Machine or Hand Appliqué? What Do You Think?

With quilting there have been a few debates over the years on certain topics. One debate you can find plenty of support for (on both sides!) is whether or not to wash your fabrics before using them. Another debate stems from appliqué, and whether quilts should have machine or hand appliqué.

Let’s review the two basic types of appliqué and discuss their usefulness!

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Appliqué projects by Craftsy instructor Amanda Murphy in her quilting class 20 Fresh Appliqué Techniques


Hand appliqué

Hand appliqué is the traditional method of stitching pieces of fabric on top of another piece of fabric. Typically the piece to be hand appliquéd has the edges turned under. One of the best benefits of hand appliqué is that it is portable—you can take it anywhere! Because you need very few tools (scissors, needle, thread, etc.) it is quick and easy to take your project on the plane, to the baseball game or on a road trip. Hand appliqué tends to have a more dimensional look to it, and works well with relatively simple designs.

Machine appliqué

The most common method of machine appliqué requires taking one piece of fabric and stitching it to another. The appliqué piece is usually left in its raw-edge form (with no edge turned under) and is stitched down using a decorative machine stitch. Using a decorative stitch on the machine and a variety of threads can help add another dimension to the finished appliqué. If you want to appliqué a more intricate piece, or don’t have a lot of time, machine appliqué might be the way to go. Machine appliqué is well suited for adhering a fabric motif to fusible web (a large and intricate flower, for example), cutting it out, and then stitching it down. Machine appliqué is usually faster to do than hand appliqué. It can be fun to play around with some of the stitches on your machine, to see which ones would compliment your project.

Sea Glass Quilt Pattern

Sea Glass Appliqué quilt pattern via Craftsy member Talk of the Town

Either way

When you read a pattern make sure to note if it is written for machine or hand appliqué. Hand appliqué patterns often have yardage figured to account for seam allowance and the patterns will not be reversed. With machine appliqué patterns the yardage may not include enough for a seam allowance (as it is unnecessary) and the pieces might be reversed for tracing onto fusible web. The fusible web is used to affix your appliqué pieces to your base fabric, before you do the actual stitching.

Take your appliqué skills to the next level with four fun fusible projects in the online quilting class 20 Fresh Appliqué Techniques. Learn advanced appliqué techniques for quilts full of texture and intrigue that stand out from across the room!

Both techniques can be used in a variety of projects, and certainly add a wonderful dimension to quilting! Which do you prefer?

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