10 tips for machine applique

Wasn’t that fun yesterday? It’s so easy to use decorative stitches. Today, we’re going to have a look at 10 tips for machine applique with the Husqvarna Viking Designer Jade | 35. As a quilt instructor, machine applique is one area where I often see sewing machines don’t perform as they should. Either the stitches are lacking or the quality of the stitches isn’t there.

I’m thrilled to report that the Designer Jade | 35 passed the applique test with flying colors!

Let’s take a peek at machine applique and the Designer Jade  | 35.

Husqvarna Viking Designer Jade | 35

For today’s post, I’m going to focus on the satin stitches in Menu 3 – Satin and Heirloom Stitches. The tips that follow are applicable to any applique stitch and I touch briefly on that at the end of this post.

Menu 3 – Satin and Heirloom Stitches

TIP # 1 – start with your needle on the OUTSIDE edge of the applique shape

In the sample below, you can see that my needle is positioned to start somewhere on the applique shape. How wide is my satin stitch? When the needle swings to the right – it may or may not be in the right position alongside the applique shape. Don’t guess. Start with your needle on the outside edge of the applique shape.

How do I know the needle is in the left or right position of the stitch? See where the needle is in relation to the red dot in the center of the foot? Yes – that means the needle is not in the correct starting position for the satin stitch.

Remove your fabric and tap the foot pedal to advance the sewing machine so the needle will change to the position on the right hand side of the stitch.

Needle is not in the correct starting position for satin stitching

Needle is now in the correction starting position for satin stitching

TIP #2 – use an open toe applique foot

You want to use an open toe applique foot for 2 reasons.

1 – there’s a tunnel on the underside of the foot to accommodate for the raised stitching created by the satin stitch.

2 – with nothing in front of the needle, you can see into all the tight corners and points of your applique.

This is an add-on foot, but it’s worth every penny. The quality of your finished projects will improve immensely.

TIP #3 – stitch the lines in the correct sequence

When stitching applique, it’s best if you start with the pieces that are “underneath” and work your way up.

In the picture below, you can see that the satin stitch on the two green pieces was done before stitching the pink. The orange will be the last piece to stitch on this section of the applique.

By stitching in this sequence, the beginning and endings of the rows of satin stitching are hidden beneath the satin stitching that goes on top. Just makes for a neater look on the applique.

Stitch the applique from the bottom layers to the top layers

TIP #4 – make sure that presser foot is down

This isn’t really a tip, but I love this message and thought I would throw it in. Should you forget to lower the presser foot (and it happens!), you won’t be able to sew until you lower the presser foot. This is the message that pops up on the graphic display. I love the punctuation!

Message on the graphic display to lower the presser foot

TIP #5 – write down your settings!

If you’re like me, you don’t always get a project finished in one setting. This particular piece of applique has been hanging around for a number of years and I just keep doing little bits as I need it.

There are 3 different built-in settings for the satin stitch. They are the same settings except for the stitch width. One is set at 2.0, one at 4.0 and the other one at 6.0. All of these stitch widths can be modified, but it’s nice to have these pre-set settings.

In the picture below, you can see that I modified the width of Stitch 3:11. The default width of this stitch is 4.0, but I’ve changed it to 3.5.

The stitch width for Stitch 3:11 has been changed from the default settings

However, if you’re going to leave the project sit for a period of time, it’s not a bad idea to write down the stitch number you used and the length and width if you changed it.

In this sample below, you can see that I used stitch 3:10 (on the pink) and it’s a bit too narrow compared to the width used on the green.

Satin stitch width is too narrow

Technically I should have done that test on a sample, not on my project. You know how it is when you’re in a hurry. It never pays. 

But in the event that I do have to rip a few stitches, I take my seam ripper and slice open those stitches on the reverse side. Then I take my thumb nail and easily remove the stitches from the right side of the project. In no time, those stitches are gone!

Use the seam ripper to slice open the back of the satin stitch to rip it out

TIP #6 – use needle stop up/down

The needle stop up/down function is invaluable in all applique situations. If you need to stop for whatever reason, or you need to pivot, the needle should be in your project. If the needle is not secured in the layers of your project, your project will move and you’ll get an ugly long stitch that you now have to disguise or fix.

Function buttons useful for machine applique

TIP #7 – use the FIX function

Use the FIX function to start and stop your lines of applique stitching. The FIX function will tie a knot on the underside of your project and secure the ends of the stitching lines. This is a MUST USE function.

It’s nicely placed right above the needle so it’s easy to reach as you’re working.

TIP #8 – 99% of the applique stitch is on the applique shape

The satin stitch should completely cover the edge of the applique shape. If it doesn’t, you’ll have an unsightly ridge between the edge of the satin stitch and the edge of the applique shape.

In this photo you can see that the needle swings into the background fabric, but just! The bulk of the applique stitch is on the applique shape.

There are exceptions to this guideline. One of them is if you’re using a decorative stitch as your applique stitch. Many decorative stitches do not have a solid edge that you could run alongside your applique shape. Then you’ll need to make a decision where the stitch lies relative to the edge of the applique. We’ll be looking at that a little more closely in our project this week.

99% of the satin stitch rests on the applique shape

TIP #9 – pivot properly

When turning a corner such as on this pink shape, you must pivot at the corner. Not only must you pivot, but it’s very important where the needle is positioned if you want the corner to look nice.

You can see in this example, the needle is down in the project right at the outer corner of the applique shape.

Needle is in the project at the outer most corner of the applique shape – ready to pivot

When I turn a 90 degree corner, I like to take ONE stitch on a 45 degree angle and then turn the corner completely. This just helps to prevent any stray stitches at the corner.

Here I pivoted the project 45 degrees. I take one stitch (by tapping the foot pedal) and then when the needle is back on the outer edge of the project, I pivot one last time (45 degree) and continue stitching.

Rotate the project 45 degrees to take a stitch

Beautifully stitched corners

When you pivot on an inside corner, you have to stitch into the corner the equivalent of the width of the satin stitch. Then with the needle in the outer most part of that stitch, pivot the fabric and continue stitching. If you pivot on the inside, you won’t get a nice filled corner.

Pivoting on an inside corner

The applique shape is completely stitched

It can be tricky to get the knack of pivoting to get beautifully stitched corners. The two shapes above are perfect to practice both inside and outside corners. Grab some fusible and make a couple of shapes like these ones and practice.

I’ve no idea how many MILES of satin stitching I’ve done over the years, but every inch has made me better at what I do. Of course – if I don’t have a good quality sewing machine, like the Designer Jade | 35, then all the operator skill in the world isn’t going to give you a nice looking stitch.

TIP #10 – use other stitches

The Designer Jade | 35 has a nice variety of applique stitches and they all have a place. You need to become familiar with them so you know where and how to use them to suit your projects.

The blanket stitches are in Menu 2 – Quilt Stitches. The blanket stitch is very often used for machine applique and provides a totally different look from the satin stitch.

Blanket stitches are in Menu 2 – Quilt Stitches

The photo below shows the 3 blanket stitches that come built in on the Designer Jade | 35.

The top one is Stitch 2:14 which has two stitches between each notch.

2:15 is double stitched with a single stitch between each notch.

2:16 is single stitched with a single stitch between each notch.

Three different types of blanket stitch and the zig zag stitch

Let’s not forget the zigzag stitch as well. It’s a great stitch to use for invisible applique and the width and length can be modified to suit many types of thread and style of applique shape.

Wow – these are 10 great tips for machine applique. Equally important is having a great sewing machine like the Husqvarna Viking Designer Jade | 35 that provides those awesome features. I’m impressed! Tomorrow, we’re going to have a quick peek at the embroidery capabilities of the Designer Jade | 35. Stay tuned. Ciao!

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Becky May 3, 2023 - 2:01 pm
I am doing an appliqué on a towel do I need to put something in the back of the towel to support my appliqué stitch?
Carla A. Canonico May 3, 2023 - 3:17 pm
Hi Becky it's recommended to always use a stabilizer when appliqueing or using machine embroidery on towels. Visit your local sewing store to know which one to use. Thanks for asking.
Linda Bryan October 21, 2020 - 7:32 am
Are you still using the Jade 35? I bought one last winter then put it away. Now am re-learning. Thanks for tips and review. I find that the most frustrating thing about the machine is the tight space for fingers between the main machine workings and the throat plate, when changing needle, changing screw-on feet, cleaning out fuzz, dealing with a mess around the bobbin, or chasing a broken needle. I recommend some third party magnetic screw drivers, perhaps including an offset one. Also recently got a Dritz little fat screwdriver--very handy compared to the little key-type screwdriver that came with the machine.
Kathy Davey January 29, 2016 - 8:08 am
Great tips! I am a quilter but would like to incorporate more applique into my work. This inspires me to do so.
Kathy E. January 22, 2016 - 11:28 pm
My favorite tip listed here is #5 to write down your settings. I can't tell you how many times I've played with my settings, then had to shut down the machine thinking I'd remember the settings when I continued later on. HA! I never do, and I have learned to scratch out those numbers on a paper nearby. Thank you also for reminding me about the FIX function...one I can't always remember.
Elaine Theriault January 27, 2016 - 12:54 pm
Kathy Oh YES - writing stuff down - my biggest down fall! Good luck with your projects and send pictures! Elaine
Carolyn langley January 22, 2016 - 5:27 pm
I love to appliqué and love to refresh my habits thanks so much for these tips, it will make my next project easier.
Elaine Theriault January 22, 2016 - 8:14 pm
Glad we could provide you a refresher. Have fun with your next project. Let us see what it is! Elaine
Judith C Williams January 22, 2016 - 5:22 pm
Thanks for the tutorial on applique stitches. I always get confused on the placement of the needle' especially on the corners. Practice is the name of the sewer!
Carla A. Canonico January 22, 2016 - 7:23 pm
Practicing always helps, we're never done...good on you!
Lynn Poulin January 22, 2016 - 9:25 am
I enjoyed these tips, especially about pivoting--thanks!
Carla A. Canonico January 22, 2016 - 7:28 pm
Yes! Pivoting is awesome!
Michele T January 21, 2016 - 6:12 pm
Great tips for machine appliqué!!! Thank you, I will try them!
Elaine Theriault January 21, 2016 - 10:00 pm
Michele - you are most welcome. Have fun and thanks for following QUILTSocial. Elaine
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