sewing foot you will want to use it here. Much like how a night out is more fun wearing an open toe sandal, machine appliqué is a much more enjoyable experience with an open toe foot as you can better see what you’re doing.
The great thing about EPP is that the edges are already turned under so there are no raw edges to contend with. You can pretty much use any stitch you like to secure it to your background as long as you sew it close enough to the edge to secure the two fabric layers (the shape and the folded under edge).
For this example I’m just using a regular straight stitch for my machine appliqué. I like to start sewing midway along an edge. Start with a few backstitches to secure your thread, or if you’re lucky enough to have a machine with a securing stitch, use that. Then start sewing, slowly, towards your first corner.
I have seen some folks comment that they’re a little concerned about stretching the bias edges of their background diamonds. While you’re guiding your EPP/diamonds under your sewing needle, don’t grab the diamonds by their edges. Rest your hands on the outer edges of your EPP and use that if you need to give direction. But really, because we’re sewing in straight lines rather than curves there’s not a lot of need to push your pieces around under the needle. At most you’ll just need a bit of course correction. My other tip is to sew slowly – this will negate the need for sudden, panicked movements. Slow and steady wins the race!
Alright, so we’re sewing our first edge, heading toward a corner. If you’re sewing toward a corner where two EPP pieces meet, you should aim to land your needle down exactly where they meet.
Then lift your sewing foot and pivot the piece until your foot is in line with the next edge.
If you’re sewing toward an outer corner on a hexie, just eyeball it and stop a seam-distance away from the upcoming edge. If you’re a perfectionist then by all means feel free to mark where you want to stop with a water soluble* or air soluble* pen before you get to that corner. Pivot and continue on your way.
Continue around the whole of the bloom until you get back to when you started. I recommend going past your start point 5 or so stitches, backstitch to secure and then cut your threads. You now have a machine appliquéd EPP flower.
You will see that above that my seams are by no means perfectly even. Once all my diamonds are sewn together this will be very hard to detect, so I urge you not to get to per-finicky as you’re sewing. When you are focussing on a very small area it can feel like a millimetre difference is as big as a quarter inch. It really isn’t, and it really won’t be noticeable if you’ve stopped a bit early or late on a corner.
As well as using standard straight stitches, machine appliqué is an opportunity to experiment with some of the fancier stitches on your machine. For my next bloom I chose an irregular edge satin stitch (I have a Janome 8900QCP and it’s stitch #54).
I would definitely recommend a test drive when using a decorative stitch. It’s important to figure out how the needle swings when forming the stitch so you know where you want your needle to be when you stop for corner pivots.
I just use some plain hexi shapes when doing a practice, I don’t bother with using complete EPP units.
Once I have an understanding of the stitch pattern and where I need to put my needle down I can then go on to sew my real pieces.
Sew up to the corner, stopping in line with the corner and when the needle is over to the right. Lift the presser foot:
Then pivot the piece, lower the foot and sew the next line.
For an inner corner, you stop where the pieces join and when your needle is over to the right.
What I will say with the wider decorative stitches is to make sure you go slow where your EPP is closest to the edge of the diamond. The wider stitches have a tendency to “grab” at the fabric and pull it into a little pucker within the stitch itself. Just take your time on the EPP edges closes to the edge of the diamond and you’ll be fine.
Once you have your EPP appliquéd to your diamonds it’s best to sew them together into a quilt top as soon as possible. This will protect the bias edges from stretching with excess handling. If you can’t sew them up straight away, make sure they’re stored in a box or container of some sort so you can just move the box around rather than picking them all up and stressing their edges.
If you have any questions (or tips to pass on) be sure to pop a comment below.