As a child I loved to play the game where you sat in a circle and one child would whisper a secret to the child on their right. Then that child would whisper the same secret to the next one in line. This would continue until the last child. Then the first and last child would repeat their version of the secret. Of course, each retelling would change the secret just a little bit. The more children in the circle, the more the secret would transform. My favorite was the time we started with "Donald Duck quacks me up" and ended up with "Mickey Mouse has warts.
Template Free applique preparation (also known as Back Basting) for needle turn hand applique has not been well documented and has been under represented by the quilt book authors and publishing houses. As a "word of mouth" technique it has fallen victim to the several misinterpretations as it "went around the circle." Basically, Back Basting has warts. I had the wonderful fortune of learning this technique at the master's knee (Jeana Kimball) so I feel compelled to clear up some of the misinformation.
Before we discuss the myths, let's cover the basic technique (or visit my new tutorial page. Click here to see detailed instructions and photographs of this technique)).
1. Trace the applique pattern on the wrong side of the background fabric. Trace the pattern accurately and with care. Use a pencil or any other marking tool that will not show through to the front of the background fabric. This marking does not need to be removed EVER so there is no need to fret about marking tool brands, types, etc. or is there any need remove markings once the applique is complete.
That's it! You are now ready to needle turn applique as usual.
And, now the some of the misconceptions.
Myth #1: Template Free preparation takes longer than other methods like freezer paper on top.
Reality: You trace the applique pattern once, exactly as is, on the wrong side of the background fabric. Then each applique fabric is pinned and basted on the background fabric. That's it. You are stitching. There are no templates to create, there are no window templates to create, there are no individual shapes to trace or cutout, and there is no overlay to create.
Myth #2: You cannot see your turn line so your shapes are inaccurate.
Reality: There is no need to see the turn line. Template Free works on the principle that the purpose of the basting line is to SCORE the fabric EXACTLY on the turn line. Then, when the needle sweeps the seam allowance under, it turns exactly on the scored line.
Everyone has their favorite techniques and I can understand being reluctant to change anything that is working just fine. However, if you have not been successful using other applique techniques then I encourage you to give Template Free a try. I successfully use the Template Free technique for ALL my applique projects and I sincerely believe it's the answer for quilters that have tried all the other applique techniques without success. Many of my students have told me they had given up on applique until they discovered Template Free. Feel free to email me if you have been tempted to use this technique but have questions or if you have tried this technique in the past and ran into challenges. I always welcome your comments.
If you are still worried about losing the stitching line, you can finger crease the turn line by pressing the seam allowance against the stitched basting line.
Mercy in Miami