New Orleans House Project

Sunday, January 21, 2018

2018: The Year of Machine Applique?

One of my life-long quilting goals has been to become accomplished at the art of appliqué.  In my early years as a quilter, I did plenty of fused appliqué outlined with machine satin stitch, but the fusibles of 20+ years ago made for stiff and not very snuggly quilts.  I also learned the basics of hand appliqué, but never practiced much.  

Over the past 2 or 3 years, I've challenged myself to learn hand appliqué all over again.  I'm starting to feel somewhat competent at it, but there's still lots of room for improvement.  Besides perfecting the appliqué stitch, there are different techniques to learn for appliqué shape preparation, not to mention learning new ways to coordinate color and fabric styles.

Then there's the time requirement for all that hand-stitching.  I do enjoy the stitching process, but setting aside time for it is always a struggle.  With that in mind, I wondered if machine appliqué would be a way to create traditional-look appliqué in a more timely fashion.

Along came a BOM (Gathered Harvest) at my local quilt store, the Quilted Owl.  I knew a quilt from Blackbird Designs would be a good project to attempt machine appliqué due to the relatively simple appliqué shapes.  

The first block kit became available earlier this month.  I'm using freezer paper and starch to create my appliqué shapes.  So far, I'm just prepping the pieces - there are LOTS of leaves and berries still to prep!  For stitching, I'll be using invisible thread and a very small zig-zag stitch.  I've done a few practice pieces, and the look of the stitching is very much like hand appliqué!

At the same time, I'll be working on a quilt that's been in the UFO pile for far too long!
I started assembling these 3-D or Origami Bow-Tie blocks back in 2012, but they got set aside for some reason or other.  The blocks are from an exchange that happened in 2005, so they've waited long enough!

Fast-forward to yesterday, when I finally started to attach the appliqué shapes to the border!  I had prepped all the shapes in 2012, so now I just need to get everything in place and stitched.  The border is from the cover of Quick Quilts from the Heart by Liz Porter and Marianne Fons.

The shapes have been applied using SoftFuse, which is softer and more flexible than the fusibles from days gone by.  Instead of using the invisible thread technique, these shapes will be stitched using Aurifil 50 weight thread and a machine blanket stitch.  It will take some time to stitch everything, but it's still faster than hand appliqué!


  1. Enjoy you machine appliqué. Looks like you’ve got plenty of practice blocks ready to go.

  2. I do quite a bit of machine applique using various techniques. It's fun to learn new things!

  3. Well your projects are certainly lovely, and my hat is off to you for perfecting a technique!

  4. Thank goodness there are a variety of ways to prep pieces and ways to applique. Fusible products have come a long way since they were first introduced. I like Soft Fuse as well when I go that route. The appliqued border on your bowties just brings it to life. I recognize a lot of those fabrics. :0)

  5. Angie, this is going to look great!

  6. One of my early quilts was a bow tie quilt for my mother in law. It had Y-seams (I didn't know they were hard, or, how to make them easier way back then). Later I learned an easier way, and have kits made up to use when I demo on vintage machines.

  7. LOVE the bowtie quilt with the added applique! So sweet. And kudos to you for figuring out how to do applique in the way best suited to you.:)

  8. Enjoy your machine applique. I am a traditional Appliquer and love it, but you are right, it takes time. I failed a long time ago with machine applique. Enjoy!

  9. The bow tie quilt is so adorable. Good luck with your machine appliqué. I’m sure it will be perfect.

  10. Good for you! I prefer applique over piecing any day. I am NOT a precision piecer, but I can "get by". I have tried machine applique many times, but I just can't seem to get the hang of it. Believe it or not I am much faster at hand applique. I look forward to watching your progress. Have fun!

  11. Hooray for applique - any way.
    I do both hand and machine.
    Love that signature bow tie - just charming!