Quilting an appliqué quilt on a free-motion machine
Quilting an appliqué top can be challenging. In the beginning, I researched historical approaches to appliqué. I would try to replicate what a hand quilter would traditionally do such as stitching in the ditch around all the appliqué elements to create a sculptural effect. I felt it was really important to add machine quilting inside of the appliqué as well as outside of the appliqué.
When I first started quilting a lot of the machine quilters would just barely come up to the edge of the appliqué and not stitch in the ditch. For example, they would not stitch all of the elements inside of a flower. They would just leave the whole flower puffy. I felt that didn’t provide the full dimensional quality that was needed.
I started mirroring on my machine what I saw hand quilters doing. I always try my best to maximize the rich structural aspects of the quilt while respecting the original appliqué stitchwork. One of the tricks that I use is to stitch in the ditch with nylon thread that is very clear. This can require quite a lot of work. In the end all of those stitches are almost invisible to the eye but the result has impact. All of the time and effort provides a strong physical support to the appliqué forms.
Instead of going stitch-regulated, which is what a lot of people would do when they’re stitching in the ditch, I turn my regulator off. This gives me a bit more control and precision as I work my way around the complex shapes.
In the beginning when I would get an appliqué quilt from a customer it was very intimidating. I understand that an appliqué quilt can feel a little intimidating and a little scary. Quilting an appliqué quilt can take a lot more time than say an Irish chain.
How long does an appliqué quilt take to quilt? It varies widely. The time commitment is based on size and on the amount of appliqué that is on the quilt. I try not to worry about the time. If it takes me two weeks to finish, then it takes me two weeks to finish! An appliqué quilt could have taken up to a year or more for the piecer to finish. So if somebody sends me an appliqué quilt that took three years to hand appliqué, I feel comfortable dedicating two weeks to it. If I only dedicated 6 hours the result would not be balanced. It would look like the machine quilter didn’t have the care that the appliquér had. I always say , “do the hardest thing. Try to do what a hand quilter would do.” I try not to take a shortcut.
Credits/products used in this video:
This video is made possible through the generous support of Bobbie Edds in memory of her late husband Sidney Edds.
I want to thank Eileen Zube for the opportunity to quilt her beautiful appliqué quilt and for allowing me to share this video with you.
Video production by Kathy & Karen McTavish
Music by the cosmic pit orchestra (Richie Townsend, electric guitar & Kathy McTavish, cello)
Opening sound by free dissonance (Mags David, voice & Kathy McTavish, cello)
Opening image by Wolfskull Creative
Pattern Designer: Modified/redesign of “Spring Bouquet” by Laundry Basket Quilts. https://www.laundrybasketquilts.com/online-store/Spring-Bouquet-p34455362
Batting: Quilters Dream Wool and Quilters Dream Poly Deluxe http://www.quiltersdreambatting.com/
Nylon thread: Whisper Touch .006 clear thread https://ylicorp.com/products/whispertouch?variant=38856300174
Glide Thread: by Hab & Dash https://www.habanddash.com/ also available on Amazon.com
Straight rulers: 8” Ideal Quilt Angel Edition https://stores.sewverysmooth.com/8-ideal-quilt-guide-angel-edition/
Curved Rulers: Ronda’s Rulers https://quiltersrule.com/ProductThumbs.php?category=922&tier=retail
Quilting Stencils: https://www.quiltingstencils.com/
Blue Line Eraser Products (to remove markings without washing):
Dritz Purple Disappearing Ink Marking Pen, https://www.amazon.com/Dritz-677-60-Disappearing-Marking-Purple/dp/B00175Z2QE/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1JBI8QQYE4DDT&dchild=1&keywords=dritz+purple+disappearing+pen&qid=1634665331&sr=8-1
EZ Quilting Blue Water Soluble Marking Pen (submerge in water to remove!)