All About Topliqué
Now it’s time to decide on which method you’ll want to follow for applying the Topliqué.
Maybe you love to relax doing hand appliqué or maybe that’s too slow for your time allotment.
Hand Topliqué; Used on Chinese Pandas.
Let’s talk a little about the “How To” of Angela’s method. After quilting your quilt with the design
you’ve chosen, pick out an animal, flower or motif to highlight with topliqué. Simply place a piece of tracing
paper over the stitched image on the quilt and trace it with a pencil. If there is a break in the stitched outline,
you’ll need to estimate where the line would go as if it were a coloring book picture. (Do not trace over the
pantograph pattern itself, because you may have inadvertently varied the line a bit when quilting it. At least I go
off the line a little, or a lot, at times, but you’re probably more perfect in quilting than I am.)
Lay the tracing pencil-side up, on the paper side of freezer paper, pin together, and cut both papers on
the line you have drawn. Discard the tracing paper copy.
Iron the freezer paper copy onto the right side of your appliqué fabric. Cut around the pattern leaving at
least 3/8 inch border. (Note: This is different than traditional freezer paper appliqué in which the freezer paper is
pressed onto the back of the appliqué fabric.)
Now pin the fabric with the paper on top into position over the stitched image. With the freezer paper on
top the fabric is stiffened and the edge can be turned under and appliquéd in place right on the quilted line. At
times you will need to clip corners as you come to them. Because you’ve allowed 3/8” you should have enough to
adjust for fullness in the quilt or stretching of the fabric, etc. Of course you can trim the margin narrower, but only
a little at a time as you go. The “puff” of the quilt may take more to cover than you’ve expected. Sadly, I’ve had
the experience of trimming the edge and then finding I didn’t have enough to cover! Sob and double sob! I had
to pick out and redo one of the Pandas because of that.
Paper won’t be trapped underneath the appliqué. Simply pull the freezer paper off the top when finished.
Machine Topliqué: Used on my Pumpkin Patch Quilt
For years my hands have had a lot of heavy use. They’ve ached from holding the needle or practicing the
piano. The skin has cracked from calluses or harsh chemicals or in younger days, before the insult of backaches,
even gardening. They’ve suffered from paper cuts and thread cuts and finally been assaulted by carpal tunnel
rebellion! As a result, I’m not always keen on hand appliqué.
If you have similar issues, try the machine method. Cut a good sized swatch of the chosen appliqué fabric
and lay it over the motif, thoroughly covering the area of the desired appliqué. Pin it into place around the outer
edge or spray baste with any of the wonderful adhesives on the market. Next, from the back of the quilt, use your
sewing machine to sew with a fine stitch exactly on the original stitching line of the pantograph. (For this
stitching use either the same color thread as used in the quilting or with invisible thread.)
Turn to the front and carefully trim off the excess close to the stitching line. Now, from the front, go over the
line once again with a small satin stitch or blanket stitch.
I used this method on the large Pumpkin Kaleidoscope quilt. (No, not all my quilts are about pumpkins
and cats although I do like bright colors.) I chose images I liked in the border and in the center of the quilt I
added bright splashes of contrasting color on the already bright quilt. Black and white is always an attention
getter. This quilt had the added fun of the satin stitched images decorating the back. Kids love this. If you don’t want that to show, you’ll have to have a busy backing. Some quilters choose such backings anyway to hide all
manner of sins.
Easier Still: Used on Turtle Reef
Quilt your quilt with the design you choose. Of course pictorial designs are my favorites for “Toplique.” Cut a swatch of the applique fabric. Press Wonder-Under, Heat-n-Bond, or similar onto the wrong side. Next, pin the fabric (right side up) over the image you’ve chosen. STOP – don’t iron it yet! First turn the quilt over and with your sewing machine stitch through the quilt, exactly on the quilting line of the image you’ve chosen. There may be a few spots where the pantograph line does not join and you can “fake it.”
After sewing over the line turn the quilt over and carefully cut away the “now bondable fabric” just outside the stitching line. Lay parchment paper over the image and press in place to “bond it.” You’re done!!
Almost any fabric will work, provided it’s not too loosely woven. Angelina film can also be fun to use, or
perhaps velveteen for a furry bunny on a child’s quilt. That will certainly become a favorite “feeling” spot for tiny
hands, so secure it well. Note: If using a sheer fabric for the appliqué, squeeze a fine bead of fabric glue along the
first stitching line before satin stitching over it to avoid fraying.