How to Applique Dark Eyes on Dark Faces

How to Applique Dark Eyes on Dark Faces - tutorial from Shiny Happy World

This cutie is Ivy – one of the bears in my Bunches of Bears quilt pattern.

I made all the bears in my sample blocks in realistic colors – shades of brown, grey and rust. (This is the fabric I used.)

Of course – living in Appalachia – I had to make a black bear.

But black bears are tricky!

Black eyes didn’t show up every well on the almost-black fabric I chose for the bear face.

The solution is to make an extra layer in a lighter color to back the eye.

Black bears usually have a cinnamon-colored snout, so I chose the same fabric to go behind the eyes. If your applique pattern doesn’t have a contrasting snout color (maybe you want to make a black cat from this pattern?) then just choose a slightly lighter shade of the face color.

I don’t recommend white. It will often make your finished face look frightened. 🙁

Here’s what to do.

Using a scrap of your fusible adhesive, trace the eyes again. Fuse that to the back of the fabric you want to use to define the eyes.

How to Applique Dark Eyes on Dark Faces - tutorial from Shiny Happy World

When you cut them out – cut them a little bit bigger than the eyes you’ve traced.

How to Applique Dark Eyes on Dark Faces - tutorial from Shiny Happy World

I’ve cut mine with a little less than an extra 1/8 inch all the way around. You don’t have to measure it – you really just want a sliver of that color showing.

Now – fuse those pieces in place – along with all the other pieces on the block except the black eyes.

DO NOT FUSE DOWN THE BLACK EYES YET.

How to Applique Dark Eyes on Dark Faces - tutorial from Shiny Happy World

I know. It looks a little creepy at this point.

I usually outline all my applique pieces in black thread – but this is the exception. Stitch down the eye backings using matching thread.

If you do it now, you can be a little wobbly with your stitching. There’s no black eye for the wobbliness to show up against. If you fuse the black eye before you do the outlining you have to be very careful to keep your stitching right on that sliver of background color showing – and that would be hard.

Here’s a close up view where you can hopefully see my stitching. It’s just a simple straight stitch.

How to Applique Dark Eyes on Dark Faces - tutorial from Shiny Happy World

NOW you can fuse down the black eyes and do all the rest of the outline stitching in black thread.

How to Applique Dark Eyes on Dark Faces - tutorial from Shiny Happy World

Whew! Much less creepy. 🙂 And look how nicely her eyes show up – without looking frightened.

Here’s the finished block.

Ivy block from the Bunches of Bears quilt pattern from Shiny Happy World

What a sweetie! Her name is Ivy. 🙂

If you make softies (sewn or crocheted) instead of quilts – this post will help you make those eyes show up against dark faces.

Want to make a bear quilt? Get the Bunches of Bears pattern here.

Happy stitching!

Best,
Wendi

2 COMMENTS

  1. Roxanna Owen SAYS...

    you are so clever! I want to make a collage of flamingoes. Got any suggestions?

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