Appliqués to Background
Appliqué. Don't let this word scare you, it is French for applied. In sewing it
means to stitch the piece to the background or, used as a noun, it means the
For Quiltsmart's pieced-by-appliqué methods, we recommend a simple zigzag
stitch with invisible top thread. This technique is fast, forgiving, and gives a
pieced look to the quilt.
- Use 100% cotton thread in your bobbin and invisible thread (Nylon
monofilament) in the top thread. If you can find it, Bobbinfill thread is
good for this step for two reasons. First, the weight matches that of the
monofilament top thread. Secondly, the fiber content matches. I find that I get
a better looking stitch.
- Use a small diameter needle in your machine ... size
11 is recommended.
- You may need to loosen the top tension a bit to prevent bobbin thread from
being pulled up through the fabric.
- Stitch so most of the zigzag stitch is on the appliqué (used as a noun)
and only piercing the background fabric.
- Practice the stitch on a layer of two fabrics with a scrap of interfacing
between to simulate your appliqué.
- The narrower the zigzag, the more invisible the stitch. Stitch length
should be about 10 stitches to the inch. Try to achieve a zigzag about
1/8th inch wide in the beginning, and as you practice you will be able to
get it much narrower, even to the point that it is barely a zigzag.
- No zigzag? No problem. You can use a straight stitch as close to the edge
of the appliqué as you can sew consistently and without "falling
off." Match the thread to the color of the appliqué piece and use a
stitch length of 12-15 stitches per inch.
There are several other ways to appliqué. The ones most commonly known tend
to be the scariest to the beginner quilter. These are not generally recommended:
- Invisible stitch by hand A technique of inserting and pulling the needle
through the cloth so that no thread shows from the top. This give a hand
crafted look to your quilt … but be prepared to invest a lot of time.
- Blind stitch hem A few straight stitches followed by one zigzag. The
problem here is that you won't wrap the edge of the appliqué well enough to
keep the pieces down.
- Satin stitch zigzag stitches very close together forming a solid satiny
looking row of thread. Satin stitches require a good deal of practice and
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