an applique methods test

by Dorie on August 20, 2013

applique methods sampler

Hey everyone, I think applique is sneaking up on me. It’s moving from the “stuff I don’t do” category into the “stuff I might do” category. I blame you all.

Last week, I went to the AQS show in Grand Rapids, and I was really surprised that two of my favorite quilts (both by Timna Tarr) were both applique, and specifically, applique circles. I was at the show with Debbie (and Brenda and Ginia), who does really fantastic applique herself, so maybe that has something to do with it? Or maybe it was just being at a show with other quilters who can sum up your oooh-ing and ahh-ing into, “sounds like you might want to do some applique!”

So why not? I decided to do an applique sampler block so that I could do a side-by-side comparison of methods I have tried before. You know, I has hoping that I secretly found one of these methods to be great fun, and that I was also secretly very good at it. I made a petal shape, and executed it using needle turn applique, machine raw-edge applique, turned applique, and machine reverse applique.

one on

raw edge

Raw Edge Applique
So, I really should have fused my petal shape to my foundation fabric before zig-zagging over the edge. I think it would have come out better and the zig-zig wouldn’t have puckered the fabric the way it did.
Pros: quick
Cons: fabric is distorted from wrestling, how would it wash?

turned applique

Turned Applique
I don’t know if this method has a proper name, but Jenna does it for her applique quilts, so I thought I’d give it a go. I clipped my curves pretty well, but I still didn’t get a smooth edge. Maybe this would be better if I attached it using a blind hem stitch?
Pros: quick, potential for many/any shapes
Cons: bulk in seam allowance, very 3D, my topstitching is a mess

reverse applique

3 in

Machine Reverse Applique
I did what Rossie outlines here, but maybe it would have been cleaner if I used the 6 minute circle?
Pros: clean and fairly quick. cleaner if you do it the 6 min way without topstitching, at least if you’re me.
Cons: Reverse applique just doesn’t work in some situations, particularly layered, overlapping situations

needle turned

Needle Turn Applique
Many years ago, I did a doll quilt for Eva using needle turn applique and it hurt my neck and gave me headaches. I hear you’re supposed to drink wine before starting your project in order to combat this. My one petal went fine. It only took 10 minutes. It would have been better if I could have found my freezer paper for the template.
Pros: I like the look of not seeing topstitching, can be done on the go (handwork)
Cons: slower (but not that slow), getting a smooth edge is tricky.

So which one is best? I’m not sure. I think I’ll give the raw edge a try with fuseable web, and I’ll try the turned applique with the blind hem stitch. I’m not sure how to make my topstitching better. I asked my husband and daughter which they liked best, and they both really didn’t like the needle turned petal, but did like the raw edge. Before I did this little exercise, I thought needle turn would win and raw edge would lose. That didn’t happen. So confusing! I’m not ready to start any quilts yet, but a have a couple more methods to try.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Debbie-Esch House Quilts August 20, 2013 at 8:58 am

Yay, Dorie! Great idea to try out so many methods. You might want to try using a stabilizer under your applique when you zig zag the edges – it will help with the puckering. I use Stitch N Tear, but there are lots of other options.


Dorie August 20, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Thanks Debbie! I will try it.


Melissa f. August 20, 2013 at 11:08 am

I, too, decided this was the year of the appliqué (I’ll give you two guesses as to how far I’ve gotten: barely or not really far at all) and turned to YouTube to help. There was a very interesting tutorial on doing layered reverse appliqué that had my brain in a knot but actually seemed to work really well. I started using it on the DS appliqué quilt in the new book. So far (and spoiler! Not very far) so good. I’ll see if I can find it for you.


Dorie August 20, 2013 at 5:08 pm

It must be going around. Yes, I want that link! And no, no matter how you slice it, it doesn’t seem like a quick process.


Lynn August 21, 2013 at 2:29 pm

It is good to try different methods. I have done this too.
Elly Seinkiewicz shows several methods of needle turn in her books. I tried them all and liked the results I got with freezer paper on the top. I can show you sometime. It is the method I use when I teach hand applique. With practice you get better and don’t need the freezer paper. It helps give good results from the beginning and holds the fabric to shape.


Dorie August 22, 2013 at 8:16 am

Thanks, Lynn! I will have to look her up!


CitricSugar September 1, 2013 at 3:06 am

Great breakdown – it’s nice to see them all together for an accurate comparison. I’ve had mixed results with appliqué, mostly because I almost never do it, but it’s awesome to know what’s worked for other people.


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