Thursday, May 20, 2010

Machine Applique Tutorial

As promised yesterday, I have a machine applique tutorial to share with you. If you find that you have questions, please leave a comment and I will do my best to answer them.
First you need to affix your applique pieces to the background. My preferred method is with fusible web. First trace your pieces to the smooth (paper) side of the fusible web. Make sure you are tracing the pieces opposite of the way you want them to appear on the finished item. I use a light box, but a sunny window will work fine. Then cut the pieces apart near the traced line, not on the traced line. Using the manufacturer’s instructions, iron the fusible web to the wrong side of the fabric. Then cut out on the line and following the manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the pieces to your background. Note: I always cut the background a little larger and trim it to size when I’m finished with the applique to be sure the background stays the right size.
     After you affix the fabric to the background you will need to stabilize the piece. You can use either tear away stabilizer or copy paper. I use both depending on the project. If the project is small and intricate, I recommend tear away. Straight lines and gentle curves are fine with copy paper. If I have a larger project, I use tear away simply because I can cover the entire area.
     Any good quality thread will work for applique. I use the same thread on the top and in the bobbin.
     Next adjust your machine. I always loosen the top tension. You will have a much smoother satin stitch if you do this. I also set my straight stitch length to 0 and my zigzag stitch to almost 0. 

Now you need to decide what to sew first. Any piece that is partially under another piece should be sewn first. In this picture, the heart and the yellow petals of the flower need to be sewn before the green leaves or the blue petal.
Finally we are sewing! Starting in a corner or just anywhere on a circle, sew your first five stitches in place with the straight stitch to knot the thread.


 Then switch to zigzag and start sewing. The outside edge of your stitching should be just beyond  the outside edge of the applique (about the width of your needle). Guide the piece. Do not try to push it though the machine. Let you machine do the work!

You will need to start and stop using the straight stitch knot when you come to a piece that overlays the piece you are working on. It is OK to satin stitch onto the top piece just a little ways to make sure your entire bottom piece is covered, but not too far as you must be able to cover your stitching with the stitching on the upper piece.

When you reach an area where your need to change directions, stop with you needle on the inside of the piece, in the down position.

  Then pivot your piece to go in the next direction. Pull your needle up and position it though the same hole as when you stopped and continue on. Corners are done the same way as the center of this heart.


Although almost all other directions have you cover the corner going in both directions, I don’t recommend this because it makes the corner bulky. 

 End your applique with five straight stitches to knot the thread again.

 When you finish. Trim the front threads first. Then give the back threads a gentle tug to pull the knots to the back and trim. Don’t trim the knots off. 

If you make a mistake, it is easy to correct. Simply slide your seam ripper between the fabric and the thread and cut the thread. Be very careful that the seam ripper does not catch the fabric! 

When you are completely finished remove the stabilizer, press, and trim the background to size.

This is a picture of my finished applique.

This is a fun and fast way to applique, but at first it may seem difficult. Start sewing slowly, as you gain confidence, your speed will increase. As in all new techniques, practice is necessary, so you may want to practice before starting a project. If you would like a printable copy of this tutorial and a sample applique pattern to practice with go here.


Anonymous said...

Great tutorial, Jill - thanks.

Love that Brandywine Designs quilt... I have that on my list of quilts to do too. :)

Happy Applique-ing.

Teresa said...

Good Morning Jill, Your baby quilts are so cute! Colors look great. I put a small top together for the guild & made lots of messes in my sewing room, but not much progress on anything else. Oh well, at least there's sun again!! Nice tutorial. Your machine app. always looks so good. I hoping to maybe finish cleaning up my fabric messes & get some sewing done today so better get moving. :)

Myra said...

A wonderful tutorial Jill! Most excellent! 8-)

Solstitches said...

I'm so glad you put up this tutorial as the only applique I have attempted up to now has been by hand.
I think I will give this a go.
Thank you!


Valerie Reynolds said...

I've never machine appliqued appreciate you sharing this. It will be nice to return to this A Tuesday Archive to follow and refresh myself. :)V

Marianne Jeffrey said...

Your applique is awesome thanks for the tute!

Podunk Pretties said...

Great tutorial for the zigzag edge. Knowing when and where to stop and pivot has always been a problem for me.

OhioLori said...

Saw your Link on Podunk Pretties just now. Thank you sooooo much for this Tutorial!! You have made it easy to understand & touched on questions I have had. Definitely going to try doing Applique again! Thank you!!