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In the Quilting World

Use a Die-Cut Applique to Change up a Vintage Pattern

An up-and-coming trend in quilting is the use of die-cut machines. Each year more and more machines and dies are available, and with the expansion of these kind of tools, quilters have more and more possibilities for time-saving options. The problem at present is finding patterns for these dies. Some, but not all, manufacturers do have patterns to support their products. That can be a problem for some, but if you have an imagination -- and most likely you do if you're reading this -- then you'll probably be able to work out something. Quilters are very creative individuals. Take a look through your patterns and, of course, this update and its free patterns and really look for the opportunities. Maybe you love the project but not the applique. Well that's easy to change. Die cuts can save time and frustration.

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This is the original Royal Purple Blossoms used for this redesign before I tweaked the pattern.

If you'd like to work along with me on this project, download the pattern PDF under the Free Pattern tab at the top.

Royal Purple Blossoms is our free downloadable pattern for this update. It's a cute applique project that can be updated easily. You can make it similar to what is shown or change it with the help of fresh fabrics. What caught my eye was the overall shape of the piece. I loved the scalloped edge. The thought of taking the base shape and playing with the applique appealed to me. I have a lot of great AccuQuilt dies I should really use more often, but I find I'm usually so busy that I don't think of it. Well, this project was the perfect one to play with those dies and reinvent the applique for it. First I scouted out some light batik fat quarters for the background, and then I sorted through my dies for the ones that would probably work with for this project. From there on out, it was just a matter of letting my imagination take over.

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Several batiks I looked at as background possibilities, and some
of the dies I thought might work well for this project.

Once I made my decision on which die to use and had selected fat quarters for the front and backing of my candle mat, I fused the front and backing fabrics to opposite sides of a piece of fusible batting. I like to layer my applique projects when possible to eliminate one step. If you're careful when stitching your applique in place you can quilt the piece at the same time. The only thing you really need to watch for is pulling your threads to the top of the project to keep the back side nice and neat. You have to make a conscious effort to go slow and trim from the front. This method pulls the threads into the batting and gives your applique a nice finished look.

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My fused and ready quilt sandwich and the die I’ve selected to use next
to my handy dandy AccuQuilt Baby Go!

With my quilt sandwich fused together, I rifled through my scrap basket and found the perfect pieces for my butterfly. I added a piece of fusible web to the wrong side and pressed. Next I used my wonderful AccuQuilt Baby Go! machine to cut out the needed pieces. I love how perfect the pieces come out. It makes a perfect finish.

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The scraps I selected for my butterfly applique.

To make lining up the scallop template easy, I used a water-soluble marker (I like IBC blue marking pens -- available at AnniesCraftStore.com) to mark the centers of my quilt sandwich both vertically and horizontally. Then I pressed the freezer-paper template to each quarter, reusing the same template for each section, and tracing the scalloped edge. The straight lines and the scallop-shape lines act as guides for adding my applique pieces to make sure the butterfly motif is centered. Later, the scallop-shape lines act as my quilting-area guide and, finally, as my cutting line.

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Using a freezer-paper template makes marking scallops and laying out an applique motif so easy.

Once the scallops were traced, I fused the applique pieces in place.

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I also used the drawn lines to aid in centering the wings of my butterfly.

Then I stitched the applique pieces in place.

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Using a machine buttonhole stitch I carefully stitched each piece into place.

Once all the pieces were stitched, I drew the antennae into place using a water-soluble marker and free-motion quilted them in with black thread.

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Free-motion quilting the butterfly antennae before filling in the rest of the background.

I like to do all my free-motion quilting on small projects before trimming the outer edge. It makes it easier to quilt and to hold on to. Once I had filled in the background, I was really glad I hadn't trimmed the scallops. I have a tendency to change my projects as I go along, and this one was no exception. I decided to add a bit of extra quilting to make it a bit bigger so, drawing another line, I added an extra inch all the way around and quilted the "bubbles" in the border area. After that, I cut along the outer line.

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Sewing the meandering quilting on the background and then the extra
inch of "bubbles" quilting. Then I cut along the outer line.

My candle mat only needed to have the bias binding added and hand-stitched to the back.

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Adding the bias binding to the candle mat.

Now I know my version of this candle mat looks nothing like the original pattern, but it was my inspiration for the project. I loved the shape but wasn't quite sold on the applique. It's not to say it wouldn't look lovely just as it was, but for me, I seem to like to tweak everything. I love the ideas I get from a shape, a color or fabric. Now isn't that the very reason why we quilters quilt? We want to express our personal creativity and make our projects our own, not just an imitation of someone else's idea. I really enjoyed playing with my dies and my AccuQuilt Baby GO! If you have some of those dies setting around your sewing room, maybe it's time to get them out and see what new ideas you can come up with. I'd be willing to bet you can come up with several projects. Have fun!

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