How Do I Make an Applique Quilt?

S. McNesby

Three separate layers — an appliqued decorative top, cotton or polyester batting, and a solid or print backing — are use to make an applique quilt. Several methods can be used to create the top of the quilt; the method used is up to the individual quilter. Appliques can be attached with fusible webbing or sewn to the quilt top by hand or machine. Once the quilt top is completed, the layers are assembled and quilted just like any other type of quilt.

Appliques can be attached either with iron-on or sewing methods.
Appliques can be attached either with iron-on or sewing methods.

The top portion of an applique quilt is the part that takes the longest to make, and it is also the most decorative portion of the finished quilt. An applique is a piece of fabric that is attached on top of a pieced or solid quilt top. These appliques can be made from a pattern or designed as you go, and shapes can range from simple hearts and circles to intricate figures and pictures. Patterns to make appliqued quilts can be found in books, leaflets, quilting stores, or online.

Applique often requires that precise cut outs be made from brightly colored fabric.
Applique often requires that precise cut outs be made from brightly colored fabric.

There are several ways to make an applique quilt top. The easiest way to add the appliques is to use fusible webbing to attach the shapes to the quilt top. While this method is simple and relatively fast, the finished quilt will need to be handled and washed with care to avoid damaging the design. The traditional method of attaching appliques involves cutting the pattern pieces from fabric and then hand-sewing them in place. While this technique takes a little longer to complete, it creates a durable, heirloom-quality applique quilt top.

Once the design on the top of an applique quilt is completed and sewn, the piece is layered with a batting and backing, and basted with pins or adhesive spray. Quilting can be done by hand or machine, depending on the skill level and personal preferences of the person making the quilt. The piece can be quilted with an overall pattern or by working around the individual appliques. Once the hand or machine quilting is complete, binding is applied to finish the edges and complete the quilt.

An applique quilt can be washed and cared for in the same way as a traditional pieced quilt. These quilts can be completed in any size, from wall hanging to king-sized; the only differences are in the amount of fabric used and the amount of time needed to complete the project. Individual patterns, kits, and books can be used as pattern and project idea sources, or an applique quilt can be designed by the individual who creates it.

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Discussion Comments


Interestingly enough, if you know how to applique a quilt, you can applique other things too. My mom has a pair of jeans from the 70s she appliqued and embroidered some patterns on to. I know this isn't exactly in style right now, but I imagine it might come back in one of these days. Most things seem too!

In the meantime, you can also applique designs onto pillows or other sewn items for decoration! I think this would be a good alternative for someone who wants to applique, but doesn't have the patience to do a whole quilt.


@strawCake - As you say, quilting can be time consuming. You can definitely speed things up if you do it with a machine though, instead of by hand. And of course you can use the fusible webbing to attach the appliques instead of sewing them on.

I actually have seen some applique quilt kits at the store recently and I've been thinking about giving it a try. I learned to sew when I was younger, but I've never really done much sewing as an adult. I prefer knitting, but I think I might like to create a good quality applique quilt.


Applique quilt blocks can definitely be very time consuming. I disagree with the article though, that the top part of the quilt is most time consuming. The actual quilting process is quite time consuming as well, especially if done by hand!

A lot of people like to sew in designs when they're quilting, too. So you have to kind of plot out the design, and then sew it. And some of those designs are very complicated. My mom once made an applique quilt where she not only quilted around the applique portions, but sewed in intricate designs on the other part of the quilt.

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