One of the best reasons to go to quilt shows is to see how other people do stuff. I think it’s the best way to see what’s out there, whether modern, traditional, antique, or brand spanking new. Quilt shows can show us where we are in our craft, simply by how we look at the quilts that are before us. I remember one year in particular where I crossed a threshold: I went from “no, I couldn’t ever do something like that” to “wait, I can make that work” and I didn’t have to sew a stitch.
Believe it or not, this post is about the stitches you use for raw-edge applique! Modern Quilts Unlimited’s editor Laurie Baker is visiting Quilt Week, one of the most prestigious shows right now in Paducah, and I really wanted to title this post “Do Ya Paducah?” because, well, that would have been really awesome. Laurie was kind enough to get some photos while she was there illustrating some of the stitches people have used for finishing their fused raw-edge appliques, including this amazing quilt “Oscillation”by Margaret McDonald and Susan Campbell of Bendigo Dc, Victoria, Australia:
In this quilt, a zig-zag stitch using a nearly matching thread was used to sew the edges down. Something to consider for applique is that thread color can blend or contrast, which is fun to play with.
Other stitches frequently used to sew applique down are the blanket stitch, which is a straight stitch followed by a horizontal stitch.
You can play with length and width of both elements, and find a look that is right for your project (and which does a good job of holding things in place). It’s also nice because it can make for a slightly cleaner look.
If you’re looking to completely cover the raw edges for a fully finished look, you need o try the satin stitch, which is a zig-stitch with its length reduced to next to nothing. It is time consuming (and thread consuming) but it adds a really lovely texture and shine to a project and can be an interesting addition to modern quilts as a design element, especially if used as an accent.
A few pointers: If you’re doing a lot of applique with any of these stitches, make sure you practice different types of corners, points, curves, and stitch length and width. Some machines are capable of doing a “triple stitch”, which makes for a thicker thread look. If you’re cranking out different types of stitches on a practice piece and find one you really love or that works really well, write the information directly onto the fabric, including details such a stitch type, length, width, tension settings, thread types, and stabilizers (f any) so you can’t forget it! You’ll be glad you did!