Have you ever tried a quilting technique and thought “this is the pits” and forever banned it from your quilty repertoire?
I’ve been there!
For me, that technique is needle turn appliqué.
I’ve tried it several times and, while I love the ultimate results, the actual act of needle turn appliqué just wasn’t bringing me joy.
It felt fiddly.
It was slow going.
Considering all the time I invested in the preparation, my results were not always that fabulous.
All valid reasons why the technique wasn’t my fave.
Read on to find out what changed my mind and why a simple thing like thread basting was a game-changer.
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NEEDLE TURN APPLIQUÉ WHAT I DIDN’T LOVE
When I first gave needle turn appliqué a go, I simply pin basted and used my needle to turn the fabric under as I went.
Seems straightforward enough, right?
Turns out though that approach leads to less than stellar results, at least for me.
Plus, I found this technique very fiddly. Not to mention, I used to prick myself with the pins allll the time.
Which is why I’ve kinda shied away from needle turn appliqué. You might remember my Bohemian Garden quilt that I absolutely adore but is currently sitting in my work in progress pile because I’m just over needle-turning.
WHY I REVISITED NEEDLE TURN APPLIQUÉ
Skip ahead a couple of years to just a few weeks ago when I caught *Carolyn Friedlander’s needle turn appliqué class on Creativebug.
Why I decided to watch a needle turn appliqué video is beyond me, especially since I’d pretty much given up on it and assumed the technique just wasn’t for me.
But here’s the thing. I feel like needle turn appliqué should be my thing – ha! I love hand quilting and I see so much potential with this technique. It’s just, up to this point, I haven’t enjoyed the process. As you know, I’m big on enjoying the quilty journey.
I’m not going to lie; it didn’t take long before I was fascinated by Carolyn’s approach.
I won’t give it all away, but one of the tips she shared was to first pin baste, then thread baste and then tackle the needle turn applique. Mind blown!
Seeing her work with this technique had me excited – yes, excited – to give needle turn applique another go.
So, when I received this stack of pretty Kaffe Fassett fabrics from Free Spirit Fabrics for the April Aurifil Artisan Challenge, I thought it was the perfect time to revisit this classic technique.
5 REASONS WHY I LOVE THREAD BASTING FIRST BEFORE NEEDLE TURN APPLIQUÉ
I thought I’d sum up for you the top 5 reasons why I loved this new approach to needle turn appliqué in case you’re curious about trying it out too!
While it was fiddly to measure and add in the hand-basting stitches, once I had them done it felt so secure.
Plus, there were no pins in the way pricking me as I was doing the actual needle turn appliqué! Wahoo! This was such a pro of thread basting first.
As with most stitching, it was very soothing to sit and tack down my appliqué motif.
I loved seeing the colourful basting stitches – ha! This is such a minor detail that has zero impact on the actual result of your project, but I did love seeing those bright green stitches against the coral. Made me smile, which is always a win in my quilty book!
The results were wayyyyy better. You’ll have to watch the video to really see this technique in action, but my points are pointier and my curves are less jagged compared to the original technique I used.
The pre-preparation was really key in making this technique come together and make it more enjoyable and travel-friendly. Plus, the results are in the finish!
NEEDLE TURN APPLIQUÉ OPTIONS
When I shared this photo on Instagram I had some lovely quilty friends refer me to some additional blog posts for more needle turn appliqué options:
Cheryl from @cheryl_akison also commented that she found Carolyn’s thread basting technique to be a game-changer for her too! She wrote a full blog post with 13 reasons why to hand baste with needle turn appliqué.
MACHINE QUILTING WITH 12WT
When I first started this project I had visions of machine quilting with 28wt, not really surprising given my love for that thread weight. But as I was pulling my box of 12wt Aurifil Thread out, I noticed this glorious gold yellow coloured thread I had on hand and was inspired to finally give machine quilting with 12wt a go!
I was amazed that she worked like a charm!
So, I dove right in and started adding echo quilting around the needle turn applliqué design.
THOUGHTS ON MACHINE QUILTING WITH 12WT
The prominent stitch the 12wt gives is just so scrummalicious! But I did run into a couple of problems, including:
Getting my bobbin thread to the top of my project was a little tricky. I have a feeling it was due to the thickness of the thread that it would sometimes get caught just under my needle plate.
I also noticed I had better results (i.e. less catching/ tugging/ breaking) when I had my presser foot down when bringing my bobbin thread up to the front. Not an issue I normally have with burying threads, which is why I’m chalking it up to the thread weight being the issue. If burying threads is new to you, check out this tutorial.
The other problem I ran into was my thread breaking while I was stitching. This happened about 3 times and I’m not really clear why it happened to break when it did. There was no snagging or weird movement that I was doing at the machine when the breakage occurred, so I think I’ll need to experiment a little more to see what leads to the breakage.
There are a couple of places where I had birds nest appear on the back of my quilt. Again, I’m not sure what happened that it created those in only a few areas and the rest looks perfect.
Those minor hiccups were wellll worth the added texture this technique adds. If you’re on the hunt for a technique that gives you oodles of quilty texture without all that time invested in hand quilting, this could be your quilty ticket!
It’s definitely quick to do and I suspect that with more practice the issues I ran into will become less frequent.
I’d love to know, have you given machine quilting with 12wt Aurifil Thread a go?
When it came time to bind her up I decided on a whim to simply turn the front back and create a similar effect to faced binding, but without all the extra work!
This was my first try at folding the front to the back and it worked like a charm! I even figured it out at 5:30 in the morning earlier this week, so definitely an easy peasy technique!
To tack her down, I opted for my current fav big stitch hand quilted binding using 12wt.
If you want to tackle a similar project, here’s everything I used to create this modern quilted wall hanging:Pattern:
- no pattern for this one, I just created my own motif!
- Kaffe Fassett Fat Quarter from the *Kaffe Fassett Collective Parakeet FQ bundle
- Coral solid (this would be a great substitute)
- Backing Fabric is also by Kaffe Fasset, but I couldn’t find it online.
- *50wt Aurifil Thread in 1147 for hand basting
- *50wt Aurifil Thread in 5002 for needle turn appliqué
- *40wt Aurifil Thread in 1147 for machine quilting
- 12wt Aurifil Thread in 5015 for machine quilting
- 12wt Aurifil Thread in 2230 for big stitch hand binding
- *Ruler for measuring the ¼ʺ seam allowance
- *Thin needle for appliqué
- *Quilting ruler
- *Rotary Cutter
- *100% cotton batting
- *Sewing machine
- *Ironing board
- *Needle for big stitch hand binding
- *Hera marker
Overall, I still find needle turn appliqué fiddly! When I mentioned this on Instagram, so many of you have the same reaction to this technique. The hardest part for me to get right is the inner corners, but I’m hoping with more practice I’ll get there.
For more inspiration on exploring thread weights, check out:
- Which Way Up Quilt
- Fave Thread Weight
- Plus Infinity – the scrappy one
- Summer Solstice Minis
- Ultimate Aurifil Thread Shopping Guide
As with most things in quilting, there’s lots of ways to accomplish the same end result. I’d love to know what your go-to technique is for needle turn appliqué. Share in the comments below.