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Can machine applique be used for quilting?

Block created with invisible machine applique

Block created with invisible machine applique

Can you machine applique a quilt with the batting attached?


It will depend on your tastes, expectations, skill and size/bulkiness of your quilt sandwich.

Satin Stitching

When satin stitching, because there's so much thread forced into small areas, I typically like to use a tearaway stabilizer to support the stitching to keep it from bunching up or curling under.

I also tend to reduce the needle tension just a bit so that I'm sure that the needle thread is pulled a little bit to the back. Add to that I use a lighter weight bobbin thread. With all those things going on, the back isn't terribly 'pretty' and I wouldn't want that showing on the back of my quilt.

So in my mind, satin stitch machine applique isn't a good candidate for stitching shapes directly onto the quilt sandwich.

Invisible Machine Applique

I've got an invisible machine applique technique on the website that I love! If you click on that link and follow through the pages you'll be taken through an entire example of how to do it. (The block at the top of this page was created with this technique.)

Because the zig zag is so small, either a 1.0 stitch length and 1.0 stitch width...or my personal preference of a 1.0 stitch length and a 0.5 stitch width...the back of the stitch looks almost like a straight line--at least straight enough for machine quilting!

It comes down to the size of the quilt sandwich...

If it is all crumpled up to fit it under the needle, it'll be hard to keep your applique shape flat enough while stitching it to the quilt to do a reliably good job.

However, if the quilt is small enough, your applique stitches will function as the quilting around the applique shapes.

For an applique shape made from many pieces (I'm thinking like a flower with many petals) I would create the whole flower separately from the quilt, probably 'building' it on a piece of stabilizer.

When you stitch it to the quilt, you essentially 'outline quilt' the shape. You can go back in and add quilting, but you won't be doing a lot of starting and stopping for the individual pieces...that would look messy on the back.

I hope this has given you the needed advice to decide how you want to proceed. Let me know if you have other questions and I'll do my best to help.

Readers, what do you think? We'd love to hear about your results. Please share with the link below. Thank you.

Good question!


Julie Baird

PS I do apologize for the lateness of my reply to you. Yours was one of over 100 questions that mysteriously appeared in my dashboard. There was a problem with my hosting company which--fingers crossed--seems to have been fixed.

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Appliqué with Invisible stitches
by: Sheela

Hi Julie,
I recently did this with my appliqué work with the zigzag stitches . and yes they were tiny. I took them down quite small without compromising the tension and tightness of the turned out beautiful. I was very pleased with it. I also did an excellent colour match with them too just to see if they work well with the zigzag and they did as well. all in all it turned out absolutely beautiful. I then switch stitches to my usual appliqué that I use for raw edge on another block and turned the stitches down small this even though it was neat they presented a much heavier outlook. and the stitches looked like it pulled the background a little as it stitches the pieces.
photos can be seen on Instagram sheelachurchill.

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