Jo Morton shares the back-basting appliqué stitch: 9 reasons to try it

At Martingale, we’re totally over-the-top fanatical for Jo Morton. Aside from her stunning books filled with spectacular quilts, Jo has a wonderful way of explaining techniques—it fills you with the curiosity and confidence to try.

So, when Jo says her favorite way to appliqué is by using the back-basting method, we’re all ears!

Jo learned the back-basting appliqué technique from Martingale author Jeana Kimball years ago, and now she shares the technique step by step in her latest book, Jo’s Floral Album. The method doesn’t require freezer paper or templates, and it will help you achieve appliqué perfection, just like Jo:

From Jo's Floral Album

Here’s what Jo says about the technique:

Jo Morton“While you can use any appliqué method you like to make the Anna’s Blue Baskets quilt from Jo’s Floral Album, I hope you’ll try my back-basting method which is described in the book, complete with how-to photos. It’s a method that requires a bit of preparation, but it yields precise results for everyone.

Renowned quiltmaker Jeana Kimball calls this method template free, because there’s no need for any type of template-making material. You’ll create the appliqués directly from the design that you trace onto the background fabric. A couple of the benefits of this technique are that your pieces will be correctly positioned and your appliqués will lie flatter.”

There are three prep steps to complete before you start sewing:

1. Trace a pattern onto your background fabric

2. Baste oversized fabric pieces to the right side of your background fabric, following the traced lines

3. Cut the oversized fabrics to the shape of the motif, adding a fat ⅛" seam allowance

You’ll find more details about the first three steps in the book.

Back-basting applique technique

Now you’re ready to start the best part—the sewing! Here’s Jo demonstrating the stitching portion of the back-basting appliqué technique:

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Once you have the back-basting appliqué technique down, you can join Jo and create the exquisite quilt from the book:

Jo's Floral Album quilt

Aren’t the blocks stunning?

From Jo's Floral Album

Jo’s spectacular blocks feature beautiful blossoms, twining vines, luscious berries, and other motifs that define traditional Album quilts. Make blocks one after another, or set a relaxed pace and sew just one block each month—by year’s end, you’ll have a breathtaking quilt to display, give, or save as a family heirloom. Plus, the book comes complete with full-sized pullout patterns—no visits to the copy shop for you!

If you create your own version of Jo’s quilt, share a photo on social media and use the hashtag #josfloralalbum—we’d love to see and share!

What’s your go-to appliqué method?

  • I use back-basting appliqué, just like Jo!
  • I prefer the needle-turn method.
  • I’m all about freezer-paper appliqué.
  • My machine and I prefer machine appliqué.
  • Fused and finished!

Tell us in the comments!

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