Raw edge applique demonstrated

I have been working recently on several commissioned pieces in which I made heavy use of two common techniques; raw edge applique and thread painting. A few posts back, I promised I would cover applique in conjunction, with these commissions, but am slow in fulfilling my promise.

So I am going to cover it, in several installments. I thought I’d share a bit of my process and in sharing, it might be helpful if you haven’t had much experience . OR  if you have some experience under your belt & perhaps have used some different approaches, do share your tips with us in the comments. We all enjoy learning something new from each other, so feel free to comment.

I started the first quilt by painting the silk fabric “base” for the Sunflower quilt. For the other one, Abstract Lazy Daisies, I used a slightly different method, more on that later.

In choosing the background there are many fabric choices.

Many quilt artists do their own dying, I interviewed Ann Johnston recently, she dyes her own fabric, as do many others, with beautiful results.

Others prefer piecing with commercial fabrics to form their backdrop..  Go with whatever you are comfortable with… so I’ll skip over those details.

I have included a few photos along the way to help illustrate the different stages. The first picture below, shows the silk painted backdrop, which I was going to use as the base for one of the two quilts, the Sunflowers. My client re-thought the size, and wanted a bit larger size, so I made a larger one. I ended up liking it much better. Below is the first silk painting done for the Sunflowers quilt,.


I mentioned that for the second  quilt I used a slightly different approach.

For this one, I first worked up a design sketch, them enlarged it on a copy machine, into a very large image to match the very large size of the quilt, which was to be 62″ X 43″.

Then I found a large piece of muslin and a large piece of soft clear plastic at WalMart, sold on long rolls. I planned to use the muslin as the base.

I placed the plastic sheet over my enlarged sketch and traced the picture lines on the plastic with a black sharpie, marker. I now had a pattern of sorts. It is shown below.

I cut out up my plastic pattern into templates. Then placed the plastic templates over the fabric I had chosen & cut out my fabric pieces, the same way you would use any pattern. I tried to lay them on the muslin in the same general location where  they belonged in the sketch, to keep a loose idea of the placement.  One hint; leave the cut outs of the plastic pinned to the fabric cut outs. You could even number the plastic templates and place the corresponding number on your design copy. It will help you to identify the parts for placement.

I attempted to draw some puzzle pieces, when possible cut large sizes

As more pieces were cut out I started placing them more accurately onto the muslin, like puzzle pieces. You can see in the above pictures, how complicated all these little shapes would be, when cut out. I used a shortcut by appliquing some things on, like the daises and stems, later as the last step. That eliminated so many tiny pieces, so I could cut larger ones, [as shown above with my sloppy photo shop drawing].

I put Pellon’s Wonder Under on the backs of all the cut out fabric pieces, but didn’t iron them onto the muslin, until I was sure the parts were reassembled into their proper places correctly. With an abstract design, reassembling  a lot of little cut up pieces, was harder than I thought it would be. I referred frequently to the larger image and the smaller colored sketch to help figure out the placement. One hint, I wished  I had made  the copy in color, it would have been easier to referance.

On the Lazy Daisy quilt I have began to piece the puzzle pieces back together. I will completely cover the muslin by the time I have finished this step.

You’ll cover the entire muslin fabric base when you’ve finished assembling your  puzzle. When you’re sure everything is in it’s proper place, then you can begin ironing pieces down onto the muslin attaching them. Be certain about your placement, because fusible web will not come off once it’s ironed on

The Wonder Under will hold them firmly in place until  you can finish all the raw edges.

Many Landscape quilt artists use this method. If you’re on a budget,  Elmer’s glue sticks will hold things in place too. Many prefer it, easy pesy.

I like the fusible web myself, it is more of a permanent hold. Experiment to see which you like best

Let’s switch back to the other quilt; Sunflowers. On separate silk fabric I have silk painted what I want to applique on, to form my picture. Wonder Under has already been  applied to the back sides of each element. They have been carefully cut out. I’m ready to start.

What ever you choose to create and what fabrics you use is up to you. Have fun!

When you begin to arrange your design elements. unlike the other quilt, you are not attempting to cover all your background fabric.  You’re composing a picture or design that works with the background.

To sum up where we are at the point, where everything that you want in your composition has been fused in place, ready for our next steps, which we’ll cover in the next installment.

The large pieces in place, the stems and flowers will be attached later
Here is the Sunflower quilt.At this point I have fused down all the flower centers, the petals, the stems and leaves. It's ready to begin the finishing the raw edges with zigzag stitches.

2 thoughts on “Raw edge applique demonstrated”

  1. As always, your explicit verbal and photographed “outlines and stages” of your quilt creations is so helpful. And I just cannot close my mouth over this sunflower one! I need to try painting on silk myself, just “because”!


    1. I always appreciate your generous comments. I try to write clearly and logically with something like a tuturial or provide something worth reading on any post, there’s much room for improvement. You on the other hand, could give some excellant advise, the posts on your blog are gems, the prose so engaging. I love that you’re “writing again” as you stated in your profile. You have a gift.


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