Sewing Appliques: Tips and Tricks for Professional Results

Kevin Kosbab is wrapping up the blog hop for his new book, The Quilter's Appliqué Workshop. But he hasn't run out of information to share about how to applique.

applique techniques by kevin kosbab
Kevin Kosbab shows you how to easily achieve beautiful appliqué results like this in his book Quilter's AppliquéWorkshop.

Many quilters and sewists are put off by appliqué's reputation as being fussy and just plain difficult. Or, they've tried appliqué techniques and have not been happy with how the work turned out.

In Kevin's book, he offers tips, tricks, and techniques (as well as many beautiful projects) that will want you to give appliqué quilting a chance and get great results, too.

Here are some of his tips:

1. In general, for both hand and machine appliqué, start sewing an appliqué along a straight or gently curved edge rather than a corner or point. The corners look neater this way.

2. To reduce stiffness from fusible web, cut the center away from your fusible shape, leaving a border of about 1/4" inside the traced outline.

3. Try different types, sizes, and brands of hand needles to find the best one for you. I use a size 11 sharps for hand appliqué, but you might find it easier to manipulate fabric edges with a longer milliners needle. Ask for recommendations from friends or quilt shops, but ultimately it's a personal decision.

4. Cross-wound spools of thread generally feed better on your machine's horizontal spool pin, while stacked (parallel-wound) spools work best on a vertical pin. If your machine doesn't have a vertical spool pin, try a thread stand-also a good idea if you find monofilament thread tangling when sewing invisible appliqué.

5. When combining piecing with appliqué, press the pieced seams in the direction that makes sense pictorially-that is, press seams away from whichever fabric is supposed to be the "background." When prepiecing fabrics to sew down as a single appliqué shape, press the seam allowances open to reduce bulk in the turned edges.

6. Interior points are the most difficult to sew by hand, so if you have a choice, it may be easier to sew two layered pieces instead of a single one with a deep point. This trick from Jean Ray Laury adds extra visual depth too.

7. For pieces that would be difficult or impossible to turn, use a nonfraying fabric like wool felt or Ultrasuede instead of quilting cotton. These fabrics also offer different texture possibilities.

8. Appliqué doesn't really come to life until it's quilted. Quilting just outside the motifs or sections of them really helps them pop dimensionally. You can also ad detail to the appliqué shapes with quilting, but be aware that all-over quilting designs that run over appliqués often ruins their effect.

So, what about you? Are you ready to give appliqué a chance? Get your copy of Quilter's Applique Workshop.

Other topics you may enjoy:

Categories

Quilting Daily Blog, Sewing Techniques

105 thoughts on “Sewing Appliques: Tips and Tricks for Professional Results

  1. I’ve just started experimenting with applique and enjoying it – but could definitely use some direction so this book would be a wonderful addition to my library.

  2. I am applique-challenged when it comes to hand applique, but I have done some machine applique with varying degrees of success so would love to have this book.
    thanks!

  3. I love machine applique! Once I jumped in and got going on a major league quilt top, I found it easier to do than I anticipated. Now it’s something I do frequently, am comfortable with, and enjoy. (I’ve been eyeing Kevin’s applique book lately. It looks excellent!)

  4. I have tried raw-edge and fusible applique, really enjoyed it. Applique gives so much freedom to designing your very own one-of-a-kind project. Winning Kevin’s book would be a welcome resource to add to my somewhat small library!

  5. I have tried machine applique only once on the first quilt project I ever made. I enjoyed the technique immensely and thought it added quite a bit to the overall effect of the design.

  6. I have tried machine applique only once on the first quilt project I ever made. I enjoyed the technique immensely and thought it added quite a bit to the overall effect of the design.

  7. love to add applique to a quilt ..it adds dimension to the quilt and like in art quilts it adds alot of interest to the quilt and can be worked on anywhere at any time….would love to have this book in my collection of books and to learn new things from the book….ty

  8. I love to applique. Hand and machine applique is a very calming activity for me. Applique gives you a world of decorating possibilities and it’s so much fun!

  9. I’ve only done machine raw edge appliqué. I would like to learn other methods for a more finished look. The book looks awesome! Thanks for the give-away!

  10. I like machine applique and prefer the freezer paper method where I remove the freezer paper and also am able to cut-away the background fabric. Leaves the quilt top flexible and one even layer.

  11. I like machine applique and prefer the freezer paper method where I remove the freezer paper and also am able to cut-away the background fabric. Leaves the quilt top flexible and one even layer.

  12. Although I have done a few applique designs on quilts I must admit that it is not my favorite technique. I’ve done machine and hand applique and the results have been beautiful. I am always concerned that the fabric will fray on the appliqued design after using the quilt. Applique certainly adds beauty to the finished quilt and some of my favorite quilts have applique designs on them. Possibly I need to be more educated on the process.

  13. I’m not experienced with applique methods other than fusible. I’d like to learn other methods, particularly by machine, to be able to do more of the quilts I’ve ogled in the magazines!

  14. I love art and applique lends itself so well to create art pieces and full size quilt designs. My applique is certainly not perfect but I am not the quilt police so I just enjoy the zen I get from the creative process and the pleasure I get from finishing my own piece of art.

  15. I find machine applique to be the most relaxing. I can add designs that would be hard to piece and I find I can relax into the sewing easier then when I am piecing.

  16. I’ve done some needle-turn applique and fused raw edge with satin stitch. But I have always wondered how a true raw edge (straight stitch inside the applique shape) would hold up after several washes. I know it is supposed to fray, but I haven’t dared yet to put all the work into a quilt and then be disappointed with it having a shabby look… Curious to see the techniques and projects in this book!

  17. I love to hand applique. Lately it has become so addictive that I have a hard time wanting to put it down to sleep! My fingers want to keep sewing. Love the example shown.

  18. I love all methods of applique. I feel you can make a project so very unique with the addition of applique, beading on applique, etc.
    I love to break “the rules”!! 😉

  19. I love sewing by hand so applique quickly became my favorite method of quilting. I’m just starting to do more machine applique and I enjoy that too. But hand applique will always be my favorite. Thanks for the great tips!

  20. I like applique because its like cut & paste, which I’ve always loved (since kindergarten).
    It’s also like collage, which I (you guessed it) LOVE.
    I just need to learn how to do free motion sewing for the quilting part of it.
    Blessings!
    Barbara Randolph

  21. I enjoy doing applique. It takes me away from the usual sit and chain stitch scenery. I like doing the needle turn technique or using freezer paper. I have tried machine applique, but I can never get my stitches quite right or the threads don’t want to work for me in the bobbin.

  22. I was scared of applique for a long time, and then I fell in love with a table runner pattern that had these applique pumpkins on it. I decided to give it a try and it came out beautifully–now I’m happy to say I no longer run screaming from applique patterns! :)

  23. I have only started an interest in quilting and applique this last year and I am absolutely in in love with the art quilts and free motion. I still do not know much but anxious to learn how to make truly beautiful appliques that look as though I knew exactly what I was doing. Appliques can accomplish so many looks.

  24. Although I haven’t done applique for three decades, I love the look of modern applique quilts, mini and baby sized. I have recently started sewing projects again after my retirement. Kevin Kosbab does beautiful, creative things with applique. I would be thrilled to win his book and study his techniques.

  25. Although I haven’t done applique for three decades, I love the look of modern applique quilts, mini and baby sized. I have recently started sewing projects again after my retirement. Kevin Kosbab does beautiful, creative things with applique. I would be thrilled to win his book and study his techniques.

  26. I have tried appliqué, but have not been terribly pleased with my results. Fused appliqué has worked the best so far. Would love to win this workshop.

  27. I am doing lots of appliqué in a monthly wallhanging series and in using paper backed fusible web & tracing my designs, as you said above it helps the piece be less stiff by cutting away the middle of the fusible for bigger pieces. I trace smaller pieces in the centre of the large piece ( ensuring as ou said to leave at least 1/4 inch in between) and then cut the middle fusible piece out before I cut out the larger piece. I then save on fusible webbing!! Thanks

  28. I am just learning to applique, hand applique that is. I like the fact that I can take it with me when traveling. My husband likes to make lots of stops to get out and stretch his legs. I can find somewhere to settle down and applique until he is ready to get back in the car. It does not take up much space. I love it.

  29. I love applique. It is such a rewarding artform – because anything goes! Many years ago I did traditional needle turned by hand applique. Now I am into raw edge with a triple stitch on my machine and I usually use varigated thread.

  30. I fell for quilting and saw so many possibilities to applique, back in the 70’s– when applique patterns were old-timey and rules made it scary. Now– fabrics with fantastic pattern & color, new ideas & freeing techniques … Now I am a quilter instead of a dreamer! And applique is a major part of every project!

  31. All good tips. Thank you. I love to learn new applique/sewing techniques and tips. I like combining different fabrics in my art quilts and then add applique and mixed-media embellishments. That little something extra is what brings the piece to life. This book would be a very welcomed addition to my sewing library.

  32. I am looking forward to more ideas. I love to applique on machine and especially by hand and my favorite is with wool. BUT, more ideas always welcome! I have an Hawaiian pillow cut out, just getting the nerve to begin with needle turn.

  33. I took an applique class at the International Quilt Festival and would love to have an applique book to read and refer to so I feel more confident starting my first applique quilt. This book would be great to have for an applique newbie such as myself!

  34. I just did my first applique project from my own design! I wish I had known not to start at a point, to remove fusible web in the middle (what a good idea!), and that my needle might be too fat before I started. What other tips am I missing?

  35. I like it because you can add personality to match that of the person
    You are giving the sewn item to. I’m adding a large center block in my quilt
    On which I will appliqué a black cat . It adds spark, And fun and will make
    It pop!

  36. I have tried the needle turn, fusible and reverse applique. I like the needle turn for the portability, Fusible can be faster and it is portable if the edges are to be accented with handwork.

    For years, I have avoided the wool applique method. Didn’t need another vice but I unfortunately saw a pattern I couldn’t resist. That method is definitely portable and quick.

    The place mat pictured is a real eye catcher!

  37. Fear of failure has kept me from trying applique. I really need to just force myself to sit down and do it. I love the look of hand applique, but my lazy side likes the idea of machine applique.

  38. I have tried several methods of applique and they look alright but I know my projects could look better. I see projects I would like to try but put them on the back burner if they include much applique. I would really love to try Kevin’s tips and hope they would enable me to feel more comfortable with applique and be happier with the finished product

  39. I love applique. Most of the quilts I chose have applique in them. I find it relaxing to do at night, and can affect the design, even if I did not do the original designing.

  40. I am very happy I found this web site. I have sewn for my children when they were young, then got away from it for years. Now I want to sew for my grandkids. I have just started to learn to sew quilt squares. I am amazed at all the different types of fusible papers and interfacings there are now a days. This is where I really get confused on what to use. But I have to say that I excited to learn about them all.

  41. I said earlier that I was just learning how to quilt and applique is something new to try also. Some of the quilts are so detailed, but when I watch some of the shows, these quilters make it look so easy. I can’t wait to learn and try my hand at some of the applique projects.

  42. I have just recently found quilting and applique. My grandmother used to quilt but I followed her into crochet and my mom into sewing. Last summer was the first time I tried to quilt.

  43. I have just recently found quilting and applique. My grandmother used to quilt but I followed her into crochet and my mom into sewing. Last summer was the first time I tried to quilt.

  44. I really enjoy fusible appliqué. I feel my creative bounds are limitless when ever I’m using this technique. I always end with machine stitching just to be sure it stays put!

  45. I have been piecing quilts for many years, and learned many different techniques in that time. I have been hesitant to tackle applique because it appears to take such skill, but I feel ready to take on a new skill challenge and this book looks like it would be helpful to me in my new skill challenge.

  46. I have been piecing quilts for many years, and learned many different techniques in that time. I have been hesitant to tackle applique because it appears to take such skill, but I feel ready to take on a new skill challenge and this book looks like it would be helpful to me in my new skill challenge.

  47. Hi,

    Before I buy this book I need to know if the pattern of the round paisley center piece (like the picture above) from Kevin Kosbab is includ in this book.

    Thank you, Céline

  48. Hi,

    Before I buy this book I need to know if the pattern of the round paisley center piece (like the picture above) from Kevin Kosbab is includ in this book.

    Thank you, Céline

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