We find it is often the outside points that are the most off-putting to people considering an applique pattern. Far too often we watch someone put back a pattern with a comment like, "Too many points!" It makes us sad to think that someone would not choose their favorite pattern, just because they don't feel they can applique the points. So, we want to show you our technique for outside points, and hope that you will never again turn away from a pattern you really like, just because of the points.
Two Secrets for Sharp Points:
Turn under a full 3/16" on both sides of the point. Our patterns have been designed for you to do this, do not skimp on the turn-under at the point, and do not trim away any fabric.
On the second side of the point, sweep the edge of the fabric down and away from the tip.
Remember: It is not important how the tip feels; it is important how it looks. The very nature of a point creates some bulk in that area; the sharper the point the bulkier it will feel. Bulk is not minimized by cutting away fabric; that only weakens the point. Bulk is minimized by sweeping the edge of the fabric away from the tip. Note: For these photos we used silk organza fabric so you can easily see what happens under the applique, and red stitching thread.
Here is how we create pointy-points:
As you approach the tip on the first side of a point, stop stitching where the new point will be. Add a second anchor stitch in place at the tip.
Turn the quilt in your non-stitching hand to get a better position with your needle for stitching the second side. With the tip of your needle, catch the top layer and seam allowance of the applique fabric. Your needle needs to control these two layers of the applique fabric for the next motion.
With your underneath finger under the shaft of the needle for support, push the shaft of the needle into the anchor stitch, sweep the needle like a windshield wiper, pivoting around that anchor stitch...
...until the needle (with the fabric you are turning under) is pushed up against the first line of stitching. This sweeps the edge of the fabric away from the point tip. Use the thumb of the non-needle hand to hold this in place.
On a right-angle or less acute point, one sweep is usually sufficient.
On a sharper or more acute point, (without undoing what you just did) insert your needle in the seam allowance again and sweep a second time to make a pointier point. Tug the thread to establish a crisp point.
When the point looks good, take one or two stitches close to the tip on the second side, then continue with your normal needleturn down the second side.
Notice in the photo below that the 3/16" turn-under on both points is distributed away from the tip of the point, not jammed up in it.
Yes, there are overlapping layers of fabric/bulk in the point; there is no way around that! But, by leaving a full 3/16" turn-under you prevent fraying as you are stitching the point, and extend the life of the quilt. Remember, worry less about how it feels and instead appreciate how it looks and how long it will last.
One of our favorite things about applique is that you need to learn techniques for only five simple shapes to master applique. All applique is made up of just five simple lines, or shapes: