The order of things and the ric-rac applique tutorial

I was still in quilting mode after what felt like a marathon quilting of the Twinkle quilt:


And I am ever-grateful that I cut down the blocks because it made the quilt that much smaller. Otherwise, I would have needed to watch another movie after Strangers on a Train. Rather than keep track of the number of hours these things take, I think I’ll begin a tally of the number of movies watched in the process. That would seem like a much more fun number.

Where was I? Oh, yes, still in quilting mode. So, this morning–and this is certainly not an original idea–I quilted a background upon which to applique a wedge circle:


I’m going to try to remember to do this more often because it removes the problem of how to quilt the background of a project after something has been appliqued to it. No stopping and starting up against the applique.

And what am I going to applique to this pre-quilted background?

Well, that brings me to a more detailed explanation of ric-rac applique. I know I kind of word-ily described it in the past, but while I was doing it again today, I thought I would take some more pictures along the way.

Basically, I’m using ric-rac to turn under the edge of an applique shape…in this case, a wedge-y circle. This probably works best with simple shapes. I’m using ric-rac that is wide-ish–about 3/4″ between the widest up and down. I have done it with narrower ric-rac, you just have to be more precise.

Leave about 1″ to 1 1/2″ of ric-rac free before you start stitching–you will need this to fold over and finish the stitching. To start, lay the ric-rac on the right side of the circle. What you want is to be able to stitch 1/4″ away from the edge of the circle and right down the center of the ric-rac without falling off either side of the ric-rac:


Stitch 1/4″ away from the edge and keep adjusting the ric-rac as you sew around the circle:


When you get near the end, you’ll want to stop sewing about 2″ before the place you started. This is when you will start fiddling with the extra 1″ to 1 1/2″ you left free at the beginning. You will be folding the starting end UP toward yourself (rather than under). You also want to try to get the fold in the middle of one of the ric-rac “humps” that is pointing toward the left, or toward the center of the applique–trim off any excess on the starting end of the ric-rac:

Next, overlap the end of the ric-rac with the beginning and trim the end:


Finally, lay the end of the ric-rac OVER the beginning fold and finish stitching (you can pin this if you need to, but that may distort the ric-rac–better to hold everything in place with a seam ripper or other pointy object):


Now you’ll take the circle to your pressing surface and flip the right edge of the ric-rac under the circle. This will take the raw edge along with it:


Press well, making sure to pull on the ric-rac that is showing so that you have it nice and even:


You are ready to edge stitch or top stitch your circle to your background–in this case, I pre-quilted my background:


After I have edge stitched the circle to the background, I will go back and stitch in the ditch on either side of each wedge to further secure it to the background. After that, I’ll applique the small center circle onto the middle of the larger circle and I may do some quilting right in the middle of the circle. I could even finish the edge of the center circle with some ric-rac!

And there you have a more full explication of the ric-rac applique technique. Feel free to ask questions!

In no particular order, here are some other things I’ve been doing while the snow has been piling up.

We have some Amy Butler solids in a Dresden fan:


And I could have pre-quilted the top and borders and THEN added the Dresden fan. I wasn’t thinking that day.

And the yo-yos are all made and are being appliqued to the side of a tote-bag-to-be (really, how did we function before the Clover yo-yo makers??):


Off to give Twinkle some binding. I hope you’re warm or cool depending on which hemisphere you’re in!


  1. belinda said

    wow girl…that is a neat way to do the round thangy….and i really liked your new and improved ‘twinkle’ quilt…..i feel….uh….so lazy after looking at all your ‘productive-ness’!

  2. Sherri said

    Thank you so much for the ric-rac applique tutorial…perfect explanations and great photos! Love it!

  3. Stephanie said

    I’m NEEDING Amy Butler solids. Next trip to Fabric Shack and I’m getting them. You make me want to drop everything and do the ric rac thang! Thanks for a great tutorial.

  4. Your quilting looks great! I love the projects you are working on.

  5. MichelleB said

    Love the tutorial! It looks great. I need to make a medallion one of these days. I recently got some Amy Butler solids – I need to get busy on those. I love your project with them.

  6. Lisa A said

    Absolutely LOVE the wedge circle and the ric-rac! And your colors are amazingly fun!!! I will definitely do the ric-rac thing. How easy.

  7. rachal said

    hi, i’ve been lurking on your blog for a while. The ric rac idea is brilliant. thanks so much. time for another quilt!

  8. Trisha said

    Wonderful tutorial! Your project is adorable! Do you prewash your ric rac? I have heard that it shriinks quite a bit. What have you found?

  9. pam said

    Thanks for the stop and start portion of that tutorial. I have never been satisfied with my verions of that. Nice work. And your machine quilting is wonderful. Do you mark that or just sew and go? Love the look.

  10. Kristin said

    Wow…I love the tutorial. Rick-rack and pre-quilting, who would have thought. Thanks for sharing all of the great ideas.

  11. Jackie said

    Amy, Terrific tutorial! Your quilting is lovely. As always, loving your wedge/circles. I can’t wait to see the final results.

  12. Tricia said

    You should really get into watching TV series! I can go through entire seasons of The Gilmore Girls while quilting. And the more you re-watch them, the easier it is to quilt with them on in the background because you don’t have to actually watch them, just listen. This does NOT work for action TV like Alias, though. You end-up just hearing a lot of heavy breathing and punching noises!
    Thanks for the great pictures!

  13. jmbmommy said

    COOL stuff…I like the new tute…and I love your crazy color combos! Thanks!

  14. Katy said

    I’m hyperventilating. You are so so so so so so very very very very very very very clever and talented.

  15. Your quilting leaves me in awe. What machine do you use? How long did it take you to get to that level of proficiency?

    Love everything! Your quilts make me smile..

  16. I love the background quilting that you did on this project. Is it freehand?

  17. Nanette said

    Your technique is so perfect. I really love how this looks. Your work is always so wonderful. Everything in this post is just so fun to look at.

  18. Sarah said

    Amy, you and that wedge ruler need to get a room. It looks gorgeous as usual! xx

  19. That ric rac applique is just gorgeous! Thank you for the tutorial!

  20. Linda Hunter said

    Great Wedge/Circle/Ric rac quilt. You are amazing!! What is the name of the background fabric? Thanks for the tutorial.

  21. Christine Quinlan said

    Thank you so much for the ric-rac tuturial. Our quilting buddy Anne lead us to it when I mentioned that our quilt retreat committee was looking for a circle-themed block to use for our donation quilt. Each person was given an 8″ circle of children’s novelty themed fabric, 0.7 m of co-ordinating ric-rac and and a 10″ square of background fabric. Using your excellent instructions at the end of it all we came away with 50 blocks, which gave us 2 good sized donation quilts. The ladies loved the technique and I think we’ll see more of these types of blocks around these parts (Manitoba, Canada) in the future. Thanks again Amy!

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: