Improv Meets Needle Turn Applique


Making a landscape quilt is the perfect opportunity to try improvisational applique.

Improvisational (Improv for short) Applique means creating an applique design without a specific pattern. Sometimes large outline shapes are used as a guide, such as an animal shape, and filled in with randomly appliqued pieces. It’s like appliqueing without a plan or very little of one.

Last week we discussed composing a landscape quilt, improvisational applique is a great way to turn what’s on your design wall into a reality.

Let’s start by taking a look at the applique stitch:

Mary does a great job teaching the basic hand applique stitch. Use this stitch for your improv applique.

If you’d like to continue learning with Mary, visit her class on iquilt or grab the DVD.

Steps for Improv Applique

Find your starting place…

  • Layout fabric scraps on your table or design wall. Move them around until inspiration hits.
  • Select an image for inspiration, not necessarily re-creation and get to work.
  • Don’t worry about a plan, grab your fabric, needle, and thread – and see where the thimble takes you!

Basting isn’t cheating…

  • Use little dabs of glue to hold things in place while you secure with applique stitches.
  • Applique right on the design wall.
  • Take a close up picture in sections with your phone, then use the images a guides.

There’s no such thing as a mistake…

  • No, really. It’s the magic of improv.
  • When something isn’t working, try something else. This is an opportunity to exercise creativity. Don’t worry.
  • Remember embellishment, it improves everything!
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