How to Applique
Applique is a creative technique that is often used in quilting. It can also be intimidating if you've never tried it before. Here are some simplified instructions, for those who wish to attempt this sometimes dreaded task. An applique stitch is a stitch used to attach one piece of fabric to another. In quilt making, this method is often used to attach simple cut-outs to a base fabric. The applique stitch will accomplish two things. First, it will securely attach the cut-out to the block. Second, it will keep the edges of the cut-out from fraying. Below, you will find step by step instructions on how to applique.
1) The first step is to cut out a quilt block and also the shape you wish to attach to the block. If you have purchased a pre-cut quilt kit, this will already be done for you.
2) Next, you will use a light weight fusible web (sold as Stitch Witchery, Heat N Bond, etc.) to attach the cut-out to the block. This will prevent the cut-out from moving around while you applique. Washing the fabrics before starting the fusing process, will ensure that the fusible web will adhere to the fabrics. Follow the instructions that come with the fusible web to attach the cut-out(s) to the quilt block. Note: If you don't have fusible web, you can use straight pins to attach the cut-outs, but you will likely have puckers in your cut-out when it is appliqued.
To center a name on a block, start with the middle letter of the name. For example, if you have the name, "AVERY", you would start with the letter "E". Place the "E" in the center of the block and press. Then place the "V" and the "R". Then place the "A" and the "Y".
3) Choose your thread color. If you are a beginner, it is a good idea to choose a thread color that will blend in with the shape you will applique'. This will help to hide any mistakes, as they will blend in with the shape(s) and seem unnoticeable. If you are pretty confident and experienced, with a sewing machine that takes fairly uniform stitches, you may want to coordinate your thread with an accent color on your quilt. In this case, you would choose a color much different from the shape that matches another color on the quilt that you want to bring out.
4) Test your tension! This step is very important and is one that you should try on scrap pieces of fabric. This way, you won't mess up your masterpiece! Take two scraps, one that is smaller than the other one. Use your zigzag stitch to sew the smaller piece on top of the larger piece. Sew along the edge of the smaller piece so that the needle alternates, taking a stitch on the smaller piece, and a stitch on the larger piece, attaching the two together. Make sure your stitches are even. Your zigzag stitches should also be very close together, to create a satin stitch, so the edge of the cut out is not exposed when you are finished. If your stitches are not satisfactory, adjust your tension, a little at a time, until you get the desired results. If adjusting your thread tension doesn't work, try adjusting your bobbin tension.
5) Now for the fun part! It is a good idea to start on a corner so the place where you start and end will look as smooth as possible. Sew around the shape(s) with a zigzag stitch. If you are going to applique' more than one shape, such as a name, start with the center letter first. As you sew around the shape, pause and turn on the corners, to keep an even stitch, all the way around. Try to end so that the place you start and end looks continuous.
See, that wasn't so difficult. You should now have an appliqued piece of work, that you can show to all of your friends, and be proud of.