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Everything You Need to Know About How to Applique

Everything You Need to Know About How to Applique - terrific info from Shiny Happy World

This one post will give you all the links you need to get to all of my different posts (and there are a lot of them) about how to applique. I love applique!

First, there are three major applique techniques.

Needle Turn Applique

This is beautiful and soft and lovely – but it’s a hand technique so it’s sloooooow. It’s still doable though! My very first quilt was enormous and full of needle turn applique.

This video shows how to applique with the needle turn technique.

You can see my first quilt here. πŸ™‚

The only tools you need are a washable marker and a needle and thread.

Freezer Paper Applique

This is also beautiful and soft and lovely, but it’s a machine technique so it’s much faster than needle turn.

There are four videos for this technique, because you use different techniques for different shapes. I’m listing them here in order from easiest to hardest.

Those points can be a real bear and lead to burned fingers. πŸ™

You’ll need freezer paper. I also think it’s handy to have some spray starch.

Applique with Fusible Adhesive

This is my favorite way to applique! It’s fast, fun, easy, and durable.

If you want to give this method a try, I recommend signing up for Let’s Make a Quilt!

Let's Make a Quilt! - a free video class from Shiny Happy World teaching you everything you need to make a quilt using Quilt As You Go and applique with fusible adhesive

It’s a free online video class and you can use any pattern you like as you work through the lessons.

Or you can use the links below to jump to any tutorials you need.

There’s a photo tutorial here showing how, and there’s a video tutorial here showing the same thing.

There are lots of different brands of fusible adhesive. My favorite is Heat & Bond. I use the Lite weight for all my quilts. There’s also a super strong version called Ultrahold that is a nice option for tiny eyes and other small pieces you might not want to have to sew.

Speaking of sewing – this post has info about how to stitch around the pieces – especially how to figure out what order to stitch in.

I usually sew around my pieces with a simple straight stitch, but some people prefer to use a zigzag or satin stitch. This video has some tips for zigzag stitching the edges.

I get a lot of questions from people asking how durable the applique is if you just use straight stitching. I answer that here – showing some close-up photos of a quilt that my daughter has been using for some time now. That means it’s been washed and dried a lot. πŸ™‚

If you want a thicker line with that straight stitch, you can just use a thicker thread. Easy peasy! I show some samples here. This is the thread I use for a thicker line.

This post has tips for stitching around small pieces, like eyes and noses.

Applique Extras

You can add fun 3D bits to your applique – ears or tongues that are flappy, hair that dangles, etc. This post has more info.

It’s fun to play with with faux fur – but you can’t use fusible adhesive for that because it will melt the fur. Here’s how to applique a faux fur piece. And here’s how to applique regular fabric (like eyes or a mouth) onto a fur background.

Finally – here’s a fun post about how to turn any drawing, embroidery pattern or clip art into an applique pattern using fusible adhesive. This is such a fun way to use a child’s art!


One more thing! You’ll notice in a lot of the videos that I quilt my blocks first and then add the applique over the quilted block. It’s so easy this way! You can see a gallery of my favorite designs (with instructions) here.

I hope you have fun trying out some of these techniques! It allows you to achieve certain shapes in your quilts that you just can’t get with piecing. Plus it’s incredibly easy and fun! You can see all of my quilt patterns here and there are some free quilt patterns to play around with here.

Happy stitching!


  1. Dottie SAYS...

    Hi Wendi,
    This info is so helpful. Thank you.

    Will now begin the Happy Houses and your Craftsy Woodland creatures. VBG

    Went to a quilt show and bought scraps and small pieces to make them.

    Am a happy camper now. ggg

  2. Debra D Preston SAYS...

    Im trying to make a mail box flag. and using wounder under. I have a big circle with a hole in the center for a wreath. and on the wreath has leaves that are placed on top that hang over or inside of the wreath, and a big red bow that goes over everything at he bottom. t he question is do I first sew the outer and inter edges of the wreath and stitch each pc as it is placed. or iron all the pieces on and stitch around each pc. which means jumping around.

    • I usually fuse everything down and then stitch around all the pieces – but there’s no hard and fast rule. Do what works best for you!

  3. Pingback: Easy to Sew Face Masks with Removable Nose Wire and Filter Pocket - Corgi, Tiger, Otter, Dino, Cat, Shark, Hamster, Dragon

  4. HI Wendi,
    Thank you for helping us all get better at crafting. I truly believe everyone should create – it’s great for the heart, mind and soul. πŸ™‚
    I purchased your dinosaur quilt pattern but instead of making individual blocks, I am putting the dinosaurs on a crib size landscape quilt. I love it so far. My question is, how should I quilt it? Before or after I applique my pieces? I noticed in your video, your blocks had batting but not a backing. when you machine appliqued them. I don’t think I want to see the applique stitching on the back of the quilt. I could quilt it first then hand stitch my pieces on. What do I do?

    • I’ve got a free workshop at that will take you step by step through the QAYG method I use. You can work through the lessons using any pattern you like, including the Dinosaurs pattern. In a nutshell, I quilt the background block to the batting, then applique, then outline the applique, then trim the blocks to size, then sew them together, then add the backing, then stitch in the ditch at the seams between the blocks to secure the backing, then bind.

  5. Eileen Diane Brennen SAYS...

    I am working on my birds of prey and having very difficult time with the tiny hole in my eagle’s beak. Have watched the video on stitching small eyes but this is bit harder. Any further advice?

    • No – sorry. I don’t do anything special for the beak. Just shorten that stitch length and pause as often as needed to stop and pivot around those tight turns. On a small piece like that it isn’t crazy to stop and pivot after every stitch.