Sometimes, when designing an appliqué quilt, we’d like the background or filler quilting to flow smoothly around or behind the appliqué motifs. This can be quite time consuming and more than a little tricky. Let’s look at some ways to get around this by quilting first, and appliquéing second. Here are a few examples:
In this first sample I wanted the linear fill to the left of the flower to flow without interruption. The easiest way to do this was to quilt that section of the quilt before applying the flower. You can see that the feathery fill was added later to fit in the nooks and crannies of the flower.
My intention for the fill behind the blue bird was to create a radiant effect. This would have been difficult to accomplish after applying the appliqué motifs, so I quilted the entire background before adding any appliqué elements.
Patricia Caldwell shares a very detailed look at this process in her article Piece and Quilt – then Appliqué! in our July/August 2016 issue. She includes lots of tips about marking, fusibles, appliqué techniques, and more.
The flow of Patricia’s intricate quilting would be impossible to achieve if she’d appliquéd first.
Here’s one last example.
In this small piece the blue background was quilted first, then the vase and flowers were added. Additional quilting in a lighter color of thread adds an airy look to the arrangement.
This technique might not be the best choice for a very traditional appliqué project, but it could be just the ticket for a variety of other quilts.