Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Template Free (Back Basting) When the Fabric is Scarce...Plus Fabric Guard Dog in Action!

Hello blog-o-sphere friends! This blog is a direct result of several emails I received recently regarding the best way to make use of limited fabric to prepare applique the Template Free (Back Basting) way.  Sometimes this happens because no matter HOW BIG our stash, the PERFECT fabric is just a tiny scrap.  Most commonly, this happens because we sign up for a Block Of the Month (BOM) and the designer or person packaging the kits uses applique prep techniques that are more frugal with fabric.  Another reason is that with the price of cotton fabrics sky rocketing quilt shop owners are trying to keep kits affordable.  Following is a Pictorial Tutorial of how I tackle this situation.  In addition, if you would like to review various techniques, including Template Free (Back Basting) preparation, Applique Points, Inner Curves, Outer Curves, Fussy Placement, etc., please use the links on the right hand side of this page titled, Pictorial Tutorials. As always, feel free to email me if you have any questions. 

Best stitches,
Mercy in Miami

PS - Make sure you scroll to the bottom to see Ricky's latest adventure!

Trace design on back of background as usual.

Here is a small piece of fabric that will be the three flowers in the design.

Pin mark the seam allowance around the first flower.

This is what the pin marking looks like from the front of the background.

Use the pin marks on the front to guide placement of the applique fabric.  Get the edge of the fabric as close as you can to the pin marks.

Pin applique fabric in place. Baste and trim as usual.

Pin mark the next flower.

Repeat the process of using the pin marks on the front to guide placement of the applique fabric.  Again, get the fabric edge as close as possible to the pin marks.

Sometimes you can save fabric by pinning multiple shapes at the same time.  Just make sure there is room for a seam allowance between the shapes. Baste and trim as usual.


Here is Jim holding up a Superman pillowcase I made for him as a thank you for being my Superman and grilling for my Round Robin group this past weekend.

Of course it didn't take long for Ricky and Jim to discover the pillowcase scraps.  It seems that this is what all the Fabric Guard Dogs are wearing this year!

Good boy Ricky!  You nabbed your first fabric thief!

Please no cameras, I have a secret identity to protect!


  1. Mercy, you just helped me tremendously! When I back baste, I always have difficulty figuring out where to position the fabric on the front, never mind how big a piece to use. What an "aha" moment...The idea of pinning around the design is brilliant. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Thank you, Mercy. You are the first one who has almost persuaded me to try back-basting.
    But I still can't figure out how to combine back-basting with fussy-cutting....

  3. Thanks Jane! Have you taken a peek at my tutorial on how to fussy cut with back's the link... It doesn't hurt to try! I love how your grandson's quilt turned out!

    Best stitches!