Thursday, March 15, 2012

Freezer Paper Applique' Technique in Pictures

Good morning!  It's not spring yet, but the birds are here.....robins, especially, doing their wild courtship flying.  My land, they are active.  What lovely sounds outside, even though the days are still chilly and rather dull in color.  One might almost wish for a little snow to brighten things up a little?  What can I be saying?

Today, I've prepared an applique'  lesson using the "freezer paper" method I like the best.  There are several different versions of this method online and you might want to shop around and try them out to see what suits you the best.  I'm using it in combination with the Fusible Webbing Applique' Technique in the block I'll be making today, from my pattern, "Eight Great Potholders", "Sue and Kitten".

Here's the page from the pattern.  Our fabric block, when finished, will be a mirror image of this drawing. 

Choose the fabrics you like for your Sue's clothing and background.  My background is white.  Her pinafore is striped, her dress is pink, her shoes and bonnet are blue.  The kitten is yellow.  Cut a piece of freezer paper (you can find freezer paper in almost any grocery store where they have paper supplies for wrapping food) a little larger than the drawing and trace each piece except the kitten.
Here is the drawing with the freezer paper overlaid.  Move the freezer paper around in order to make the best use of it in getting each piece traced out.  I usually add dotted lines to each piece where another piece overlaps.  Don't trace the kitten, yet.

  Cut out each piece and set aside.

A Little Bit of Fusible 

For the kitten, because it is a complex shape, I use double-sided fusible webbing. 

This time, I have Pellon 805 Wonder-Under but I've used other brands and weights.  This one works very well for me.  Trace the kitten, drawing on the paper-side of the webbing.  

Notice I've marked dotted lines on all my pattern pieces where other pieces will overlap, just as a reminder of where things are at as I'm going along. 

I've chosen a yellow print for our kitten, today, and ironed him, fuse-side down, to the wrong side of the fabric with a dry iron, pressing it for 5 seconds. 

  Then, I cut him out, carefully, without a seam allowance.  This is the only piece in the block that does not require a seam allowance to be added.  Where his little paw is shown in the middle of his chest, I cut on its outline so that it can drape over Sue's hand and arm in the final product. 

Back to the Freezer Paper

Iron your freezer paper shapes, shiny (or wax) side down, to the WRONG sides of your fabrics, being certain to leave room for a 1/4" seam allowance all around the outside of each piece.  I usually use the 5-second-rule on these, too, then give them a little extra press when finished.  Still, some of them come loose if they get a lot of handling.  You can actually press them again and they will stick.  Be careful not to scorch anything. 

Cut out all the pieces.

 Clip the convex curves a little but not too close to the paper.
 Using white thread (colored thread can leave dye on your pieces), baste all around the piece.
 Here is the piece, right side up, with the basting finished.  Notice I leave my knots and ends on the top of the piece for easy removal.
Here is the dress, basted.  Notice I haven't basted the side that will be under the Pinafore.

 Here is the pinafore basted, again, except for the part that will be under the bonnet.
Here are the shoes basted.  Notice i clipped deeply where the heels overlap one another.  You could make two shoes, to avoid having this rather complex shape and just stitch one overlapping the other.  It works.  Again, I've clipped the convex curve.

Now, I can lay out all my pieces on the block and mark the placement of the bottom-most piece, the shoes. I've used three little pencil marks just under the edge at the back, front and top of the shoes, so they won't show.

 I use glue to "baste" the pieces to the background.  Elmer's is fine, but there are nice fabric basting glues at your local quilt shop or online.  Use only a small dots.  Here, you see, I've used about 5 dots, being careful not to put any dabs on the basting thread or paper.  This is all you need.
 Press the shoes onto the background, paying attention to your little marks.  In about 10 minutes, it will be dry and you can go on to the next step, stitching.
 Here, I'm blind stitching the shoe in place.  Notice I've not turned the tops of the shoes under where they are overlapped by Sue's dress.
 Finished blind stitching.  Remove the basting from the front of the piece and pull the freezer paper out.
 Do the same with the dress.
 And blind stitch it in place.  Remove the basting and pull out the paper.

The pinafore is next in the layers.  Remove the basting and pull out the paper.

 I basted the hand under the sleeve in a couple of places on the back using the seam allowances that are there, just to keep the two together while I arranged the kitten..  Remove the basting and the freezer paper from the hand and the arm.   Dot the sleeve with glue and place it.  Don't glue the hand.  Don't fuse the kitten completely, yet, though, because his ear overlaps Sue's bonnet.  Just iron him to the background from the neck down.  This will help keep the hand in place until you get it and the sleeve blind stitched.  When fusing, be careful  so you don't scorch anything.  He only needs to be stuck tight enough for you to blanket stitch his edges.
With the hand and sleeve blind stitched in place, you can choose a floss you like for the kitten.  I used yellow, but a contrasting color would work, also.  I began blanket stitching the kitten at his overlapping right paw and stopped short of his ear.
 Glue and blind stitch the hat in place, letting the kitten's ear overlap it.  Then, finish the blanket stitching on the kitten and your block is done, except for embroidery details and embellishments.

 Here is the bonnet from the back of the block after the paper has been removed.  You can remove the paper from the bonnet by carefully cutting through the background to it from the back after taking out the basting thread.  Make a slit about 1" long and feel inside for the edge of the paper.  Work the paper out through the slit. 
Here she is, "Sue and Kitten". Next, I'll talk about embellishments for this Sue.   I think she's very sweet and hope you do too.  Let me hear from you about this kind of work.  Happy Stitching.


  1. Thank you for this tutorial, I have never done applique this way. Think I might give it a try now!

    1. I like this method because it gives great control over the quality of the shape I'm creating. It doesn't work for tiny, complex pieces, like the cat, though. Fusible is better there. Thank you for stopping by. I'm going to show how we put together some herb tea the other day, in a little while. See you later.

  2. Great tutorial! A picture is worth a thousand words.


    1. Isn't that the truth? I bought a tri-pod for my digital camera the other day and I'm loving it. Now, I have to learn how to make a video! How long do I have to stay on this learning curve, anyway? Is there any danger of becoming demented when one has a So nice to hear from you again.

  3. Thank you so much for visiting my blog. This Sunbonnet Sue is so perfect! I've tried some of them some years ago, but I didn't sew by hand. But I make hexagons by hand, from 1/4", really small, to bigger pieces. I'll come back to you soon. Have a nice weekend!

  4. Thanks for visiting. The Blog Hop was SEW much fun! Prairie Stitcher

  5. Hi ?, sorry I don´t know your name..
    But you know what, I just love Sunbonnet Sue since years ☺
    I so glad that you found my blog, and now I´m here too.
    Thats amasing ☺
    Liebe Grüße
    Bente - Germany
    I like to QuiltBlog
    PS. some years ago I sew a Sunbonnet Sue Quilt,
    l´ll write a blogpost about it in the next days and link to you blog too.

  6. Greetings - Thank you for stopping by....all the way from Germany. It will be fun to see a German Sunbonnet Sue, don't you think? Bye for now. We'll keep in touch. K.

  7. Thank you for this tutorial, I have only started doing needle turn applique, but I put the freezer paper on top, any way I am gointo try your way with my next batch of blocks. Hugs.


Welcome to Prairie Cottage Corner. Please come in and stay a while. We are here to help you with your love of quilting, quilt design and embroidery. We especially like Sunbonnet Sue and her friends.

You can see a complete list of our Sunbonnet Sue designs at

Happy Stitching! Prairie Stitcher