The Free Motion Quilting Project: Quilting Basics 14: Fun with Hand Applique

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Quilting Basics 14: Fun with Hand Applique

Last week we learned how to piece a Pointy Eight Dresden Plate and I secured the Dresden Plate to the background block by machine with a straight line of stitching all around the edge.

While this is certainly a faster way to applique, many quilters commented and emailed us to ask about hand applique so I've created an extra Quilting Basics video just for you!

I use very simple tools for hand applique - scissors, a thumb thimble, needles (#9 sharps) and thread. All of these tools are quite small and can fit into a ziplock bag along with your quilt project so hand applique is always an easy travel project.

Once you get used to keeping a handwork project going, it's really weird to be without one. Honest I haven't done hand applique in a few months and sitting down to make this video was so nice. It totally made me fall in love with hand applique all over again!

The trickiest part of hand applique is the angle and size of your stitches. I know I make this look very easy, and you would too if you spent your middle and high school years stitching delica seed beads together instead of having a life!

The first thing to work on is the angle of your stitches. Try to keep the stitches running parallel with the folded edge of the Dresden Plate petal and that will greatly minimize their appearance.

Also be sure to blend your thread perfectly with the applique fabric, not your background fabric. The only time you see the thread is when it peeks out between the folded edge of the applique and the background, but if the applique fabric matches the thread, it's almost invisible.

Once you get the hang of keeping your stitches parallel to the fold, then focus on making them tiny. The width of a seed bead or 1/8 inch long is perfect, but it may take time to get your stitches this small.

Incidentally, if you're interested in trying beadwork, Clover came out with one of the best beading looms I've ever seen a few years ago. It's so simple to use and can make projects of varying lengths. #Affiliate - Click Here to check it out on Amazon. 

So what do you think of hand applique? Honestly making this video has been a wonderful reminder of how peaceful and relaxing this stitch work can be. While it's certainly not speedy, not everything we make must be done quickly. Sometimes it's nice to take extra time and sew the stitches by hand.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day


  1. wow I would never have thought to use ladder stitch for applique - it works well !!

    1. Is that what this is called? Ha! You taught me something new today. Thank you!

  2. Awesome video, thanks for sharing. I find hand work relaxing also. I recently started a small hexi project and this video will help me to applique my block to the background. What I need more instruction with is hand stitching the hexi pieces together. Each block is a different hexi shape. Another relaxing hand work video in the near future would be wonderful. Thank you...

    1. Oh, English Paper Piecing style? It's super addictive too. I actually do have a few videos on this from a quilt along in 2013. Here's the last video on stitching the hexies together -

    2. Yes. Just watched, thank you for supplying the link.


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