Welcome to week 2 of my Abacus Quilt Along. Today we will learn a super simple machine applique technique than can be applied to any design, not just circles. It took me a total of 4 1/4 hours to complete this week’s lesson. Remember, you can join in at any time and sew on your own schedule.
Step 1 – Fusing the Circles to the Background (1/2 hour)
Remove the paper backings from all 36 of your circles if needed. Place a circle roughly in the middle of each background square and fuse them in place, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
At this point, the circles don’t have to perfectly centered as we will trim down some of the excess. Just be sure there’s at least 1/4″ of background around the entire circle.
Step 2 – Machine Applique the Circles (3 hours)
Using a matching thread and a straight stitch, slowly and carefully stitch around the edge of each circle, keeping your thread on top of the bead fabric. Sew very close to the edge without going off of the fabric. Always stop stitching with your needle down for smooth, continuous stitches. If you have a knee-lift for your machine, use it to lift the presser foot every few inches as you turn the circle to sew.
If desired, you may use a decorative stitch instead. Or for a more “industrial” look, go around each circle two or three times. Be sure to start and stop by pulling the bobbin thread up through to the top of the fabric for a clean look.
Practice on a few scraps first to check your stitch length, thread color and tension, and to audition possible machine applique stitches. Note that I did not need to use any stabilizer. The fusible web on the back of the fabrics provided enough stability for this method.
The sample above was my practice piece for both applique and quilting. I first tried a very thin and narrow zig zag stitch by reducing my length and width. Although I liked the look of the edges, I don’t like how it competed with the lines of quilting. That’s why I decided to go with a cleaner line of stitching around the edges. Try a few things and see what you like!
When you have finished stitching, pull all of your threads to the back of each quilt block and make a knot by hand. Clip off the excess threads. For efficiency, I did all the applique stitching first and then went back and tied all the knots.
Step 3 – Trimming the Circles (3/4 hour)
Use a small square ruler to align your circle so that you will be trimming exactly 1/4″ away from the edges on two sides. I have drawn black lines on the picture below showing how you should line up your ruler so that the circle fits within a 4″ x 4″ finished frame. You will be cutting exactly 1/4″ away on all four sides of the black frame shown below.
Flip the block around and line it up so that now you are trimming the other two sides, forming a perfectly trimmed 4 1/2″ block.
Have fun doing your “homework” and feel free to leave comments below or email me with any questions! Don’t forget to share you progress on your own blogs, on my flickr group, or on instagram #abacusqal.
I can’t wait to see how you’re doing!