Friday, January 24, 2014

Teardrops of Love Part 4: Points Inside and Out

Welcome to Part 4 of "Teardrops of Love - a needle turn applique tutorial".

Part 4 - Points Inside and Out is where we needle turn the applique heart on our previously appliqued teardrop. 
If you're joining for the first time, Welcome! - -  you'll want to review Parts 1 through 3 of the tutorial - just click on the links below.

Part 1: Tools - a few of my favorite things
Part 2: Marking, Cutting and Basting Shapes
Part 3: Stitching Basics - Long Edges and Easy Turns

You can also download the "Teardrops of Love" PDF Summary and Shapes Template  from my sidebar.  It will be updated to include Part 4 in the next few days.

In today's post we will cover many of the same skills that we learned in Part 3 but in less detail.  Specifically: 
  • choosing a thread color
  • hiding your knot
  • needle turn stitch
  • easy curves
  • making a turn at an outer point
  • (NEW) making a turn at an inside point
  • finishing off your stitching
If you need more detail on any of the above items -- skip on over to Part 3 by clicking here.

Thanks to everyone for their great feedback on Part 3 - I love it when comments help me learn and grow (or make me blush)....  Comments are the best -- thank you, thank you !!

Ok - Lets get started:

This is where we left off - the Teardrop was appliqued and the coordinating heart was marked, creased with the Hera marker, and pinned. 

Baste the heart to the Background: outlined in Part 2 - use YLI basting thread to baste your heart shape on the background fabric - in this case the "background" is the Teardrop that we previously appliqued.

Audition applique thread color:

... as we did in Part 3 choose a thread color that matches your applique piece (not the background).  If nothing matches exactly lean toward using a slightly darker shade of thread - I think it blends better.  

For the heart shape I decided to go with Aurifil Mako 50Wt Color #2000.  The color worked perfectly...

Have I mentioned that I love Aurifil for hand stitching as well as machine quilting ? No?

Prepare your needle, thread, and Quilters Knot:

...As we did in Part 3, cut about 18 inches of thread from the spool.  Thread with the "Ultra Fine" threader and tie a Quilters Knot.  Need more detail - click here.

Bury the knot:

...bury your Quilters Knot by drawing the needle from the back of the applique fabric. Come through on the marked line to prepare for your first stitch. 

Time to Stitch - Woohoo!

...we're ready to start the wash (ha ha ha).  You know what to do.... Turn, Crease, Stitch and Repeat...

Use your needle to turn the seam allowance under immediately in front of where the knot was buried.  Use your marked and Hera creased line as your guide.  Turn just enough to take a stitch.
Turn, Crease, Stitch, Repeat:

... once the seam allowance is turned under, align the tip of your needle where the thread came up (from burying the knot), drop behind the applique crease, bury your needle through the background fabric, travel appx 1/8th of an inch and when the needle comes back to the top fabric grab "just a pinch" of the applique crease to secure it to the background.   (Whew - that was a mouthful).  If you need more review click back to Part 3.  
  • Now work your way down the side of the heart toward the point.  
  • Remember as you approach the point you'll want to take smaller stitches to begin to stabilize your fabric to turn.   
  • When you reach the point where you need to turn, take a stitch at the point of the turn, and then take another stitch to secure the point.
  • At this point you'll want to trim any excess fabric at the tip of the point.  When we stitched the teardrop there really wasn't any excess fabric.  On the outside point of the heart there is.  
  • Use the Elan scissors and trim the excess - it makes the turn easier and allows for a smooth point.
  • Now you're ready to turn the point seam allowance under.  Use the needle to grab both layers of the applique fabric and turn both layers under the heart point.  
  • Note:  The needle does not go through the background fabric here - it is only use to turn the applique.
  • After you sweep the fabric under the point immediately use your left hand thumb to hold the fabric stable - now you want to get a stitch in there to stabilize the turned fabric.   Celebrate !!
  • Here is the first stitch going in after the turn - Yippee!
Now that the outside point is turned we're back to Turn, Crease, Stitch and Repeat.  These steps are the foundation for needle turn applique:
  1. Use the needle to turn the seam allowance under to the marked edge (the inside mark)
  2. Crease the turn with your left thumb and left hand fingers
  3. Place the tip of the needle under where your last stitch excited the top of the fabric
  4. Travel behind the background fabric approximately 1/8th of an inch
  5. Bring the tip of the needle through the background and grab "just a pinch" of the creased applique fabric to secure it.
When you're on a straight edge it's ok to turn the fabric ahead of your stitching -- that way you can take several stitches without using your needle to turn.
As I worked my way down the side of the heart I ran into some trouble where my seam allowance was cut a little short.  The fabric starts to fray and I realize the secret weapon must be brought out.  So a plain old toothpick dampened helps solve the turning trouble.   Just a little help and we round the bend without a mess. 
  • Now we're on that Turn, Crease, Stitch and Repeat roll - as you work around the curve be sure to take smaller stitches so your curve will be smooth and not choppy. 
  • Continue to to wash, rinse and repeat until you can't easily turn the fabric near the inside point.
  • When you approach the inside point of the heart it will be necessary to trim the fabric.  You'll know it's time when you can no longer easily turn the fabric under.  
  • Use the Elan scissors and trim to within a few threads of your marked line directly at the point.
  • Continue by turning the near fabric under.  No need to take any stitches at this point. 
  • Shift your needle to the fabric on the far side of the inside point.  The needle should turn the far fabric under, sweep under the point and end at the near side fabric.  
  • This part is a little tricky but with some practice you'll get it.  The key is to have both sides of the point turned under before you place too many stitches.
  • If the first sweep doesn't turn the allowance under nicely, try again.   
  • If necessary use the damp toothpick or use your fingers.  
  • Don't work it so much that the fabric frays and becomes unworkable.
  • Stitch your way toward the point now.  When you reach the point your stitches will be so small they are nearly like "stay" or in place stitches.

  • Slow, small, but sure!
  • No need to over stitch the inside point. 
  • If you have fraying dampen your needle or a toothpick and gently sweep them under.  
  • Soon you'll find yourself coming up the other side of the point.  Congratulations!
  • You're in the groove now -- keep stitching -- taking small stitches on that curve so it will be smooth when you're done.
  • Rounding the bend to the home stretch -- Wash, rinse, repeat !
  •  Keep going...
  • When you use the a Hera Marker to crease your fabric it makes it easier to turn ahead - even on a curve.  
  • Turn ahead as long as you're not jeopardizing the shape of the applique.
  • As you near the original starting point starting thinking about turning your fabric ahead all the way to the starting point.
  • The more room you leave yourself to smooth the turned fabric the nicer the junction finishes.
  • Continue to stitch past the starting point by a couple of small stitches.
  • Push your needle and ALL of the thread through to the background.  
  • Make sure there are no loose or knotted or caught threads on the right side of the applique.
  •  Take 3 small stitches in place to secure the applique thread on the back.
  • Now bury your thread by traveling between the background and the applique piece.  
  • Trim the thread flush where it exits the travel.
  • Nearly done... snip a few sections of the basting thread and remove them.
Ta-daa!  It's not perfect but it's hand made by YOU!!  Congratulations!
This concludes Part 4 of "Teardrops of Love".  We've covered alot of information since we started this journey and I hope that you find it beneficial for your needle turn skills.  At this point you're prepared to stitch the remaining teardrops and hearts onto the background fabric.

We'll be back soon with a wrap up, Part 5.   In part 5 I'm considering covering applique berries and stems -- let me know if this would be helpful.

Thanks so much for sharing the journey.

Until next time.



  1. Thank you for your fabulous tutorial!

    1. Thank you Kate -- I love hearing the "light-up" in someones words when a tutorial clicks with them. It's alot of fun. Thanks again for your kind words.

  2. Lots of good photos and tips. I've never tried this style of applique before.

    1. Jean I would LOVE to know if you decide to give it a try. It takes longer than machine applique but it is so very rewarding. Feel free to email me if you run into any trouble at all. Thanks for your nice comment. Karen

  3. Another fabulous tut! Thank you, Karen!

    1. Thank you Angie -- your support and inspiration keeps me going.... sending hugs to you!!

  4. Thanks Karen....You're the best! I've learned so much.......

    1. Cathy it warms my heart to have you say that... Thank you, thank you... sending hugs, Karen

  5. Thanks for putting the tutorial together, it's fabulous! I know it's a lot of hard work, thanks for taking the time to teach us!

    1. Oh Gina you are very welcome. I really find joy in helping others learn about needle turn applique. Thanks for your kind words and please send me pics of anything you create with it... Hugs, Karen

  6. Hi Karen, I just found your blog thru Pinterest on this tutorial. I try to find needle turn tutorials on the internet all the time and I think I like yours the best! While I am new to your blog I know I am going to enjoy perusing your older posts and now I look forward to new posts as well! I would absolutely love to see a tutorial on stems and berries as well. I would like to ask a couple things that perhaps you can explain to me. My biggest issue right now at applique ( let's just say I am practicing a lot) is many people who educate on the subject always mention that if one piece is going to over lap another piece you don't turn under the seam allowance I get that but how do you transition from a seam say on a curve or straight line to leaving it flat? I find my seam allowance wants to turn under further than I want it too I cannot figure how to stop the turn under and make the transition seem seamlessly. Another thing any chance you could share how you travel with your applique projects and tools? I keep trying to find how others do this. I am currently working on a fairly large block and I transport it by way of a flat plastic box ( meant for scrap booking paper) and yet my piece seems to get unnecessary creases, folds etc in it. I just am not sure how to transport my blocks and tools any better way. I would greatly appreciate any assistance you could give, but if not it is ok, I am still going to keep visiting even if I am quiet! Thank you again for a wonderful tutorial
    Nicole Kelly

    1. Hi Nicole -- WOW you ask some fantastic questions and I think they warrant yet another part to the Teardrops of Love tutorial series. I can certainly share how I travel and how I approach/prepare for overlapping pieces - - and maybe some others that are following the series would love to chime in and share their thoughts -- there are some very talented needle turn applique-rs out there!! Give me a little time to put together a tutorial -- in the meantime, send me an email to and I'll send back some immediate feedback via email. You're account is showing you as a no-reply blogger so I don't have an e-mail address for you. Thanks again for your very nice comments -- I do appreciate the feedback. Karen

  7. Thank you! This was very helpful! x Teje

  8. Hi Karen, I loved spending the weekend with you at Tiny Stiches in GA. Again, you are such a talented teacher.

    I have a question about appliqueing the heart. Do you make sure you are going thru the tear drop AND the back ground fabric? or are you just stitching thru the tear drop?

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