Workshops » Two Fabric Applique

Two Fabric Applique

Learn the needleturn technique while creating one of these original wall quilts

Author: Nancy Chong
Skill Level: Beginner

NEW Now Available as Ebook

Learn the needleturn technique while creating one of these original wall quilts

Two Fabric Applique calendar image

3 Lessons
Type: Ebook Workshop
Price: $32.00 $19.99
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If you want a positive appliqué experience, this is the class for you. Nancy’s unique and bold design concept is easier than you can imagine, making these quilts fast, fun and portable. Nancy assumes that her students learn best with lots of information and that starts with her well-explained Supply List. In this class, she teaches you how to hand appliqué using her unique stress-free needleturn techniques while making one of the three designs she created just for her online students. You will also learn how to use her patterns for machine appliqué and raw edge appliqué. Level: Although this is a great class for beginners, experienced appliquérs will learn new skills, too.

Student Comments


Such an interesting concept and fun way to create a beautiful quilt. Nancy is always right there to help when there was a question. Love her classes.

Supplies Required for Workshop

You will be provided with three 2FAQ patterns in class.  If you are a beginner, please make the Mini Blossom pattern shown below.  This incorporates all the different shapes taught in class.  The other two patterns can be made later, if you desire.

Mini Blossom with dark appliqué (left) and with light appliqué (right)

Mini Candles and Mini Rose patterns are shown here with dark appliqué fabric

Any item or topic that has more information in the section below is marked with  ** .


Top - One fat quarter appliqué fabric and one fat quarter background fabric 
If you choose an obviously directional print for your appliqué fabric, where the print (such as umbrellas or buildings) is running parallel to the selvedge, then use 5/8 yard (and this will include enough for the binding). 

Back** - 1 fat quarter

Batting** - approximately 17" x 21" thin cotton or other fiber content.

Binding - 1/4 yard (or 1 fat quarter) of either appliqué or background fabric

Sleeve** - 10" x 8" cotton fabric

Label - Light cotton or muslin.  Size will be determined by how much you want to write.  6" square usually works for me.


  • marking tools** temporary, semi-permanent or permanent markers that will show on the right side of your appliqué fabric.  
  • Milliner’s or Straw hand appliqué needles** size 10 or 11
  • basting needle - any long needle that goes through the fabric easily
  • 1 spool thread** that matches your appliqué fabric
  • ugly thread for basting - choose something that shows up well but looks ugly
  • straight pins** (approximately 20-50)
  • rotary cutter, mat, and ruler  
  • fabric cutting scissors

 Blunt-nosed scissors or duck-billed appliqué scissors work particularly well 
for cutting the appliqué fabric, but neither are required.


  • masking tape, if using window as a light box
  • thimble, if you use one
  • needle threader**
  • light box**
  • pattern transfer paper**

Notes on Supplies

Quilt Back   I like to use print fabrics that are color-coordinated with the two fabrics that appear on the top of the quilt, or have the same theme as the pattern.   Sometimes I just use a left-over piece from another project.  You will not need your backing fabric until the appliqué is finished, but you might keep your eyes open for the perfect fabric now. 

Sleeve   I put a 4" wide sleeve on my quilts, even small ones.  That size sleeve works with  thin rods or large PVC pipe.  To make a 4" sleeve, you will need a piece of fabric that is 10" x 8".  It can be a scrap, or the same as your backing fabric, or a color coordinated fabric that is similar to your binding.

Wash your fabrics to make sure they are colorfast and preshrunk.  I wash every fabric I buy in my the sink, using hot water and Synthrapol or Orvis (sometimes spelled Orvus).  Synthrapol is a chemical soap that washes any excess dye molecules down the drain.  If you cannot find it at your local quilt shop, you can get it from  Orvis was originally a horse-washing soap that works much the same as Synthrapol.  It is found in fabric stores or at your local farm supply store. 

I use hot water to make sure the fabric is preshrunk.  I want to treat my fabric as badly as anyone else might after the quilt is made; then no one is surprised with shrinkage or running dye when they wash the quilt.  The experts disagree on whether to wash fabric or not.  You and the people who inherit your quilts live by the choices you make. 

Fabric Considerations

I prefer to use 100% cotton fabrics because they are user friendly, last a long time, are readily available, are easy to care for and are easy to hand appliqué.  However, you can use any fabric you want.

It is very important that you choose two fabrics that allow you to see the appliqué design clearly from at least 10 feet away.  The best way to accomplish that is to choose two fabrics that contrast strongly with each other.  Avoid pairing medium value fabrics or using printed fabrics that distract from the image being appliquéd.  Select fabrics that read as one color or value when viewed from 10 feet away.  The fabric can be a solid, tone-on-tone, texture, hand-dye, batik or subtle prints.

 Even though these fabrics are prints, they read as nearly solid

 It would be nearly impossible to find a background fabric that would show off 
the appliqué design using these high-contrast prints.

As you decide on your two fabrics, remember that you should use your most attention-getting fabric as the appliqué fabric.  With the 2FAQ quilt concept, you can use either the lighter or darker fabric for the appliqué.  There are no rules about this decision.  The viewer’s eye will always be drawn to the busier of the two fabrics, and you want that eye to go immediately to your appliqué design, not the background.

I usually select my applique fabric first.  It is the attention-getter I cannot live without.  Then I find a background fabric that makes my applique fabric look stunning.  My backgrounds are often solid or very subtle prints, so everyone's eye will be drawn to the applique fabric.

 Here are two photos that illustrate the visual impact of the applique fabric. Because there is more applique fabric visible, it commands your attention.

I will give you more instruction in Lesson One about selecting your two fabrics, but this should point you in the right direction. 

Directional Prints - For our project, your appliqué fabric should measure about 18" x 21".  If you have chosen a strongly directional print that runs parallel to the selvedge, you need to buy 5/8 yard, instead of a fat quarter.  You need the added width of the fabric.  (An example of a strongly directional print would be umbrellas, or buildings, or animals all facing the same direction.)

Batting -  I use very thin batting so the quilt will lay flat against the wall.  Hobbs’ Thermore  is the thinnest batting I can find.  You can use a thin cotton batting, flannel, needlepunched polyester batting or any other fiber content you want.  These designs would look great with a medium-weight batting if you wish to show off your quilting design.

Marking Tools - Depending on your appliqué fabric, you will choose one of three methods for marking.    See which option below applies to your fabric choices.

Tracing  -  Test your fabric and pattern to make sure you can see the dark solid lines through the fabric.  You will be drawing the cutting lines and the lines will not show once the seam allowance is tucked under.  You can use a chalk marking tool, pencil, colored pencil or liquid marking tool.  

If you cannot see the pattern lines through your fabric, you have two alternatives. 

1. Light box - If you have a commercial light box, use it.  If not,

  • a window makes a great light box
  • glass table top with a light placed under the table
  • clear extension table for sewing machine with a light underneath
  • open a table that accepts leaves, place a sheet of Plexiglas or safety glass across the opening and put a light  beneath it. 

Test your fabric and pattern to make sure you can see the lines through the fabric.  The brighter the light is, the easier it will be to see the lines through the fabric.  It can help to turn off the overhead lights.  Use one of the marking tools discussed above.

2. Pattern Transfer Paper -  If you cannot see the pattern lines with a light box, Pattern Transfer Paper (PTP) is a great alternative.  PTP is a paper coated on one side with a chalk-like substance.  There are many brands on the market.  All work well if you follow the instructions.  Some choices are: Pacific Rim Quilt Company’s Pattern Transfer Paper (a Saral product); Clover Chacopy; Saral; Dritz Transfer Paper.  (Do not use the Dritz Mark-B-Gone Transfer Paper as lines disappear within 20-24 hours.)  PTP is reusable. 

If using PTP, you will need to use a stylus. This can be a slightly blunt pencil, ballpoint pen or  embossing stylus.  I prefer a pencil or a colored pen because I can tell where I have marked.

Hand appliqué needles - The most important notion you will select is your needle.  I strongly recommend a long thin needle.  My favorite is the milliner’s or straw needle, size 10 or 11.   In the US, milliner and straw needles are two different names for the same needle.  Technically, there are many types of milliner's needles, all designed for sewing hats.  I think the straw needles (those used to make straw hats) are perfect for needleturn appliqué because they are thin and long.

I suggest size 10 or 11 because they are thin.   They pierce the fibers with less effort or strain on your hand and arm.  The higher the needle size, the shorter and thinner the needle is.  A long needle makes it easier to manipulate the seam allowance with the needleturn method.  Some suggested brands are John James, Foxglove Cottage, Richard Hemming & Sons, Bohin (appliquér longues, not available in size 11) and Milward (outside the US).   We sell them on our website if you can’t find them elsewhere. 

Thread  - The second most important decision is the thread color and value (the lightness or darkness of a color) that best matches your appliqué fabric.  I always take my fabric to the store when choosing thread.  Lay one strand of thread against the fabric.  Do not lay the entire spool of thread next to the fabric; you are merely seeing the thread lay against itself. 

If you find two spools close in color, but not perfect, consider the color and value of your two fabrics.  If your background is darker, choose the thread that is slightly darker.  If your background fabric is lighter than the appliqué fabric, select the thread that is slightly lighter.  The lightness/darkness of the thread is sometimes more important than the color.  If you have a blue fabric that you cannot match, find the value of gray thread that best matches your blue fabric.  That matching value gray thread will disappear better than a blue that is a too light or too dark.  When looking for a good thread for a red fabric, try mauve or dusty rose for the correct value.  

I prefer to use thin 100% cotton thread, because it is easier to thread the thin needles I use.   I use Aurifil thread (size 50/2), but you can use any brand with in size 60/2, 50/2 or 50/3.   Machine embroidery thread is 60/2 and all-purpose sewing thread is 50/3.   As with needles, the higher the size of the thread, the thinner the thread is.   The first number (50 or 60) is the weight of the thread, and the second number /2 or /3 is the number of individual plies used to make the thread.  Together, they determine the thickness and strength of the thread.

Silk thread is also an option.  YLI size 100 is extremely thin and will disappear along the appliquéd edge.   Silk thread is very slippery, however, and may cause frustration which cotton does not.   If you buy YLI silk thread, you do not need to match the color of the appliqué fabric, just match the value.   Silk thread acts like a chameleon, and changes its color depending on its surroundings as long as the thread is a similar value to the fabric.   It is an excellent choice if you are using a multicolored piece of appliqué fabric.


Needle Threader  - I use the Clover Desk Needle Threader and suggest you invest in one, too.  They make threading the tiny eye of the #11 straw/milliners needle a pleasure.

If you have problems finding any of these supplies, please visit our website  We ship around the world and try to get your order in the mail within 24 hours. 


Lesson One

  • Print patterns
  • Discuss fabric choices and pattern placement
  • symmetrical
  • asymmetrical
  • Mark appliqué fabric
  • Layering fabrics
    • pinning layers
    • thread basting layers
  • Cutting appliqué fabric
  • Substituting a third fabric

Lesson Two

  • Thread length
  • Seam allowance
  • Hand appliqué - the basic stitch
  • Needleturn
    • straight edge
    • point
    • valley
    • inside curve
    • outside curve

Lesson Three

  • Quilting concepts
  • Squaring up your quilt
  • Binding - single layer
  • Sleeve
  • Label
  • Bonus: Fabric preparation for
    • machine appliqué
    •  raw edge appliqué

Student Comments


Such an interesting concept and fun way to create a beautiful quilt. Nancy is always right there to help when there was a question. Love her classes.

Student's projects