Part 4 of the Summer Stich Along – Preparing the cotton applique and using a stabilizer.

I’m back with a few more hints for the Stitch Along.  If you have missed the previous blog posts on the stitch along, just look above and click on the Joyful Stitcher Info and Summer Stitch Along.


First – I have a few quick photos that show you how I turn under the edges on my cotton appliques shapes.

Most of the book is wool applique, but some of you may have noticed that I mixed in some cotton.  The cotton applique shapes are very simple shapes and easy to turn under, so I decided it was worth it to take the time to do that step.  I have used this technique on the following quilts from the book:

For the In Bloom runner – on the yellow flower centers and buds

Gyspsy Star – just the yellow flower centers

The Mandala Quilts – the large teal circles in the runner and the 3 large yellow and 1 large aqua circle in the center of the motifs.


Once you locate your applique shape, you trace it onto Red Dot Tracer (see the gauze fabric under my Sharpie in the photo).  Just lay the Red Dot Tracer over the applique template in the book and trace.   Lay it right sides together with your chosen cotton fabric and sew on the drawn line.  You can sew just to the inside of the drawn line if you don’t want to worry about it showing.  Cut around the shape, leaving roughly a chubby 1/8″, as shown in the photo below.


Next, carefully cut a slit in the red dot tracer and pull the fabric through the hole to turn it right sides out.


See how easy this method turns the edges under for you?  (You can use your fingers if needed to shimmy the seam line all the way out to the outside edge of the applique shape.)  The product is super lightweight and you won’t even notice it as you are stitching.  (I don’t trim it out).  You can use an invisible whip stitch to applique this to the background fabric if you want, but I appliqued it just as I did the wool applique shapes – with a whip stitch and pearl cotton.  We will talk more about that soon!




Next, I want to talk about preparing your background fabric.  Most of the time I did nothing to it, but on some occasions, I applied a fabric stabilizer to the back side of my fabric.

The stabilizer helps keep the background fabric from being too floppy when you are handling it.  This is a personal preference thing, so you can decide if you want to use it for that reason.

It can also help keep the edges of the background fabric from fraying.  I found that I got my stitching done fast enough that it didn’t fray too badly, so I didn’t do it for this reason.

I usually used a stabilizer when I had some embroidery stitches mixed in with the applique.  Typically you use a hoop when doing the embroidery stitches to help keep your work from puckering.  I found it was challenging to use a hoop going over the thick wool – it was easier for me to just use a stabilizer.  The Fall Wall quilt below is an example of a project from the book that has applique mixed with embroidery stitches.


If you decide to use a stabilizer, please see the note on page 3 under “Cutting the background fabric for the applique” before cutting your background fabric.


My favorite stabilizer to use is in this scenario is Pellon EK130.  It is a lightweight fusible interfacing and it is shown in black in the photo below (You can also get it in white.  I got mine at JoAnns).  I have held my hand under the stabilizer so you can see how thin it is.  It is the same fusible that I put in my hems when I sew clothing.


In this photo, you can see what the stabilizer looks like when ironed to the back side of the background fabric.  In the photo below, I also show Shape Flex SF 101.  I have read that many people recommend this stabilizer when doing wool applique.  I bought some and tried it out, but I found it much too stiff for my liking.  If anyone has any thoughts on their favorite stabilizer, feel free to share in the comments below!


So, your next steps include preparing the wool applique and deciding if you are going to use a stabilizer.  If you are, you can iron that to the backside of your fabric before  you add the applique.


When I come back next, I have some tips  on how to easily transfer the pattern and get your applique shapes aligned on the background fabric and what product I use to adhere it to the background fabric.


About Heather Peterson

Quilt pattern designer
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7 Responses to Part 4 of the Summer Stich Along – Preparing the cotton applique and using a stabilizer.

  1. Jean says:

    Red Dot tracer is new to me. Where is that available?

  2. hummingbird2u says:

    Thank you …informative..I live in the country and do not always know new and improved products so please keep up your information…Heather you are a quilters angel…

    • Thank you hummingbird2u!! What a nice compliment – and I’m happy to share any information that I can. One of my favorite parts about quilting is sharing things I am excited about.

      Thanks again,


  3. Ann Meyer says:

    Do you have a digitized quilting pattern for Gypsy Star?

  4. floridamissy says:

    Thank you for sharing your applique method. I will have to try your stabilizer. The red dot tracer is available at JoAnn’s.

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