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Finishing Fusible Applique with a Satin Stitch

Finishing Fusible Applique with a Satin Stitch

We hope you’re enjoying our step-by-step guide to fusible applique! If you’re just joining us, you can easily catch up on the previous posts. We began with three easy steps – trace, cut, press – to quickly create a daisy quilt block. Then we started looking at four edge-finishing techniques: an invisible zigzag stitch and a blanket stitch. Today, we move on to the classic satin stitch.

The Stitch

A satin stitch is a zigzag stitch with a very short stitch length. The stitches lie close together without any spacing between them to create a solid edge. It’s the same stitch used to create button holes, so set the stitch length to the buttonhole setting or somewhere between 0.3 and 0.5. The stitch width can vary depending on how wide or narrow you want the edge finish. Test the stitch on scrap fabric to find the settings that look best on your project and record them for future reference.

Satin Stitch
Satin Stitch

 

 

The Thread

Machine embroidery threads have a nice sheen and come in a variety of weights suitable for satin stitching. I chose white and yellow Sulky 40-wt threads to match my applique fabrics.

Sulky 40-wt Machine Embroidery Thread
Sulky 40-wt Machine Embroidery Thread

 

 

Satin Stitch Edge Finish

To create an excellent satin stitch, I take a three-pass approach.

Pass 1 – Zigzag Stitch

Take the satin stitch settings you recorded earlier and adjust them as follows:

  • reduce the stitch width by 0.5 – 1.0
  • increase the stitch length to 1.0 – 1.5

For example, if your satin stitch settings were width = 2.0 and length = 0.3, your zigzag settings would be width = 1.5 and length = 1.5.

Position the fabric under the presser foot so that the left part of the stitch lands on the applique and the right part of the stitch lands on the background fabric close to the applique edge. Stitch around the applique shape. This creates a base layer of thread slightly narrower than your final satin stitch.

Pass 1 - Zigzag Stitch
Pass 1 – Zigzag Stitch

 

 

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.

Pass 2 – Satin Stitch

Keeping your work in the machine, return the stitch width and stitch length to the satin stitch settings. If you’re going all around the applique, you can continue stitching the shape a second time, covering the first set of zigzag stitches. If you’re only covering part of the shape – as in these photos – you’ll have to pivot to change directions and readjust the left/right position of the stitch.

If your sewing machine is programmable, you can save these settings to quickly switch back and forth.

Pass 2 - Satin Stitch
Pass 2 – Satin Stitch

 

 

Pass 3 – Straight Stitch

Keeping your work in the machine, switch to a straight stitch and adjust the needle position to land on the applique right next to the satin stitch. Stitch around the shape a third time. The straight stitch adds a clean finish and helps cover any rough edges in the satin stitching. (Why not add this straight stitch to the background fabric as well? I will – when I quilt it!)

Pass 3 - Straight Stitch
Pass 3 – Straight Stitch

 

 

A note about stabilizers: I generally find that the fusible web works as a stabilizer when stitching around the applique edges. However, satin stitching does tend to pull the fabric so you might need to use a light-weight tear-away stabilizer on the back and work with an embroidery hoop.

A hand embroidery hoop can be used for machine stitching by using the hoop upside-down (the adjustable ring on the bottom). You may also need to remove the presser foot to fit the hoop under the needle.

Using a hand embroidery hoop for satin stitching
Using a hand embroidery hoop for satin stitching

 

 

The Result

Choose a satin stitch edge finish when you want your applique to have a clearly-defined outer edge. The fusible applique is completely covered with stitching, making it a strong and durable edge finish.

Here’s our satin-stitched daisy. We’re almost finished our step-by-step guide to fusible applique, but I have one more edge-finishing trick up my sleeve. It’s a technique that works best when you can’t – or don’t want to – stitch over the edge of the applique. You’ll have to come back tomorrow to find out more!

Crazy Daisy with a Satin Stitch Edge Finish
Crazy Daisy with a Satin Stitch Edge Finish

 

 

Kathy is a multiple international-award winning quilter specializing in appliqué techniques in a “contemporary traditional” style. She lectures and teaches all over the country at guilds, shops and quilt shows and is a CQA/ACC Certified Quilt Judge. Her work has been featured in magazines, and her designs are available as individual patterns as well as in her book “Sewflakes: Papercut Appliqué Quilts”.

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