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4 key tips to successful and stress free Machine Applique Embroidery

by Elaine Theriault

Welcome back. It’s another great day of machine embroidery with the Husqvarna Viking Designer Topaz 50. Did you see that gorgeous flower that I stitched out yesterday? I’ve got a different style of embroidery to show you today and some more great tips.

Let’s get started.

Husqvarna Viking Designer Topaz 50 sewing machine

Husqvarna Viking Designer Topaz 50 sewing machine

This is what the Designer Topaz 50 looks like with the embroidery arm attached. It’s easy to put on. You just need to slide off the accessory tray and slide on the embroidery unit (after opening a little door at the back of the machine to expose the socket).


One very important thing is to clear the space around that arm as it’ll be moving side to side and you don’t want it hitting anything as that can cause expensive damage to the embroidery unit and your sewing machine.

The hoop will be moving back and forth, so keep the area behind the sewing machine clear as well. Obviously, with the bigger hoop that we used yesterday, more space is required behind the machine and in the front as well. Be careful if you have a swivel chair. When you get up, make sure the chair back hasn’t swung around to interfere with the embroidery arm.

Embroidery unit attached to the Designer Topaz 50

Embroidery unit attached to the Designer Topaz 50

Here’s a look inside the Sampler book that I mentioned yesterday. Each of the designs is numbered which matches the file numbers on the sewing machine so you can easily find the correct file. You can see the threads required for each design. The two numbers beside each color box are the color numbers from two different thread companies. And most important is that little box with the thread color which I frequently use since I don’t always have the brands of thread used in the designs.

The threads are listed in the order that they will be stitched. Sometimes the same color will be used multiple times so be careful of that when selecting your threads. The threads are also listed on the interactive touch screen and are color-coded to the actual design on the screen. This helps you see exactly where that color of the thread will be placed in the design. If the design is complex, it’s sometimes hard to see exactly where the thread will go. The threads are listed in the exact sequence (like the book) in which they will be stitched.

There are also little diagrams that indicate what embroidery technique is required for that particular design.

Inside the Sampler design book

Inside the Sampler design book

A quick peek at Machine Embroidery Applique

This time, I’ve chosen to do some machine embroidery applique. If you don’t know what that is, you’ll see in a minute.

I’ve chosen my thread colors and laid them out on my background to see if the colors work together and work with my background fabric. I’ve also selected a prewound bobbin. My design is small enough to use the 120 x 120 (small) hoop. The thread colors look great against the background fabric which is from the Northcott collection called Silent Night.

Selected threads for the snowman applique embroidery

Selected threads for the snowman applique embroidery


One thing to note about setting up the sewing machine for embroidery: make sure you put in a new needle. You definitely want an embroidery needle as the eye is slightly larger than a regular sewing needle. There’s going to be a lot of thread pulled through the eye of the needle at a very high speed. The less friction, the fewer chances that your threads will break or shred.


I like to use prewound bobbins when I’m doing machine embroidery. The thread weight is very light. You don’t want or need a heavy thread in the bobbin. If you do, you’re going to end up with a big mess of heavy threads on the back of your work. Besides the prewounds come with a lot of thread on them so you don’t have to change the bobbins as often.


Before you start a new design, check the bobbin thread. The biggest issue I’ve had with machine embroidery is when the bobbin thread runs out, but you don’t know it and the sewing machine keeps stitching. Some of the prewound bobbins are made from cardboard and the bobbin sensor doesn’t always register that they’ve run out. Just another reason to stay near your embroidery machine when it’s stitching. You should be able to hear when that bobbin runs out. Perhaps not immediately, but soon after it runs out, the machine will start to stitch with a different sound.

This is the snowman design in the embroidery stitch-out screen. This is where I can see the threads in the order they will be stitched. I can see how many stitches in that particular thread and how many stitches in total.

Using machine embroidery applique, the design today is a snowman. I’m doing a practice run and as the design isn’t big I thought, why not. I’ve hooped my fabric with a piece of stabilizer. Sometimes if the stitches are very dense, I’ll put an extra layer of stabilizer under the hoop. If I don’t, I’ll get puckers in the work and no one wants puckers! While this design isn’t super dense, it’s dense enough to require two layers of stabilizer.

Snowman design in the Stitch out screen

Snowman design in the Stitch out screen

Hold the end of the thread and hit START. And the stitching begins.

The design has started to stitch the first color which is white. At one point, I had to check what was going on as the sewing machine was stitching so fast. Everything was fine. Just not used to that kind of speed. Of course, it depends on the type of stitch and the size of the area as well.

Embroidery stitch out begins

Embroidery stitch out begins

Machine embroidery applique isn’t difficult. The sewing machine does all or most of the hard work for you! Below you can see that it’s stitched the outline of the snowman. After each of the colors, the sewing machine has been programmed to stop so I can change threads or add fabric or whatever the next step is.

In this case, I’m going to add fabric over top of the outline of the snowman.

Outline of applique shape is stitched and waiting for applique fabric to be applied

Outline of applique shape is stitched and waiting for applique fabric to be applied

I’m sure there are kits you can purchase with some machine applique embroidery designs where the fabric shapes are already cut. I’m just guessing at that, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

In this case, I can see how big a piece of fabric that I need to cover the outline of the snowman. I simply lay a larger piece of fabric over the outline stitching and hit START for the next bit of stitching which will tack down the white fabric.

Applique fabric is tacked in position and ready for trimming

Applique fabric is tacked in position and ready for trimming

It’s hard to see in the photo above, but the sewing machine has tacked down the white fabric in the outline of the snowman shape. Next up is to cut the excess fabric away.

Trimming the excess fabric using bent blade scissors

Trimming the excess fabric using bent blade scissors

I like to remove the hoop from the embroidery arm to do the trimming. I use a pair of bent blade scissors. Make sure there is excess fabric (at least ½”) on all sides. It was hard to take a picture and trim at the same time, but I pull up on that fabric with my left hand while trimming as close to the line of stitching as I can with the scissors in my right. You need to get into all the little indents and around curves.

There was only one piece of fabric to be added to this design. After trimming, I reattached the hoop to the embroidery arm and finished off all the remaining colors.

And now the embroidery is finished! This is always a good sign.

Pop up message - Embroidery is finished

Pop up message – Embroidery is finished

But where is the design? Oh no – you have to wait until tomorrow to see the actual stitch out. There are some tips that I want to share and I’m going to do it all tomorrow – you’ll see why.

That’s how simple it is to do machine embroidery applique. The beauty of all these embroidery techniques is that they are simple. The key point to remember is that you must do things in the order that they were programmed into the design. You can’t skip a step (well technically you could but you must know what you’re doing and depends on the design). There probably isn’t one step that I want to miss from the snowman – if I don’t give him a hat, his head won’t appear finished. But if there was a completely separate element, you could technically skip that step.

Join me tomorrow as we spend another day with the Husqvarna Viking Designer Topaz 50. I’ll be sharing more tips about machine applique embroidery.

Have a great day!


This is part 2 of 5 in this series.
Go to part 1: Machine Embroidery with the Husqvarna Viking Topaz 50

Go to part 3: 4 tips for trimming and thread organization for Machine Embroidery Applique


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