Home > Help & Tips > Help & How-To's
Click here to be directed to a simple demo of McKenna's fusible applique method.

Click here for information on assembling your quilt blocks into a full quilt.

Click here for information on binding your quilt.

Click here for embellishment tips.

Click here to download our PDF about Angelina Fibers!


Quick Reference FAQ's
"Do your patterns include fabric?"
"Where can I find the exact fabrics you use in your designs?"
"How important is the fabric I choose?"
"Should I pre-wash the fabric before starting my quilt?"
"What type of fusible web do you use?"
"If I'm buying a laser kit, do I need to buy fusible web?"
"How do I use The Appliqué Pressing Sheet™?"
"How do I create 3-D pieces?"
"What is monofilament thread and why should I use it?"
"What size needle should I use?"
"What kind of batting should I use?"
"Can I hand appliqué these designs?"
"What is free motion quilting, and how do I do it?"
"How do I attach embellishments to my quilt?"
"How do I hang my quilt?"
"How do I keep a large quilt from sagging when it is hung?"
"How do I attach my quilt hangers? How do these attach to the wall?"
"What is the recommended way to clean these quilts?"


Help & How To's


Take Time with Your Fabrics

Your art quilt will come to life when you take the time to locate that specific place on the fabric that offers the most color, texture and movement. McKenna "auditions" several pieces of fabric before she selects the perfect spot and color for each appliqué piece.

Concentrate on Cutting
McKenna is known for her intricate appliqué pieces, but don't let them intimidate you! Remember elements of nature don't grow perfectly, so you don't have to be so exact in cutting directly on the lines. Leave the precision cutting to the small intricate pieces that really matter.

Ironing on Your Appliqué Pieces
When you are ready to place the appliqué onto your project, remove the paper backing and position the appliqué on your background. Using a HOT DRY IRON (no steam), press firmly straight down on the appliqué for 3-5 seconds. Lift iron straight up when finished. Do not slide your iron from side to side, as this may change the position of your appliqué pieces. Repeat this pressing motion until all portions of the appliqué have been fused.

Mistakes … No Problem!
When fusing your appliqué pieces in place, press lightly so you can pull them apart and re-adjust if needed. Stand back and look at the over-all composition. If you are satisfied with what you see, then go ahead with your final pressing. If you would rather see different positioning possibilities for your appliqués before you fuse them in place, slide a piece of foam core behind your background, and pin on the appliqué pieces. Adjust to your heart's content!

Free Motion Savvy
The quilting process is layering the quilt top, batting and backing and then quilting on the edge of each appliqué. McKenna suggests that you iron your blocks front and back before and during the quilting process to avoid puckering of the material. Attach a darning foot or a freehand embroidery foot to your machine, lower your feed-dogs and free motion (straight stitch) on the edges of each appliqué. If your sewing machine does not have the option of lowering your feed-dogs, tape a playing card over them.

McKenna uses monofilament thread on the top of her machine and a cotton thread in her bobbin to quickly and easily stitch each
appliqué. You may want to use color thread for the appliqués --- this labor of love will require you to change the color of your thread depending on the effect you're trying to achieve with each appliqué.

Bring your bobbin thread to the top and knot your thread at the beginning and end of each appliqué piece by pressing your foot control quickly to make a few stitches that are very close together. This eliminates the need of having to pull your bobbin thread to the top each time you move to another appliqué piece. After all of the appliqué pieces are quilted, clip the threads between appliqués. When you are ready to finish your project, click here to view our recommended binding technique -
Binding Your McKenna Ryan Project .


On a multiple block quilt, start quilting in the center block first. Your next step will be to stitch in the ditch around that block. Now you are ready to move onto your next block repeating this process. After your entire quilt is quilted, go back and free motion quilt background designs like clouds, water, etc.

This technique allows you to quilt the design at the same time that you are stitching down each appliqué piece. Remember to relax and have fun. Free motion quilting is not as intimidating as it seems!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

"Do your patterns include fabric?"
We sell patterns-only (no fabric), and we offer laser cut fabric kits that include the patterns. We at times offer fabric kits, and these will also include the patterns unless otherwise specified.

"Where can I find the exact fabrics you use in your designs?"
If it's a newer quilt pattern, the fabric should be easy to find whether at your local quilt shop or on our website. Your local quilt shop may be your best choice for fabric yardage, as we only sell by the half-yard and yard. Some of the older quilts may contain fabric that is out of print, but don't despair! Try a quick internet search, as there may be shops that still have some in stock. Or, take this opportunity to substitute fabrics --- have fun and don't be afraid to pick your own colors! You can download my fabric list for specific quilts by clicking here.

"How important is the fabric I choose?"

Very! You'll find it fun and rewarding to take the time to locate the specific place on your fabric that offers the best color and movement for each appliqué piece. I audition several pieces of fabric before selecting just the right one for the job.

"Should I pre-wash the fabric before starting my quilt?"
For McKenna's art quilts, you don't need to pre-wash the fabric. I've designed the quilts as art-quilts, I suggest that you don't wash them because of the raw edge appliqué method. If you're making a project using a McKenna Ryan Art Print to create "usable art", you may wish to pre-wash the art print and the fabric, especially if you intend to be able to wash the project in future.

"What type of fusible web do you use?"
I use a lightweight fusible web, such as SoftFuse Premium by Shades, available here (along with a demo)
.

"If I'm buying a laser kit, do I need to buy fusible web?"
No! All of our laser cut fabric kit pieces are pre-fused. Find our large selection of laser kits here!

"How do I use The Appliqué Pressing Sheet™?"
The Appliqué Pressing Sheet by Bear Thread Designs is a semi-transparent Teflon sheet that helps you assemble designs that have several layered pieces. After you have traced the pieces onto the fusible web, ironed them onto the wrong side of the fabric and cut out all the appliqué pieces from the cutting guide (found in the pattern), place the appliqué pressing sheet over the placement guide (also found in the pattern). Now, peel the paper backing off of each appliqué piece and start arranging them right on the sheet, following the placement guide on the pattern below your pressing sheet. After each piece is placed, tap them gently with the iron to fuse the pieces together. The pieces stick to each other, but not to the sheet. When you are finished, just lift off the complete element as one piece and iron it onto your background. It's easy! Instead of moving back and forth between the placement guide and the background, just arrange the whole composition right over the placement guide. You will save lots of time, and get exactly the look you want. The large applique pressing sheet is available here.

"How do I create 3-D pieces?"
Three dimensional pieces are actually very simple to create. Using the butterflies in Aurora Ridge as an example, trace both the front and back butterfly wings just like regular appliques. If you’d like the wings to be extremely stiff and maintain their crisp appearance, spray the fabric with Terial Magic before placing your fusible onto the fabric. When ironing together, layer the pieces with fusible sides facing and fuse together by pressing with iron. Layer the wings and body together and fuse the body to the wings. When top stitching/quilting your block, stitch the butterfly body only down to the background block, leaving the wings free. This will allow the butterfly wings to be three dimensional on your quilt.

"What is monofilament thread and why should I use it?"
Monofilament thread is a clear thread that I use to stitch the appliques on to the quilt, then I use a colored thread that complements the design to do the quilting on the background; this way I avoid having to change threads often. Please see the section on Free Motion Savvy, above, for more information!

"What size needle should I use?"
I like to use a quilting needle, size 75/11. When you are quilting on lighter fabric the quilting holes seem big, remember that you are working close to your quilt and if you hang it on the wall and stand back the holes don't seem so big. If the holes do still seem big, you can spray them lightly with water and iron them; this will help close the needle holes.


"What kind of batting should I use?"
My favorite is Hobbs Heirloom 80/20. It's a lovely, light, cotton-poly blend.

"Can I hand appliqué these designs?"
Of course! You'll need to adjust for seam allowances, though.

"What is free motion quilting, and how do I do it?"
Free motion quilting is similar to a straight stitch, except you feed the quilt through your sewing machine and control the size of the stitch length by the speed of the foot control and your hand speed. The slower you go the more control you have! The quilting process is layering the quilt top, batting and backing and then quilting on the edge of each appliqué. I suggest that you iron your blocks front and back before and during the quilting process to avoid puckering of the material. Attach a darning foot or a freehand embroidery foot to your machine, lower your feed-dogs and free motion (straight stitch) on the edges of each appliqué. If your sewing machine does not have the option of lowering your feed-dogs, tape a playing card over them.

I use monofilament thread on the top of my machine and a cotton thread in the bobbin to quickly and easily stitch each appliqué. You may want to use color thread for the appliqués --- this labor of love will require you to change the color of your thread depending on the effect you're trying to achieve with each appliqué.

Bring your bobbin thread to the top and knot your thread at the beginning and end of each appliqué piece by pressing your foot control quickly to make a few stitches that are very close together. This eliminates the need of having to pull your bobbin thread to the top each time you move to another appliqué piece. After all of the appliqué pieces are quilted, clip the threads between appliqués. When you are ready to finish your project, click here to view our recommended binding technique -
Binding Your McKenna Ryan Project .

This technique allows you to quilt the design at the same time that you are stitching down each appliqué piece. Remember to relax and have fun. Free motion quilting is not as intimidating as it seems!

"How do I attach embellishments to my quilt?"

Embellishments can be attached to your quilt in a few different ways. My favorite ways are to sew them on with monofilament thread and a beading needle (for beads, ribbon, or eyelash yarn), embroider faces with floss and an embroidery needle, and use Jewel Bond for rhinestones and when you have to attach LOTS of seed beads! Be sure to check your pattern for quilt block-specific information.

"How do I hang my quilt?"
I create a sleeve on the back of my quilts. To make a sleeve, I cut a piece of material about 6 inches wide and about 4 inches short of the width of the quilt. Then, I finish the ends of the sleeve by turning the edge under a ¼" and sewing. Fold the sleeve in half lengthwise and iron. Then simply center it on the back of the quilt and sew the raw edge in with the binding. Hand stitch along the bottom of the sleeve so it lays flat. If you are planning on adding decorative quilting in the border, don't hand stitch the bottom of the sleeve until you finish quilting so you can flip it up out of the way.

"How do I keep a large quilt from sagging when it is hung?"
Our original Quilt Hangers fit onto a 3/8" dowel, but for larger quilts, that won't be strong enough. What I've done in my studio is find a 1-1/2" or 2" dowel and cut it to whatever length is needed to fit the quilt. Then drill a 3/8" hole in each end and glue a 3/8" dowel peg into the hole. The quilt hangers fit neatly on the pegs and the larger dowel will support the quilt. It works wonderfully!

"How do I attach my quilt hangers? How do these attach to the wall?"
My quilt hangers fit onto the end of a 3/8" dowel. Simply buy a dowel and cut it to the correct length to fit your quilt. There are pre-drilled holes in the inside of each quilt hanger that make it easy to slide onto the ends of the dowel. The quilt hangers have basic mounts on the back, like on picture frames, which fit over a nail. Find my beautiful quilt hangers here!

"What is the recommended way to clean these quilts?"
I don't recommend washing these quilts. I designed them as art quilts and the raw, fused edges may fray with repeated washings. You may choose to vacuum them as needed. If you use these quilts in a way requiring washing, I recommend following the instructions on the fusible web package.

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