I consider myself an applique quilter. I like turn edge applique best, and I use my sewing machine to apply the shapes in place. In fact, since I learned you could machine quilt, it’s been my philosophy that what can be done by hand, can also be done by machine, and I do my best to do everything by machine.
Today I wanted to share with you my favorite quilting tools for applique quilting:
Quilting Design Software
Like Amanda last month, I also started with Quilt Pro. In 2013, while I had previously purchased Electric Quilt, I decided to get back into quilting. We’d already been overseas living here for much longer than we were originally suppose to be, and their was no clear idea on when we would be moving back. I felt I had learned as much about machine embroidery as I possibly could and decided it was time to put the two together and try both together. I updated both Quilt Pro and Electric Quilt. I tried learning both, and ended up staying in Electric Quilt, simply because of ease of use, support, and the fact that the software seems to emcompass all areas of quilting easily and lets you experience creativity in an easier environment.
So, without a doubt, my number 1 favorite tool is Electric Quilt.
I don’t consider myself an EQ expert though, while I know the software well, I don’t do much with the piecing side of the software. I work more with the applique, and layout environments in the software. While I could still quilt, this software saves me on so much frustration from the normal quilting methods of twenty years ago. While strip piecing was becoming popular, Electric Quilt was just being born. Without it’s continued advanced features, those who create patterns would be lost today. I have been known to take a pattern I purchased and redraw it in EQ, because the pattern could be paper pieced or perhaps I wanted to add an applique shape on the top. With being able to easily do these things in the software, it makes the software worth more than the cost of it to me, simply because I get to see how it will look finished before it is finished. I can tweak and align and get everything right prior to sewing and I know I’m getting accurate shapes, and templates with the software when I print it out. One of the coolest features of the software is to take a photo of a pattern, place it in your layout, then add applique shapes to it, to enhance the pattern you may be putting together. I love this aspect of the software and it’s easily done. One of the other best features about this software other than fabric updates, is that I can take the fabric I personally own, add it to my own fabric library, and use it when I’m laying out my quilts, to get an idea of how the colors will work together. These things make me stay with Electric Quilt and while their may be other solutions out their for quilters, I’ve never seen any other quilting software that offers more for quilters than what EQ does. I know, I probably sound like a sales rep, but I’m not, I just really love Electric Quilt.
Applique cutting machines
Having been away from quilting for nearly 16 years, I realized that many things in quilting had stayed the same, but their were many new tools and techniques to try out also. When I took that first class in 1987, no one was using a rotary cutter. I was the only one who even knew what a rotary cutter was and that’s because I was already cutting clothing out with a rotary cutter. In 2014, I kept reading about how quilters were using a machine to do their fabric cutting, so I did some research, and found that it was indeed true. At first, it seemed like Accuquilt was the way to go, but I didn’t like the idea that I was going to be dependant on their shapes. I own EQ, I make my own shapes, so I wanted a cutter where I could cut my own shapes. This is how I found the Silhouette Cameo, and purchased it. I quickly found out how difficult it truly is to cut fabric without using a fusible agent. There are ways to cut fabric, but it doesn’t come without additional work. However, they are fabulous at cutting and printing out other things, such as your freezer paper, printing layouts, and if your cutting your fabric, you can even add the seam allowance to your fabric shapes to cut the fabric with. So, without a doubt, my Silhouette Cameo, and Brother Scan n Cut, and soon, my KNK cutter are my second favorite tools.
I’m sure I don’t need 3 cutters but each does things in a different way. For instance, I use my Cameo mainly for cutting freezer paper shapes and printing out my layouts. The Brother SNC cuts fabric easier, so I use my Brother SNC mainly for scanning and cutting fabric. With SNC’s mat and sticky sheet, you don’t have to prepare fabric prior to cutting it. The only exception is if you washed the fabric first, you may want to give it a starching or two, because washing removes all the sizing that’s added to fabric. Thus, you need something to help the fabric become stiffer. Since I don’t have the KNK in my hot little hands yet, I don’t know how well it’s really going to work, but, I have seen several cuts where it’s cut fabric with out any prep at all, and I was impressed enough to splurge on the KNK, if it does everything I believe and read it does, I’ll be getting rid of the other two cutters.
Embroidery Sewing Machine
I couldn’t do without my Brother Ult 2001. Yep, it’s an older model of embroidery machine, but it is an amazing sewing/embroidery machine. I love this model. While I’d love a larger hoop machine, I know I won’t get rid of my Ult until it actually dies. Thirteen years ago, when we first moved to Germany, I took this machine with me to learn the world of machine embroidery. It helped me to learn well enough to allow me to realize that quilting and embroidery could become one.
As an applique quilter, embroidery becomes a huge asset to you when you have additional lines to help create your shapes, such as eyes, lips, bird feathers, text, etc… An embroidery machine can cut your time to minutes instead of hours or days to finish by hand. Yes, while I still appreciate the beauty of hand embroidery, many of the stitches by machine can have the look of hand embroidery easily. I do not ever use this machine to do any type of sewing on, it’s always setup for embroidery, thus I can easily hoop my item, and get to embroidering without having to attach everything to the machine.
Fabric Folding Pen
The Clover Fabric Folding Pen has literally changed the way I applique. When I discovered this pen last year while watching a video on youtube, it occurred to me that this pen would be fabulous for turn edge applique. I have struggled with glue sticks and starch because curves to me should look like a curve, inside points should look like inside points and I don’t get these right most of the time with a glue stick or starch. So I tried this pen and have been astonished at how much better my applique has become due to the use of this pen. It even does circle shapes in an amazing way. I am totally sold and this is definitely become one of my top tools to use for applique. I would be devastated if they stopped making this product.
The appliquick tools are my last choice for favorite tools. These are not cheap, but they were so worth the cost. One end of the pen type tool has a point, the other has a edge type of end. Using this tool has helped me turn under the edges easier and better, while I use the fabric folding pen, I then use the tools to help hold the fabric, then turn the edge. It really makes turning the edges so much easier, especially when dealing with small inside curves and v sections. Until I saw the appliquick tools in action, I had been using a simple stiletto tool to help me turn my edges under, and this does work well also, but the appliquick tools really help the different edges turn better when your dealing with those v shapes, or deep inside curves. A stiletto or awl will work ok, but it can’t hold the inside curve fabric well because the fibers end up sticking out. The edge end of the applique tool does this in smooth way and you do not have the stickies that you can get with the stiletto tool.
If I had a sixth choice, this is where I’d include my sewing machine.. Who wouldn’t add their sewing machine, no matter the what brand we own .. I just happened to have a few other tools that are favorites that come before my sewing machine, since the machine is the last step in the applique process for me, so it comes on the list kind of late in the game. 🙂