People are often interested to know how I make my gecko wall hangings so I thought I would put together some instructions on the method of hand appliqué that I like using. I find it relaxing and it is something you can pick up and do any time, so I hope it might encourage some of you to have a go too.
I start with a freezer paper template which I iron onto the right side of my gecko fabric. My favourite fabrics are batiks because they are tightly woven and fray less and also because of their gorgeous colours and patterns.
freezer paper template
I draw round the template using a white fabric marker pen which disappears with heat or water or if I’m using a pale fabric I’ll use permanent fabric marker. I leave the template in place while I cut out roughly round the design. I prefer to leave it there until after I’ve cut it out because it’s easier to handle and you’re less likely to snip into the design by mistake.
I next pin the gecko in place on my background fabric, using fine or short pins. Short pins are good because the thread doesn’t get caught up on them so much.
applique shape pinned to background fabric
I use YLI silk thread and a #11 ‘sharp’ needle to hand stitch the gecko, the silk thread is so fine that it is much easier to make small and almost invisible stitches. I cut a piece of thread 16 – 18 inches long and make a knot in one end. People often want to use too long a piece of thread to avoid having to thread the needle so often, but this isn’t a good idea because the thread gets tangled and tends to shred. I trim the seams as I go along and because I am using a firmly woven fabric I can use very narrow ones without fear of them fraying. I usually trim them to less than a ¼ inch, especially around the toes of the gecko.
Getting started. The knot is buried in the seam and folded edge held in place with thumb.
To start, insert the needle from the back of the appliqué shape and bring it up on the right side at the point where you want to start sewing. It’s easiest to start on a straight edge so with my geckos I always start on the body part.
Wooden toothpick used to turn under edge
Fold over the edge of the appliqué along the seam line, my favourite tool for this is an ordinary wooden toothpick because the slightly rough edge catches the fabric and makes it much easier to turn under. Use the toothpick to smooth the turned under edge and then I use my thumb to hold it in place. I make a straight stitch into the background fabric at the point where I brought the needle out of the appliqué, and then make a very short stitch bringing the needle up through the folded edge. Continue in this way all round the edge of the appliqué shape.
For sharp inner curves, such as where the body meets the legs, or the gecko toes, I clip right to the seam line, but on a gentle inner curve like the tail I just make small snips within the seam allowance. I never clip outside curves.
This is how the stitching looks from the wrong side.
Another finished gecko wall hanging