|"Earth, Wind & Fire" by Toni Whitney - Raw Edge Applique|
The reason this applique treatment is generally selected is because the stitching sews the applique edge and quilts the piece at the same time. It is a 2-for-1 technique.
This technique does work well especially when using batik fabrics. Looking at the detail here you can see how close to the edge I was able to sew without the fabric fraying. This is mostly because it is a batik which has a tight thread weave. I also help it along by using a 75/11 quilting needle, thereby keeping the needle hole small.
The photos do show some texture that is created by sewing through the three layers of the quilt.
Notice that my stitches are not perfectly spaced. I simply do the best I can. Some days are better than others because I believe it is all about rhythm, and some days I have it and some days I don't. I do admit that although you may be tired of hearing what a teacher has to say, practice, practice, practice is truly the only way you will become comfortable with free-motion stitching. I began free-motion stitching in 2009. Once I got over my fear and quilted this way a LOT, I now say that it is my go-to stitch over any other type of quilting stitch with my feed dogs up.
Let's say you're not ready to drop those feed dogs yet. What is your other option? To begin with, select a project like my bunny here that has large applique pieces and not too many of them. Leave the feed dogs up, use a walking foot or an open-toe embroidery foot, and straight stitch. Be aware that with feed dogs up, you will be required to turn the quilt with every turn you come to. When beginning quilting, I happily quilted this way and was quite satisfied with my results. You simply have to allow for the time needed to continually turn the quilt. No problem if you're not in a hurry.I would like you to make note about the stitching on this piece. See the fraying? That is because I have used a printed cotton for the applique. This fabric does not have as high a thread count and will fray much easier than batik fabrics. Also notice that not all printed cottons fray the same. I knew that but was willing to except those consequences when I selected my fabrics.
You may also notice that I generally did not stitch as close to the edge as I did in the batik piece. Again, because of fraying issues.
Let me finish by saying use whatever stitch you're comfortable with to get the edge finish you're looking for. There is always more than one way to accomplish a goal in quilting. But let me also be the teacher I am and challenge you to consider (if you don't already) practicing free-motion stitching. Find your rhythm of keeping you foot pedal speed up and your fabric movement consistent. Learning this will open many creative doors that you don't generally see if raw edge stitching is a chore.