How to Applique a Quilt

By Liz Tomas

Applique is defined as the process of putting one item onto another. In the case of quilting, one layer of fabric is placed over the quilt to create a new design or picture on the quilt. There are several different types of applique that can be used, though the main method is the same. It is best to start with hand applique to learn the basics of applique. However you can also do machine applique using a sewing machine or you can do reverse applique. Reverse applique uses layers of fabric. The top most layers are cut away to show the under layers.

Create your own applique pattern or use one from a book. It is also possible to download applique patterns online. Almost anything can be used as an applique pattern, including coloring book pictures.

Cut out the applique pattern pieces. Hand baste the edges of the pattern pieces to stop the fabric edges from showing and fraying. Other methods that can prevent fraying include adhering the fabric to freezer paper or fusible web and pressing the edges over to the backside before sewing on the applique.

Knot the end of a single thread and thread a size 10 or 11 needle. Use the blind stitch to sew the applique pieces onto the quilt. Insert the needle into the background fabric opposite from where you want the needle to come out near the edge of the applique piece. Bring the needle up through the applique piece, but near the edge. Keep making tiny stitches in this way until you have sewn around the entire piece. Bring the thread to the back of the fabric and knot the end.

Cut any excess fabric from the edges of the sewn on applique piece using a pair of very sharp shears. Keep applying applique pieces using the blind stitch until your design is complete.

About the Author

Liz Tomas began writing professionally in 2004. Her work has appeared in the "American Journal of Enology and Viticulture," "BMC Genomics" and "PLoS Biology." She holds a Master of Science in food science from Cornell University and a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry from the University of New Hampshire. She is pursuing her Ph.D. in oenology at Lincoln University.