When Natalie Chanin first started crafting as a girl in the late 1960s, she used fusible adhesive to create all manner of iron-on appliqués. “I vividly recall cutting out apple, butterfly, and flower shapes and ironing them onto bags, blue jeans, T-shirts, and just about anything else I could get my hands on,” she says. Appliqués are now a signature part of her work at Alabama Chanin. Here, the designer, whose second book, Alabama Studio Style, was published in March, presents one of her newer techniques: the circle-spiral appliqué, which can be made from scrap fabric and used to jazz up any dress, skirt, blouse, or T-shirt in your closet.
MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
Cotton-jersey base fabric
Cotton-jersey appliqué fabric
Cotton-jersey backing fabric (if your project calls for it)
Button craft thread
STEP ONE: CUT OUT CIRCLE
Using garment scissors, cut out a circle any size you want from your appliqué fabric. For the projects in Alabama Studio Style, we used both 3-to-4-inch and 7-to-8-inch-diameter circles. Depending on the size circle you choose, cut the number of circles needed to cover the area to be appliquéd. If you’re not comfortable cutting circles freehand, use a compass or a jar, plate, or other circular object as a guide.
STEP TWO: CUT SPIRAL APPLIQUÉ
Place your garment scissors at a 45-degree angle to the edge of one of your cut circles, and cut into the circle by ½ inch. Working freestyle, continue cutting in a spiral, first cutting about ½ inch from the outside edge and then cutting in towards the center, always keeping about a ½ inch space between the cutting lines. Stop cutting when you have about a 1-inch-diameter circle left in the center of your spiral. Repeat the process with each of your remaining cut circles.
STEP THREE: PIN APPLIQUÉ TO PROJECT
Randomly place and pin your cut spiral appliqués on the base fabric, slightly overlapping the edges by about 1⁄8 inch.
STEP FOUR: STITCH APPLIQUÉ SPIRAL TO BASE FABRIC
Use a straight stitch to sew the appliqué spiral to the base fabric: Begin stitching along the edge of the 1-inch-diameter circle in the center of the appliqué, and then stitch outwards along the edge of the spiral cut. When you reach about 1⁄8 inch from the end of the spiral’s outside point, turn and stitch your way back to your starting point at the center 1-inch-diameter circle, where you’ll knot off your thread.