Quilt First, Applique Second

Lately I have been making some seasonal wallhangings that are narrow, with the applique taking up most of the space. As I started quilting around the applique, I had the idea that maybe I should be quilting first, and then adding my applique second as I did with my sunflower quilt.

My approach to applique is to create the quilt top, fuse the applique on, and then secure the edges of the applique with a zig zag stitch as part of the quilting process. Thus reducing the amount I needed to quilt. I don’t believe I have ever quilted over the appliqued pieces because part of the reason I like to applique is to showcase the fabrics I pick as part of the design.

However, this limits what I can quilt in the space around the applique. If I did the quilting lines first, I could expand the ideas I have for quilting (which is always a challenge for me.)

In the past, I have added applique pieces over quilt lines as an afterthought, and there is one thing I learned. If you quilt first, and are using the fusible applique method,  the quilting lines underneath may show through.

To remedy that, you will want to cut out the inside of the design and only fuse the edges. It helps to draw an X through the inside of each piece you want to cut the center out of, otherwise it is too easy to fuse it before remembering to cut it.

So what do I mean by that? First you will trace your applique pieces on fusible paper (I like Heat and Bond Lite). Then cut out the inside of each paper piece so only an edge is left, at least a quarter of an inch or a little more, as I did here for my sunflower quilt. 

Be careful ironing it on to your fabric as the edges are now more flexible and could cause you to distort the shape. Once the edges are ironed on, you proceed as usual, cutting and fusing to your quilt and stitching around the edges. 

Here is an example of how I quilted the background of my sunflower quilt first. I really like how the sunbeams spread across the quilt behind the sunflowers.

While I don't plan on doing this with every quilt, it is nice to have it as another quilting option.

If you would like to make the pattern, or using the applique template for your own design, my pattern can be found in my Etsy shop.