I have noticed lately quite a few statements by sewists and quilters about how they really dislike doing, are afraid of, or simply won’t do applique. I have a little arthritis in these aging hands and find machine applique much more user friendly for this situation than by hand, but it is one of my favorite parts of making a quilt. I use several applique methods and use each for different purposes. I decided to share a few of my favorite applique points.
1. For very complex edge appliques I always use fused raw edge machine stitched applique. I decide what look I want to determine if I use a satin stitch, a single blanket stitch, or a double blanket stitch. I almost always use a really narrow stitch, but once, when I made seaweeds, I used a wider double blanket stitch and it looks really cool.
For the printed appliques I digitally paint of faces and small appliques, I sometimes use a very small straight stitch with 10o wt silk very very close to the edge. It depends on what I want to accomplish.
2. For very smooth edged, larger appliques, I usually use a double layer of freezer paper template pressed to the wrong side, and do a turned edge by painting starch on the edge, turning it, and ironing just a small bit of the edge at first to make a smooth edge, and then ironing the whole turned edge down. Once that’s all starched and heat set, I remove the freezer paper and iron it all flat. I then stitch it down with 100 wt silk using a very narrow applique stitch. It virtually disappears and closely approximates hand turned applique.
3. Occasionally, I have done a reverse applique. It’s not hard at all and has a unique look.
4. And finally, there is the painted “applique”. I will either paint it on the quilt and then quilt or quilt and then paint. This is good for when you want to shade the applique or make it have a particularly unique look. Although I use fabric paints that are washable after heat setting, I do not consider these quilts very washable. They are blockable, but I would not wash these frequently.
Sew try some appliques on your next project. If you don’t like one method…try another. Teach someone to quilt, yourself, your son, your daughter, your BFF, your cat, your dog.