Many quilters do fabulous applique. I admire it greatly. I have only done small amounts of hand applique and a bit more of machine applique. I think some quilters love it but many shy away. But all of us should know more facts about applique.
1 Definition - According to dictionary.com the noun is ornamentation, as a cutout design, that is sewn on to or otherwise applied to a piece of material. But it also give the definition when it is a verb, which is to apply.
2. Origin - The word appliquer in French is to apply, the past participle ( appliqué) or the infinitive would be pronounced the same way with the e rhyming with way. I knew this from teaching French but you can verify at this site if you want!
3. Famous method - A very famous method is the Hasting method which is used on banners, etc. for easy to read words. I liked reading about this here.
4. Earliest - Nearly all articles, blogs and blurbs about early applique cite the canopy at the Boulak Musuem in Egypt, from 980 BC. Boulak is a neighborhood in Cairo, the museum is actually now the Egyptian museum. I originally posted without a corroborating source for this canopy. Lucky for me, I got a wonderful comment with the source. (You can read it below.) You can read about this earliest applique here. I wish I had an image of it but I do not. Maybe one day we will all get to Cairo, wouldn't that be great?
5. In quilting - Applique was used in quilting beginning in the 1700's, in other words, from the beginning. Read more about it here.
6. Broderie Perse - This phrase literally means Persian Embroidery but in quilting, it is the custom of appliqueing bits of Indian printed cotton, chintz, onto a solid foundation. This site does not mention it but I have heard other quilt historians say this frugal use of fabric is the origin for our word, chintzy.
7. Mola - The Kuna women from Panama sew reverse applique to create beautiful designs on blouses, etc. The Kuna people have lived in Central America for centuries and are famous for this needle work. You can read more about this fascinating form of applique in this website.
8. Indian Applique - Applique has been used in Indian textiles since the 11th century. They reuse worn out woolens or stripes on clothing but also on tents, religious items and ornamental work. It's gorgeous and you can learn about it at this site.
9. Hand applique - When I started quilting I learned needle turn applique. In this method you cut out the item with a seam allowance built in. As you sew it down, you turn that seam allowance with your needle. It's not hard but boy, it takes a lot of time. Here is a tutorial, not mine!
10. Machine applique - I have done it by hand, but machine is easier for me. You can use a zig zag stitch, blanket stitch or a satin stitch. I use a spray adhesive to keep things in place but there are other great ways to do it. If you would like to learn a bunch of different ways to accomplish it, check out this blog which will explain them all.
11. Egyptian applique - Lucky for U.S. quilters, we have been able to see beautiful examples of Khayamiya which is applique used to create exquisite tents. Click here for more information.
12. Video - There are all kinds of qpplique videos on YouTube. Here's a video about Egyptian tent making.
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Here's a great post I wrote for the folks at Havel's sewing.