To appliqué or not to appliqué, that is the question. Whether ‘tis nobler to use turned-edge or raw-edge, use a sewing machine or stitch by hand…
I hope Shakespeare will forgive me for borrowing his “to be or not to be” quote and changing it to suit my purpose. Somehow, I think it lost some of the magic when I changed it.
But seriously, here in our office we have people who do both types of appliqué. Erin does absolutely gorgeous turned-edge appliqué by hand.
The Quilting Company website has a video with Erin showing how she prepares and stitches her lovely turned-edge appliqué.
And if you want to make one of her beautiful wall quilts, here is the kit for Bloomin’ Botanicals.
Then there is turn-edge appliqué by machine. If you are willing to go a little more slowly than usual as you stitch, this method produces great results. Here is another video so you can see how it is done.
Photo 4, caption Machine Embroidered appliqué
If you have an embroidery machine, there are lots and lots of designs that incorporate appliqué. Most of the time, there is a first row of stitching that gives the outline of the appliqué shape. Then a second row of stitching tacks the appliqué fabric to the background. The fabric is trimmed close to the stitching. The third row of stitching is often satin stitches to finish the edges nicely. And yes, there is a video that shows the process.
I love the instant change in appearance that appliqué gives. I love the rounded edges you can achieve without curved piecing. And because I like fast, I use raw-edge fusible appliqué most of the time.
Here’s how in a nutshell.
Trace the design to the paper backing side of a piece of fusible web. If it is a design like a letter or a number, you’ll need to trace the image reversed so it will read correctly when you are finished.
Cut out the traced image leaving about a ¼” margin.
Fuse to the wrong side of your fabric.
Then cut on the traced line.
Remove the paper backing and fuse to the background fabric.
The final step is to stitch around the raw edge. I like to use a blanket stitch. I generally use matching thread. Black or dark brown thread gives a more rustic folksy look. You can also zigzag or satin stitch. This llama is going to be part of a quilt label so I’m not going to stitch until I’m ready to embroider the words.
Vivika from Quilting Arts wrote an article about layered and fused appliqué. I’ve not tried her idea yet but I’m planning to. It looks like a fun way to use a bunch of scraps and to play with some of the fancy stitches on my sewing machine and unusual threads that I have in my studio.
Then here is one last method. Lea McComas taught a course on creating realistic fabric portraits with fused raw-edge appliqué. Her work is astounding.
I hope you enjoy this little overview of appliqué. And I hope you get a chance to try one or more of the techniques.