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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.