Those who are beginning quilting should know the French word, appliqué. It means to put on or to apply. In the hobby of quilting, one small layer of fabric is placed over another larger background fabric. It’s a versatile technique that lets more possibilities and designs emerge.
Sew appliqué using simple designs at first. There are many designs in appliqué and the ones that take the most skill are the small and intricate creations. For a beginner, use basic shapes and patterns, like rectangles and hearts.
Before attaching a smaller fabric to a larger fabric, the smaller piece must first be prepared. It must be cut out and the raw edges must not be seen. There are several ways to prepare the design pieces.
Hand Basting. Use a quilting template to draw the appliqué design on the right side of the fabric. Trim the fabric 1/8 inch away from the drawn line. Cut the fabric close to the line on curve and on inside points. Turn the edge to the underside of the piece and press it down with your fingers. Hand baste the raw edge in place. Take off the thread you used for hand basting after attaching the piece.
Freezer Paper. Draw the appliqué design on the paper side of a freezer paper. Cut the paper on the drawn lines. Attach the plastic side of the freezer paper on the wrong side of the fabric. Press it with a dry iron on medium heat. Leave a ¼ inch to 1/8-inch allowance. Trim the seam allowance close to the paper on curves and inside points. Press the allowances over the paper side. Remove the paper after attaching it by opening a small slit in the background fabric.
Wash-Away Stabilizer. Draw the appliqué design onto a water-soluble stabilizer. Place the stabilizer on the right side of the design piece. Sew on the drawn line. Cut around the design while leaving an allowance of ¼ inch to 1/8 inch. Trim the seam allowances closely on curves and inside points. Create a small slit in the stabilizer and turn the piece and right side out. Push all the points and curves into the right shape, using a blunt instrument. Press with a dry iron. After it is attached cool water will remove the stabilizer.
These methods can be used with hand piecing or machine piecing, although there is another method that can be used for machine piecing alone. Remember to be careful when sewing appliqué and to note which side of the cloth you should draw the design.
If you are beginning quilting or learning to quilt, the freezer paper method is recommended for now. Try the other methods some day to widen your quilting repertoire.