A lot of people have questions about how to applique dark eyes on a dark face. It’s really important for the eyes to show up well, and dark on dark fabric tends to hide them!
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. (Here’s a fabric collection you can use.)
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 usually 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.
When you cut them out – cut them a little bit bigger than the eyes you’ve traced.
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.
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.
NOW you can applique the dark eyes and do all the rest of the outline stitching in black thread.
Whew! Much less creepy. 🙂 And look how nicely her eyes show up – without looking frightened.
Here’s the finished block.
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.
Here are links to all the posts showing how to applique with fusible adhesive – my favorite method. It’s fast and easy and (with the right materials) it holds up beautifully to rough use and repeated washing.
- How to Applique with Fusible Adhesive – a very basic intro
- How Durable is Applique with Fusible Adhesive?
- Fusible Applique the Easy Way – the way I currently work – use with any of my patterns that include SVG files
- How to Use a Light Box to Layer Your Applique – perfect placement every time
- How to Applique with Fusible Adhesive – photo tutorial – use with any of my patterns that do not include SVG files
- How to Applique with Fusible Adhesive – video tutorial – use with any of my patterns that do not include SVG files
Here are links to special posts about eyes.
- Easy Eye Options for Applique
- Using Fabric Markers and Paints for Small Eyes
- Free Embroidery Machine Files for Machine-Stitched Eyes
- How to Machine Stitch Eyes without an Embroidery Machine
- How to Minimize Show-Through on White Eyes
- How to Applique Dark Eyes on Dark Faces
- How to Add Catchlights to Eyes
Here are links to some extra fun things you can do with your applique.
- How to Add a Baby Animal to Any Block
- How to Squish Two Animals into One Block
- How to Add Playful 3D Bits to Your Applique
- How to Add Soft 3D Pieces to your Quilt Block
- How to Add a Door (that Opens!) to Your Quilt Block
- How to Give Your Monster an Underbite
- Fake Trapunto (Stuffed) Applique
- Broderie Perse Applique
Other Applique Methods
Finished with this topic?