New Orleans House Project

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Hospital Sketches BOM: Hand Appliqué

For the past two years or so, I've been trying to perfect my machine appliqué skills.  I wanted to become proficient with machine appliqué because I believed using the sewing machine would help me finish projects more quickly.

My favorite method of machine appliqué is to prep the pieces using the freezer paper and starch method, then stitch the pieces in place using a small zig-zag stitch and fine monofilament or polyester thread.  I relied on a couple of resources to learn this technique:  Barbara Brackman's Quilter's Guide to Fine Machine Appliqué, Kim Diehl's Simple Appliqué, and the classic Mastering Machine Appliqué by Harriet Hargrave.

So there I was, happily stitching down lots of Mountain Laurel leaves for one of the Hospital Sketches BOM blocks, when my sewing machine developed a problem.  I knew I wouldn't be able to take the machine in to get checked out until the following week, so I decided to finish appliquéing the laurel leaves by hand.  

I quickly fell under the spell of hand stitching the appliqué pieces to the background fabric.  I also realized I could easily stitch a piece or two every morning before work - all I needed to do was sit down, thread a needle and stitch.  Somehow it seemed easier than prepping the sewing machine and doing the machine appliqué.  

Once I started to appreciate the soothing effects of hand appliqué, I figured I should try hand stitching another block in the Hospital Sketches BOM.  Tennessee Rose went together easily, especially since I was still using the freezer paper/starch prep method.

This morning I finished the eighth block in the series, Triple Tulips.  Only one more block left to finish for the Hospital Sketches BOM - and I guess I'll be using hand appliqué for that block, too.

Gathered Harvest block from 2018 BOM
Now that I've discovered how much I enjoy the hand appliqué process, I'm already thinking about future hand appliqué projects.  There's 2018's Gathered Harvest BOM that got set aside when Hospital Sketches started, and an Oak Leaf and Reel table runner pattern I've had on my wish list for some time...
This new-found love of hand appliqué seems like it will be a fun and satisfying enterprise.  My only concern is when will I find time for other hand stitching projects - like quilt binding and hand quilting?!


  1. This post really resonates with me! I have done both methods and you are right - there is something about hand applique! I love using freezer paper to prep. Your Gathered Harvest block is a knockout! I didn't join in with hospital sketches, but I'm looking forward to 'Yankee Notions'!

  2. There's a time and s place for both methods. You know I've done both, bit I'll admit, the hand stitching is my first love. Your blocks look terrific. Fabulous gathered Harvest block. I've used the same 3 books for my machine app techniques. Enjoy your time with needle and thread.

  3. Well, there is time for all of them you just need to go with what mood you are in! Your Hospital blocks are beautiful.

  4. Your blocks are gorgeous and I'm so happy to hear that you enjoy hand applique'. It does take a while to feel the benefits of the slow process, but It is so satisfying.
    I use machine applique too and for somethings it is perfect. But nothing takes the place of a project you can take along with you or do while watching tv or a movie with family

  5. It amazes me how many quilters avoid hand applique only to get hooked on it once they give it a go. Your Hospital Sketches blocks are lovely and the Blackbird Designs quilt is going to be awesome--what a beautiful block!

  6. Oh how wonderful! So glad you found some hand stitching that is enjoyable... your work is so lovely!

  7. You have acquired a new skill set, and so happy for you! If you want it, you will find time for it... and any quilter who learns it wants to do it... keep at it, and you will get even better at what ever IT it is.

  8. I love hand applique, too! I've done machine applique, but it usually ends with me using the sort of language that would have made my mother reach for a bar of soap...

  9. Angie, these are beautiful. I too love hand piecing and applique, this was really enjoyed when doing my 365 circle quilt (2016). And now I cannot seem to get enough EPP.