Upcycled Quilts with Hand Appliqué

If you are anything like me, there are times when you just need to have a quilt project you can work on without a machine involved. My favorite way to satisfy this need is hand appliqué.

I work with a computer all day, 5–6 days a week. I use my iPad to search for information, shop and read books, and my phone to connect with family and friends. That’s a lot of technology in my life. Talk about kids needing electronic timeouts, so do adults. And, spending time with a hand appliqué project is my Zen.

Hand appliqué without quilting

There aren’t too many quilted hand appliqué projects available that don’t require the quilter to make a pieced and quilted background (which generally requires a machine to make a timely quilt). Just by chance and a little out-of-the-box thinking, I discovered a slick way to create a nice quilted appliqué project with minimal time involved, by upcycling a whole-cloth machined-quilted quilt.

Hand-dyed Whole-cloth Manufactured Quilt

Hand-dyed Whole-cloth Manufactured Quilt

We held a major cleanout of The Quilting Company office space in Golden early last fall. It took months to sort through magazines, furniture, warehouse storage of props for videos and style shots and the general stuff that collects over years of time. We placed everything in our large foyer, held an auction and placed extra items on rows of tables for the staff to pick over.

Another use for whole-cloth quilts

I discovered several manufactured whole-cloth quilts that had been used for dye projects. One of them caught my eye because it was the color of blue denim, my favorite color—and, it had a wonderful floral pattern quilted over the surface. I carried it home, placed it on the table and walked by it for over several weeks, each time thinking about ideas for using it. I thought of using it as a cover for one of the beds, cutting it up to make a jacket or other clothing and then it occurred to me it would be a perfect background for a hand appliqué wool project I was designing, Terra Cotta Garden, McCall’s Quilting, March/April 2019. (Explore more tips for working with wool hand appliqué)

Detail of Terra Cotta Garden

The detail in the quilted background became the perfect backdrop for my hand appliqué wool flower pots and flowers and cotton Kaffe Fasset cotton stems and leaves. No machine was needed to make my lovely garden background. It was ready for a lot of blissful moments stitching away to attach my hand appliqué and embellishments to the quilted surface—a real stress-buster, full of mindful stitching!

So… pull out all of those old manufactured or vintage quilts you have stashed in your closets and think about all the beautiful hand appliqué you can add to your own upcycled quilt project.

Happy Quilting,

Create a Garden of Your Own

You can find Tricia’s Terra Cotta Garden project with 8 more flower quilt designs in the March/April issue of McCall’s Quilting.

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