Refers to the process by which one piece of fabric is applied to another. There are many different appliqué techniques. (Please see Appliqué Intro video below.)
The type of stitching and the application technique is up to the individual quilter. This decision is often based on the talent of the quilter and the ‘look’ of the finished project. Some will try to hide stitches while others use contrasting thread and stitch on the top of the applique to make the stitches stand out. Many people choose to fuse the applique shapes to the background using a fusible product like WonderUnder.
The “Fleur-de-Lis I” below (Baltimore Beauties and Beyond, Volume One by Elly Sienkiewicz, page 116) was hand appliqued by using the needle turn method. A close-up of the stitching is shown below. The stitches on this applique piece are uniform in size and almost invisible.
The blue elephant and the pink elephant (pattern from Laundry Basket Quilts) have been fused to the background rather than stitched by hand. After fusing, I straight stitched around the edges of the blue elephant using my machine. This is not necessary but will ensure this elephant stays fused after being washed.