Hand Applique- Oh, My!!

It all started with thoughts of a Hawaiian-style quilt. I’m a recently-retired ENT doc, and want to make one celebrating my medical career. Making the applique part to include stethoscope, syringes, scalpels, hemostats, maybe anatomic references to the ear, nose, tongue, sinuses, larynx. This would be a pretty complex applique, so I quickly realized that my go-to technique of machine applique would not get me the quilt I envisioned.

OK. I just need to learn how to do hand applique.

I had no idea what a confusing topic I was jumping into. I read dozens of blogs, half a dozen books, watched You Tube- and still had no idea of the best applique technique. If you want turned-under edges (as opposed to raw edges) you sew it from the front, you sew it from the back, you don’t baste it at all, you freezer-paper baste it. Nevermind, you glue baste it. You sew baste it exactly on the fold line- or was it ⅛” inch inside the fold line? Or a quarter inch? Or, wait, pinning will be just fine. You have the edges all firmly turned before you pick up a needle. No, never turn the edges under until just before sewing, using your needle to tuck the raw edge under.

In medicine, when there are so many options for, say, surgery for a particular disorder, we presume that none of them are fabulous, head and shoulders above the others, or there would not be so many techniques.   Maybe that’s true for applique also?  Maybe any one is good in the right hands?  Or maybe there is a fabulous fusion idea out there waiting to be described?

I chose a pattern to start practicing and experimenting with.  I wanted a compact design I could do over and over while trying different techniques.  One with inside and outside corners and tricky-to-applique areas.  I settled on this traditional turtle design and started working.

As you will see, these are, ahem, ‘rough’.  As in, I have no prior experience with hand applique.  So those of you who are accomplished at this technique, don’t laugh too hard!!

I’m going to keep working at this until I (a) understand all the different published technique variations and (b) can produce a beautiful smooth applique, even at inner corners!!