The Joy of Applique

Hand stitching is so therapeutic and the results can give joy to the maker as well as others who see and appreciate the results. Stitching together with like minded people is a sociable and enjoyable thing. There are many craft and sewing groups around the UK and they do tend to focus on a particular branch of the craft. Quilting and embroidery are two of the most popular and hand applique can actually fall into both of those categories. Applique has many advantages: small pieces of work are transportable and can be picked up at odd moments when the opportunity arises. It’s easy to add colour and fill space with applique and can be done more quickly than with embroidery. Small pieces of materials can be used to make a varied and interesting surface. There are many books about applique offering different slants on the subject and some of them can become great favourites.

In my own case a great deal of knowledge has come from books which have guided me into the technical skills needed. One favourite example is ‘Beautiful Wildflower Applique’ by Zena Thorpe. Published by the American Quilter’s Society in 2011. As an English stitcher I obviously picked out the flowers which were those I see in the United Kingdom. There are always some favourite projects in every book and mine were primroses, wild roses, poppies and foxgloves.

Here you see primroses appliqued onto a quilt and again on a linen handbag. The wild rose sprays are on another handmade bag. I took liberties with the leaves and put my own spin on the design, bonding two colours of fabric together and cutting the leaves to shape. There was no need to hem the edges as the Bondaweb prevented any fraying from around the edges. I using my sewing machine to attach the leaves to the backgrounds stitching on veins in the process.

A completely different approach is described in Anita Shackelford’s book ‘Three-Dimensional Applique’. She describes how to add dimension using cording, padding and stuffing. Then in other examples she illustrates folding, pleating and rolling to produce 3D results where the flowers are standing proud of the backgrounds.

Here the flowers and slightly padded and the leaves embroidered. A piece for the front of another handmade bag.

Machine applique is a useful addition to the crafters toolkit too. I have a computerised sewing and embroidery machine which is a joy to use. I’ve made a lot of baby and children’s play quilts which showcase appliqued machine embroidery. This is such fun as the results can be produced quickly and there are many machine embroidery designs that can be found and downloaded from the internet. Here is one that I call Starlight.

Applique can be worked by hand or on the sewing machine and they each have their place. I love both.

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