Record your personal history through quilting using the needle turn appliqué technique. This week’s activity is inspired by quilts in the Gilcrease collection and beyond that preserve rich stories and memories. Follow the steps in this video to begin making your very own quilt!
Two contrasting colors of cotton fabric (example done with t-shirts)
All purpose sewing thread
Hand sewing needle
Plan the Design
Think about what you want your quilt square to look like. Sketch some ideas on a piece of paper. For this example I chose to do a block letter “c” for my last name.
Once you decide on a design, get a clean sheet of paper and draw your design with a pencil. Cut out your design to use as a template on the fabric.
Place the paper template onto your fabric and trace around the outside with chalk. If you are using sidewalk chalk make sure to choose a chalk color that will be visible on the fabric. Chalk can be wiped off with a wet wash cloth after the project is finished so that none of the design marks will show. After you have traced around your paper design, set it aside.
After you trace around your design template, draw another chalk line on your fabric ¼” on the outside of your design. This second chalk line is the line you will use to cut out your design.This is the fabric that we will be folding under and sewing down for the quilting appliqué. Draw and trace all the pieces you want to add to the square.
Preparing the Materials
A couple of t-shirts
Prepare your base square. Use your ruler to measure out the square that you will appliqué. For this example, try a 6” square. Use the chalk to trace a 6” square and then cut the square out.
Prepare your needle. Cut an 18” long piece of sewing thread. Tie at least two knots right on top of each other on one end. This will ensure the thread does not pull through the work. Thread the unknotted side of the thread through the eye of the needle and pull through 6” of thread for the tail. Let’s get to sewing!
Needle Turn Appliqué
6” base square cut design fabric piece
Place the design fabric piece on the base square where it will be appliquéd and secure the design piece with a few pins so it does not move during the sewing process.
Pick a straight edge to start on. Take your needle and use it to fold under the fabric edge to the chalk line. Coming up from underneath the 6” square, poke your needle up as close as possible to the edge of the design piece.
Take the needle and poke it into the fold in that fabric that you just creased. Don’t pull it all the way through yet. Push the needle back out of the fold about 1/8” from where the needle was pushed into the fold. A little stitch was just created.
Repeat step 3 but this time make the small stitch into the base square right after your stitch. The two stitches that were just created are now holding the design piece onto the base. Continue using your needle to fold under the fabric as you continue to appliqué around the outside of your design. After the entire design has been stitched down, push your needle through the base square so that your needle and thread are now on the underside. Tie a few knots on top of each other to secure the work and cut off the excess.
If the design has an inside corner or is rounded you will need to cut the flap so you can turn in under the design. Cut as many slots in the fabric as needed to turn under the fabric.