Quilt applique is a technique used to add decorative elements to a quilt. It involves cutting out shapes from fabric and then attaching them to the quilt top using a sewing machine or by hand. Applique can be used to create intricate designs, or to add simple embellishments to a quilt.
One of the benefits of applique is that it allows quilters to use scraps of fabric that would otherwise be discarded. Many quilters enjoy the process of creating designs with the scraps they have on hand. Applique also allows quilters to incorporate fabrics with special meaning into their quilts, such as vintage fabrics passed down from family members or fabrics that were used to make clothes for loved ones.
There are many different techniques that can be used when making quilt applique. Some quilters prefer to use a traditional needle-turn method, in which the fabric is turned under and secured with small stitches. Others prefer the faster and more efficient fusible web method, in which fabric shapes are fused to the quilt top with an iron.
Quilt applique is a fun and creative way to add unique elements to a quilt. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced quilter, there are many possibilities to explore with this technique. With a little bit of time and patience, you can create beautiful and one-of-a-kind quilts that will be treasured for years to come.
Here are a few tips for first-time applique quilters:
Start with simple shapes: As a beginner, it's best to start with simple shapes such as circles, squares, and triangles. These shapes are easy to cut out and attach to the quilt top and will help you become comfortable with the process of applique. Once you become more comfortable with the process, the sky will be the limit with shapes to play with!
One of my first Applique Quilts was
<--this Elephant Baby Quilt. Simple circles and simple shapes made this a great quilt to learn on.
Quality over Quantity
Use good quality fabric: It's important to use high-quality fabric for your applique pieces, as this will ensure that they hold their shape and don't fray when you're attaching them to the quilt top. I know it can be tempting to try and buy the bargain bin fabric, but a little investment now will pay for itself two-fold down the road after you've used and loved your quilt creation in the years following.
If you're interested in finding out more, deep dive into our article Fabric Scam?!
Keep it Sharp
Use a sharp needle: A sharp needle will make it easier to stitch through multiple layers of fabric. Also making sure you have sharp fabric only scissors is a must!
As you sew (especially hand sew) you may notice your needle leaving smalls holes where you're coming up through the fabric.
An easy way to "heal" your fabric-
after you're done sewing, gently rub your finger over the hole to help move the fabric fibers back into place. After some time, you won't even be able to tell the holes were even there!
Test, Test, Test!
Test your thread and needle choice: Test the thread and needle on a scrap piece of fabric before starting to work on the quilt to make sure the thread is strong enough and the needle is the right size and type. Using an old thread is a recipe for disaster; it will tangle, knot, and break more often than a newer thread.
Stabilize before you Quilter-ize
Use a stabilizer: A stabilizer can help to keep your fabric from stretching or puckering while you work. There are many different types that you can iron onto the back of your fabric.
Depending on the project, you can use a heavy fusible webbing, or a light weight water soluble stabilizer.
Keep in mind that the heavier the stabilizer the harder it will be on your sewing machine's needle to quilt through and can leave a gluey residue if not cleaned off after sewing down.
Take your time: Applique takes time and patience, so don't rush through the process. Take your time and enjoy the process of creating your design.
Practice makes Perfect
Practice, practice, practice: The more you practice, the more comfortable and skilled you will become at applique. Try different techniques and fabrics to find what you like best. There are so many styles of applique and thousands of patterns to experiment with! Whether you are a hand sewer, or a machine sewer, you'll find so many fun projects to practice your skills on!
If you're looking for a quick applique project to practice your skills on, give our mug rug pattern Hello Coffee a try! It's FREE when you sign up for our newsletter
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Get Mad Scientist on your Quilty self!
Don't be afraid to experiment. Applique is a fun and creative process, so don't be afraid to experiment with different fabrics, colors, and designs. You never know what beautiful and unique creations you might come up with!
Quilt applique is a versatile and easily adaptable skill to have. Whether you're taking on a Boston Album Quilt, or just adding a few playful strawberries to a table runner, these quilty tips are sure to help you tackle any applique project to come your way! Have your own applique trick? Let us know in the comments!! We're always looking for more tips n' tricks to help tackle that next quilt!
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