by Sandra | September 27th, 2010
I have good success with the technique I use to get my circles “perfect” (as perfect as possibly human anyway). But…. I am never quick to discount something that may work even better and reduce the steps or prep work.
I use freezer paper ironed to the back side of my fabric, trim with the seam allowance and then baste the seam allowance to the template itself. I do not baste yo yo style and then draw up the gathers to fit around the template. The freezer paper template is removed just prior to completely stitching the circle closed as I applique.
I don’t use starch because I don’t have to. The freezer paper that is inside the circle keeps the edges crisp as I work, and when I remove it at the last, the circle holds it shape beautifully.
There are a couple of new applique circle template products on the market that are basically carbon copies of the other so I tried one of them to see if they would reduce the prep work involved in getting the circles perfect. I also bought some heat resistance template material at the art store to make my own version since I have custom sized circles that don’t match the ready made template products.
With these heat resistant Templar templates, you baste the seam allowance edges and draw the edges up like a yo yo to mold around the edges of the template. Apply starch and iron the backside so the fabric holds its shape and position. Remove the template and baste/pin to the background in place. No template to remove as in my technique.
But here is where I found where these two techniques deviate significantly–for me. When I pin basted the circle, it distorted the shape a bit, even though I had starched it heavily. I then sew basted it in place to see if that would help. It was a bit better, but not ideal.
The real problem I had was even though the plastic/silicone template material gave me a perfect circle to start with, this advantage was lost during the stitching step. It was easy to distort the edges while stitching since I did not have that firm edge advantage as I stitched with the freezer paper temporarily left in method. I went back to my freezer paper method as I was able to get better results.
I also try to avoid starch, glue etc. when at all possible (I always avoid glue). I live in the Pacific NW and Silverfish are a problem. This is the reason I came up with my freezer paper method in the first place. Starch is really not an option and I found it was not really necessary the more I developed my skill.
I found the prep work advantage a wash in comparing the two techniques. I can make hundreds of freezer paper circle templates if I wanted to for a project and complete the prep work for them at one time as I watch TV. It would be cost prohibitive to purchase that many of the circle template products. There are only three each of the different sizes. Plus, I get the exact size circle I need for the pattern, rather than having to substitute with the “closest” size. I rarely invoke the sentence, “it is good enough to pass”.
I do think these templates are a good option for those who don’t have the finger dexterity yet to work with the freezer paper “in” method I use and could be very beneficial to get better shaped circles. Don’t count them out as an option for you. I have developed my stitching skill and finger dexterity over years of working with hand applique so I am able to do better with the freezer paper templates. As you develop your hand applique skills, these may be really helpful and the cost of a set is not prohibitively expensive.
It is nice that we have more options available to us as we develop our individual ”mutt” methods for creating our applique and that, as they say, is always a good thing!