Friday, April 1, 2016

A is for Applique


Applique is a sewing technique in which a decorative design is made by one fabric being sewn onto another. Usually  more than one fabric is sewn down to make the design.

There are several different techniques that can be used to sew the fabric down. 

Needleturn is one. Janet Wickell, on the webpage "Learn Needleturn Appliqué" describes it thus.

Needleturn applique is a traditional technique. Shapes are traced onto fabric and cut out, leaving a seam allowance of 3/16th-1/4" around the traced line.... Seam allowances are turned under as shapes are hand sewn to the background.

There are many and varied ways of undertaking needleturn appliqué and there are many people who have developed particular ways of doing it using various gadgets and notions. I can't speak to any of them as I have done very little of this kind of appliqué.

There are many videos on You Tube that demonstrate how to do needleturn appliqué. This one by Sue Daley, a well known teacher

The main alternative to needleturn appliqué is raw edge appliqué. Here the pieces to be appliquéd are cut to their exact size. Usually a double faced fusible webbing is ironed onto the wrong side of the fabric before it is cut to size. The paper backing is removed before it is positioned on the background fabric and ironed into place. I trace my shapes onto the paper side of the fusible webbing before cutting it out (leaving a 1/4" or so all around) and then ironing it onto the fabric. I then cut it out neatly, on the traced line, peel off the paper and ironing it into place.

Sometimes the appliqué is completed without any stitching taking place but usually the fabric is stitched down into place but the edge isn't turned under. This stitching might be blanket stitching, zig zag or straight stitching. It can be done by machine or by hand. The fusible webbing not only holds the fabric in place but it binds the edges of the fabric meaning it won't fray.

There are many videos on YouTube which explains how to do raw edge applique. This is one from Nancy's Notions, a reputable source

This is my preferred method of appliqué. I have made several quilts using blanket stitch around the fabric. Its a great hand project. I have used straight stitch on the machine, and sometimes zigzag to add appliqué to some banners that I have made for church. 

Some machines have blanket stitch as an option on them. I have friends who have completed large appliqué projects using their machines to blanket stitch around them but I haven't mastered that art yet. 

This wall hanging, Into the Rainforest, was one of the first projects that I used machine applique on 

Into the Rainforest

Appliqued heart - a block, called a healing heart made to be included into a group quilt, a gift for a friend who had suffered a loss in her family

My own healing hearts quilt called Peaceful Hearts. Friends from a quilt retreat I go on,  sent me hearts after the death of my father.

A cake wall hanging made using hand appliquéd cup cakes that were decorated with lace, buttons and braids.

Tea Pot wall hanging - hand appliqué.

My largest applique project - a Christmas quilt featuring 9 hand appliquéd blocks and border

close up of one of the blocks from "Celebrate the Season"

This Teddy quit was made for my Great niece Sofia. The teddies were from a panel that I fussy cut out after I had put the fusible web on it. The features of the teddies were emphasised by the quilting

Another great nieces quilt that features applique, including some 3D work. The bows are sewn on afterwards.



  1. I seem to think you've been doing appliqué longer than you've been quilting, looking back to your teddy bear wind cheater. <3

  2. That quilts are gorgeous! Especially the Rainforest one. Beautiful.

  3. Beautiful quilts. I haven't done much quilting and it has been years since I've done any. I envy your skills.