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3 Ways to Applique, Featuring the part 1 applique block from time to bloom

In this video, we show how to apply applique shapes onto background fabric with fusible web. We then show how to stitch around the shapes with zigzag, a blanket stitch and sketchy applique. We also show how to quilt an applique block.

Click on the picture below to watch the YouTube video.

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Although this video shows a block from our 2024 online mystery quilt course, called Time To Bloom, the techniques can be used for any quilt as you go applique pattern or quilt. We have lots of applique patterns on our website, you can check them out here.


With this technique you are appliqueing and quilting at the same time, it’s a very free and artistic way to applique. Think of the needle as a pencil, drawing just inside the edge of the shapes 3 or 4 times then sketching in the inner details. Slight fraying around the edge of the applique shapes is a characteristic of this technique. However, the fusible web and the multiple rows of stitching keep the shapes securely in place.

Once the applique shapes are fused onto the background fabric with fusible web, sandwich the top together with the batting and backing. I recommend holding the layers together with basting spay or glue dab basting as shown in the video. Also, safety pin the corners, just to be on the safe side.





There are many thread brands. Choose a cotton or polyester to match or contrast with your applique fabrics. I find that a 50 weight works best for sketchy applique. You can use a colour that stands out or a colour that blends with the fabrics.



I recommend using the same as the top thread.

This will mean less tension problems with balancing the top and bobbin tension. This will also create an outline feature of the applique design on the back of the quilt.

The photo below shows the back of the I' Valentine quilt, where we used the same thread on the top and bobbin.

Foot: Free motion foot, preferably with an open front.


Needle: Size 80/12 top stitch needle.


Tension: Approximately 4.0


Feed dogs: Lowered


Stitch length: 2.5 (Normal setting)

(When the feed dogs are lowered, you control the stitch length by the speed of your machine and movement of your hands).

If you’re considering using the sketchy applique technique, then I highly recommend watching this video first. It takes you through the steps at a much slower pace and it also has lots of great tips and advice that you don’t want to miss.

Prepare a practice piece with some scrap fabric and batting before you start stitching on your Time to Bloom block.

Now that your machine is set up, you are now in control of moving the fabric. Sketchy appliqué is best sewn in small sections, that fit inside a frame that is made by your hands as shown in the photo below. This is the safest way to keep your fingers away from the machine needle.

Start by bringing the bobbin thread to the top. This is done to eliminate the bobbin thread being caught in the sewing on the back of your work.

Secure with a couple of stitches sewn close together, then snip away the excess threads.

The general idea is to stitch just inside the edge of each applique shape 3 or 4 times. Try to aim for the first row to be 1/8” in from the edge of the shape. The following rows can be inside or outside the first, don’t try to sew them all on top of each other. It doesn’t even matter if you sew outside the shape slightly. There is no perfection with sketchy appliqué, and everyone will form their own style.

Hold the fabric taught without pressing down, as pressing down will prevent you from moving the fabric freely. The rubber grips on the quilter’s gloves will assist in gliding the fabric around.


Your stitch length should look like a normal length of 2.5 as it does with normal straight stitch sewing. Your speed does not have to be incredibly fast, it’s all about finding the balance between the movement of your hands and the speed of the machine. If you have a speed regulator on your machine you can set it to a speed that you are comfortable with and that way you only need to concentrate on your hands, also have your needle down function on so that you don’t lose your spot when you stop and start.

Sew the stem in small sections with a forwards, backwards and forwards motion.


Always remember to keep your fingers clear of the needle.

 Start in the centre of the design and work out towards the outer edges of the block.

 Remember to keep 2” around the edge of the block free of quilting.


When the sketchy applique is complete, echo quilt around the outer edge of the design and fill in with the dandelions as shown in the video. (The dandelions can also be sewn with your free motion foot).

Below is a photo of our Part 1 Time to Bloom applique block. This year we have chosen to zigzag around the edge of our applique shapes.


We hope you enjoyed this video.

If you haven't signed up for this year's course, Time to Bloom, you can signup at any time here.

Happy quilting!


Monica and Alaura.




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