The size you make the opening depends upon the size of the quilt. The larger the quilt the larger the opening. When stitching is finished trim the batting within the seam allowance close to stitching to reduce bulk. Turn the quilt through the opening and hand stitch opening closed. Usually this type of quilt is tied. Topstitch about one inch from the outside edge using a walking foot or even feed foot. The topstitching will make a nice finish.
If you wish to machine quilt be sure to pin baste with safety pins approximately three to four inches apart. There might be some difficulty in quilting because in the quilting process the three layers tend to shift and creep. To machine quilt straight lines a walking foot or even-feed foot is recommended using a longer stitch then for piecing. Ten stitches to the inch or a setting of three. This would reduce some of the shifting of the three layers during quilting.
The recommended method for quilting is to quilt the three layers first and then apply binding. If the three layers do shift there is extra fabric in the batting and backing to allow for this.
You can check on the related article about free-motion machine quilting that were posted here: part1, part2, and part3.
Fraying Of Appliqued Fabric
To applique by machine with applique patches that are simply cut out and not turned under, the fabric can be fused to an iron-on product. There are several brands available for that purpose and each one comes with complete instructions for using that specific product. When the fusible product us used it keeps the applique fabric edges from fraying. The edges should be machine stitched using a zigzag, blanket stitch, or other decorative stitch.
If you have already finished the applique and quilted your quilt and want to make a repair to a frayed area, there is a fray-reducing product available. It comes in a small squeeze bottle or a tube. Ask about it at your favorite quilt shop. Apply a small amount to the frayed area with a toothpick. It dries clear on most fabrics.
For hand or machine applique when the seam allowance is turned under I prefer the freezer paper method. Freezer paper is available in the freezer supply section of the supermarket. It us not usually placed near the plastic bags and aluminum foil. If you cannot find it ask a store employee. Many use this to wrap meat for freezing but quilters have a lot of different uses -- including applique.
Freezer paper comes with a dull side and a shiny side. The shiny side has a coating that will adhere to the fabric with a warm iron. Cut applique shape from freezer paper. Four layers of freezer paper stapled together can be cut at one time. I set my dry iron on "wool" -- no steam and literally iron the shiny side of the freezer paper applique shape to the wrong side of the applique fabric. Cut out applique fabric adding a scant one-quarter or three-eighths seam allowance.
Some applique artists prefer to turn under the seam allowance and hand baste through the freezer paper. Then press well. I use a glue stick -- the kind in a lipstick type tube available at office supply stores. I smear some glue on the fabric seam allowance and edge of freezer paper. Carefully turn the fabric over the edge of the paper and press down. Your fingers will get sticky. Keep a wet cloth near to wipe fingers frequently. I use an empty ball point pen as a tool to turn under very small areas. On inside curves or corners you will need to clip the fabric. Clip only to within two or three threads of the freezer paper. When gluing multiple pieces I layer them between sheets of wax paper and weight with a heavy book until the glue is dry. They are flat and easier to handle when dry.
Smear some glue stick on the back of prepared applique piece. Place the applique pieces on the background fabric in the order stated in the pattern. I glue baste and layer all my applique pieces at one time.
Hand stitch each applique piece beginning on the pieces closest to the background fabric using a tiny whipstitch. Your needle will make a tiny stitch in the edge of the applique and go straight down into the background fabric. Then the needle travels underneath the background over to the next stitch and comes up in the edge of the applique. When stitching use thread that matches the color of the applique fabric not the background fabric.
Machine stitch the prepared pieces using clear polyester thread in the needle and the blind hem stitch. The three straight stitches of the blind hem stitch would be in the background and the one zigzag stitch would catch the applique. Use regular cotton thread in the bobbin. Practice until you are proficient. Machine stitch applique pieces in the same order -- stitching the pieces that are closest to the background fabric first.
When stitching is all finished cut the background fabric behind of each applique piece leaving a 1/4" seam allowance. An alternative would be to simply cut a slit in the background fabric to remove the freezer paper.
Place a small amount of soap in a basin of warm water. Soak applique block for five to ten minutes. All the glue will soften and release the freezer paper for removal. Remove freezer paper and discard. Soak block in fresh soapy water for another few minutes and rinse well. Drip-dry or roll in a terry towel to absorb excess water. Don't dry in the dryer.
When dry, press applique block with right side down on a terry towel. The towel will keep the applique from being pressed flat.