Cactus Applique Wall Hanging

Categories: Decor, Quilts

The cactus applique wall hanging is a great way to create and display fiber art. Cactuses and applique are hot current craft trends. I’ve been stashing geometric print grey scale fabrics for over a year, because geometrics is a trend with great staying power. The background is a marble printed fabric, which is a big home design trend that I just had to add to my own home. I have this weird section of my upper stairwell that was in need of some art. Stick Double Sided Fusible Interfacing is great for custom appliques. I used free motion embroidery aka thread sketching to sew the appliques to the marble fabric background. Stiffen Double Sided Fusible Interfacing is sandwiched between the cactus top panel and a rectangle of Robert Kaufman grey canvas. I used The Ulitimate Quilt Binding Tutorial to bind my wall hanging, with some measurement adaptations made for this project. I used a grey scale color palette, but this project could be made in any color palette. Contrasting tones and simple prints are key to an eye catching design.

What you need to make this project

Stick Double Sided Fusible Interfacing
Stiffen Double Sided Fusible Interfacing
1 Yard grey marble print cotton fabric
1 Yard Robert Kaufman canvas in grey
1/2 Yard black cotton fabric
Various polka dot print cotton fabrics in grey tones
Various triangle print cotton fabrics in grey tones
One black and white cotton with a different print
Black thread
2 Nails
Parchment paper
Ironing board
Clearing quilting ruler
Dressmakers pencil
Free motion embroidery foot
Sewing machine
Hand sewing needle
Straight pins

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Stick Double Sided Fusible Interfacing 20″ Wide X 40 Yard Roll

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Stiffen Double Sided Fusible Interfacing 20″ Wide X 10 Yard Roll

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Step One

Set the iron to cotton with steam. Iron the marble fabric smooth.  From the other printed fabrics, cut various sized rectangles. I cut ones that averaged about 5″ wide by 8″ long. Iron these rectangles flat. I have one fabric that is paint strokes. I cut a bigger rectangle from that for the vase.

Step Two

Rip off a large piece of parchment paper and fold in half. Cut pieces of Stick interfacing the same size as each rectangle. Open the parchment paper. Layer a Stick and fabric rectangle together, with the Stick on the fabric back. Close the parchment paper. Turn the steam off on the iron. Press the Stick and fabric together, through the parchment paper. Stick is a meltable adhesive. The parchment paper protects the iron from getting adhesive on it. Let the layers cool for a minute. Open the parchment paper, and peel off the fused layers. Set that aside to finish cooling. Repeat this fusing process for each set of Stick and fabric.

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Step Three

From the alternative print fabric, cut an hourglass shape that is larger on the bottom than the top. Lay that towards the bottom of the marble fabric. From the other rectangles, cut egg shapes in various sizes. I started with bigger sizes, laying them out in a cactus shape. Then, I added medium and small shapes. From light grey scraps, cut out simple facial features for the vase.

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Step Four

With the iron still on dry and cotton, fuse the shapes in place by pressing them. Make sure the bottom cactus pieces are layered under the vase. Slowly iron, by holding the iron in place for 10 seconds before moving to the next section.

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Step Five

At the sewing machine, switch the foot to the free motion embroidery foot. Load the machine with black thread. Set the tension to 8. Lower the feed dogs. For beginners, test out sewing in big circles on layered scraps, to make sure the tension and speed is correct. Faster sewing will make the stitches closer together, whereas slow sewing can make long stitches. We want a medium length and speed, a bit like topstitching. I started at the top right big cactus, sewing back and forth along the edges 3 times, stopping where the shape intersects with another. Move on to the adjoining shape, continuing to sew in a fluid motion, until the bobbin runs out. Refill the bobbin as needed.  Make sure to stitch all of the shape edges. The stitches shouldn’t be layered, except for backstitching when starting a new bobbin. This is meant to look like sketching with a pencil, but with thread.

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Step Six

For the face, I added stitching where the lips would part.

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Step Seven

Turn the iron to cotton and steam. Iron the cactus panel and grey canvas flat. Cut a piece of Stiffen interfacing slight longer than the cactus panel. Layer the Stiffen between the canvas and cactus panel. Slowly iron the layers together. The steam won’t go through all of the layers at once, but because this Stiffen in double sided with adhesive, it must be put between two fabric layers when ironed. Just like when using the Stick, slowly iron, leaving the iron in place for at least 10 seconds before moving on. I ironing the cactus panel 1st, since it will be shown. After the cactus panel is fused, flip the layers over to the canvas side. Repeat the fusing side. Make sure to get the edges fused well as that will make binding easier. Square up the sides and corners, cutting off the excess materials. I should have done this to the bottom, but I didn’t look at it from far away until I was finished…oops.

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Step Eight

Ok so binding this was a lot of trial and error. I had followed a quilt binding tutorial, but of course I wasn’t accounting for the thickness of the wall hanging, so that didn’t work out well the 1st time. The 2nd time went better, but the binding tape still wasn’t wide enough to turn perfectly on the back. So this step will have a better width and method of binding than I used, because we learn from mistakes. The rest of these instructions are based on The Ulitimate Quilt Binding Tutorial, but the measurements are adapted to my project.

Fold the black cotton fabric into 1/4s widthwise, to make cutting faster. The strips will be equal to the full fabric width, and 4″ tall. Use a ruler and dressmakers pencil to measure and mark the fabric height. Cut 4 strips. Fold the strips in half lengthwise and iron.

Layer two separate ends, folds facing, ends about 1/4″ longer than the overlap . Sew them together diagonally, corner to corner. Open up the strips and press the angle flat. Cut the excess fabric, leaving about 1/4″. Repeat for the other strips, connecting them in one extra long strip. Attaching them at a diagonal reduces bulk in the joints.

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Step Nine

Along the wall hanging top, mark 5″ from each side, on the back. Match a tab to the 5″ mark and straight pin in place. Stitch 1/4″ from the edge. Repeat with other tab and mark.

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Step Ten

Cut 2 rectangles 6″ by 4″. Fold them in half lengthwise, ironing the folds in place. Turn in the long edges to the center fold, ironing in place. At the sewing machine, top stitch along the folded edges.

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Step Eleven

Stitch the binding to the cactus panel FRONT, 1/2″ from the edge. I know this photo shows the back and 1/4″, but binding front to back is much cleaner for this particular project. Follow The Ultimate Quilt Binding Tutorial, to do the corners and sew the last strip ends together.

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Step Twelve

Iron the binding towards the back. Flip the wall hanging over. Secure the binding to the back with straight pins. With a needle and thread, hand sew the binding to the back, using an invisible stitch.

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Step Thirteen

I photographed this wall hanging outside, for lighting purposes, but it’s really hanging in my stairwell on a weird wall area that needed long artwork. Hanging this is best done with a friend who can look at it from afar to make sure it’s straight.