Freezer Paper Applique Tutorial

Gwen posted a comment asking how I do the freezer paper on the bottom applique.   So here’s how I do it. 

Trace your pattern on to the freezer paper.  Much like working with fusible web – the freezer paper has a paper size (easy to draw on) and the waxy side (not so easy to write on).  If your pattern piece is symmetrical, you don’t have to worry about reversing the pattern.  But if it is asymmetrical, then you need to trace the reverse side of the pattern onto the paper side of the freezer paper. 

For the cupcakes I’ve been making – I just sort of fan fold the paper to layer multiple pieces under it to cut several pattern templates at the same time since the cupcake icing template is symmetrical.  If it is an asymmetrical pattern, cut separate squares and layer them all paper side up to cut multiple pieces (if you fan fold layers for an asymmetrical pattern, you will get reverse images for some of them so make sure you get your paper laying the correct way).

I pin the layers together and cut out the pieces – I can easily cut four or five layers at the same time.

The lay your freezer paper templates waxy side down on the WRONG side of your fabric and press with an iron until they “stick”.  (It will peel off later and won’t leave any residue).   Then cut the excess fabric away from the outside edge of the template about 1/4″ or slightly less away (this is your seam allowance you are adding on). 

Here’s one of my “cupcake icing” pieces wrong side up.  The freezer paper is pressed to the wrong side of the fabric, excess fabric trimmed and you can see my seam allowance around the edge of the pattern.  Clip any “inny” curves (like the little dimple at the top of the cupcake (I just put one clip there) and one in each “inny” point on the scalloped bottom.  Clip to within a thread or two of the inner point – not all the way to the paper edge.  You don’t need to clip any outer curves.

Then you pin your  piece in place and start needle turning.  You turn the seam allowance under so it wraps around the freezer paper.  This is what gives you a nice even rounded edge with no “points” or “flat” places (which I am prone to get if I just do needle turn without freezer paper.) 

Stitch around the piece, keeping fabric wrapped snuggly against the edge of the freezer paper.  In the example above, if you are stitching the cupcake “cake” piece, stitch down one side placing a final stitch on the side in line where the corner of the pattern piece starts the bottom, then catch our needle in the seam allowance at the corner and sweep the excess corner fabric underneath, again snugging against the paper – I put another stitch right in the corner to keep it pointy, then continue along the bottom and up the other side.  Since the top doesn’t need to be stitched, you just use my favorite “paper removing tool” — a skinny knitting needle – to remove the paper.  Slide it between the paper and the fabric it is “stuck” to.  The paper will release – just be sure you doing poke through any of your stitches.  Pull the paper out.

In the case of the “icing” piece, which is stitched all the way around, I start stitching on one of the upper sides where there is just a gentle curve (not in the middle of the scallops).  Stitch to your first “inny scallop” — I stitch until I’m about a stitch away from the “inny point”.  When I get there, I use my needle to sweep under the seam allowance on the other side of the “inny point” to make sure my point does not have any “hairs” of fabric poking out, put a sitch directly in the inny point, and then continue around the scallop.  I stop stitching about an inch  or so away from where I started and sort of finger press the fabric against the edge of the freezer paper as a guide, then use the knitting needle to release the paper from the fabric and pull the paper out.  If you grab the edge of the paper (a tweezers is also good for grabbing hold of smaller pieces) and sort of curl the paper as you pull it out (like you are twisting to make a paper cone) the piece will release and you can pull a large piece of paper out of a little opening.  Then just finish stitching  the piece shut – your finger pressed edge will help guide you.

006You can reuse your freezer paper templates multiple times until the “stick” wears off.  How many times just depends on the fabric you are using and your freezer paper.  I originally cut three sets of cupcake block templates.  So far I have reused them to make 12 blocks and they are still sticky enough to use another time or two.

One tip – I’ve found that freezer paper really adheres to batik fabrics – I think because of the tight weave of those fabrics.  If your paper does not want to release easily, go back and steam the piece a little and then use the knitting needle again – the steam will help loosen it if you remove the paper while your fabric is still warm.

It works for all kinds of shapes and sizes – even tiny little circles I do this way and you end up with nice curves since the freezer paper is your guide..






6 comments on “Freezer Paper Applique Tutorial

  1. Great method, I have only used this method for simple thing so far, I think I’ll try something more complex! Thanks for the information!

  2. Pingback: Quiltmaker 100 Blocks Blog Tour – November 12, 2013 | Justquiltin with Denise Russart

  3. Hi Denise, great explanation of your applique method. I’m a beginner to needle-turn applique and am wondering how it works when you have a pattern with multiple layers, for example a flower and the middle of the flower which sits on top of the first piece.

    • Hi Kylie –it will work with layers too. In your example you would stitch down the main flower first. Either pull the freezer paper out through an opening before you stitch all the way around the design or you could applique it completely and then cut away the background from behind the flower and get the paper out that way. Then just place your middle on top and do the same thing. Sometimes I cut the fabric away from the back but if the fabric below doesn’t shadow through the top fabric, I usually just leave it and pull my paper out before closing completely the piece I’m appliquing since I kind of like the little bit of dimension the layers add.

  4. Denise, thank you do much for the tutorial for you applique method.
    I’m thinking of joining the cupcake swap and will use that method if I do. I needle turn applique, but these cupcakes will look great with the crispness this should give. Thank you again!

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