How To Buy a Quilt - Part Two: Applique & Embellishment

When looking at quilts, there are a few variations and combinations of techniques that will make a quilt more or less labour intensive. A whole cloth quilt will be made up of one fabric, usually a solid white and the only design detail will be the quilting that is done to make up the pattern. Whole cloth quilts may be quilted by hand or by machine. A pieced quilt will be sewn by machine, or occasionally by hand with the pattern coming through with the fabrics chosen.
Wholecloth quilt by Lashonne Abel Designs
Another technique often used on quilts is applique. This is how Wikipedia describes applique:

In its broadest sense, an appliqué is a smaller ornament or device applied to another surface. An appliqué is usually one piece. In the context of ceramics, for example, an appliqué is a separate piece of clay added to the primary work, generally for the purpose of decoration. The term is borrowed from French and, in this context, means "applied" or "thing that has been applied."

 Applique can be very simple, as seen in primitive style quilts, or very elaborate as seen in Baltimore Album quilts.
Apple Tree Folk Art by Blueberry Hill Farm
Baltimore Album by nhquiltarts
And if that isn't enough, there are many ways to apply the applique shape onto the surface of a quilt. There is hand-applique, where each piece is stitched by hand, piece by piece to the quilt top. There is machine applique, where a decorative sewing machine stitch (or even just a straight stitch) holds the applique piece to the quilt surface. And then there is fused applique, where the fabric is backed with a special fusible product and is ironed to the quilt surface. Fused applique can be left as is for a quilted wall-hanging or piece that is not going to be washed often, or it can be made more durable by the addition of machine stitching or hand stitching.
Fused applique with embroidered details
 Some quilts will also feature different embellishments such as adding beads, embroidery or other surface decoration. Depending on the size of the quilt and the type and detail of such embellishments, cost of such decorated quilts can go up substantially from a plain, simple quilt.

Next time: Quilting the Quilt

(Note: quilts from others are credited as shown, photos without credit are my own.)


  1. This is a great series you're doing!
    I just wanted to let you know that I nominated your blog for an award. You can read all about it on my blog.

  2. I found the link to this post on pinterest and your info is very helpful! I've been sewing over 40 years but only got a Bernina with embroidery this year. I took my class and started with embroidery 2 weeks ago, so I'm a complete novice! All of your advice is much appreciated!


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