How to Design Your Own Applique Pattern: Easy Quilting Tutorial with Rob Appell of Man Sewing

How to Design Your Own Applique Pattern: Easy Quilting Tutorial with Rob Appell of Man Sewing


Hey everybody, it’s Rob from Man Sewing.
And today I’ve got a skill-builder tutorial for you today. How many of you out have been
wishing you knew how to make your very own applique for quilt patterns out of photographs?
That’s right. Today, I’m going to show you and you’re only going to need a sharpie
marker, some paper, and your favorite photograph basically. That’s right, computers are so
easy to use nowadays and cameras are so terrific and your cell phones are almost as great,
right? Any photograph you take or any image you find on the internet or outline image
you find on the internet can be translated to an applique pattern. I want to give you
a few basic steps. Real quick: think about your computer. You may have some software
that you’ve owned for a long time like Photoshop, of course one of my favorites. But that can
be a little pricey if you don’t have it. So there’s another program I want you to
investigate if you don’t have an art-based program for your computer. And it’s called
Gimp. G I M P and it’s available for all the operating systems out there. And I use
that to take my photograph and create a map that is a little bit less than pretty. So
that I have some grainy lines to trace. Those tracings then become the applique. So let’s back up a couple of steps and talk
a little bit more about what we’re going to do to get to the point where the sharpie
becomes our favorite tool, right? So I’ve got my image in my computer and because we’re
going to be tracing these in the long run on fusible web that has a paper back, we want
to transpose or mirror flip our image. So take your image and just flip is over so that
it is backwards, technically. And that will be correct when we’re done tracing it and
cutting it out of regular fabric. The next thing, I find it easiest to print that image
out the size you want your quilt to be. So if you look real carefully on my paper here,
let’s see I’ve got one, two, three and a half by three. You’ve got about 12 sheets
of paper that were consumed in printing this out. You could always take it down to like
a Kinkos and have it printed large if you needed and you don’t want to waste your
paper and ink. But that’s how I do it, I get it full size and I print it out using
the software in my printer. There’s another one called Posterizer that’s a fantastic
software that’s also free. Get it to the actual size. Get it flipped over and let it
print out on either draft quality. Or let it print out in kind of a grainy or posterized
or some sort of a filter that makes it less than perfect. And I’ve got another example
I’ll show you where you really see that graininess coming out. Now once you have it printed backwards, to
the right sides, you’re going to simply look for the major lines and those major lines
become the applique pieces. So I’m going to start with an obvious one. We’ve got
our mountain here. So I’m going to sharpie on the outline. I’ll worry about detail
later. So here is the background of that mountain. Now I also see where there’s kind of foothills
that are almost blurry, in front of it. So I’m going to run this down like that. And
then over time, yes, I’m going to come back in here and I’m going to start to section
out some of the more important pieces that will become highlights or shadows. So as I’m
drawing these and I’ve done it so many times, it feels natural. But I want you to be thinking
that these lines you’re creating here represent new pieces of fabric. New colors of fabric.
And probably a lot of you will be doing this with batiks so the mottling that happens,
you don’t have to draw, like look you don’t have to draw every little teeny line in there
because you’ll get that in the mottling of your fabric. Or you can do it with thread.
So once I start to section out my pieces, then I want to come in and label this like
maybe this is going to be my white. So I’m going to do a W for white and W for white
and W for white. I will give them numbers in a little bit. I will get back to that,
ok? Now let’s talk about some of these more intricate spots, more of these detailed spots.
I want to deal with maybe some of this lupine in here, right? I’m not going to draw each
little circle because that would draw me, drive me nuts. I’ve already been drawn nuts.
I’m going to trace this as a giant cluster and then I’m going to find the perfect fabric
to cut as that one shape that becomes that flower in my quilt. You could also, of course,
come back in and do the applique in the background using batiks of greens and other earth tones
and then you could cut out actual flowers out of fabric as well, right? That would be
really cool. So I’m just going to show you a few more of these. I’m drawing them in.
And maybe for this, I just want to put like an F for flower so I know that that will be
my flower fabric that I choose later. Some of this grass, I’m going to make a really
generic piece that fits into the background. And the way this particular photograph is
translated, I see where I want to do maybe a couple of different shades. So I see over
in here kind of this lighter green coming through like this. But over here is more of
my darker or my medium green, right? Now the other thing you need to know about this is
the line represents not one but two pieces of fabric so let me I finish this line so
you know what that means. So what I’m saying is this line right here is going to be for
the white, oooh, can I do an upside down G, I can. Light green there but over here it’s
going to be my dark green on that side. So this line, when I get ready for the next step,
will be actually traced twice. If you’re thinking to yourself what’s the next step,
right? Yeahhhh! Well for that I actually start with my fusible
web. And of course, I will do all of my detailing first or all of my tracing first. But you
don’t probably have seven or eight hours to sit there while I goof around with this,
right? So now I’m going to go ahead and lay this down. And if you have a light table
at home, this is a great time to be using your light table. So let me get you something
that might show up a little better on camera. Now if I’m tracing this line here as I said.
And let me show you, I want to show you how the two lines work together. So this is going
to be, so we’re going to call this brown and over here was another white. So if I’m
tracing that section here now I’m going to go ahead, we’re going to use as much,
er, as little of our fusible web as possible. We’re going to maximize our space. So here’s
going to be a brown. And now that brown is going to be number 1. And now I come back
in here and I put a 1 in too. And this over here is brown. And I apologize for my sloppy
upside down handwriting. And that’s going to be a 2. And then I’m going to position
that on my fusible web right here. Where my brown number, uh oh, I can’t do it backwards,
number 2 will be. The reason I’m putting numbers on them now is later on I’m going
to iron this brown fusible web labeled fabric to the back of the brown fabric itself, right?
And then I’m going to cut them out. But I won’t know where they go unless they now
have numbers. So the number is their name. And it doesn’t have to be an ordering system,
I just start going through as, as I’m going sequentially so that I don’t lose track.
And if I actually lost track, it wouldn’t matter too much anyways. So quick review and I’m going to show you
another piece that will maybe make more sense as well. You’ve got your photograph. You’ve
rendered it in your computer. You’ve printed it out to full size. You’ve done some of
your tracings to capture the shapes or the, the different layers or elements within your
photograph. You gave them a fabric label first and then you gave them a number later once
you traced them onto the fusible web so you don’t get lost, right? Now check this out.
This piece here. Uh, let me just slide this completely out of our way. This piece I’m
about to show you, I was preparing for a portrait or a self-portrait. And this one I made really
crazy in my computer. And you can see kind of how blocky and grainy it is. So this was
when I did some filters in the computer itself. Now this is a portrait. And I’ve done lots
with portraits. The key to like portraits for applique is don’t do too many pieces
and don’t do too many colors. So for this face portion, I’m going to be thinking in
about five to six shades of whatever color family. So black to gray maybe I’m going
to use here. So when I’m looking here, I’m going to have my lightest. So this light right
here, I’m just going to start to label that’s my light there. And then where I see here,
there’s another light. And down here, there’s another light. So I’m just going to go through
and do the exact same thing I did with my landscape when I’m doing my portraits. Now last thing, it’s incredibly important
that when you’re dealing with a portrait or an actual landscape that is a recognizable
place, like let’s call it a, you know a, Yosemite where you have half dome in the background
something like that, Mt. Rushmore. You really want to make sure that you have flipped or
transposed that image first. Because if you don’t do that with a person we’re supposed
to recognize, it’s just going to look like their cousin or their brother because their
features won’t be exact, right? Now there’s another fun trick when you’re going to put
it all together, and that is to actually, if you’re doing something very accurate
like a face, you could put a piece of Teflon over the top and you could build your applique
itself right on top of that Teflon so you have real accuracy. And that’s where the
light table really comes in handy is being able to illuminate your patterns from the
underside as you go through. I know that seemed a lot like a talk-a-stration for you but I
hope you got a couple of new skills. And I wanted you to know that because I’ve got
a bunch of fun applique quilt, you know, patterns coming up and applique quilt tutorials coming
up on Man Sewing very soon and I want you to have the skill so that you can follow along
and enjoy the rest of what’s going on here at Man Sewing.

37 thoughts on “How to Design Your Own Applique Pattern: Easy Quilting Tutorial with Rob Appell of Man Sewing

  1. Thank you so much Rob. My husband has asked me to make a quilt for him with a rather large applique guitar on it for him and I wasn't sure what app was best to use for it. This has really helped.

  2. Awesome tutorial!! Looks like a lot of hard work but probably so worth it!  Thanks a bunch Rob, looking forward to your upcoming tutorials 🙂

  3. Thanks! I have wondered how you went about the process for your beautiful quilts. Thanks for sharing your expertise!

  4. Thanks, Rob, love your videos.  You ARE going to follow up with more instructions on this project, aren't you?  I've been thinking about doing this for several months…

  5. Great tips Rob.  Thanks for the info on the free software.  I've been using Picasa (free from Google) that has a "pencil sketch" feature in the editing area.  It's great for making patterns of photos.  And nice haircut.  Did you  know your hair styles are becoming as famous as Matthew Gray Gubler's?  I actually read a feed on a chat board concerning your hair.  Happy Day and Thanks again.

  6. This is so awesome thanks ive been wondering how its done. Will you be doing a video on how to sew it all together

  7. This is great. You could also use the posterize feature on photoshop and actually choose the amount of color variations. That would make it easier for keeping track of/limit the amount of colors/shades. Are you going to post a follow-up showing how you piece it together? If so, I am certainly looking forward to seeing it! Awesome video

  8. I'm a newer quilter, but have decided that one of these days in the future I'll do a crop circle quilt.  This is the method!  Thanks.

  9. Rob you almost have me convince to try this.  Will watch the tutorial a few more times and maybe try it on a small project first.  Keep up the good work.  Love watching you.

  10. Is that who I think it is on your shelf.  The late great Jerry?  I know that doll.  My brother has one without the guitar. He's a long time Dead Head.  For years taping tickets to the East Coast tour.  LOL. My 5 sons have more Dead CD's from their uncle.  Lol
    Great tutorial.  Just got into quilting watching MSQC.  Interested in this technique. living in a camper since SUPER STORM SANDY.  So no sewing machine.  But soon I hope.  I have enough fabric from MSQC to open my own shop.  Not kidding.  I think I need a 12 step program.  My sister has a light box from her stained glass work.   Keep up the good work.

  11. You are such an artist on many levels! How is it that you make something that looks so complicated easy enough for me to feel I could do it? Excellent tutorial. Love your vocabulary, too, hee hee! Talkistration… that's good.

  12. So glad I finally got back to watching your tutorials, Rob. I would have been so mad to have missed this one for sure. Thanks for making this seem so simple. I know it isn't but at least it seems doable now. Yes it takes work but that's what makes it worthwhile, right? I see so many possible applique quilts in the future. Thanks for continuing with the education of those of us who might need it. And thanks for taking the time to put them together. Now on to watch some of the others I have missed.

  13. Hi Ron,

    Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge!  Do you remember, when you were in Florence, OR., our beautiful bridge?  Well, your video is just what I needed!  I'm trying to make my own quilt pattern of the bridge!   You explained perfectly how to make the pattern!  Again, thank you for coming to Florence.  And for sharing your gift with us!!! 

    ♥  Karen Buckmaster
    Florence, OR.

  14. This is absolutely gorgeous. I have done machine quilting in the past and know that what you saying is absolutely correct and wonderful. So beautiful Rob. Thanks for sharing

  15. Be careful on saying that you can use any image you find on the internet. A lot of those images are copyrighted.

  16. I wanted to make my husband a wildlife quilt, he was pouting because I hadn't made him one lol, but I couldn't find a squirrel pattern large enough for what I wanted. I followed your video & it was so easy to make one, had a lot of fun with it & it turned out great!

  17. I still watch this even though Im a woman but I think its just as good sewing tips and I do have males that I sew for and I usually get good ideas for what to do for them.

  18. Rob all your videos are great. You explain things in such a great way especially for beginners. Thank you!

  19. I love your videos, you are so helpful. I was wondering if you could answer a question for me. I am working on a pattern I am making for a large applique (and layered pieces in it as well) for a large throw quilt. Using heat n bond and zig zag stitching the raw edges down. In the past I have experience puckering around my pieces when there is alot going on. That tells me I am going to need to use stabilizers. So hear is my question, what stabilizer would you suggest without using a hoop? Thank you so much for your time and help.

  20. I have been struggling to create an appliqué quilt of a black-and-white headshot photo of my mother’s face. Would be very, Very, VERY Grateful to you, Rob, if you would do a step-by-step video of how you created your superb self-portrait appliqué quilt. Absolutely luuuove how you posterized the image first. I have only Photoshop Elements, so hope I could mimic what you have done using that software. Love all your work. Thank you.

  21. I have two oil paintings I have done from photos I took and I want to do quilts with the images… thank you for the info…. 🙂 I want to enter both the paintings and quilts side by side to my collage art show…

  22. I am sooooo glad I found this really helpful video as I have been searching on the best way to do this on my current project. Thank you for sharing 😇

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