I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this, and similar sentiments from people, from fabric manufacturers to shop owners in the quilting industry.
Apparently, if I am to believe what I hear, quilters are intimidated by appliqué mainly because of three myths:
- appliqué is hard
- appliqué takes a long time
- appliqué is not “modern” and cool and really only applies to Baltimore albums and their like.
These myths couldn’t be further from the truth, however. Appliqué can be quite quick, is not at all hard, and is as cool, trendy, and modern as the designer and quilter makes it. As a matter of fact, I will claim that appliqué has some advantages over pieced quilts that you may not have thought about before.
1) No need to worry about the ¼” seam allowance! I love fusible raw-edge machine appliqué. I stink at accurate piecing so although I am attracted to intricate pieced quilt, I get frustrated just thinking about all the accurate quarter-inch seams I would have to sew perfectly in order for this quilt to be flat and clean looking. The more intricate the piecing of the quilt, the more slight deviations from the perfect ¼” seam will matter. With raw-edge fusible appliqué all I usually need to do is piece together larger blocks and borders. Much less frustrating.
2) Freedom of shape. I love making pictorial quilts, with blocks that tell a story. When I do appliqué there is no math. If I can draw it, I can pretty much appliqué it. Your motifs can be much more complex and curved piecing and inset seams are no problem. Often appliqué opens the door for more organic shapes that are hard to convey in a pieced quilt.
3) The variety of techniques. There are so many ways to do appliqué. The simplest technique is probably raw-edge machine appliqué, but you can also do turned edge machine appliqué (a million different ways), and hand appliqué (also a million different ways). Sometimes I like to sit quietly and do needle-turn appliqué on an heirloom project, at other times I adore the productivity of the sewing machine.
4) Bigger design repertoire. When you are open to both appliqué and piecing as viable techniques your design repertoire is almost infinite. Like to sew pinwheels? What happens if you put appliqué into your pinwheel blocks?
5) Great for travel. Hand appliqué travels easily. Of course, so does hand-piecing. I love how small hand-work projects accompany me on vacations, business trips, kid events etc.
Apparently (and fortunately) I am not the only person who is in love with appliqué. Lately, more appliqué quilts have shown up in the modern and hip quilt magazines like Generation Q (http://generationqmagazine.com).
Interweave/F&W has recently released a new book, The Quilter’s Applique Workshop by Kevin Kosbab. If you are new to applique, have made a few attempts but want to expand your comfort zone, or simply learn a new applique technique, I highly recommend that you pick up a copy of the book.
The Quilter’s Applique Workshop is meant to teach technique and includes cute modern projects in all the major applique techniques from the more time consuming needle-turn and reverse needle-turn applique, to invisible machine applique and raw edge machine applique techniques.
The instructions are immaculate, with detailed color photography and graphics included. I also love how Kevin Kosbab is giving a little “why use this technique” section to explain when and why you may want to pick one technique over another.
Looking at his book I get an urge to teach a whole series of workshops built on the book and go through every technique it covers in detail. Really, with this little gem sitting next to your sewing machine, there is all reason to tackle applique and increase your self-esteem in the process.
The Quilter’s Appliqué Workshop, By Kevin Kosbab, Interweave/F+W; $26.99 bit.ly/JFVK4U