Quilting the Quilt: Appliqué dilemma

May 3, 2016

Some quilters argue that early examples of appliqué quilts do not have quilting stitches across the appliqué sections. They believe that contemporary quilters should respect that tradition. Your decision on whether or not to stitch over appliqué depends on what you want to emphasize on your quilt.

Quilt judges look for consistent density of quilting over an entire quilt. That means that if you’ve densely quilted the background with meandering, cross hatching, or other stitches, they will expect to see stitching on top of your appliqué for consistency. That doesn’t mean you need to use tiny meandering stitches, but your competitive score would improve with balanced quilting throughout the piece.

You can add definition to appliqué with strategically stitched lines that represent natural breaks. Imagine your appliqué as a page from a coloring book that has been colored with crayons. Your fabrics represent the colored sections, and the edge of each patch represents a solid line where one color meets the next. In a coloring book, those bold dark lines give our eyes that natural break we expect to see in real life. On quilts, the indentation and texture created by quilting stitches provides the necessary break we need.

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