I love all kinds of applique - and I do all of it except needle turn (because I'm bad at it). My favorite is by hand with freezer paper and starch - I remove the paper before I hand stitch so I don't have to rip the paper out later. But fusible is so handy to get big jobs fast. For machine quilting, I like fusible and buttonhole overcast stitching so you can see the stitching.
Hi Cheri - my favorite is needle turn hand appliquie - I clip the seams and pin the pieces on with very small brass safety pins, then use 1/2" sequin pins near the edges on the parts I'm working on at the moment. I also don't clip the seam allowances until just before I get ready to sew to cut down on fraying. I took a quilt class from Elly S. many years ago when Baltimore Album quilts were the most popular. One of my favorite designers is Nancy Peterson. I do machine applique, but even with the stabilizer and good machine, I'm not always happy with the results - just need more practice, I guess... I'm going to post a few of my UFO's with applique on my page this afternoon - it's cold and the ground/trees are still covered in ice here in beautiful Stillwater, NJ (about 20 minutes east of the Delaware Water Gap).
I am also a freezer paper appliquer. It's the only way I can get the edges nice and smooth. I have never tried needle turn. I love to sit and applique. When my husband was getting his chemo last year the first session was from 7:00 am till about 5 pm and I would sit with him and applique all day.
Oh my, my, my MY!! Appliqué is my favorite, but I haven't been perfectly pleased with any of the methods I've tried...until I picked up a book last week at my local quilt store called Piece by Piece Machine Appliqué by Sharon Schamber and Cristy Fincher. I am absolutely and totally happy with everything I've tried since!!
I wanted a "crisp" look that wasn't too bulky but at the same time, I love the hand appliquéd look and I've never been able to get it from a machine. This book solved all of my problems and I'm going crazy trying to decide which projects to start now and which ones I want to start OVER using her methods!!! I highly and completely recommend this book and her quilts will blow you away. Just use google images to see some of her work...it's unreal!
She recommends a specific "foundation/stabilizer" material for her pieces and the local quilt shop is actually teaching her method in the next three months so I can tell you that the stuff she uses really washes up soft and supple and not a ripple in sight. One of the things I haven't liked about using fstabilizing material (the kind you leave IN forever) as my pattern pieces is that they tend to end up stiff or bulky and her "special" stuff doesn't. But I wasn't willing to order some of it from her and then WAIT for it to arrive (instant gratification-that is ME) so I scoured a couple of stores and ended up using the Decor Pellon instead. It works really well (haven't washed anything yet so....).
Basically it works like this...I put the Pellon over my pattern and trace it. Then I cut out the Pellon exactly on the traced line (meaning a leaf is a leaf...not a leaf with a 1/4 inch edge). Then I iron the Pellon leaf (one side is sticky when ironed) to my fabric and cut out the fabric WITH that 1/4 inch edge around the Pellon/Pattern piece. Then...and this went contrary to everything I thought I knew, you use Elmer's WASHABLE school glue sticks (yes, the purple ones that dry clear-but it HAS to be Elmer's and it HAS to be the washable stuff) to "stick" the edge of your fabric to the "back" of your piece. It takes a while to learn how to do it without sticking it to yourself TOO, but it's easy to learn. You can also use a manicure stick or any flat ended tool...such as a flathead screwdriver etc. Once you have all the edges "stuck" down, you iron the piece which "dries" the glue and "sets" it so that it's perfectly stable.
Then you place your fabric piece (with it's sleek and perfectly turned under edges) on your background and stitch it into place on your sewing machine with POLYESTER invisible thread. (I use sulky and the "blanket stitch" on my machine) It's absolutely glorious! It's FAST, easy, you get amazingly correct results, and if you set the glue, it doesn't gum up your needles either! AND....the glue washes out if you use it on something that will be washed regularly!
I swear to you, if anyone had told me a week ago that my best results would come from using a glue stick and stabilizer...I would have laughed my head off. But I'm totally addicted to this method and may never hand piece my applique again and I LOVE to hand stitch!! It's just so amazing to see the results I've always wanted so much more quickly now and not see the thread at all. I LOVE IT!!
I plan to finish up a couple of projects where I used this method and then take some photos of them and link them to this post so you can see how amazing the results are. It's so easy it made me feel stupid for trying so hard to do it every other traditional and "new" way I could find. :-)
It would definitely work for hand applique! I tried it, worried that perhaps the stiffness might make it harder or that my hand needles would gum up, but nope...perfect! Just be sure to "set" the glue with your iron first. I DID purchase some hot iron cleaner stuff because it started to leave residue on my iron, but it comes off easily.
Her book details (with excellent photos) two other methods for machine applique and once section on piecing (like a compass star) is REALLY interesting but too hard to explain in this venue. I'm dying to try it out the next time I have to piece blocks!
The stabilizer/foundation she uses (and now sells herself on her website for something like $2.00 a yard-which is way cheap) is designed to turn into a "fiber mesh" when washed so that it becomes supple and soft while still giving a slight puffiness or "trapunto" affect to the parts it is under. In essence, that is what gives it the hand quilted look only you're machine sewing it. Because the stuff I'm using (really stiff pellon) is machine washable, I'm hoping to get the same effect, but for the projects I make, it really doesn't matter. Most of them are wall quilts or table toppers etc, and not something like a blanket quilt where someone is going to be snuggling up under it and washing it repeatedly. The quilt blocks I saw where "HER" specific foundation material had been used under the appliqued pieces were soft and supple and wonderful.
If I get a chance, I'll order some of her stabilizer and see make a block using hers and one using the pellon and then wash them and compare and report.
Thanks - after reading about the technique, even before your comment, I went to Amazon and put the book on my wishlist. I've been meaning to do more machine work and get better at paper/foundation piecing along with controlling my machine embroidery/quilting better, so these online groups have been a terrific motivator, except that I haven't finished any of my UFOs only started another quilt!
I just checked her site, & it looks like the stabilizer she sells is 5yds, for $14.95. Not bad, but add sh. it may not be all that cheap to buy online. I too, am wondering about looking locally for some Pelon type stuff, but not quite sure what to buy, so any more info on this would help!