People get stumped when it’s time to outline applique designs – and the more complicated the block, the more likely I am to get questions about how to approach that outline stitching.
Where to start?
There’s no right or wrong way – as long as you outline each piece, you’re good. But I do like to have all my lines connect (just like they would in a drawing) and I have a system that I use.
This system works for any block, using any pattern – but I’ll go over the specifics using this quilt block as an example. I loaded it up big. If you click on it you should get a larger version of the image so you can really zoom in on the details.
Here’s the order I used to outline applique pieces. . .
Start with all the pieces on top – that is, not overlapped by any other pieces:
Stitch all the way around each piece, then work your way out from those pieces:
- dress top
- dress bottom
As long as you always start with the pieces on top, you’ll always have lines to connect to. The best example of that in this block is the outlining of the face. The sides of the face tuck under the hair, and the sides of the neck tuck under the dress. So make sure the hair and the dress are stitched before you do the face and you’ll always have lines to connect to.
More about outline stitching. . .
- This post shows my favorite sewing machine feet – include the clear applique foot I use to get good visibility. That’s essential if you want to neatly outline applique pieces.
- This post answers my most frequently asked question – Is it really ok to just outline with a straight stitch?
- This post has information about using different thread weights to get a thicker or thinner line when you outline your applique.
- This post has tips for stitching eyes and mouths – including info useful for stitching any tight curves.
- Sometimes I like to outline applique pieces multiple times to get a sketchbook-ish effect. This post has more info on how to do that scribbly outlining.
And if you like that sample block that I used in this post – it’s part of the Paper Dolls quilt pattern. You get pages and pages of templates for different hair and outfits. It’s so much fun to mix and match them into your own designs!