Sewing Blog

3 Unique Ways to Add Appliqué to Your Quilts

Appliqué can add something truly special to a pieced quilt — special texture, dimension and interest. One of the joys of appliqué sewing on quilts is that there’s more than just one way to go about it! Here, we’ll share three unique appliqué methods and pose the question: Which is the right method for you?

The first and easiest method is fusible appliqué, sometimes referred to as raw edge appliqué.

Owl Fusible Applique on Fusibile Web

In fusible appliqué, you create your appliqué on a sheet of fusible web, which has paper or webbing on one side and a fabric adhesive on the other side.

You’ll print or trace your design on the non-adhesive side, attach the fabric for the appliqué, cut out the finished design and adhere the entire thing to your project.

Butterfly Raw Edge Applique with Finished Stitching

Some quilters choose to leave the fusible appliqué “as is,” and others choose to finish the raw edge with a decorative stitch. You can use a blanket stitch, a zig zag stitch, or anything else that you think looks nice.

The second appliqué method uses freezer paper, commonly known as freezer paper appliqué.

Freezer paper — the kind you buy at the grocery story or the kind made specially for sewing — is a thick paper with a shiny, waxy coating on one side. Some quilters find that freezer paper gives them smoother lines and sharper points.

Blue Star Quilted Appliqué

For the freezer paper appliqué method, you’ll first place the freezer paper, shiny side down, on your pattern. You should be able to see the pattern through, so you can easily trace it with pencil. Then, cut out the image along the line. (Keep in mind that when pressing onto the wrong side of the fabric, the image will be reversed when viewed from the right side of the fabric.)

Press Freezer Paper onto Blue Quilt Fabric


Lay the freezer paper appliqué on the wrong size of the fabric so that it’s aligned with the bias. Use an iron to press the freezer paper image onto the wrong side of the fabric.

Cut away the excess fabric, leaving an approximate 3/16″ seam allowance. Clip all inverted or inside curves, up to but not through the seam allowance. You may want to clip tiny notches on the outer curves to distribute the bulk, too.

Using an iron, press the seam allowance over the the freezer paper. Carefully peel away the freezer paper and position the appliqué piece onto the background fabric.

Baste, pin or glue the appliqué over the background fabric, then hand stitch it into place, turning the pressed edges under along the way.

The third and final appliqué method is needle turn appliqué.

This technique is much more intricate and takes a bit of developed skill. In this method, you use your sewing needle to sweep the seam allowance of your appliqué under so it’s not visible on the front of the project.

Pear Needle Turn Applique

Here’s how it works: Trace the shape onto freezer paper and press the paper onto the right side of the fabric. Then, trace around the freezer paper with a water-soluble marking pen. This line becomes the edge of your fold.

Cut around the appliqué shapes, leaving about ¼” seam allowance, then baste the pieces onto the background fabric.

Needle Turn Applique Up Close

Hand stitch the appliqué into place, using your needle or your fingers to sweep the edge under the appliqué fabric. 

Did you know Craftsy’s YouTube Channel is full of free, quick video tutorials?

Check out this one on easy ways to personalize your quilts with appliqué from instructor Angela Walters.

See more on Craftsy’s YouTube Quilting Channel.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2016 and was updated in March 2018.


Matilde e valle

What a wonderful inf, thanks a lot. Very useful at all times.

Catherine Eddy

This is very good information as I have Many containers of scraps. I keep wondering how to make the best use of them. Thanks

Jane Bulla

I need information (instruction) on making good appliqué points

karen walker

Hi Jane…i’ll get working on another blog post for how to make those sharp points! Thanks for the suggestion! Come back soon! 🙂

Elizabeth Murray

Thank you for the alternative ways to do applique – very interesting

Cheryl Masters

I just learned finally how to applique, thanks to you. I appreciate the information.

Janet Rostocki

My mother had a quilt that had very large appliqué flowers as the design. They were filled with batting, I think that raised them considerably. How do you do that? Proportionally enlarge every aspect exactly? Thanks

Judy P.

I would guess you would have to place a piece of batting slightly smaller than your applique shape. Then stitch the applique as you want. Hope that helps, think that is how I would do it

Barbara McKenzie

A fourth way, which I prefer, is to use a light-weight fusible interfacing. Trace your design onto the non-fusible side and cut out leaving a roughly 1/2 seam allowance. Place on the front of your fabric, fusible side facing the fabric and stitch on the drawn line. DO NOT PRESS! Cut out with a scant 1/4″ seam allowance, clip and notch curves as necessary. (I often just cut mine out with pinking shears.) Cut a slit in the interfacing and turn piece out through the slit. Iron into place on your block, the stitch around the edge with your stitch of choice. I learned this method from Eleanor Burns.


I thought the post was going to be about ways to add in appliqués to your quilt designs. I would appreciate that topic as a post in the future. Thanks!

Ria Favoreel

When using a fabric for your applique piece that frays easily, or is fairly thin, I use a variation on the fusible applique method : I draw my design on a piece of suitable interfacing – which does not need to be fusible – and pin the applique fabric on the interfacing. Then, I machine a small zigzag along the complete outline of the design. Then I can cut out my applique piece close to the zigzagged outline. This piece has now a completely secured outside that will not fray, and moreover has been reinforced with the interfacing. This will allow me to machine-applique it much more easily to whatever underground I want to. It’s a great help if you want to applique something with sharp points, narrow, intricate forms… Just make sure you do that small outline zigzag in either a neutral colour, or a colour that matches. When you machine-applique the prepared piece, use a bolder and more narrow zigzag that will cover your initial outline in a colour that suits your design and/or fabrics used. This technique allows you to avoid the use of glue, which may stiffen lighter and/or loosely woven fabrics too much. As a rule, I’m not too keen on using glue on any fabrics myself.

Bonnie Lawfer

I have a question about using a fusible adhesive. Is there a type of adhesive that is not stiff once you iron it onto your fabric, then blanket stitch around the applique? I would like to do some larger pieces but the fusible I am using is too stiff. Thank you.


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