Finishing Fusible Applique with a Blanket Stitch
Welcome back to our step-by-step guide to fusible applique, the quickest and easiest applique technique. If you can trace, cut and press, you can do it! Yesterday we looked at the first of four edge-finishing techniques – an invisible zigzag – which is a great choice when you don’t want the stitches to show or when the stitches would detract from the appearance of the applique. Today, we shift our attention to a versatile decorative stitch that can add subtle beauty or bold drama to your applique: the blanket stitch. Details of fusible applique and finishing by hand, can be found in our earlier post on QUILTsocial.
Set your sewing machine to a blanket stitch. The blanket stitch is a sequence of straight stitches that go forward/backward/forward/left/right forming a sort of T shape. The stitch width setting will adjust the size of the left/right portion of the stitch – the part that will go onto the applique. The stitch length setting will adjust the forward/backward/forward portion of the stitch – the part that will go beside the applique and the spacing between the perpendicular stitches. Test the stitch on scrap fabric to find the settings that look best on your project.
You have a lot of choices here, which is why the blanket stitch is such a versatile edge finish. Machine embroidery threads have a nice sheen that can blend or contrast with the applique fabrics. Hand embroidery threads can also be used if you prefer to finish the edges of your applique with a hand blanket stitch.
Machine Blanket Stitch Edge Finish
Pull the bobbin thread to the front of your work and leave a thread tail. This may require you to disengage the automatic thread cutter on your machine.
Position the fabric under the presser foot making sure that:
- the forward/backward part of the blanket stitch lands on the background fabric right next to the applique edge
- the left/right part of the blanket stitch is perpendicular to the applique edge
Stitch around the applique shape.
You’ll need to stop and readjust the fabric to get around corners and tight curves. Always pivot with the needle down on the outside of the curve. If your machine has a knee-lift or a pivot setting, your hands will remain free to adjust the fabric.
When the stitching is complete, clip the threads leaving a thread tail. The beginning and ending threads will be secured and buried by hand.
The easiest way to do this is with a self-threading needle. There is an opening at the end of the shaft that allows the threads to pop into the eye of the needle.
Bring the threads to the back of the work, knot, and bury under a row of stitching.
A note about stabilizers: I generally find that the fusible web works as a stabilizer when stitching around the applique edges. However, if you find that your fabric is pulling or bunching or you can’t balance your thread tension, try adding a light-weight tear-away stabilizer to the back and/or working with an embroidery hoop.
Choose a machine blanket stitch edge finish with matching thread when you want to add subtle beauty to your applique. The stitch will outline your applique shapes and give them definition while still allowing the fabrics to shine.
Choose a machine blanket stitch edge finish with contrasting thread when you want to create bold drama with your applique. Black thread can evoke a country feel or give a cartoon look to your project.
Here are our fusible-applique daisies with a machine blanket stitch edge finish. Isn’t it amazing how different the same design can look depending on the fabric and edge-finishing choices? Well, we’re not done yet! Tomorrow we will continue our step-by-step guide to fusible applique with a third edge-finishing technique: the classic satin stitch.