Now that you know your machine appliqué basics, get ready to branch out with layering techniques and more complex designs. Once again Elizabeth shares great tips, and you can also download her multi-page PDF with a coral reef, seaweed, octopus and more! Have fun, and share what you create in the photo pool!

Once you’ve mastered sewing around shapes with a buttonhole/satin stitch, there’s really no limit to what you can do with machine appliqué.


The appliqué patterns attached to this post are slightly more complex than the last ones and include one of my favorite appliqué techniques: layering.


The first part of planning a layered appliqué is establishing in what order the pieces should be added. The fish and seaweed appliqué on this patchwork tote is added in four layers.

The first or back layer is the seaweed. Next I added the main fish body, which slightly overlaps the seaweed. Then I added the second layer of the fish body and, finally, the fish’s eye. The process for adding each piece is the same, it’s just important to keep track of the order.

When I’m making layered appliqués, I try to start and stop my stitching on each layer in a place that will be covered up by the subsequent layer. As an example, I started stitching that seaweed in the spot where the fish was going to be covering it. Then I started stitching the orange part of the fish near the mouth, where the red piece would cover it.


This coral appliqué takes a while to sew, but provides a great effect, especially in vibrant red. I think it would look great on a skirt!

This sea turtle was built in five steps. First, I sewed the back and right front flippers. Then, I sewed the shell, then the lighter pieces that create the pattern on top of the shell. Next, I sewed on the head/left flipper piece, using a lighter green thread to set it off from the other flippers. Finally I added the eye.
The octopus has fewer pieces, but takes a little longer to sew because of all the curves. The “back” piece goes on first, followed by the “front” and then the eyes. (The octopus is a bigger pattern, so you’ll need to glue or tape a couple of the pieces along the dotted lines.)


I used the sea turtle and octopus to make this baby quilt using Cake Rock Beach fabric and Essex Cotton/Linen blend. The quilting only goes through the top and batting, which was done intentionally for two reasons. The first was so that I could use a fluffy cotton chenille back without having it messed up by quilting. The second was so that I could free-motion quilt over the entire surface before adding the appliqués.


The appliqués have a little more dimension when they’re sewn onto the batting and I prefer the look of the quilting being under, rather than around, them. (This quilt it small enough that I wasn’t concerned about the front and back separating but, if you were using this technique on a larger quilt, it would be easy to include some strategic tacking or tying.)