Marking and Basting Applique Pieces

I have written this post over 5 days, because, in the midst of school holidays, kid-centred programming has commenced in the Matching Pegs household.  Here is a random pretty image to brighten up this post- Happy Wanderer (Hardenbergia violacea) from our front yard.


At the recent “Girls Day Out” I asked Leanne Beasley about how she marks her dark applique pieces.  She described using metallic gels pens, which I thought this was a great tip that I would like to try one of these days.  It got me thinking that I should discuss here what I use for marking my applique pieces.

Given that I use a method of needle turn applique where the marked line alone determines the edge of the finished applique piece, (as opposed to methods that use freezer paper, and sometimes starch or glue, to determine the edge of the finished piece) a clear, high-contrast, thin line, that will not wear off as you handle it is really important.

Because I have had a little practice with needle turn applique, I am quite happy to mark with a permanent line because I know I will turn it all under.  I quite often use permanent pigma pens, because they are clearer to see than some other less permanent markers.

For those who are new to needle turn applique, it can be hard to turn under every little millimeter of marked line.  For beginners,  I would recommend marking with a line that will disappear if possible.  On lighter fabrics I use the ubiquitous blue, wash out marker*.


This is a new pen I have been using to mark dark fabrics – made by “Matilda’s Own”.  This white marker washes out with water OR disappears when you iron, (so you need to think carefully about how you are going to use it,  you don’t want to iron it off by mistake).  As you draw with it, it goes on clear, and it appears as a white line as it dries, which can take some getting used to.  The best thing about this pen is that it does create a very visible line that does not brush off/blur as you handle it, as chalk can do, and of course it all washes/irons out.


When it comes to attaching my applique pieces to the background fabric, I am a great believer of basting.  Firstly I pin my pieces in place with fine, but normal length pins (as I don’t own any applique pins).


Next I thread up a needle in a light colour thread (to make sure there is no chance of the thread marking my piece permanently) and make a knot at one end.  I make diagonal stitches to hold the piece in place, taking care not to sew in the area where the applique allowance will be turned under.  I finish off my basting with a large back stitch and leave a thread tail, so that it is easy to pull out the basting thread once the applique piece is all sewn on.

Here is a look at a larger piece I completed earlier, where you can see a bigger expanse of basting.  Actually it is the loopy piece you see finished above.  As you can see, I cut the inside away as I was sewing.  For those that are intrigued, wondering what the hell this shape is, it is largely abstract – I will reveal it all….eventually.


I hope you have enjoyed a little look at how I mark and baste my work – do you have any special tricks you would like to share?

* If you use these markers, take great care with where you leave your work.  If you leave your work in the sun, it can set the lines so that they will not wash out.

4 thoughts on “Marking and Basting Applique Pieces

  1. AHA!!! I have seen this wonderous piece of work 😀 Its coming along very nicely claire! its no longer looking like an octopus

  2. Thanks claire, I found that really helpful, im liking the pen that irons out, how clever, Ive never thourght about basting them down, so simple dont know why I didnt think of it? Would have saved me from getting wonky patterns!

  3. I am very new to applique – ie never done it before – so I am a little confused – the pieces that you are basting down look like they are showing the wrong side – is that just for us to see the lines or something?

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