38 free appliqué designs to stitch on your embroidery machine
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You’ve probably noticed that there are a huge variety of appliqué designs available for sale. But, did you realize that you can also find dozens of free appliqué designs to download and stitch out?
Stitching out appliqué designs on your embroidery machine is a great way to use up scraps of fabric while creating a bold, graphic statement. And, when you get the appliqué file for free…. well, that makes for a pretty inexpensive project.
What? You say you have never done appliqué on your embroidery machine? Have no fear – it’s actually quite simple. And these freebie designs are a great way to hone your skills.
What is appliqué on an embroidery machine?
Appliqué is the process of placing a cut out piece of fabric on top of another and stitching both layers together.
You can certainly appliqué with a sewing machine. And if you are working at a very large scale (beyond the size of an embroidery hoop) – this may be the only way you can do it.
Back in the early 1990s (before I owned an embroidery machine) – this is exactly how I would appliqué. I made a crazy duvet cover covered with animals, a denim shirt with a retro “LOVE” applique, and a dress full of poppies.
Needless to say, each of these projects were pretty time consuming as they required me to painstakently stitch around every appliquéd object. Unfortunately, it’s the only way you can do appliqué if your design is extra large or you don’t own an embroidery machine.
Appliqué designs that you purchase (or find for free) online are created to be stitched out on your embroidery machine. So, instead of having to fuse the shapes onto the base fabric and then stitch around them, an appliqué design and your embroidery machine does all the stitching for you.
How to appliqué on an embroidery machine
If you are new to machine embroidery, perhaps you have never tried to appliqué on your embroidery machine. Well, you’re in luck – check out my previous post where I show you just how easy it is.
How do appliqué files work?
Typically appliqué files are set up to first stitch out a placement stitch line. This preliminary bit of stitching is intended to show you where to place the appliqué fabric. When this is done, you lay down your appliqué fabric over the stitch line.
Next, most designs do a tack down stitch. This secures the appliqué fabric in place. At this point, you need to remove the embroidery hoop from the machine and trim around the tack down stitch line using appliqué scissors.
Finally, the machine completes the appliqué by doing a satin stitch around the edge of your fabric.
Keep in mind this is for a appliqué intended to have a satin stitch edge. Some appliqué designs are intended to have a raw, exposed edge which give them a more casual appearance.
How should you prepare your fabrics before you appliqué with your embroidery machine?
Probably the most important step for successful appliqué is to prewash and dry both your base fabric and your appliqué fabric.
By prewashing and drying both fabrics, you ensure that they are both preshrunk. If either of your fabrics shrinks after washing and drying, you will end up with a wonky appliqué. And who wants to do that much work for such an outcome? Not me!
I also like to fuse a layer of HeatnBond Lite on the back of my appliqué fabric. It helps the appliqué fabric cling to the base fabric and not move around while it’s being stitched down.
What types of fabric should you use for appliqué?
Usually I stick with a lightweight cotton broadcloth for my appliqués. If you try to appliqué with really thick material, you will have a hard time covering the raw edges of the appliqué with your satin stitch. So, I’ve got quite a collection of little scraps that will make the perfect appliqué one day.
Why download free appliqué designs?
Even if you don’t have an immediate use for them, take advantage of these free offerings while you can. Some digitizers only post their freebies for a limited time – so get them while you can.
It’s a great opportunity for you to build up your own personal library of designs. Who knows when you might need a cute little appliqué design for some future project?
A free design from a new company is also a great opportunity to test them out. It will definitely show you if you like the digitizer’s style or not. It also gives you a chance to test out that company’s quality of instructions and digitizing.
Types of free appliqué designs
When it comes to free appliqué designs, there is quite a variety available. Some have a raw edge finish, some a blanket finish and others have a traditional satin stitch finish.
The styles of free appliqué designs are quite varied as well. From sweet little animal appliqués to intricate floral designs, you can find a design fitting of any type of project.
To help you navigate all these freebies, I’ve organized some of the best into categories to help you quickly find the perfect appliqué design for your project.
Kid-friendly free appliqué designs
You will find quite an array of fun and kid-friendly appliqué designs available. From dinosaurs to robots, these freebies are sure to be a hit with the kids. They also make great gifts for children too!
Satin stitch dino face appliqué
Got a kid who’s obsessed with dinosaurs? Then, here’s a perfect free appliqué design for your little kid. It’s a satin stitch stitch dino face that is available for free from Enigma Embroidery on SWAK.
Popsicle with sunglasses appliqué design
Beau Mitchell Boutique really delivers with an adorable kid-friend free appliqué design. The popsicle with sunglasses appliqué design would make for a spirited summer t-shirt for any little kid.
Watermelon slice appliqué
Nothing says summer like a cool slice of watermelon. This cute little free watermelon appliqué design from Lynnie Pinnie is perfect for summer t-shirts, tote bags and more! It’s stitched with a satin stitch and comes in several sizes.
Sweet, simple flower appliqué
There’s nothing quite like the beauty of a simple flower appliqué. This sweet little design from Lynnie Pinnie can be made with three different fabrics and finished around the edges with a satin stitch. It comes in several sizes and Lynnie Pinnie even provides the SVG fils for all the shapes so that you can pre-cut your applique fabric with your Cricut (or other type of cutting machine).
Girly horse head appliqué
This girly horse head appliqué from Lynnie Pinnie is sure to be a hit with the equestrian fans. It’s finished with a satin stitch and comes in several sizes. Perfect for t-shirts, pillow covers and more!
Chunky bow appliqué
This super cute chunky bow appliqué from Lynnie Pinnie is available in several sizes. It has a satin stitch finish and can be used for day dresses, t-shirts and more.
Snowman appliqué with circle frame for a monogram
Here’s a truly unique free appliqué design from Apex Embroidery. It’s a snowman with an applique bottom circle that can be used to add a monogram. It has a quite a bit of embroidered details in addition to an area of appliqué.
Sunglasses appliqué design
This fun little sunglasses appliqué design from Apex Embroidery is perfect for summer t-shirts and totes. It has a stitch finish and comes in two different sizes.
Free appliqué designs for babies and toddlers
When it comes to appliqué designs for babies and toddlers, there’s no shortage of cute freebies. From animals to monsters, you’ll find plenty of sweet choices.
Lamb appliqué design
This cute little lamb appliqué design from Apex Embroidery is perfect for baby showers and newborn gifts. It’s finished with a satin stitch but only comes in one size that slightly larger than a 4″ x 4″ hoop. You may be able to get away with scaling it down a bit of fit in a 4″ x 4″ hoop.
Baby giraffe appliqué
For the animal lovers out there, here’s a darling little free baby giraffe appliqué from Embroidery Boutique. It’s finished with a nice smooth satin stitch with some filled embroidery details. And if the baby giraffe wasn’t cute enough on it’s own, the little stinker has a balloon attached to its tail.
Baby dress appliqué
This pretty free baby dress appliqué design from Oma’s Place is perfect for any little baby girl. It’s finished with a bean stitch and contains quite a few details, including a delicate heart detail and lace around the bottom of the dress.
Baby bib appliqué
Here’s another darling free baby appliqué from Oma’s Place. It’s a sweet little baby bib appliqué design that can be stitched with a delicate finish. It’s a cute addition to any baby outfit or accessory.
Animals in pea pods appliqué design set
This set of adorable animal appliqué designs from Kreative Kiwi is perfect for adding some fun to your next project. The set includes a baby elephant, lion, monkey and 6 other animals all tucked safely in their pea pods. They are finished with a satin stitch and come in several different sizes.
Versatile, basic free appliqué designs
Sometimes all you need is a simple appliqué shape to make the perfect project. And, when it comes to basic appliqué designs, there are plenty of free options out. From hearts and stars to circles and rectangles, you’ll find lots of choices for any project you may have in mind.
Basic star appliqué design
If you’re looking for a simple appliqué design, this basic star design from Beau Mitchell Boutique on SWAK is perfect. It’s stitched using a satin stitch and it will look great as a patch. Or, you can add an initial on top for a totally custom look.
Decorative circle frame applique
Talk about versatile! This free decorative circle frame appliqué design from Creative Appliqués on SWAK is perfect for just framing a monogram. It’s delicate stitching around the outside gives it a sweet, feminine touch.
Dotted scalloped circle appliqué
This free dotted scalloped circle appliqué from Embroidery Boutique is a great background for a monogram, or you can use it as a simple patch. It even comes in a variety of sizes.
Chevron heart appliqué
This free chevron heart appliqué from Apex Embroidery is an ideal design for a t-shirt or tote bag. It’s simple and sweet, and it comes in three sizes. Looking for a plain heart? Just don’t stitch out the chevrons.
Basic heart appliqué
Here’s another super basic heart appliqué from Creative Appliqués. It’s a heart design with a bean stitch finish, perfect for toddlers and young kids. It’s one of the easiest appliqués to stitch out, and it comes in several size.
Rectangular appliqué frame
Here’s a free decorative rectangular appliqué frame design from Apex Embroidery. It’s perfect for framing designs (or a monogram) and a size that fits nicely in a 5″ x 7″ embroidery hoop.
Holiday and special occasion themed free appliqué designs
Everyone needs a little something special for the holidays or other special occasions, and this selection of free appliqué designs are just what you need. You can find a free appliqué design for just about any holiday or special occasion.
Simple bunny profile appliqué design
This sweet little bunny profile appliqué design is perfect for Easter, baby showers and more. It’s finished with a basic satin stitch and is unadorned enough to allow for a name, monogram or initial to be stitched on it. It’s offered for free from Beau Mitchell Boutique on SWAK.
Looking for other Easter freebies? Check out my previous post about free Easter-themed embroidery designs.
Zig Zag Easter egg appliqué
Here’s another free appliqué design perfectly suited for Easter. This zig zag Easter egg appliqué from Creative Appliqués is perfect for making a special Easter t-shirt or gift. It’s stitched with a satin stitch and can be made in two different sizes.
Split bunny appliqué design
This split bunny appliqué design from Apex Embroidery is a sweet way to add a little Easter cheer. The split in the middle is allows you to add a name in the middle which would make it the perfect design to liven up as well as personalize an Easter basket.
Mini cupcake appliqué
Seeking a sweet treat? Check out this mini cupcake appliqué design from Oma’s Place. Make the design stand out with fun fabric choices. It’s perfect for a birthday t-shirt or any other celebratory occasion.
American Cutie Flag in Heart Appliqué Design
Show your patriotism with this free American Cutie Flag in Heart Appliqué Design from Lynnie Pinnie. This would be the perfect addition to any Fourth of July t-shirt or other patriotic project.
Flying witch inside of the moon appliqué design
This whimsical flying witch inside of the moon appliqué design from Lynnie Pinnie is perfect for Halloween and it’s totally free! It comes with several sizes and it’s finished with a satin stitch.
Looking for other Halloween embroidery freebies? Check out my previous post about free Halloween-themed embroidery designs.
Shamrock appliqué design
Find your luck with this free shamrock appliqué design from Lynnie Pinnie. It’s the perfect way to get ready for St. Patrick’s Day!
Irish birdie appliqué design
This free Irish birdie appliqué design from Oma’s Place is perfect for St. Patrick’s Day as well. The little birds are stitched out with a satin stitch and it comes with four sizes.
Dad in heart appliqué design
This free Dad in heart appliqué design from Apex Embroidery will help you make the perfect Father’s Day gift. Stitch it on a t-shirt or a tote bag to show your dad how much he means to you.
Simple cross appliqué
This appliqué cross design is perfect for any religious occasion. It’s offered for free from Apex embroidery. Although it’s pictured with a satin stitch finish, it also contains a running stitch version as well. And both styles come in three different sizes.
Gingerbread appliqué design
This free gingerbread appliqué design from Apex Embroidery is a sweet way to celebrate the holidays. Stitch it on a t-shirt or bag and add some festive fabric choices for even more fun!
Looking for other Christmas embroidery freebies? Check out my previous post about free Christmas themed embroidery designs.
Noel ornament appliqué design
This Noel ornament appliqué design from Oma’s Place will help you get in the Christmas spirit. It’s offered for free and it comes on one size that will easily fit in a 4″ x 4″ embroidery hoop.
Mini reindeer face appliqué design
This reindeer face appliqué design Lynnie Pinnie is perfect for making a festive Christmas hand towels or other holiday projects. And, it’s offered for free and comes in many diferent sizes as well as a filled vesion.
Free appliqué designs perfect for trying out new techniques
Whether you are looking to practice your blanket stitch or experimenting with a new fabric, these designs will challenge and inspire you! Choose from a variety of shapes and sizes that range from easy to difficult.
Extra large flower appliqué
If you are looking for a multi-hoop challenge, here it is. This extra large flower appliqué design from Kreative Kiwi is beautiful and intricate. It’s created with multiple hoopings but fits together like a jigsaw puzzle.
Blanket stitch crab appliqué
Here’s a darling little stylized crab that is stitched out using a blanket stitch. It’s the perfect appliqué design for kid-friendly ocean-themed projects and it’s offered for free from Appliqué Alley on SWAK.
Quick stitch flower appliqué
If you’re looking to try out a raw edge appliqué design, Lynnie Pinnie has a perfect solution. Just find one little fabric scrap and load in this raw edge flower appliqué design.
Since it’s a raw edge appliqué design, you will simply stitch out a placement stitch line, lay down your fabric, and then stitch out the triple stitch outline. To finish the project, you just trim around this stitch line.
I noticed that when I was checking out Lynnie Pinne that If you subscribe to their email, they will send you an additional four free appliqué designs. Additional freebies are available in their Facebook group.
Free appliqué designs for home decor
If you are looking for a way to add some unique touches to your home decor, these appliqué designs are perfect! Create a pillow with an elegant floral appliqué design or create an eye-catching wall hanging with one of the many free designs available.
Elegant leaf appliqué
If you are looking for something more traditional and elegant, check out this leaf appliqué from Oma’s Place. It has a lovely delicate finish around the outside edge. It’s perfect for fall home decor projects.
Bird house appliqué
This bird house appliqué design from Oma’s Place is great for adding a little charm to any project. Stitch it out on some outdoor pillows or on some hand towels to bring a bit of the outdoors inside.
Apple basket appliqué design
This apple basket appliqué design from Oma’s Place is perfect for adding a touch of country charm to your project. It’s easy to stitch out and is great for kitchen towels, table runners, or any other home decor project.
Ready to grab some free appliqué designs?
These are just a few of the free appliqué designs available online. With so many great choices, you have no excuse not to get stitching! Start building up your own personal library of designs today and be ready when inspiration strikes!