Appliqué is used very often in quilting and cloths construction. It can be accomplished by hand or machine. There are different ways of doing hand appliqué. The needle turn method and the freezer paper method are the ones I am familiar with.
An image, say a flower is cut out of fabric. It is placed on a background fabric by the use of small invisible stitches. This is a task that is not easily done nor perfected. I have attempted this technique many times with at best mediocre success. My stitches are often too large and not nearly invisible enough. The edges of my turned fabric are not smooth either. I have been shown by a few appliqué experts and it just doesn’t stick with me.
So, on to the freezer paper method. The freezer paper is ironed onto the back of the flower. Then the flower is stitched onto the background with tiny invisible stitches. After the flower is attached to the background, it is turned over and the back of the flower is slit and the freezer paper removed. Again, my stitches are too big and can be seen.
In machine appliqué, the image is attached to the background using a sewing machine. There are several different feet and stitches that can be used. The feet and stitches are determined by how you want the edge of your image to look. If you want it to look like it’s done by hand, you choose an invisible stitch. Otherwise, there are many other stitches that can be used to add decoration to the applique.
Appliqué can also be achieved using wool fabric. The stitches are much more prominent in the piece as that is the desired effect. This works up quickly and gives you a much more primitive piece.
Lastly, an embroidery machine can be used to appliqué. The machine stitches out an outline for the fabric, then it stitches around the layered fabric creating an appliqué.
All of these methods require practice and patience. And they all produce a lovely piece of work when completed.
Below is a wall hanging that was a gift from a friend of mine. She used her embroidery machine to appliqué the Sunbonet Sue’s onto the quilt.