Techniques for Stitching Laser Cut Blocks

Laser cut quilt blocks are a new trend that makes applique quilting quick, easy and achievable to everyone. If you have always admired applique but have been afraid to try it--this is a very good method for your first effort.  It is also a great time saving method for busy people.

When you first open the laser cut kit fabrics, it will  look something like this:
 The applique shapes have paper backed fusible attached to the wrong side of the fabric. They also have a few little tabs that need to be cut; this prevents small pieces from getting lost. A few little snips with small sharp scissors releases them from the larger fabric piece.

You can see from this photo that some of the applique shapes have had the tabs cut so you can see the actual shapes.

To release the paper backing, scratch the paper in the center with a long straight pin to get an opening--then carefully pull away the paper from each shape.

 Place your background fabric on top of your pattern.  Use a small dab from a water soluble glue
stick to hold each applique shape in place using your pattern as a guide for placement.

In most cases the pieces just touch or slightly overlap.  The stems should slightly tuck under
at each end.

When you are happy with your placements, fuse the shapes in place with a hot (cotton setting) dry iron. Use a lift and lower motion so that the pieces do not shift before they are fully fused.
I usually find that it works if I count slowly to ten and then lift the iron to another spot.

 

The block shown above has been fused and is ready for stitching.  The fusing adds a little stiffness to the fabrics so I found I did not need to use a stabilizer underneath the block. If you find when you start to stitch that your block is pucking, pin a piece of thin paper or tissue underneath as you stitch.
This can be torn away after all the stitching is completed.



I used a very narrow zig zag stitch with a regular sewing thread in a colour that matched the fabric colour or was just slightly darker as I wanted to outline the shapes.  Each machine is a little different so it is best to make a sample--you just want the stitch to be off the edge of the applique shape and bite into the shape by about one eighth of an inch.  If there are cuts in the interior of your shape you will want the zig zag stitch to straddle the cut (for example on the vein lines of the leaves). 

A satin stitch (a closer zig zag stitch) would also look very nice but it would take longer and use more thread.  In both cases when you use these stitches you stop with the needle down on the outside of an outside curved shape and and vice versa for an inside curved shape. 

When you come to a point, such as at the tip of a leaf you can taper the zig zag stitch if you have that option on your machine.

You also need to lower your tension (go to a lower number on the tension dial) and I often also use a lower pressure so that I can turn the fabric easily.  A knee lifter also is very useful to help you turn the fabric as you sew around the curves and indentations. I always pull the threads to the back and tie them as it looks messy to back stitch when you end off.

In some places I have used a small blanket stitch around the outside of some of the shapes.  The blanket stitch should just touch the outside of the shape and take a very small bite (about one eighth of an inch) into the shape.  This will be enough to hold the shape in place and keep it from fraying.

When doing the blanket stitch, try to have one stitch right at the tip--there should be 3 stitches at the point--the two outside ones form a V with one stitch right at the point in the middle of the V.

I like using a combination of the two stitches (zig zag and blanket) as I think this adds a bit of interest to the look of the applique.

 
This block is partly stitched--I show it here so that you can see that it does wrinkle up a little and that much seemed acceptable as with pressing it came perfectly flat after the stitching was completed.  I show it here so that you won't worry!  Just try pressing as you go along to make sure that the final project will lie nice and flat.  Then when you quilt around the shapes later that will give dimension to the shapes--everything looks better when it is quilted!
 
I hope these tips will help you.  Please contact me if you have any further questions or concerns.

3 comments:

  1. I just printed out your tips. I am relatively new to the laser applique arena. I am just starting the woodland creatures quilt with a group in the Glens Falls, NY area. I hope to get lots of good advice as I am sure I will need it.

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  3. Where can I purchase the Woodland creature quilt pattern?

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