Thursday, January 17, 2013

Welcome to My Needleturn

While working on this quilt I have been amazed by the many different ways there are to sew one piece of fabric to another.  Needleturn, back basting, freezer paper on top, freezer paper underneath, starch, gel pens ....  the list goes on and on.  A number of readers have shared photos of their Work In Progress - we love to see how you do what you do - and I thought it was time to show you how I tackle the applique blocks.

I had the Chester Criswell quilt in my possession for about 25 years before I started the current project.  I was frightened by the thought of all that applique.  When my patchwork group did a session on needleturn I found myself busy doing ... anything else.

Facing my fears, I signed up for a course with Quilt University titled Hawaiian Quilting 101.  It was wonderful.  The instruction was clear, starting from zero and moving step by step through the hand applique and the quilting process.  My piece is still a UFO, but this is my first ever needleturn project.

Hawaiian Quilting UFO

I use the instructions from Hawaiian Quilting 101 to make the CCCQ blocks.  This is how I made Reuben Stubb's block.

I fold the fabric in half and in half again, pressing lightly, and pin the paper pattern to the fabric.

Cutting from folded fabric

I cut out the fabric adding a quarter inch allowance to the pattern.  I do this by eye without marking the fabric.

Fabric piece cut from paper pattern

I baste the applique to the background using a contrasting 'ugly' thread (so you want to get rid of it as soon as possible.)

Basted applique

Then I start sewing, turning under the seam allowance and checking with the paper pattern as I go.  That's all.  I don't use freezer paper and I occasionally use a marking pen.

The pattern emerges from chaos
I love the way the pattern appears as the sewing continues.  I've also found that the more I sew the more I enjoy it.  Needleturn applique is just like Green Eggs and Ham.


  1. Thanks so much for showing us your applique technique, I just love your first Hawaiian piece. I might have to give this method a try - just not sure how you do those inner channels, if they aren't marked? Are the slits already cut before you open out the fabric piece?

    1. Yes Carole, I've already cut the slits before I open the quarters. At each end of the channel I snip a little at either side of the slit, like a crows foot, and that gives a smooth curve at the end of the channel (usually!)

  2. Thanks for your demonstration! I love needleturn, but never tried it this way. It looks perfect for some patterns!


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