I've had much more experience with machine applique in the past two years than I had during all the previous years of quilting. I no longer grab the nearest thread of the right color, but I've learned to choose from a variety of thread types to attach applique pieces. The thread choice depends on the effect I want to create.
If I want the edges of the applique to blend in or disappear, I will use a matching 60 weight polyester thread. This thread is so fine that it becomes nearly unnoticeable.
Here it is on my Spring Table Runner. With any zigzag stitch, this thread will come closest to looking like hand applique.
If I want the applique to have the old fashioned appearance of a blanket stitch made by hand, I'll opt for black in a 50 weight cotton thread.
Lately, I've been using a 40 weight rayon thread more and more. Sometimes I want the stitching in matching thread to stand out and be noticed. This heavier weight thread with it's lovely, silky shimmer does the trick.
This is a section of the trellis block I'm working on for this year's quilt along. To make the trellis recede into the background, I stitched that piece with 50 weight cotton in an exact color match to the fabric. In contrast, the thicker rayon in the flowers and leaves gives texture and dimension to them making them pop out from the background trellis.
When I made the wheelbarrow for the 2015 Garden quilt along I found myself using pink and purple fabrics. It totally changed the appearance of the whole quilt. As you can see in the closeup photo of the trellis block above, I've added another large block in pink and purple. Now a couple of the first pair of blocks seem to clash. I think I will likely need to remake one butterfly and one heart so the colors are better balanced.
That's what happens when I design as I go, and it's the way I usually work. I'm very often surprised by my finished project, but for me, that's one of the most exciting elements in designing. I love discovering something lovely that was completely unexpected. It does call for a redo of some parts now and then, but if it makes a positive difference in the outcome, I don't mind reworking things at all.
Today is the first day of spring!!
Wishing you a
(in purple, of course)
(in purple, of course)