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How to make applique templates using an iPad!

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Hellooo! So, I’ve made a couple of things for Mr f&f lately with motifs on and thought it might be something that you would be interested in? So I’m going to show you how to applique using images traced from a tablet screen!!!

How to applique - making templates on an iPad and reverse applique coaster by fabricandflowers

Using your tablet (I have an iPad) find an image that you want to replicate in applique. Get the image to the approximate size that you want to copy on the screen, and take a screenshot.

Go into your photos, and open up the picture that you have just taken. Get a piece of paper and place over the screen. It’s best to hold the screen at an angle to get a true light-box effect and hold the paper in position with your fingers just off the edge of the screen (I’ve found that finger movements are still picked up through the paper, which is why I take a photo of the image, otherwise it keeps resizing as you’re trying to trace!!).

Disclaimer: this technique is based on my own experience and not recommended by device manufacturers so should be undertaken at your own risk!

Use a pencil to lightly sketch the outline of your shape, being careful not to put too much pressure on the screen to prevent causing damage. Again, try and keep your hand off the screen to stop the picture moving around. When you have got the rough outline, take the paper off the screen, place it on a flat surface and draw over the lines again to make them more visible, and add in any extra detail that you need.

Cut the shape out. Now, you are ready to applique!

Reverse Applique: Punisher teapot coaster

This was Mr f&f’s Valentine present (how romantic am I?!). He recently got this teapot and joked that it needed its own special coaster. Who would be better to look after it than The Punisher?!

How to applique - reverse applique coaster by fabricandflowers

I wanted a slightly rougher, less refined look for this project. Having never tried it, I thought reverse applique – where the fabric is layered and the top one then cut away to reveal the one underneath – would be good, as over time the fabric edges would fray.

I placed the motif on the right side of the top layer of fabric. To draw around the outside of the shape, I used a Sewline pencil as it shows clearly on the dark fabric (or you can see my post here for other options).

Layer the fabric that you want to reveal under the front fabric (making sure that it is under the motif that you have drawn!) and secure in place pinning from the front. As this is a small project, I then put some wadding behind so that I would be quilting and securing the layers together at the same time. If I was working on a bigger project, I would probably use a glue pen or do a little stitching to secure the fabric layers together.

I free motion stitched the layers together, using the pencil lines as a guide. If you’ve never tried free motion quilting, a small project like this is a great way to have a go as it is easier to control a small piece of fabric, and also a ridiculous amount of fun! Everyone has a slightly different way that they like to set up the machine, mine is to;

How to applique - reverse applique coaster and tips for free motion sewing by fabricandflowers
  • Use an open-toe foot so that you can see where you’re sewing: this also means that the fabric isn’t ‘gripped’ as much by the machine, giving you more control over moving the fabric around.
  • Set the stitch length to ‘0’ as you will be moving the fabric around, which will determine the size of your stitches (and preserve your sewing machine needle!)
  • Some people like to drop the feed-dogs on their machine (the grippy bits that sit under the sewing machine foot). Personally, I like to leave them up as I find that it gives me slightly more control of the fabric as it can’t jump too much.
  • Generally, you will want to sew slower than normal to give you more control over the movement of the fabric – I have a digital machine and normally reduce the speed by about 50%!
  • Leave a long tail of thread at the beginning and end of your stitching so that they can be pulled through to the back and knotted.

When you are happy with your stitching, it is time to cut away the top layer of fabric. I pinched the back two layers (wadding and light grey fabric) with my left hand and the top black layer with my right thumb and forefinger before snipping a hole to start cutting (Note – if I do this again I will probably cut a little access hole in the top fabric before layering together as I was petrified of ruining my work!). I used a mix of little sharp embroidery scissors and duck-billed applique scissors which are great for cutting as close as you can to the stitching.

To finish the coaster, I trimmed the top to 5″, placed backing fabric right side together to the front and sewed around the edge, leaving a gap along one side to turn it out. With coasters, I always like to trim away the excess wadding and angle the corners so that when it’s turned out you get as sharp corners and smooth edges as possible.

Once turned through, a little press and some top-stitching and it was all finished. Ta-dah!!! Such a fun little project – probably only took a couple of hours all in, including taking the photos!

For standard applique – like the tie-fighter coffee cosy! – I cut the template into smaller pieces eg. wings, body, and window, for each of the fabrics I wanted to use for each section. Iron bondaweb – which is fusible on both sides, but with a bit of paper on one side – to the wrong side of the fabric. Turn your template pieces over (so that they were reversed) and draw around them on to the bondaweb before cutting out. Peel the backing off the bondaweb and arrange each of the pieces on to the fabric and iron in place. Decorate with stitching – I used free motion quilting as detailed.

How to applique - making templates on an iPad and reverse applique coaster by fabricandflowers

Now to decide what applique to do for his birthday….!!! I hope you’ve enjoyed this, and if you have a go at making your own templates then please do let me know – I’d love to see what you create!


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