Getting my Appliqué On

I’ve never liked to do appliqué. 

I LOVE the way it looks and hold in high esteem for  others who have mastered this quilting technique.  I’m in aught of their skill.  I’ve just found whenever I’ve attempted it myself I get all stressed out and grouchy.  It’s funny really because I love hand piecing.  You would think appliqué would just be a natural extension of that but it’s not, at least not for me.  However in an attempt to expand my quilting skills, I’ve been making a gentle foray into the mysterious world of appliqué.

I didn’t consciously decide to give appliqué another go.  It came about because of the Civil War quilt project.  At least 3 of the blocks are appliqué or have an appliqué element to it.  So I had to make an attempt at them or otherwise sacrifice the integrity of the project because I was too much of a coward to give it a try.  Through lots of cursing and pulling of hair, I finally finished those appliqué blocks to my mild satisfaction.  For an amateur I thought they came out reasonably well.

So my next project I’ve decided is an appliqué project.  It’s an easy one.  No Baltimore Album quilts for me just yet.  It’s a simple star within a circle within a block.  Because the blocks are nice and large, the star is large as well and that’s the best way for me to get a handle on practising my stitches and making them small enough to be hidden.  Also I’m still fumbling through all the techniques out there for stabilizing the pieces that are being appliquéd.  Some people fuse them, some pin them and some – like myself – have decided to lightly glue them with a water soluble stick glue.  I tried fusing, which I thought gave a nice crisp effect when finished – though a bit stiff.  But the waste of fabric from using this method just messes with my head.  I’m a FRUGAL quilter.  I HATE wasting fabric.  And I’ve found that the only way to effectively use a fusing agent is to fuse a whole piece of fabric then cut your shape from that.  What happens with all the left over fused fabric?  What if I don’t have any other shapes that will fit it to be cut or that color fabric isn’t needed again?  It becomes waste and I hate waste.  I tried just pinning the piece to the background I’m adding it to but found my thread gets caught up in the pins even though I’m using the small appliqué pins.  So, what I’m doing is simple (I like simple...).  I’m cutting my shape adding a bit on the outside to turn ( 1/8 to ¼ inches...), I’m turning the piece over and creasing the seam allowance to the back of the piece.  Then I’m unfolding the seam, putting a small amount of glue along the edge and then pressing it back over.  I then have a crisp edge to work with.  I then lightly glue the shape onto the background  which puts the adherent  in only small amounts and the rest of the shape doesn’t have the stiffness I’ve found fusing gives.  So far it seems to be working well and I’m not having the freak out I did when fusing. 

Watch this space for future updates and see if I can persevere and not lose all my hair.


  1. Good for you McKenna on learning applique. Enjoyed reading about how you decided to tackle it. I've featured this post on Craft Gossip here:

    If you would like a "featured by" button, you can grab one here:

    And don't forget to add me to your reader.

    Scarlett Burroughs
    Quilting Editor, Craft Gossip

  2. I'm interested to see how the points and corners turn out for you. I've used your tuck and stitch method, sans glue, and always get a bunch at my points and my corners always have a tuck.

  3. THANKS! I like simple to.. and i will try your technique ;)

  4. DebW - at first I found some bunching as well, but once I got brave enough to clip back the fabric as far back as possible under the tuck, the bunching went away. My points still need some work but I think with practice they're become neater.

  5. Thanks Scarlett! How cool. I've never been 'featured' anywhere before!

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