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Decorative stitches add detail and dimension to machine applique!

 

Yesterday our banner found its voice as we added a sentiment using computer fonts or stencils and fusible web applique.

Today we add detail and dimension by stitching the applique pieces with rayon thread and decorative applique stitches.

 

Our applique flower stitched with decorative stitches
Our applique flower stitched with decorative stitches

 

Preparing the machine for decorative stitching

Put a new SCHMETZ 75/11 embroidery needle on the sewing machine.

Insert a bobbin wound with Gütermann Dekor bobbin thread.

Thread the machine with Gütermann Dekor rayon thread in a color to accent the applique fabric.

I stitched my leaves and stems first so I started with a nice leaf green thread. Attach an applique foot, also known as a decorative stitching foot. These are available in a variety of styles including metal, clear plastic and open toe.

What makes these feet special is the channel at the bottom of the foot that allows the extra height of the decorative stitch to feed through the machine.

 

Several styles of applique feet
Several styles of applique feet

 

Preparing the banner fabric for stitching

I used UNIQUE Tear Away stabilizer to add body and stability to the banner while stitching the appliques in place.

The stabilizer will support the stitches and prevent the fabric from stretching or puckering.

Though it looks like paper UNIQUE Tear Away is made from 75% rayon and 25% polyester.

It’s safe for the machine and removes easily without damaging the stitching.

Pin or spray baste the full sheet of Tear Away to the wrong side of the banner in preparation for stitching.

 

Tear Away stabilizer is pinned to the wrong side of the background fabric prior to stitching.
Tear Away stabilizer is pinned to the wrong side of the background fabric prior to stitching.

 

Selecting an applique stitch

There are a wide variety of stitches that are appropriate for use with machine applique.

Computerized sewing machines have the most choices of decorative stitches, though even a simple zigzag stitch can be used with great success.

An open zigzag is a nice way to finish the edges of the applique pieces. Experiment with a few different stitch settings to find the one you like best.

 

An open zigzag stitch is found on the most basic sewing machines.
An open zigzag stitch is found on the most basic sewing machines.

 

A satin stitch is one of the most traditional stitches for machine applique.

This stitch is created by shortening the length of a zigzag stitch to .4 or .5 on a computerized machine or within the buttonhole range on a mechanical machine.

Most computerized sewing machines will have a built in satin stitch in several pattern and width variations.

 

A satin stitch is often used for machine applique.
A satin stitch is often used for machine applique.

 

My other favorite machine applique stitch is a blanket stitch.

Computerized sewing machines will do a true adjustable blanket stitch.

 

A blanket stitch is a favorite for applique.
A blanket stitch is a favorite for applique.

 

Stitching the applique

The positioning of the stitches is most important when using decorative stitches to secure the applique pieces to the background fabric.

The needle should just miss the outside edge of the fabric while stitching. This way the edge of the applique will be protected so that it doesn’t fray.

The body of the stitch will be on top of the applique pieces giving them a finished dimensional appearance. Gütermann rayon thread has a soft sheen for added detail.

 

Stitching the applique in place
Stitching the applique in place

 

I used a blanket stitch to stitch the stem and leaves in place.

If pieces overlap one another stitch the bottom piece first whenever possible.

 

A blanket stitch was used to stitch the leaves and stems in place.
A blanket stitch was used to stitch the leaves and stems in place.

 

The flower center was stitched with a long and short satin stitch variation while the flower petals were stitched with a blanket stitch variation.

 

The center was stitched with a satin stitch variation - the petals with a blanket stitch variation.
The center was stitched with a satin stitch variation – the petals with a blanket stitch variation.

 

I stitched the lettering with an open zigzag.

This stitch will be almost invisible when using matching thread. Use a contrasting thread to accent your applique.

 

An open zigzag stitch was used to stitch the letters.
An open zigzag stitch was used to stitch the letters.

 

Have fun stitching your applique and experimenting with all of the decorative stitches on your sewing machine.

Our fabulous welcome spring banner is almost complete. Join me tomorrow as we add the finishing touches. It’s as easy as 1-2-3.

 

This is part 4 of 5 in this series.
Go back to part 3: Enlarge, print, cut, fuse: successfully appliqueing letters to a quilt

Go to part 5: Tear away stabilizer, batting and binding to finish Welcome Spring banner

Julie Plotniko is a quilting teacher, blogger and designer from Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. Teaching for almost 40 years, recent credits include Quilt Canada 2016 and 2017, many quilt guilds and groups throughout Canada and CreativFestival Sewing and Craft Shows in Victoria, Abbotsford and Toronto. When not on the road Julie works and teaches at Snip & Stitch Sewing Center in Nanaimo, BC. Her favorite things include free motion quilting (standard bed and mid-arm machines), precision piecing, scrap quilting, machine embroidery, blogging, designing and of course teaching. Julie believes that to see a student go from tentative beginnings to having confidence in themselves and their abilities is one of the greatest rewards that life has to offer.

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