These directions will teach you how to turn a picture of just about any size into a usable appliqué pattern. I decided to make a dog in a bubble bath in a claw-foot tub for a challenge block for my quilt guild. The problem with choosing such obscure subjects for quilt blocks is where do I find a pattern?...and in the size I need?
Step 1: What You Will Need
I found clipart of a claw-foot bathtub and dog that I liked. I enlarged them on the computer to proportional sizes before I printed them. I need my finished quilt block to be 30”x30”. Any further mechanical enlargement of my clipart to get to that size can cause many distortions. Therefore, we will do it by hand.
To do this, you will need: clipart pictures, yardstick, pencil and eraser, sheet of plain paper large enough for final pattern size.
For the appliqué, you will need fusible water soluble appliqué stabilizer, fabric glue stick, Roxanne’s Glue Baste It (or similar), cuticle stick (or similar), fabric, matching thread for each fabric.
Step 2: Preparing the Clipart
I cut out the dog and glued him in the tub how I wanted him to look. Now, my whole clipart graphic is about 8 ½” X 11” (standard paper size). My finished quilt block needs to be 30”x30” so I will need to double my image size, making my finished image for appliqué about 17”x22”.
Step 3: Draw a Grid on Clipart
Using the yardstick and pencil, draw a grid on the clipart. In this case, I used 1” squares. If the image was smaller or more detailed, I would have used ½” squares. Number the columns along the bottom margin and letter the rows in the left side margin.
Step 4: Draw a Larger Grid
Using the yardstick and pencil, draw a larger grid on a large, blank piece of paper. Since I need my clipart image to be doubled for my final pattern, I will double the grid size by drawing 2” squares on my large paper. I numbered the columns and lettered the rows just as on the clipart image.
Step 5: Drawing the Enlarged Image
We will now transfer the outline of the clipart image to the larger paper one square at a time.
Notice that there is no image in squares 1-A, 1-B, 1-C, or 1-D so I will begin drawing at square 1-E. Notice the curve of the bathtub intersects the 1-2 line at about ½ way up in the “E” square and the bathtub curve ends in the “E” square at about the middle of the E-F line. Draw this curve on the larger grid. Move up to the 1-F square. The curve in this block intersects the 1-2 line about ¼ of the way up. Draw this curve on the larger grid. Continue in this manner until the entire drawing is transferred. Remember, you only need a basic outline for appliqué patterns, not a lot of detail.
You can also make changes to the pattern at this time, too. I left the tail off as I will be filling the tub with bubbles and it would be covered anyway. I also simplified the face and changed the shape of the ears slightly.
Step 6: Preparing Stabilizer Pieces
Darken the pencil drawing with a Sharpie (or similar) marker so it will be easier to trace. I even drew several size circles so I could decide what size I wanted to use for bubbles.
Now, we have 2 options:
a. Place a clean sheet of paper over the enlarged image and trace the whole thing. Cut out paper pattern pieces from this tracing. Place these pattern pieces on appliqué stabilizer and draw around each one. Cut out stabilizer pieces. This method will have to be used if you do not want your final image to be reversed from the original drawing as you can reverse each pattern piece before drawing onto stabilizer so finished quilt block will be in the same direction as the original drawing.
b. Trace pieces directly onto appliqué stabilizer from enlarged image. Cut out stabilizer pieces. Realize that final appliqué quilt block will be reversed from original drawings using this method.
Step 7: Setting the Stabilizer Pieces
The appliqué stabilizer that I use is fusible so I just have to press the stabilizer pieces on the wrong side of my fabrics with an iron. If your stabilizer is not fusible, use a fabric glue stick to attach the stabilizer pieces to the wrong side of fabrics. Cut around each stabilizer piece, leaving a scant ¼” of fabric around each piece. Clip only fabric on any inside curves and deep divots.
Step 8: Preparing Applique Pieces
Using cuticle stick (or similar) and fabric glue stick, glue the scant ¼” fabric allowance to the back side of the fabric stabilizer. Go around all edges of each piece.
Step 9: Using the Basting Glue
Using the completed, enlarged image as a guide, lay out your prepared pieces on your background fabric. Look at your appliqué pieces and decide which ones are “on the bottom” as these will have to be stitched first. Remove all the “top” pieces and secure the “bottom” pieces with tiny dots of Roxanne’s Basting Glue It, being sure to keep the glue dots away from the edge of the piece, out of the stitching zone.
Step 10: Setting Your Machine for Stitching
Set your sewing machine on zig-zag with about 0.5 stitch width and 1.0 stitch length. The idea here is for your machine stitches to be barely noticeable and give the piece the look of hand appliqué. Your stitch should barely go into the piece on the “zig” and then go right along the edge of the piece, only into the background fabric, on the “zag”. Practice on scraps until your machine is adjusted properly as all machines are different.
I use machine embroidery thread that matches the fabric for the top thread and machine embroidery bobbin thread in my bobbin. This way, I only have to change upper thread when I change fabric colors as bobbin is the same for all.
Step 11: Stitching the Pieces
Start by stitching those “bottom” pieces in place, the bathtub in my case. Continue using the basting glue and adding pieces, layer by layer, until you are done, changing thread to match fabric as necessary. Go slowly around each piece for accuracy.
Once everything is stitched, follow manufacturer’s instructions on how to soak the water soluble stabilizer out.
WOOHOO!! Your piece is now ready to be quilted and finished!!