Machine Applique’ 101 A tutorial ….

26 May

Applique’ is a good way to add a theme to your clothing and household items.   It is very simple to accomplish.  Especially if you are not a perfectionist!

This is our little lady bug applique with hand embroidered antennae and button embellishment.

For this tutorial, a customer wanted a butterfly on the front of her top.  I gave Victoria some different views I would like to see and she drew some up for me.  They were nicely detailed, but since this is machine applique’ I had to simplify her designs.  These are what she came up with.  Well, actually these are my modifications.  Hers were much more real looking!

When the customer decides what she wants, I’ll show you the stitching.

Supplies for machine applique’;

tracing paper ( or any other paper to draw your pattern ), pencil, eraser!, scissors to cut paper,  scissors to cut fabric, fabric, heat and bond ( a two sided fusing medium), stabilizer, thread, sewing machine, blue wash away marker for detailing, fray check,  hand sewing needle, possibly small crochet hook….

O.k. She picked the paisley butterfly…but larger than our sample. So, I cut out a larger one and added the little blue marker wing lines for detail..

Now it is time to trace and cut out heat and bond for the positioning of the applique on the base garment, or project.  Be sure to flip your design over to wrong side to trace heat and bond.  You want the glue side to be against the back of your design.  Since you trace on the paper side you have to flip it.

Next we trim so none of the sticky stuff gets on our iron or ironing board, and we fuse the glue side to the back of the applique’ .

Next we peel the paper off the fused piece and it leaves the glue film on the applique and we are ready to position and fuse the applique’ to our base garment, after fusing there is no pinning, no worries, just carefully sewing around your applique…

Now we have another preparatory step:  Stabilizer for the back of the design so your satin, or zig zag stitches and your design lay nice and flat.

I have graduated to iron on, wash away, tear away stabilizer by Floriani, in the past I have also used extra tissue paper from my patterns, (kind of slippery), Also paper towels, not bad, just hard to clean up and get out of stitches.  The point is to have nice flat, even stitches.  When pulling and tugging to get your home made, cheap stabilizer out you damage your stitches, it just becomes frustrating.  So, I invest in the stabilizer.  That said, there was a day that stabilizer just wasn’t in the budget.  It’s o.k. to be creative, just know you must take your time when removing it  and might possibly need to  carefully use scissors.

…Back to our applique, the above picture shows the stabilizer ironed on the back of the garment behind the design.  Always make your stabilizer larger than your design, you want stabilizer under your stitches which are bigger than your design.

You can see slightly how much taller than my design the stabilizer is, because I need  to make my antennae.

In this next picture observe the top right corner….

It is not nice and flat….

When I turn it over to see why…  I see I ran off of my stabilizer,  I am going to press and let this go because it is a small section and pressing is helpful.  But, You can see why I am stressing the importance of stabilizer 🙂

Now, if you look close you can see the threads at the end of the stitches.  Don’t cut them.  It is good to leave yourself a little more than I did when you take your work off the machine, but, what we want to do is pull the threads through to the back side of the applique’ and tie them off with their bobbin thread.

This can be accomplished two ways: 1. In the above picture I found the top thread and gently pried it with a pin from the back side, checking in the front that the tail was getting shorter to make sure I had the right thread…. Or 2.  Leaving a longer top thread, you can actually thread a needle with the thread tail, because it is long enough, and put the needle through the last stitch.  This is much easier, but sometimes, if you’re like me, I am hurrying and forget. 🙂  Better to be slower at this!

Now ..below I show using a small crochet hook ( like a 2.5 mm)  to help me tie my knot, because I didn’t leave my threads long enough.  Confession:  I used my machine thread cutter and it just leaves me about a 3/4″ tail which is wonderful in most cases, just not this one.   Note:  try to tie 2 or 3 knots for durability.

All right moving on.. Just about finished!


Here is the butterfly attennae and all.  See my longer threads?  It is good to learn from our mistakes!!  All I need to do now is put all these threads to the back and tie my knots. On these ones I was able to use the needle method.  It was a dream!  Then I carefully tear away my stabilizer and moisten my design to erase the blue marker and dissolve the rest of the stabilizer and voila!!  A butterfly embellished top!

This customer had some ideas and asked me to make this outfit up for her.  She sent me some pictures, measurements and this is what we came up with.  I hope she likes it.  It is definitely summery!

Happy applique’ing!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: