Supplies I Love to Use

         Fabric Choices

Good quality, cotton fabric is easiest to use for needleturn hand appliqué. I find that softer fabric is easier to work with and gives me smoother curves, so wash and press all fabrics before, if possible.

I find that two color, low contrast, or tone-on-tone prints in a medium or small scale are the most successful types of fabrics for small appliqué motifs. However, larger scale prints add movement and visual excitement to any quilt. Make sure that the print isn’t so high contrast that it reads “busy” in your quilt. You will know if it does; you won’t be able to take your eyes off that piece. Include a wide range of values from very dark to medium light for each color you will use. Don’t forget to use some intense colors.


The right notions make life much easier when you are doing handwork, so here are some of the notions I use and love. Most are available from your local quilt shop or on the web, if you do a Google search.


Plastic Templates

I use I.P.P. sheet plastic (14" x 20" sheet) available at many quilt shops. It is translucent and easily cut with scissors. I trace with a Sharpie® or IdentiPen® Permanent Marker. I use large scissors to cut templates - I get a smoother cut with large scissors, even if the templates are very small! Fiskar Easy Action™ spring-loaded scissors are easy on my hands. Of course, don't use your good fabric scissors to cut plastic!

Marking Pencils

A mechanical pencil with a hard lead is great for transferring the appliqué pattern onto the background fabric. It will ensure that you draw a light, thin line.

Sanford Prismacolor Verithin® pencils are my favorites for tracing shapes onto the face side of the appliqué fabrics (make sure they are identified as Verithin®, not just Prismacolor). They keep a nice sharp point for accurate placement lines and are cheap. The yellow or silver seem to show up on most fabrics. I also like and use the newer, more expensive 0.7mm or 0.9mm colored lead mechanical pencils, although they make a bit thicker line than I like. Clover, Sewline and Bohine all make versions of these. Again, I use the color yellow the most.



My favorite pins are Collins 1¼" silk pins. They are very long, very fine pins with small heads. Clover Patchwork Pins Fine are also very good.


I use #10 or #11 Betweens (quilting needles) for everything. I like the control I have over the fabric and the smaller stitches I take with short needles. I am out of the needle business. I now recommend “S. Thomas and Sons betweens”, (probably available from Colonial needle (google for source).





Use regular sewing weight thread for appliqué. Make sure thread colors match the appliqué fabric. When in doubt, choose thread colors that are duller and darker than the fabric. Cotton sewing thread is my first choice because it tends to knot less than polyester thread.   DMC Machine Embroidery thread and Aurifil 50 weight Cotton Mako are my favorite threads. However, color is more important than whether the thread is polyester or cotton (or silk). Embroidery floss is not strong enough. Quilting thread is too stiff and wiry to use.






I know I should use a thimble to sew, but I usually don't. I occasionally use Johnson and Johnson First Aid tape to protect my finger. It is flexible and unobtrusive. If I do wear a thimble to appliqué - which is rare - I wear it on my ring finger rather than my middle finger. If you usually appliqué with a thimble, bring it with you to the workshop.


Sharp scissors  

Gingher G5 (not G5 Craft) are perfect for hand appliqué and well worth the investment. Dovo scissors are also wonderful!






Rulers and Circle Templates

My Skinny Stems and Tiny Circles ruler is great for any pattern or project that requires a small ruler with 1/8" markings, or a circle template. You can order from this web site.







Frixion® Erasable Gel Pens by Pilot

There are a lot of opinions about these pens, so here is mine. I used these pens and did some testing with them, and I see some definite advantages to using them. The line is very visible (although a little thicker than I like) and it disappears completely with the heat of an iron. I think they are a good solution for those of you who have trouble seeing and need to mark with a dark line.


I did a test of these pens in March, 2011, under varying conditions. In my testing, I found that the line did return if the fabric got very cold (I put it in the freezer), but disappeared completely again if I ironed it. The re-appearing line also disappeared when I put the fabric test sample in a dryer on the “Delicate” setting for 20 minutes. I put a test piece on the front seat of a car in Wisconsin overnight when the temperature dipped below 20ºF and the line came back faintly; It disappeared completely again when I ironed it. I also put the test piece in the outside pocket of my checked luggage on a commuter airplane, and on a large commercial airplane, and the line did not re-appear after these trips. I washed a test piece in a home washing machine three times, and the lines disappeared after multiple machine washings.

My conclusion after all this testing is that, unless you are shipping a quilt to someone who will use it camping in North Dakota in January, you are fairly safe marking with this pen. How will it affect the fabric over a number of years? Who knows? But there are a lot of products being used in quiltmaking these days - including sprays, fusible products, paints and markers – that have not been around long enough to know how they will affect your quilt over generations. So use at your own risk.

Recently I have noticed "ghost" lines reappearing on navy and grey fabric. Always test before using.

Contact Mary at if you need additional information.



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