Home Again & Banish Peek-A-Boo Applique



First, The travel……

I have been on the road for awhile which included some breathtaking scenery, incredible students that were a sheer joy to be around (way too much laughing) and on another trip….Wine & quilt shops. OK, make that lots of wine and quilts shops.

Thank you to the ever WONDERFUL Bob & Heather Purcell of Superior Threads for hosting my workshop at their beautiful and stunning corporate headquarters in St. George, Utah. Some of the most breathtaking scenery and genuinely nice area and people. I never stopped smiling. The beautiful and kind Suzanne (Native Oregonian) and the Fabric Chicks who made everything so smooth and easy.

The Okanagan Valley in British Columbia Canada and their zillions of wineries made for a nice retreat and quilt visit with my good friend Val in Kelowna. The key was to make sure I made “weight” at the airport bringing back that incredible vino and fabric. This place was just heavenly and Val is going to get VERY tired of me visiting OFTEN.





I am home for a couple of days and then off again on another jet airplane.



One thing that absolutely drives me nuts is peek-a-boo applique that spoils an otherwise beautiful composition and visual delight.

Just as I don’t get the “transparent trend” need to have undergarments peeking through sheer blouses, dresses, pants, etc…(I find the people exhibiting this trend are the ones who really shouldn’t), I don’t understand why I need to see seam allowances and dark fabric disturbing the visual balance of an otherwise beautiful piece of applique work.

I struggled for awhile in how to find a solution for this in my own work. I tried sewing down a plain white solid piece of cotton behind the applique. However, when my pieces started to get smaller, this was not ideal for ease or final result.

Once again, falling back on my garment construction skills, I thought I would line the applique using the technique that I would use for a collar–employing fusible interfacing. Hmmm, it was OK but two things bothered me about the result.

The interfacing was a poly knit material–ewwww

The interfacing was fusible –the thick glue definitely changed the feel of the fabric and made it stiff.

Then while perusing Fabric Depot one fortuitous day, I came upon something that piqued my interest. A *COTTON* woven lightweight interfacing. Can you hear the angels choir? Yes, it was fusible but it only had a scant application of the fusible adhesive. I can be OK with that.

I have been using it for years now and I have no negative issues so far with the product. The hand of the fabric stays the same (soft and pliable) and the glue actually wears away with handling. I know this because I used it to fix a mistake I made. I needed to replace the background after having to go back and repair a see through applique piece that was not supposed to be seen through!

This stuff is as thin and soft as a regular facial tissue once handled a little bit.


So what is this stuff? 

The stuff I use is a product from Pellon called Shape-Flex (#SF101) and it runs approximately $4.00/yard in any fabric store (like Joann’s etc.,) and that would last you an eternity unless you are super human and can crank out hand applique like basic patchwork quilts.






How do I use it?

Those of you who have taken my workshops know I love the vinyl overlay for a multitude of reasons. This is another reason why it is the best for me.

Instead of applying the interfacing to the underside of my applique, I apply the interfacing to the background where the applique will be placed and stitched. I use my overlay to place the traced interfacing piece into the correct position.


(note: I had moved the overlay after lining it up so disregard the movement of the overlay. I was too lazy to re-create the photo perfectly–sheepish grin)




The next step is to REMOVE THE OVERLAY, place a cloth over the interfacing (gently so as not to knock it out of position) and iron the interfacing in place according to the manufacturer’s instructions.



Cut the piece less approximately 1/8″ around the edge so it is slightly smaller than actual size.


The lining is now blocking out the original background and creating a new solid white background just behind the petals of the flower(s).

I can now replace my overlay back into position and start placing the applique pieces in place for stitching. The beautiful thing about placing the interfacing piece onto the background is, you do not notice any difference and you are not fighting the stiffness as you try and needle turn smoothly. This also reduces the bulk under the seam allowances.

If you notice the completed flowers in the picture(s) above and the example below, you will see that no background or seam allowances are peeking through. They have been “lined” in the same way.


Side Note: Do you know how long it took to find the flower fabrics?????


Since I am using an iron to fuse the piece in place to the background, guess what? my placement has to be exact. Frixon pens and blue marking pens can not be ironed. one disappears and the other becomes permanent. I think it goes without saying that this won’t work here.

What about light box tracing onto the background? Your tracing is already starting out inaccurate from the drag of the marking tool as the design was traced so it is highly likely the pieces won’t match up very well. Maybe not so noticeable in “big mama” applique but the little layered detailed stuff?–Yikes.

Now having said all of this, there is a safety net. Remember how I said the interfacing has a light thin application of the fusible glue? The nice thing is, that if you find an “oopsie” in placement, you can lift it up leaving no residue on the background where it was ironed in place or trim it to match.

This is becoming one of the most asked questions and since the blackberry flowers in the upcoming block are light fabrics, this will be an issue. You can also do this for the Blue Tit Block flowers as well.




Take care, I am off to Market and Festival in Houston.





Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About Sandra

I am an Author, Designer, Illustrator and a major international award winning quilt artisan. I love working with fabrics and threads and they have become my medium of choice.

5 thoughts on “Home Again & Banish Peek-A-Boo Applique

  1. I also use this when embroidering. Just iron it onto the background fabric (the underneath part in this case) and it will block out the “traveling” of the floss and the tails you get on the back from being seen from the front.

  2. Sandra – what a great tip! I would never have thought to fuse it directly to the background fabric. Can’t wait to try it !

  3. It’s good to see a post from you. I just checked your blog last week to make sure I haven’t missed anything. Thank you for the applique tip above. I can’t begin to tell you 1- how much I already love this product in bag making and 2- how much I have truly needed a liner for an applique and just didn’t know what to do/use. Thank you, thank you, thank you. And have I said thank you before now?! lol. I love you are always willing to share your knowledge. Now, if I can only get my handwork out to slow down.

  4. I cannot wait to try this out on the next block! I love the fabric you selected for the blackberry flowers. I am very excited about the upcoming block.

Comments are closed.