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Six tips for successful machine appliqué

For a long time I was mystified by the machine applique process. I just didn’t understand how it worked. But now that I have studied up, digitized some applique designs and learned some lessons the hard way – I can officially offer up some advice the machine applique newbies out there.

1) Use designs with a placement line. A placement line is the first stitching that takes place which indicates where to place the design. Without a placement line – it’s pretty hard to know where to place the appliqué, right? So always ask – if buying a machine applique design, “does this have a placement line.”

2) Wash and dry both your applique fabric and the garment or fabric on which you are digitizing. You don’t want one to shrink after the fact. It will cause buckling.

3) Heavily starch your appliqué fabric. Why? It makes it super stiff – which helps with more precise cutting and less bunching when being stitched.

4) Use adhesive spray on the wrong side of the your appliqué fabric to stick the paper pattern to your fabric to help you cut it out more precisely.

5) Cut slits in any “holes” in the appliqué fabric. This will make it easier to trim away these area. For example, in the peace sign today – it is important to slit out the open areas inside of the peace sign before stitching it down.

6) After the appliqué fabric is stitched down with a zigzag stitch, use appliqué scissors to trim around the object. Appliqué scissors make it much easier to trim close to the design without trimming the fabric underneath.

I hope these tips are helpful for you as you embark on your adventures in machine appliqué.

Machine applique peace sign in progress. Time to trim!
Machine applique peace sign in progress. Time to trim!
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How do I stick the appliqué fabric to the base fabric when doing appliqué on my embroidery machine?

I am about to take on my first machine appliqué project and have just begun to understand that appliqué files, when digitized properly, make it all really easy.   Here is why:

1) From your embroidery software, you can print out the patterns for the appliqué objects.  So, you cut the pieces out you are appliquing on before you even begin.

2) The first thing the embroidery machine does when it begins an appliqué is to stitch out the outline of the object.  This shows you exactly where to lay down your appliquéd piece.

3) My question was – great – but how do I get the fabric piece I lay down to stay in place while my machine is trying to stitch it on to the base fabric?  I posed this question to my Facebook groups on machine embroidery and appliqué groups and they suggested using 505 brand spray adhesive or  Spray N Bond basting adhesive in a purple & white spray can which can be bought at Michaels.   Some people recommend using a material like wonder under that allows you to iron a piece of fabric onto another but in order to do this – you would have to take the embroidery hoop off the machine… so I think I will use the spray.

4) Prior to doing a satin stitch around the object the machine does a single layer of stitching around the object to hold it in place prior to doing the final stitching.

Now that I have my head wrapped around the whole process of machine appliqué, I am ready to give it a try.  I have also learned about the tools in the Bernina digitizing software that you must use in order to create a user-friendly appliqué design.

Tune in tomorrow to see how it turns out.