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  • Placing your applique on your background

  • I love to design my own quilt patterns and share them. I am a confessed lover of vintage and reproduction fabrics, my favorite thing to do is applique.
  • 1 inch gridAppliqueBackground PlacementBastingFree PatternsOverlayPlacing your applique pieces on the background fabric.SKD PatternstutorialTutorials

Placing your applique on your background

Hello Everyone

Do any of you struggle with placement of your applique ?

I have been writing applique patterns for some time now and have always included a full sized pattern layout sheet. With this in mind I have been working on turning all of my patterns into PDF downloadable patterns. This causes a problem with some of my applique patterns, as the pattern layout sheets are large and you need several A4 or letter sized pages to complete the layout. ( A lot of taping together ) Also through taping these patterns sheets together it is very easy to distort the design. I have decided to take a look at how to eliminate all these pages and found that some of the patterns from other designers are done with a 1 inch grid. This gives you a guide to placement.

There are several methods, I have been playing with the pros and cons of a few of these methods and these are my results::

Light Box:  For my applique placement I have always printed a full sized pattern layout and used a light box.

Pros: Exact placement and no guessing, especially when you have a lot of small pieces to place.

Cons: Does not work well with Dark or heavy background fabric. Not everyone has a light box.

Using a window as a light box is hard on your arms.

Transferring your applique design onto a clear vinyl sheet: This seems to be a popular method.

Pros: Works with any colour or weight of background fabric. Easily transported and you do not need to purchase a light box.

Cons: Pieces move easily and can be hard to get into exact position.

Some books with applique designs give a smaller picture and you can use it as a guide, making it a more organic placement.

Pros: No need to have a lot of pages taped together. No need for a light box. Your blocks will be more original.

Cons: It will take some practice to create a block with lots of small pieces. Hard to get pieces in the exact place. ( Does this matter ? )

1 Inch Grid: Using a 1 inch grid for placement.

I have seen many patterns printed this way, where the applique pattern is shown with a 1 inch grid for placement. I decided to test this method for myself. I made a 1 inch grid using a clear sheet.

Pros: Easy to print. You only ever need to make your vinyl grid once, it can be used many times. Placement is accurate. Its portable and no need to purchase a light box. Works on all background fabrics. Works well with small applique pieces.

Using the inch grid method

Free pattern Rosa Block

The pattern is not full scale, the 1 inch grid is used so you know where to place your pieces.

The first thing I did was to make a 1 inch overlay, using a transparent sheet. The one I used I got from a stationers and it is for architects. I laid this on my cutting board, I also made sure that my ruler marks and the cutting mat marks are the same.

Step 1_edited-1

I then marked lines in 1 inch segments, using my ruler and a fine black marking pen.

step 2

I then numbered the segments along the top and side of the grid.

Step 3

After making my applique pieces I used the pattern guide and the 1 inch overlay grid to place my applique pieces in the correct position.

Overlay placement

Pic 4

Pic 2_edited-1

Pic 3

  Final pic

As you can see, this method worked out well, if you would like to try this block you can download the free Rosa Block Pattern.

I would love to hear your thoughts, and your favorite method.

Happy Stitching



Comments on this post (7)

  • Aug 03, 2016

    I really like the idea of this method. How would it work with a pattern that is larger? I am working on a project that the center of the quilt is a 34 inch square of appliqued pieces. Would I have to take it in quarters, maybe? I would like to know your thoughts.

    — Cari

  • Aug 03, 2016

    great idea, as an individual who laser cuts & die cuts applique pieces & kits for others to quilt, I am always looking for a good way to show them how to place their designs. I have purchased the 1" & 2" fusible grid to be
    used as their quilting template, but never thought of a clear one for applique placement. way to go. by the way how big was the grid sheet you purchased?

    — carolyn

  • Aug 03, 2016

    Hello Donna
    Thank you for your comment, this is also a good method although how would you feel about downloading a pattern that only has a grid with full sized templates. Without a full sized pattern layout?

    — sharon

  • Aug 03, 2016

    I center my design by folding the background piece in half both horizontally and vertically. Then using a light box, I lightly trace the design onto the background square using a pencil. When I applique, I use the pencil line to line up each individual piece to ensure that I have gotten the applique correctly transfered.

    — Donna

  • Aug 03, 2016

    Hi Cari

    Thank you for the comment, The beauty of this method is that I am sure it would work in the same way for any sized block. You would only have to make your 1 inch overlay to the 34 inch size. The pattern would need to have a 1 inch grid printed on it, therefore if you have a large copy you may have to mark it with a 1 inch grid. This would give you the correct placement for your applique pieces. Or as you suggested it would also work in quarters.
    I hope this helps.
    Warm Regards

    — sharon

  • Aug 03, 2016

    Your idea ought to be marketed to the Quilt and Sewing utensil companies! We NEED this!! In the meantime this custom appliqué artist (I draw my own designs) will make a similar clear one inch graph board that lines up with the Rotary Cutting Mat, just as you have so graciously tutored us in exactly how to replicate. Thank you so much!

    — SewingGramma

  • Aug 03, 2016

    Hi Carolyn
    Thank you for the comment, I am so glad you like my grid idea and are able to use it.

    — sharon

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