Appliques in Use in my Beaded Art Quilts

Detail of art quilt that uses a commercial appliqueNancy Smeltzer, MFA

In the past few blogs, I wrote about some of the commercial appliques that I have purchased in the past. I thought that you might like to see how some of them have been used in finished pieces. In the detail shot on the left, there’s a blue satin applique from China outlined in gold braid in the middle of the photo. There’s a beautiful satin cherry blossom in the center that plays off of pale pink buttons and beads that I sewed on the side. In the far left, there’s a shi-sha mirror outlined in gold thread that complements the gold braid on the applique. I love tying the various elements together in this way with similar colors and materials that look as if they were made to go on a particular piece.

pink satin square from ChinaFrom the same series of satin appliques which I bought when I was in Hong Kong, is this pink version. I believe that the central motif is of a phoenix, but it could be one of the beautiful Asian pheasants, while the dark spot in the center of the one of the tail feathers has a dark spot in the middle reminiscent of the eye in peacock feathers. In any case, it’s beautifully made, and could be interpreted on many levels. The scroll edging leaves a lot of possibilities for buttons and beads that could be attached near the outside to emphasize the beauty of the stitching. I even have some gold buttons with pierced fret work that will be perfect with this applique when I find the right home for this piece to land.

Detail of commercial applique doilyThis detail shot shows a white cotton doily that also came from Hong Kong. I used it in a piece called “Dinner for Three on the Banks of the Cabernet. Since the story of this piece is about a dinner party on the sides of a river made of wine, the trellis edging around this applique was perfect to mimic grape vines, I attached the burgundy circle in the middle to suggest a dinner plate and stitched in gold embroidery floss a fork and knife on the sides to complete the picnic concept. Lots of burgundy and rose colored ribbon and silk flowers appear nearby to play off the concept of the lovely shades that can appear in the same glass of a good Cabernet.

Heavily embroidered applique from IndiaAll of the above appliques are relatively small, averaging about 5″ or 13 cm across. This last photo is one of those finds that I bought at the time, not knowing what I would do with it, (Sort of the thrill of the hunt kind of experience). Measuring about 14″ or 35.5 cm square, it’s covered with sequins and intricate, raised embroidery. I imagine that is was originally designed to be part of a decorative pillow, However, it would be way too scratchy of me to put on a sofa, so my take is that it would need to be part of a wall,hanging. It’s so beautifully executed that it would be hard for me to sew anything on it, but I imagine I would quickly get over that hesitation once I started sewing gold buttons on it’s surface, with some spilling over the sides to visually anchor this applique into the composition of an art quilt.

I love collecting beautiful materials for use in future pieces whose images I have no idea what they’ll look like when I make the purchase. I have boxes and boxes full of lovely things that are just waiting to be included in the right piece. The trouble is that even though the boxes are clear. I often “forget” that there’s the perfect treasure waiting in a particular set of acquisitions. That’s when it’s a delightful surprise to rediscover some wonderful purchase that has been waiting to come to life on one of my pieces.

How do you keep track of all of your lovely treasures that are waiting to be part of one of your compositions. My memory doesn’t usually serve me well, so the best I can do is to label a box “beaded appliques” or “funky ribbon and trim”. How do you distinguish your finds from each other?

Why not leave a comment as to your thoughts on this posting. Please take a minute, fill out the form below or by clicking on the “comments/no comments link” at the top of the posting, and then share your ideas with the rest of us. We all grow when we share our thoughts and impressions, so why not join our growing community of those who appreciate art quilts and textile arts. We’d love to hear from you!… and PLEASE tell like minded souls about this blog! The more readers and contributors, the more I write because encouragement helps the words flow!

You can see more of my art work on my web site at (be patient as it loads; it’s worth it), my spiritual healing work at and can find me on Google + , Facebook (for Transition Portals) Facebook (for Fiber Fantasies),  and Twitter.

To find out how to buy my art work, please check out “How to Buy my Art Work” in the “Pages” section to the right of this blog.


  1. Maddie says:

    You have a beautiful blog and do beautiful work. I just found your work yesterday. I can’t believe there are so few comments.

    My stuff is stored all crazy. No matter what system I use, I always end up finding “treasures” each time I decide to clean out my sewing room

  2. Dear Maddie, thanks so much for replying. Yes, replies help a blogger believe that somebody is reading this stuff and I’m not just writing to the cats. …and yes, I love rediscovering new/old treasures. Some I remember where they came from; others, no idea. So thanks for writing, and please tell all of your friends..;)

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