It’s day six of‘s first blog hop and time for a quilt hack! Excited about the “water” theme for this hop, we pulled out an old work-in-progress-pattern, Deep Blue Sea.

Deep Blue Sea Quilt Pattern
Deep Blue Sea – Copyright Jessica J.E. Smith

This pattern presents several opportunities for great tips and tricks. Having recently discovered a new quilt hack that uses everyday household items to make our applique projects quick and easy, we decided to write a two-part series of blog posts about our in-house tests of machine applique techniques and hacks.

Machine Applique Hack #1 – Dryer Sheet and Chopstick Applique

Machine Applique Quilt Hacks Supplies
Supplies: freezer paper (optional), applique templates of your choice, fabulously fun fabrics, fabric scissors, used dryer sheets, pins, chopsticks (no, really… grab a wooden chopstick if you have it).

Choose to use freezer paper to trace your templates or to trace them directly onto the fabric.

If you trace your templates onto freezer paper, you will iron this onto the top of your applique fabric. It stabilizes the unit during initial sewing, but you will have to tear the paper away before applying the applique to your project.
If you choose to trace your applique shape directly onto the fabric, remember to trace on the back side of your fabric so that the pencil line will be hidden. This is a quicker option, but provides less stabilization initially.
Iron the templates onto the top of the fabric if you are using them. Then, with or without freezer paper templates, iron your fabric on top of the dryer sheets. The dryer sheets won't adhere to the fabric, but they will benefit from the pressing and not slip as easily.
Iron your fabric on top of the dryer sheets (also iron on the freezer templates if you used them). The dryer sheets won’t adhere to the fabric, but they will benefit from the pressing and not slip as easily.







Choose thread that closely matches your fabric. Tip: unwind a foot or two of the thread and lay it on the fabric. It’s much easier to accurately gauge how the thread will look on the fabric if it is off of the spool.



Stitch the freezer paper to the fabric using the drawn line.

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Tear away any freezer paper. Trim all of your shapes, leaving a generous 1/8″ seam allowance (3/16″). Snip the inside curves (those that curve into the body of the applique) to about one half of the distance to the sewn line, and snip the inside corners (those that point into the body of the applique) to within one thread of the sewn line.

Snip a hole into the dryer sheet, then turn the applique piece right side out.








Carefully push out the corners and points of your shape using the wooden chopstick. Watch out: the chopstick will push through the dryer sheet if you do not keep it snuggled in the crevice between the front of the shape and seam allowance.

If you’re feeling brave, you can continue to coax out the points, using a seam ripper or a pin to pull on the outside of the shape.








Press each of the applique shapes, keeping the dryer sheet hidden behind the fabric. You can use a straight or a decorative stitch to attach your appliques onto your project.

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We threw together a couple of place mats using our test fishies. (Because you never test something on the actual sample, right???)


Our two cents: We found that this works fairly well on shapes that don’t have a lot of fine detail. In our example, it worked better on the star than on the fish, but both shapes came out with cute, cartoon-ish rounded corners. We’ll stick with other techniques when our appliques are precise and detailed, and save this technique for more simple designs. Please chime in and let us know what you think of using dryer sheets and chopsticks for machine applique. Is this something you have tried before, or is it Greek to you?

Next week we’ll show you an alternate technique and reveal which method we used on our sample of Deep Blue Sea.
Subscribe to receive tips and tricks via email (left side bar) and comment on this article to be entered in our giveaway of one subscription to The Quilt and Needle’s September Mystery Weekend! Giveaway official rules:

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  4. One random winner will be chosen and notified via email on or before August 14th. Entries will be counted from August 9-13, 2015.
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And don’t forget to check out the other blog posts in this week’s hop:

8/4/2015 Tammy Silvers
8/5/2015 Carol Steely
8/6/2015 Heidi Pridemore
8/7/2015 Kathie Donahue
8/8/2015 Toby Lischko
8/9/2015 Jessica J.E. Smith
8/10/2015 Diane McGregor



  1. Marty Green

    Thank you, Jess, I found your Summer Waters entry. I have used this technique to do applique and I find it works great, esp. on simple shapes, like you said.


    • Marty – One additional benefit we found is that the entire studio smells like fresh laundry now!


  2. Very cute trick! Hopefully I can try it out!

  3. Sally Woodley

    Thanks for the good tips and hints for applique.

  4. Doris Holmes

    I love quilting ideas.this is cute.


    • Hi Doris! I’m glad you like it. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Janet Krinic

    This is wonderful. I am just starting to applique again. Thanks for the tips


    • Hi Janet! Good to see you on here. I am also getting back into applique, and re-discovering how much fun it is!

  6. Sandy Kissner

    I’ve tried used drier sheets before but needed to reduce the temp on my iron, or the sheets melted. I’ve also used them to make textured fabric by leaving the temp on high and using steam after stitching the sheet to the back of delicate or thin fabric, then passing iron over (but not touching) and bursting steam onto the front of the actual fabric. The fabric crumples up into textures and can be used to decorate in places you want a little different feel.


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