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Calligraphy Applique Tutorial

Calligraphy Applique Tutorial

I've had a few requests about how to appliqué calligraphy style lettering on quilts. This is one of my new favorite techniques that you'll find in my book Choose Joy: Quilting with Intention. I also used it to make the signage for my quilt market booth showing Tuppence fabric.  I'll be demonstrating the "old school" way since I know not everyone has Photoshop or Illustrator, but if you have these tools then you'll see how you can save yourselves a few steps of the process.

pillow applique

Let's get started. 

script supplies

Materials:

  • 2 fat quarter or 18" x 10" piece of fabric 
  • Free "happy" lettering file
  • Thermoweb Heat n' Bond Lite iron-on adhesive 
  • 1 ball point pen or thin tip felt tip marker, any color
  • 1 wide tip felt marker, any color
  • Sharp scissors and possibly an x-Acto knife
  • Aurifil 40wt thread for top stitching
  • Window or light table
  • Washi Tape in a light color
  • Iron and ironing surface

Step 1: Download and print the Free "happy" lettering file OR tape 2 sheets of 8 1/2" x 11" paper together to make ( 1 ) 22" long sheet of paper. Using the wide tipped felt-tipped pen, hand-write out your word of choice in large script. Begin with the larger lettering, after you've practiced try it out on smaller lettering. 

scriptapplique step 1

Step 2: Using the ballpoint pen or thin-tipped felt marker trace around the letters again 1/8" - 1/4"  away from the printed ink lines of Step 3. I like to use a different color. You'll want to round out sharp angles, knowing that you'll be cutting and sewing around these letters. Some openings of letters, like "e" and "o" become too small to trace again. That's ok, leave them in place and the top stitching will define them.

Step 3: With the washi tape, adhere the word to the window so the ink side faces the glass. 

scriptapplique step 2

Step 4: Place the sheet of Thermoweb Heat n' Bond Lite iron-on adhesive over the paper, also washi taping to the glass, with the adhesive side facing the glass and the paper backing towards you. The word will read backward. If you need to, place 2 pieces of Heat n' Bond Lite next to each other, use the washi tape to hold them together.

Step 5: With the thin tipped Sharpie trace over the outmost lines around the lettering. Remove both sheets from the window. Discard and recycle the paper with the ink lettering on it unless you'd like to use it again.

script appliqué step 3

Step 6: Using the scissors, loosely cut away the excess adhesive sheet at least 1/2" away from the lettering edges.

Step 7: Place fabric right side down on the ironing surface. Place the fusible adhesive on the fabric with the paper side up and adhesive down. Press in place following the manufacturers' instructions. Don't worry about ironing over the washi tape, it holds up just fine under the heat. When it is cool to the touch, pick up and begin cutting along the line all the way around the lettering, you may need to use an x-Acto knife to cut out the centers of the letters.

*TIP: For the gap between the bottom of the "i" and the "dot", draw a small connecting piece between them. This helps the letters stay connected and aligned, but it will be removed before the end.dot draw a small connecting piece between them. This helps the letters stay connected and aligned, but it you'll remove before you iron it on.

Step 8: Peel off the paper backing.

Step 9: Place the lettering on the background fabric, adhesive side down. You'll be able to read the word now. The small segments you cut holding the gap letters together will be helpful to keep the word aligned as you lay it out. 

this appliqué

Fuse in place, beginning at one side and moving along 1 letter at a time. When you come to the "i" fuse the bottom part of the letter - stop at the tip of the letter, lift the iron and press the "dot" in place. Take the time to cut the segments between the gap letters away and finish pressing the rest of the words.

script appliqué step 4

Step 10: Using a longer stitch length such as 3.0-3.5 and the Aurifil 40wt thread for top stitching, sew 1/8th of an inch away from the raw edge, back stitching only when you return to the beginning of the stitch. Lift the presser foot and turn the fabric regularly as you stitch around the entire word. If the script is in cursive, continue that motif in your stitching. Now sew the finished lettering as part of a quilt or pillow. 

I worked mine into a giant 25" pillow, which my kids instantly claimed for the living room! Apparently the bigger the pillow the better for movie watching! I'd love to see the things you make using this technique. Please tag me on Instagram @ebmakery

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Bella Solids & Tuppence Fabrics

Bella Solids & Tuppence Fabrics

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