How I Applique
Applique can be beautiful and one of the most rewarding additions to the quilting process. From art quilts to children’s wall hangings, the additional images found on applique quilts provide much depth and meaning to the work we do.
I love applique because even the most plain quilt can come alive because of it.
My First Applique Quilt – RATS!
The first time I made an applique quilt, it was not to add whimsy or depth – it was to cover a hole/mistake in the quilt. Applique can be the quilt worlds best eraser and it looks like you meant to do it!
While I do not have the quilt today or even a picture of it, I can describe my problem and how I solved it.
I use my quilts, a lot! There was a cute purple quilt that I would throw on the bed at night for added warmth and comfort. Unfortunately, it was also during this time that my Rat Terrier was doing a lot of chewing. You guessed it – she gave me a couple choice holes!
In honor of her actions that caused this quilt to be more custom than intended, I did an applique Rat over the area. It turned out so cute!
Yep, the little lady bug above is my sweet Spaz, the quilt eater!
I continued to use this quilt for warm and comfort and it continued to gain rats until I just plain wore it out. I love my dog and thankfully she eventually outgrew this stage!
What is Applique?
ornamental needlework in which pieces of fabric are sewn or stuck onto a large piece of fabric to form pictures or patterns.
Applique can be the icing on the cake for a quilter. Adding cute, whimsical characters to a baby quilt or other elements to a more adult theme can really make a difference in the finished product.
Applique also allows the quilter to take a more basic design and bump it up several notches.
-OR- it can act as the ultimate eraser when a mistake is made that you don’t want others to see.
These are tools of our trade and we should never be reluctant to use them to the fullest!
Above is an example of applique that was used to validate my design choices. I wanted to use the horse fabric in such a way that it resembled looking out the window at a herd of horses. While representational, when I added the flower pot with cactus and kitty sitting on the sill, the intent became clear. Both of these elements also take the focus away from the blocks that I put together in the wrong order!
Using custom quilting that resembles wood grain helps to lend credence to the design.
Applique can be a great element to help decide on custom quilting. This is very evident on my 2016 Row by Row Quilt. Each Row offered an opportunity for custom quilting just by using the applique’d elements for a guide.
Types of Applique
While there are many types of applique for quilting, the three below are the most popular.
The most common methods are:
Fusible (raw edge)
Using fusible material, you can iron your element right on to your quilt. Then use either straight stitching (as is show here) or a blanket stitch to sew your design down. This, I feel, is the easiest and less time-consuming method.
The key to this method is using a fusible sheet to the wrong side of the design. This serves to hold your fabric pieces in place so you can use your machine to sew them down.
I used this method for the flowers in my Hippie Rainbow Flowers Quilt.
This technique utilizes freezer paper as a base for your pieces which is then removed after the element has been pressed. I like the concept of being able to pre-draw an entire design. After the design is drawn to scale on the paper, each element can be cut out and utilized.
Because the individual pieces turn out so crisp, they can be either hand sewn or machine sewn to the quilt top. You can also use glues and fusible sheets to adhere them to the quilt before you sew them down.
Gigi’s Thimble has a wonderful how-to article on freezer paper applique. Check out her step by step guild for more information. She does a great job of relaying this technique through words and pictures.
This image was borrowed from Kathy K. Wylie’s website, Canadian Quilting. Kathy is very accomplished at hand applique.
Needle Turn Applique is one skill that I would love to learn. So far have shied away from. This is pretty curious, if you think about it because I love to relax at night and bind. Maybe I need to rethink this.
What is your favorite Applique Technique?