Monday, November 8, 2010

Tutorial: Tin Foil and Cardboard Appliqué

Here it is: Tin Foil & Cardboard Appliqué.  I learned this a few weeks ago in quilting class (Traditional's) from a lovely lady named Anne. This method works great if you are going to applique simple shapes such as leaves or circles and if you need a lot of them. You will need: fabric, tin foil, cardboard, pen, scissors (both for fabric and for paper), iron, spray starch or water.

First, trace your design on a piece of thin cardboard such as the inside of a cereal box. As an example, I am using a leaf design. Cut out the design on the marked line. If you are planning to make many pieces (I made 128 leaves), cut out several cardboard pieces so you can work in batches. 

Next, place your leaf on top of your selected fabric and cut around the shape leaving a generous 1/4” to 3/8” fabric along the edge. 

 Cut the tin foil in the same manner as the fabric. 

Spray the wrong side of the fabric with water or starch such as Best Press. Only spray just enough to lightly dampen the fabric; do not soak it. I prefer to use Best Press because it makes the fabric a bit stiffer. 

 Place the tin foil down (either side up is fine). Next, place the fabric in the middle with the wrong side up and the cardboard on top.

Begin folding the tin foil and fabric over the edge of the cardboard and leaving tails out at the points.

 Flip the leaf over, and place a dry iron on top of the entire leaf for 5 to 10 seconds. Careful, it will be hot! Let cool.

Carefully, peel back the tin foil (so you can re-use it) and then remove the cardboard. You should now have a crisp looking leaf that is ready to baste to a background fabric. Appliqué as you see fit.

Here are two more examples:

pin basted & hand app.

I hope this helps and gives you some new ideas for future projects.



  1. This is a new one to me. I do everything by hand so I hand baste those leaf edges, then baste them in place, then applique them as I have time. I have seen some great machine applique but I just can't do anything by machine. (It runs faster than my brain)

  2. Very interesting...I've never seen this technique before. Thanks so much for sharing!

  3. Hi Julie- I also usually hand baste my pieces and then applique. I like the hand work and I like to sit and watch TV at the same time. I am working on my first machine applique quilt and I find it way more difficult with all the pivoting!

    John'aLee- No worries, anytime.

  4. Hello from another Alberta quilter!
    Great tip, that is a new one to me! I have been thinking about tackling an applique project this winter.

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