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How to Use a Light Box to Layer Applique

In my never-ending quest to to make applique as easy as possible, I recently bought a light box.


My mind is blown!

No more tracing those placement markings to the right side of the fabric. (***ahem*** I may have mentioned here how much I hate to trace.)

This makes layering applique SO EASY and SO ACCURATE!

How did I not get one of these sooner?

Somehow I had it in my head that this was going to be a Very Expensive Purchase.

The one I bought is 15.5 inches x 11.8 inches and cost $26.99. I’m going to use it a kajillion times just in the next year, so that is well worth it to me.

The silicone mat was $14.33.

Those are both affiliate links to Amazon. If you buy something using them, I get a small commission at no extra cost to you – but if you have a local store that sells these things, please support them!

Want to see how awesome it is in action? You’re going to love this!


I’m going to say it again – wow!

This makes the process so easy! Especially for folks who are using cutting machines and have had a bit more of a laborious process to transfer those placement markings in the past.

I know some of you have been using a light box forever and can’t believe I didn’t know already how awesome they are.

I’m usually really slow to use new gadgets. I just don’t want a studio full of tools I’ll rarely use.

I’ve used a light box exactly once before – in a Craftsy class I taught several years ago. It was really huge and cumbersome and not something I had space for in my studio. I had no idea how slim and lightweight and inexpensive they are now!

Moving forward, all of my patterns will have numbers on the reference images and corresponding numbers on the template pieces.

I’m in the process of a year-long project to update all my quilt patterns. That update will include adding SVG files for use with cutting machines, and these numbered templates.

I’ll continue to include the placement markings for those who don’t want to get a light box. You can find a tutorial showing how to do that method here.

For those of you about to get a new light box – enjoy!!!

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.

Here are links to special posts about eyes.

Here are links to some extra fun things you can do with your applique.

Other Applique Methods

Finished with this topic?

Return to the Let’s Make a Quilt main Table of Contents.

Move on to the lessons about outline stitching.


  1. Donna SAYS...

    That is great!!
    Thank you

  2. Liz SAYS...

    Well I’m just in love with that snail! Thanks for sharing this technique.

  3. Dee Skinner SAYS...

    OH MY GOSH!! I’m in love with that! Like you, I always thought a light would be expensive and too big and bulky! I just don’t have that kind of space to spare! But watching this, I’m sold, sold, SOLD on this method–it’s almost like an IPad! I’m going to order that light and silicone mat right NOW! I sometimes work at night and it’s limited what I can do because I can’t trace at night in the window. Once, in a moment of real NEED, I actually used the drop light over my kitchen counter (that was fun…NOT), just to trace a small piece that I really needed to be done that night. It was quite tricky. This post makes me happy! Thanks so much

  4. Laura P Young SAYS...

    Trying to get the silicon mat from your link. It pulls up the heat bond for me. Can you share the link for silicon mat?

    • I checked and the link is going to the silicone mat. Please give it another try. 🙂

  5. Anonymous SAYS...

    Wow! I agree. Thank you so much! I read your post 2 days ago and Amazon has already delivered mine. I wish you could get the commission but mine came from In the past I would place a piece of glass over a small table and set up a light under it. On top of being awkward to set up it didn’t work that great. This is 100% better. Thanks again!

  6. Christine SAYS...

    Thank you so much. I ordered mine almost right away after seeing this post. My question is in relation to the stickiness of the Heat & Bond Lite. Have you had any issue with ‘using up the stickiness’ due to pressing 3 times instead of 2. That is: 1) ironing the H&B onto the wrong side of the fabric; 2) ironing the appliqué on the amazing silicone mat & then 3) ironing the put together appliqué onto the quilt block. I have experimented on scraps & it’s been ok (at least it was once I got a new pck of H&B as I think mine had degraded over time). But I wonder if you experienced any issue with this when you first started using the new method. Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge in this post and every other.

    • I haven’t – but I do know that you need to be careful not to overheat the adhesive and the silicone mat can make it very easy to do that by accident. I’ll admit under normal circumstances I’m not super careful with my iron temperature or how long I fuse – but when I’m on that mat I make very sure I have my temp set correctly and I really do count the seconds I’m fusing.

  7. Judy G SAYS...

    I am so glad I took the time to watch the video AND read the post. I *assumed* that light boxes were very expensive. When you said that they were not, I clicked your link and ordered one (and a silicone mat). That will make appliques much faster and much, much easier. Thanks!

  8. Pingback: Fusible Applique the Easy Way - Shiny Happy World