Not all appliqué designs require perfect placement. Sometimes, a random or organic arrangement of shapes is desirable. But for designs that rely on symmetry or feature many overlapping and interconnected elements, positioning becomes very important.
Here is my secret to perfect appliqué placement: mark the design on the background fabric first.
A light box will help, and I love my LED LightPad from Artograph. If you don’t have a light box, you can easily make one by placing a light under a glass surface. Lay the pattern on the light box. Position the background fabric on the pattern, matching centers, and pin the fabric to the pattern. Trace the design lines on the fabric using a removable fabric marker. Now you know exactly where all the appliqué pieces will go!
Align the prepared appliqué shape onto the marked background and place a small pin at each key matching point.
Then, continue to use the marked line as a guide as you appliqué the shape onto the background.
It seems like an obvious solution, but one that is often overlooked. Often, the pattern is transferred to an overlay material like clear plastic or sheer fabric instead. Then, each shape is positioned on the background using only the overlay as a guide. But how can you be sure the appliqué pieces won’t shift out of place while sewing? Tracing the design directly onto the background first will ensure perfect appliqué placement when you need it.