This month we’re going to learn about fuselages, aka barrel sections, aka the area where you sit in the airplane! On the Boeing 787, the fuselage is made out of carbon fiber composite, and it is layed up in one circular section (instead of the traditional method of building it in halves). There are some really interesting machines that lay up the composite; please enjoy this short (and silent) video on fuselage layup.
Now, onto sewing!
- 16” x 16” (ish) piece of batting
- 16” x 16” (ish) backing fabric
- 16” x 16” (ish) piece of background fabric
- 12” x 12” (ish) piece of accent fabric
- 4-5 sheets of freezer paper (optional, but makes it easier!)
- Spray Starch
- Small paint brush
- Elmers Glue + a fine tip applicator (optional – you could also use pins or double-sided tape)
Arrange your freezer paper (shiny side DOWN, on your ironing board) so that it is overlapping and at least 11.25” square. Iron it all together so you have one piece of freezer paper that is (at least) 11.25” square. I like to have a double layer of freezer paper (so it makes it a little thicker).
*If you’ve never used freezer paper, make sure you iron on the DULL side. The shiny side will stick to fabric multiple times, and peel off really easily without leaving any residue. This makes it easy to use it for making templates. If you iron directly on the shiny side though, it will make your iron all sorts of messy.
Now you need to cut out the fuselage shape from the freezer paper. I tied a piece of string to a pen to draw my circles, but you could use a circle template, compass, or free-style it. You need to draw a 11.25” diameter circle, and a 1.5” diameter circle, concentrically (sharing the same center point). Once you’re happy with your circles, cut it out.
Iron the freezer paper fuselage template onto your accent fabric piece, shiny side down. It should stick nicely to the fabric. Cut away the excess fabric, leaving about a ¼” seam allowance on the inside and outside circles.
We’re going to turn this into a faux-applique shape, which we will then glue down onto our background fabric piece. If you would rather applique this shape down the traditional way, do it! We’re going to go for the lazy yet efficient method though.
Cut some notches or slices into the seam allowance excess. This will make it easier to turn the curves, especially in the center. Try to leave a few threads worth of fabric uncut near the template (so you don’t cut into the front of your piece).
Now get your spray starch and paintbrush. This next step is very important. Twiddle your fake French mustache and say “un deux trois huh huh huh” in your very best French accent. If you didn’t giggle, drink some more wine and try again.
Back to the spray starch. Spray some into the cap into the cap of the starch bottle, until you’ve got it about half full. Let the foam settle, and now the cap is filled with some liquid starch.
Take your paintbrush and slash it through the air. Make Bob Ross proud. Dip it into the cup of starch, and start painting it onto the seam allowance of the fuselage. Only do a few inches at a time, so it doesn’t dry before it’s been ironed. You don’t need a ton of the starch, but you want enough to make the seam stiff and hold the crease.
Now fold over the wet edge towards the freezer paper, and iron it. Let the iron sit on the edge until it’s dry, which will only take a few seconds.
Keep painting, folding and ironing until you’ve turned over both edges of the fuselage. Go slowly, and be careful; irons are hot and like to burn unsuspecting fingers when they are least expecting it.
Pull out the freezer paper. You’ll see that the edges stay turned, and there’s a lovely sharp crease that stays right where you ironed it.
Save your freezer paper template!! We’re going to use it next month (or some month, I don’t know when) so you won’t have to waste more paper.
Next, we need to iron the fuselage applique onto the background fabric. I used elmer’s school glue with a fine tip applicator to put tiny drops of glue onto the seam allowance, but you could use a glue stick, double stick tape or just pin it down when you sew it down. I like to use glue because then you can wave the piece around like a flag and it won’t fall off.
Put glue on about half of your fuselage, then press it firmly to the background fabric. Using a hot, dry (no steam) iron, set the glue by placing the iron on top of the glued bits for a few seconds, until the glue is dry. If you don’t like the placement, you can peel the fuselage off the background fabric, and try again. Any glue will wash away when you wash the quilt (assuming you’re using washable glue).
Glue down the other half, and any other bits that need to be glued down. Now you’re done piecing the top of this block! And we didn’t even need to use our sewing machine.
Baste the top to the batting and background fabric. The first bit of quilting I did for this block was on the fuselage, to not only quilt everything together, but also attach the fuselage to the background piece. Make sure you sew all the edges down during your quilting to firmly attach the fuselage to the block. Then keep on quilting!
Hope you had fun with this block, and maybe learned some new tricks to make applique easier. Let me know if you have any questions!