To Quilt or not to Quilt Applique!

Posted by on August 24, 2010

At some point you will most likely have an appliquéd quilt to finish on the longarm quilting machine. The question then is whether to quilt on the appliqué or stay off of it and go around the appliqué. There will be a great temptation to quilt on the appliqué as the longarm could certainly go through all the layers and secure those pieces forever.

The answer has  been generalized but will hold true for the majority of appliqué quilts.

  1. Stay off of the appliqué and go around absolutely everything you can about ¼ inch away from the appliqué work. If you quilt on the appliqué it seems to destroy the appearance by shrinking it down into the stitching valley irregularly. If you quilt ¼ inch away from the appliqué the appliqué is on the top of the puff of the quilted area and retains its shape.Acceptations are when the appliqué is large and may need a second or third line of stitching to go through and secure the layers as the batting manufacturer has a recommendation for stitching distance on the package and we do want to use those guidelines.
  2. If you are using a background fill in like meandering you may not even need to outline the appliqué if you think you can get close enough and even enough to compliment the appliqué.  To decide this, picture how the back of the quilt will look with just the fill in. You might like to actually outline the block and not the appliqué to make the back look like a quilt and not scattered meandering. Thinking about what will be on the back will also help you to keep a balanced amount of quilting in each block as appliquéd quilts are often samplers with varied amounts of appliqué in each block and you do want to try to balance the amount of quilting throughout the quilt.

Filed under: Blog,TinLizzie18 Quilting Tips,Uncategorized

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  1. Any ideas on how to deal with a big applique that needs to be held down?

  2. Donald Chamberlain says:

    I have an Ansley 26 with the Shirley Stitcher. I’m manually sewing a pantograph with the lizzie stitch from the back of the machine with a laser light. When I sew straight front to back or back to front the stitches are good. But when I try to sew an arch from right to back the machine skips stitches and leaves a long stitch. I have tried every thing I know whats next ?

  3. My general rule of thumb..if it’s larger than 3″ across, with the customer’s permission, I add stitching to the applique.
    I have even added stitching to the dress and bonnet of Sunbonnet sue blocks, if they are large and on at least a 12″ square of fabric. You can really make the applique pop if you know what you are doing…and how to NOT overdo it.
    It’s the same going through cross stitch and embroidery…I do a lot of embroidery for myself and family…I try to avoid it, but some blocks need the extra quilting…I sometimes follow the embroidery stitching on roses, leaves, etc…if you are using a thread to match the background, and it has little sheen (cotton is best)…it can actually help the embroidery pop.

  4. Diane says:

    Any ideas on how to deal with a big applique
    that needs to be held down?

    • sabrina says:

      Diane, If the Applique is a single piece, you could either echo the shape of the piece serveral times inside the shape going smaller and smaller each time until the area is secured or filled in with background like meandor. If the large applique is a profile of a person or animal add detail such as Feathers. The TinLizzie18 Team

    • Sabrina’s answer is perfect. Also, go to and search for quilt + applique…see what others have done.

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