Indispensable Applique Tips & Techniques

Throughout my appliqué journey, I have collected a good number of important applique tips and techniques. These I've learned from personal hands-on experience or skilled craftspeople in the same field. Each of these tips and techniques has significantly improved the quality of my finished appliqué projects, from enhancing the precision of each stitch to producing a more visually appealing final quilt. The list is not all-encompassing, but it is my personal philosophy and practices when engaging in appliqué.

1: Stabilize your background fabric

This step is paramount. Stabilizing your background fabric prevents it from puckering or distorting. It allows you to create crisp and clean designs, enhancing the overall appearance of the appliqué. You can buy a spray starch (my preference) or make your own.

2: Cut background fabric larger than required.  Add an extra inch on all sides during cutting. This accounts for the natural shrinking of the background fabric that occurs during appliqué.

3: Warm Company Steam-A-Seam Lite Steam-A-Seam 2 Double Stick Fusible Web-9"X12" Sheets 5/Pkg - These 9"X12" sheets are integral in your appliqué kit. However, keep them out of direct sunlight as this could affect their fusible attributes.

4: Use the best quality fabric you can afford. The outcome of your appliqué project largely depends on the quality of your materials. Splurge as much as you can afford on top-notch fabric for optimum results. I used some very old silk that my mother gave me for her memory quilt and it has required yearly repairs due to the weakening fibres in the silk.

5: Use an open-toed foot. This type of foot enhances your visibility as you sew, making it easier for you to monitor your stitching and make precise movements.

6: Use a slow machine speed when sewing. When it comes to appliqué, slow and steady does indeed win the race. Slower speeds allow for greater control and accuracy in your stitching.

7: Use a sewing machine that ends with the needle in the down position. It facilitates seamless turning while stitching.

8: Opt for a finer machine needle: Personally, I find size 11 to be highly effective. A finer needle pierces the fabric smoothly without leaving noticeable holes behind.

9: Use a finer thread on the bobbin: This reduces the chances of thread bunching and results in a cleaner appliqué stitch.

10: Do a practice stitch: Before you dive into your project, practice your preferred stitch on calico or a similar fabric. This allows you to refine your technique and work out any kinks. I have at times found that I needed to send my sewing machine for a service at this point. Frustrating but necessary to creating a fabulous quilt.

11: Dry iron only. Some of the iron-on stabilizers work best with a steam iron. Just remember that if you don't pre-wash your fabrics you run the risk of shrinking them with your steam iron. I've done this recently and was surprised! This is only a problem if you are making a group quilt.

12: NOW Foods Organic Eucalyptus Oil, 1 ounce for cleaning your needle. The stabilizer you use may adhere to your needle so knowing this trick is a life saver. 

13: Avoid nylon threads: Nylon threads have a tendency to cut through the fabric. Stick with cotton or polyester threads for a more durable stitch.

14: How to wash your finished appliqué block. Keep the longevity and vibrance of your finished appliqué block by learning the proper washing techniques.

15: Carson Optical Clip-and-Flip 2x Power Magnifying Lens +4.00 Diopters - for those of us needing a little extra help seeing exactly where the needle is going. Some sewing machines come with a magnifying attachment that helps you see your stitches.

These applique tips have proven invaluable in my quilting journey, significantly improving my projects' quality and ease of creation. I trust they will yield the same rewarding results in your own appliqué endeavors!

My Amazon ads are my affiliate links. Thank you.

Sign up for my newsletter below!

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.
Share this page:
Enjoy this page? Please let others know. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.