Category Archives: Celtic Knots Tutorial

A Better Way to Applique?

One day, I was searching on the Internet for articles about fusible Hawaiian quilting (don’t ask me why), when I found Quiltsmart, a website with an interesting idea: double applique with fusible interfacing.

Double applique stitches two fabrics together in the desired shape. The fabrics are trimmed outside the stitching line, and notched and clipped. A small slit is cut in one fabric and the shape is turned inside out, leaving a neat finished edge. Then, the applique is stitched down by hand or machine.

Mattie Rhoades at Quiltsmart prints a variety of quilt patterns on lightweight fusible interfacing. The interfacing is positioned, fusible side down, on the right side of the applique fabric. The two layers are stitched together along the printed lines, trimmed, and turned inside out, with the fabric on top and the fusible side of the interfacing on the bottom. The resulting applique is fused into place.

What a great idea! I could hardly wait to try this method on my Celtic knots!

With a permanent fabric marker, I traced my Celtic knot shapes on lightweight fusible interfacing.

Traced Celtic knot shapes
Traced Celtic knot shapes

I pinned the shapes, fusible side down, to the right side of my fabric, and stitched along the traced lines.

Pinned and stitched interfacing and fabric
Pinned and stitched interfacing and fabric

I trimmed all the pieces, leaving a very narrow seam allowance.

I carefully cut a small slit in the interfacing only, and turned the pieces inside out. I took care not to poke a hole through the interfacing at the corners. I rolled the seams back-and-forth between my thumb and forefinger to bring them even. Then, laying an organza pressing cloth over each piece, I ran the handle of a table knife around the edges (call it “finger-pressing plus”).

I positioned my shapes in place on my background and fused them down. With matching thread, I stitched around the edges of the shapes along the narrow ridge of the internal seam allowances.

Completed Celtic knot
Completed Celtic knot

I also made a sample using a thicker interfacing with similar results. The applique was noticeably stiffer and stood out in relief on the background.

I like this technique for three reasons:

  1. The edges of the appliques are turned under, much like traditional applique.
  2. The interfacing adds stability to the applique.
  3. Fusing the appliques in position speeds the process.

What do you think of this technique? Does it sound like something you’d try? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below.

How I Applique Celtic Knots

For this demonstration, consider the knot shown below.

Basic Knot
Basic Knot

This knot is made up of three separate strands (two diagonal, and one encircling) and three different shapes: the corners, the curves, and the straight pieces, as shown below.

Basic Knot Shapes
Basic Knot Shapes

Shall we begin?

1.  Enlarge the Celtic knot to size.

2.  Choose two or more contrasting fabrics:  one (or more) for the knot strands, and one for the background. These can be any sort of opposites: light/dark, warm/cool, print/solid, etc.

3.  Wash, dry, and iron the fabric; do not use any fabric softener because it can inhibit the adhesive’s effectiveness.

4.  Trace the knot on the adhesive side of regular-weight paper-backed fusible adhesive (like Wonder Under). I trace on the adhesive side because tracing on the paper side results in a mirror image.

Traced Celtic knot shapes
Traced Celtic knot shapes

5. Fuse the paper-backed adhesive to the wrong side of the knot fabric(s) according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Fused Celtic knot shapes
Fused Celtic knot shapes

6.  Cut out the shapes. Since enlarging the knot makes for thicker lines, I use a wide felt tip marker to trace the knot. Be sure to trim away the marker lines, otherwise they show up on your fabric (and through it).

Cut and trimmed Celtic knot shapes
Cut and trimmed Celtic knot shapes

7.  Using the original drawing as a guide, arrange the shapes, adhesive side down, on the background fabric, leaving a slight gap between them. The gaps give the impression of “woven-ness.”

8. When satisfied with the arrangement of shapes, fuse them to the background according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Celtic knot
Celtic knot

—–

Tri-color Celtic knot
Tri-color Celtic knot

9.  Topstitch, zigzag, or satin stitch around the shapes, if desired.