Getting Ready to Start

I am eager to start the next block of Sue Garman’s “Friends of Baltimore”.  But, before I can start cutting and stitching, there are a few things that need to be done. First, I pre-washed the fabrics for the block, including the background, in Synthrapol.  This stops the colours from running.

prewash 2 (2)

So, while the fabrics were soaking, I decided to start making my freezer paper templates.  I took a good look at the pattern.  I only had one thought:  that is a whole lot of templates, and a whole lot of tracing!  (Between you and I, tracing is the part I dislike the most!)  So this is how I avoid tracing…

This particular pattern is larger than an 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheet of paper, so it has been divided in four parts.


I scan each individual sheet and import the images to my computer.


Next I open up Adobe Illustrator…


…and I scroll down and click on PLACE.


The image then pops up on the screen like magic!


This is the really cool part!  I hit REFLECT and the image….well, it reflects!  (If you use the needleturn method and trace your patterns on the right side of fabric, you do not need to reflect the pattern.)


You know you have done this properly if the writing on the pattern is backwards!  I place a piece of freezer paper in the printer, click on print…


…. and voila!


Now, I am going to make one big pattern out of the 4 sections.  I trim the patterns on the dotted lines.


I like my freezer paper templates to be double thickness.  So, I iron each section to a big piece of freezer paper and match all the dotted lines…like I am wallpapering…only better!



Now I get to cut out every one of those itty bitty pieces!


Here is a little something I want to share!

I use my light box all the time.  I love it…because I don’t have to trace the pattern on the background fabric.  Do you see a theme here?  Sometimes when there are multiple layers, it is hard to see what is underneath the pieces I have already glued in place. By gluing the leaves in place, I have covered up the flower that will sit on top of the leaves.  Confusing!   So here is what I do to make life easier.

hummingbird 1

I use my applique pressing sheet and build the flower on it, rather than on the block.  This is also called “off-block construction”.


I put just a dab of glue on each petal, and slowly add each piece, until I have a flower.


I very carefully lift the flower off the applique pressing sheet…


…and place it on the background.  Easy Peasy!


Til next time…



16 thoughts on “Getting Ready to Start

  1. You amaze me as always with your wonderful applique process and ideas. All I can say is you must have a lot of patience. Your work definitely shines.:)

  2. HI Kerry,
    I love how you like saving time-it really does add up on all counts. And it is so much faster too.
    What is the Adobe Illustrator CS? I think I may need to add that to my computer as well.

  3. Kerry, it’s going to be a phenomenal block! All those tiny pieces; I give you so much credit. 🙂
    When you prewash your fabrics, it looks like you put them all in together. Even with the Synthrapol, don’t you get some colors that bleed into the others? Do you wear gloves when using the Synthrapol?

    • Hi Eileen: I do put all my fabrics together. Batiks are another story! I like to wash them separately because I have had some dark batiks that have run.
      Sometimes the colours bleed, but only into the water, and not the other fabrics. I don’t wear gloves, but I know I should!!

  4. Kerry – beautiful work as always. Thank you for sharing this techinique – very interesting and a great time saver. Still not sure I could tackle something so intricate! Do you cut out the back of the background within the applique pieces when you are done stitching them to the background? Thanks for following my blog!! – Debra (

    • You are welcome! I was always taught that cutting out the background somehow weakened the block. However, there are many times that I trim out the background to decrease thickness, expecially if I am planning to hand quilt. My Friends of Baltimore has some very thick sections and now I wish I had cut out the background. Also, if a darker fabric shows under a lighter fabric, I will trim the darker fabric out. Hope this helps!

      • Thank you. I had always heard the same thing about cutting the background fabric away, so I no longer do that. So you are pulling the freezer paper off of the piece after you iron the edge down to it? I have done so many ways of applique – I am always interested in learning how other appliquers work. Thanks again! – Debra

  5. Another brilliant posting…I am learning so much from reading your technique and my applique will be all the better for it! Thanks so much for continuing to share your talent, Kerry!

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