Sunday, April 1, 2012

Reverse Applique Letters Tutorial

Last weekend I spent my sewing time creating 4 pillow covers for my sister in law's upcoming birthday.  I typically don't go this crazy for birthdays but there are 2 special reasons why I was inspired to give this gift.  My sister in law recently closed on a lovely vacation home in Hood River OR, and she and her family have come down from Seattle to visit us for her birthday.  This present is really a combination housewarming gift and b-day gift.  My Sis in law really likes simple design, and this is a girl who truly loves letters and words in her decor- her new home is very modern and clean lined, so I backed away from my typical bright over the top style and toned it down a bit so these would look great on her sofa in her new living room.  I am really hoping she likes them.  I killed two birds with one stone and decided to create a tutorial for you all about reverse applique and how I made my letters.  This is a super fun and fairly easy technique and could be used in so many ways.  I can imagine a big quilt with the whole alphabet, or a quilt with a special quote ect- the possibilities are endless!  If you do make anything using this tutorial please shoot me an email with a pic and let me know, you just might find your creation featured on my blog!  Okay, I am doing this through pictures this time so here goes-
To begin you will need 2 contrasting fabrics, I used a solid gray and a lime green print.  You will want to have equal amounts for the blocks (if you are making pillows like I did you will want extra of the solid for the backs)  I made my pillows 16" finished, but I started out with 17" squares of each fabric- this gave me extra room to square them down to 16.5 inches and then make a 16 inch pillow (or block)
a few squares- note this is the top piece of your applique block

next you will want to find the center of your blocks and press a little crease so you can line up your letter


you will need to print out some letters from your computer unless you have large stencils.  I would recommend thick letters in a blocky simple font for this, as curves are much more complicated then straight lines

lay your letter template on top of your block making sure it is centered- I did this by folding my fabric in quarters and then pressing the center corner, then folding my letter in quarters and finger pressing the center of that, then unfolding and matching up the creases.  I weighed my letter down with some thread spools to make sure nothing shifted.

next you will want to trace around your letter carefully with a disappearing or water soluble marker

once your letter is traced you will want to carefully cut from the center of the letter leaving a half inch seam around the inside edges of the letter- do this carefully, not enough seam allowance can make your life hard later.

here is my H all cut out, notice how I trimmed down the seams on the inside corners of my letter so when I fold my seams back they won't be bulky in the corners.

now you want to clip down to the outside corners of your letter and carefully iron your seams back to the marked lines of the letter- be careful, and don't burn yourself and go slow- I would recommend turning off the steam on your iron while doing this.

Here is my H all pressed and ready to layer with the print fabric behind it- came out pretty good eh?

My next 2 letters were O's and they were definitely a bit trickier- you have the center of the O that you need to leave 1/2 inch seam allowance around the outside of and all those curves to deal with- notice how on this one I did lots of little cuts down to the seam line so the curve would fold over nicely- my cuts were all around 1/2 inch apart- ironing this is even trickier but if you go slow it comes out nice so take your time. 

here is the front of my O after turning the seams but before adding the center part of it.

this is it with the center part added

and the back side of the center part of the O- on the straight sides I didn't need to do my little clips in the seam but on the curved sides I made my clips around 1/4 inch apart as it was so much smaller and tighter area to work with- be careful when ironing and take your time and all will be fine.

Here is the O all layered with the backing print fabric- I secured this by stitching 1/8th inch seam around the gray fabric letter edge- this very close seam really ensures there won't be any fraying when washing.

Here is my H all layered and sewn down.... for the record I didn't make her a set of pillows that said HOO - I added a D to spell HOOD as she lives in Hood River!  I can imagine these bright fun HOOD pillows down her long modern couch. 

So that is it- pretty simple!  If you are handy with an iron and take your time you will find these are an easy and fun project- Just imagine doing a bride and grooms last name for a wedding gift- or a new baby's name.  Even if you don't have a sewing machine this could be accomplished with hand sewing around the letters.  Hope it inspires you and you give it a try- three cheers for reverse applique!

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