These Useful Tools will Make the Most of Appliqué

Inside: Explore the best tools for needle-turn appliqué.

I taught myself how to hand appliqué with this quilt.

Applique quilt

U.L.S. 2 quilt designed by Karen K. Stone, pieced and quilted by Cheryl Brown.

Appliqué quilt

Detail of appliqué, ULS2 quilt by Cheryl Brown.

Yes, it was insane to think I could just figure it out! It was all reverse appliqué, and I did learn quite a bit by trial and error! Then I took an appliqué class from Jeanna Kimball (the appliqué queen), and I was totally hooked. Now I love hand appliqué! It is my happy place.

I know not everyone enjoys it, but for those that do, or those that want to learn more about it, I’ll tell you what my “go to” appliqué products are.

There are a number of different methods of appliqué, but the method I prefer is pure needle-turn, with pieces either glued on or pinned on. Check out this post for more about technique.


The first thing that is important for needle-turn is your appliqué needle. I like a straw needle, which is a long, pliable needle. My two favorites are John James milliners needles and Jeana Kimball’s straw needles. I like size 10’s, but they come a little larger and a little smaller.

Applique needles

John James milliners needles and Jeana Kimball’s straw needles.


Next is thread. I love 100% cotton thread, and my favorite is Superior’s Masterpiece thread by Alex Anderson. The coolest thing is their Frosted Donuts, which are pre-wound bobbins of 35 colors. There are two different colored donuts.

I love that there are tons of colors, but just a small amount of each color. I’ve had mine for years and haven’t run out of a single color yet! You don’t really need a whole spool of thread in each color!

Applique thread

Superior Threads Frosted Donuts of Masterpiece cotton threads in both color ways.

Another fabulous cotton thread is DMC Cotton Machine Embroidery Thread. I love this thread! It’s probably my favorite cotton, but it’s a little hard to find sometimes, and it doesn’t have the advantage of the bobbin size.

Appliqué products

DMC Cotton Embroidery Thread.

I also like YLI silk thread, because it has the advantage of being very fine and disappears into the fabric. You can use a dark and light taupe for almost everything and it blends in. The disadvantage is that it slips right out of the needle occasionally. Superior Threads also makes a silk thread, called Kimono. I haven’t personally used it, but I love Superior Threads, and use their thread for my long-arm and regular sewing machine.

YLI silk thread

YLI silk thread in dark and light taupe.


I use glue to put my pieces on the background fabric, and my favorite is Appliglue from Jillily Studio. This glue holds well and doesn’t leave any residue on the front of the piece. You only need a few tiny dots of glue to hold the pieces in place. My second favorite glue is Roxanne’s Glue-Baste-It. This is a great product, too, and it is easy to reposition pieces with this glue.

Applique glues

Appli-Glue from Jillily Studios and Roxanne’s Glue-Baste-It.

Marking pencils

The only other things you need are marking pencils and freezer paper. I use the Fons & Porter white mechanical marking pencil for dark fabric, and a regular, old mechanical pencil for medium and light fabrics. And that’s really about it for products! You don’t really need much more than that for hand sewing!

If I look closely at that first appliqué project, I can see exactly where I started, and my improvement as I went along! Find your appliqué happy place, (okay, my happy place) and enjoy!

This post may contain affiliate links. All opinions are always 100% mine and I don’t partner with any product or company that I don’t use and love.


One Response

  1. Debbie May 26, 2017

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