Appliqué to the Rescue! 6 Ways to Use Appliqué in Quilting

When it comes to quilting, there are many different techniques you can use to achieve different result. For more artistic quilts or those with curved shapes, appliqué quilting is often preferred to piecing. But what is appliqué quilting, and how can you use it to step up your game?

What is appliqué in quilting?

Appliqué quilting can take a few different forms:

  • Raw edge fusible appliqué
  • reezer paperappliqué
  • Needle-turn applique.

You can read more about each style here. Each style ofappliqué allows the quilter to get a different look, but they all allow you to create curved or organic shapes in your quilts.

6 times you might want to use appliqué

1. Creating landscapes

Photo via Bluprint class Sketch It, Fuse It, Quilt It with Laura Wasilowski

The wavy blue strips shown above are created via the raw-edge appliqué method. This is great for quilting landscapes or to create texture like the sky or water!

2. Quilting petals

Laurel Wreath Quilt Pattern as seen on the Midnight Quilt Show

Want to create floral shapes in your quilts, but not sure how? Appliqué to the rescue! This appliqué pattern features a floral centerpiece that’s best achieved through appliqué. By cutting out the floral shapes and sewing them directly onto your background fabric, a beautiful quilt top is born.

3. Adding adorable animals

Ocean Friends pattern via Pamalama Jo Designs

Many people love appliqué for the ability to quickly sew cute fabric objects onto their quilts, like animals and other symbols. The pattern shown above includes appliqué blocks for 17 different animals, including an otter, dolphin and octopus. Can you imagine trying to make these animals with traditional patchwork? While it’s not impossible, the method is much more time intensive and the resulting shapes would be more rectangular.

4. Big shapes

Elephant Head quilt pattern via Bluprint member Quilt Karma

This large-scale Elephant Head appliqué quilt pattern shows how you can turn large fabric cuts into artwork. Curved shapes like the tusks and eyes would be much trickier to piece with traditional patchwork method, but this pattern makes it easy! When you appliqué a large shape, you can cut out your fabric with freezer paper templates, placing it exactly where you want it, for minimal fabric waste.

5. Embellishments galore

Add dimensional elements to your appliqué quilts for another layer of fun! Buttons, fabric leaves, fabric yo-yos and bias fabric strips will make your appliqué quilts pop. In Playful Textures for Easy Appliqué Quilts, you’ll go step by step through making the three appliqué mini quilts above.

6. A world (and beyond!) of creative possibilities


When it comes to appliqué quilting, the possibilities seem endless! Create realistic landscapes and portraits, or dream up off-the-wall creatures like the monsters from our Cute Quilt-As-You-Go Appliqué Monsters class with Wendi Gratz. If you can cut it out with fabric scissors, you can sew it onto a quilt.

If you’ve not yet tried applique in your quilting, we hope you’ll be inspired to give it a try!

A great way to test out the various types of applique is to practice on a smaller project, like a tea towel or throw pillow.

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