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Perfecting the Satin Stitch with the Brilliance 75Q

by Elaine Theriault

Hello everyone! It’s great to be back and I’ve got a new sewing machine to share with you. This is the Husqvarna Viking Brilliance 75Q. This sewing machine is made for quilters! You’ve got all the basic stitches you need for your quilting tasks, and there are lots of decorative stitches which I’ll review tomorrow.

The most amazing part about the Brilliance 75Q? It has loads of tools and functions that’ll make any quilting job a snap. Whether you’re quilting, sewing, or stitching some applique, the tools will make your task that much easier. Do you know what that means? You get to finish your UFO pile faster and then you can start a new project!

Husqvarna Viking Brilliance 75Q

Husqvarna Viking Brilliance 75Q

In the picture above, I’ve removed the accessory tray and installed the extension table. Whether you’re a quilter or a sewist, you need that extension table. It’s one of my favorite add-on accessories. The front curved edge makes feeding anything into the machine a dream, but imagine quilting with that gorgeous curved edge. Oh yes – that’s an awesome add-on.

To finish the raw edges or not?

While I’ll be sharing some of the great features and benefits as I walk you through my posts this week if you want a sneak peek, here’s a link to the features and benefits of the Brilliance 75Q.

Today, I’m finishing up a UFO. It’s a stained glass applique project using fused (raw edge applique). I want to finish the edges with a satin stitch and I thought this would be the perfect project to showcase how easy it is to go around those curves, indents, and sharp corners.

I taught an applique class recently and we had a discussion whether to finish the edges of raw edge applique or leave them unfinished. Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself before you make that decision:

  1. What is the end use of the project? If it’s a quilt that’ll be washed frequently, then it makes good sense to finish those edges. If the project is a wallhanging that’ll never be washed – it’s not as important.
  2. How well are the applique shapes fused in place? If the shapes are well adhered, there’s less need to finish those edges. But if some of the edges are not sticking as they should, then I would highly recommend that you finish the edges.
  3. How complicated are the shapes? If the shapes are very small or lots of sharp points and angles or very intricate curves, it might make sense to leave the edges raw. They could be finished with a straight stitch during the quilting process.
  4. What’s your personal preference? Let’s say that the project is a wallhanging. The edges are well fused in place and the shapes are reasonable. My personal preference is to finish the edges. I just love the effect that the thread can add to the dimension of the project.

In the photo below, I’ve already stitched all the flower petals. Even though I matched the thread color almost 100%, the edges still look more polished than the green leaves and the blue background which haven’t been stitched yet. So the answer to the question, “Should I finish the edges of fusible applique?” is “IT DEPENDS”.

The yellow flower petals (finished with a satin stitch) have a nicer look than the blue and green shapes

The yellow flower petals (finished with a satin stitch) have a nicer look than the blue and green shapes

Here’s an example of the applique edges that are finished with a straight stitch at the same time that the project was quilted. You can see there’s a little bit of fraying on the dark green. Not enough to worry about. This applique is from a small wallhanging so finishing the edges this way was more than sufficient.

The raw edges are finished with a straight stitch

The raw edges are finished with a straight stitch

The Foot Pedal is crucial

Let’s face it – we don’t give our foot pedal a second thought. We take it out of the box, plug it into the sewing machine, and put it on the floor – out of sight! There are some people who would be happy to use the START/STOP function that is found on the Function Panel right above the needle.

However, the foot pedal on the Brilliance 75Q is crucial for successful sewing, especially applique.

Let’s say that you’re using the START/STOP function. You’re busy focusing on your work and can’t take your eye off even for a second to locate the START/STOP function to stop sewing. A simple tap on the foot pedal will stop the machine immediately. Did you know that? I LOVE this feature because it happens to me all the time – I’m so focused, I dare not shift my eyes and I need to stop. A quick tap on the foot pedal and the machine stops.

The second thing about the foot pedal is you’ll use it to control your stitching right down to half a stitch at a time. Yes, when you’re stitching something very intricate like applique, the needle may stop on the wrong side of the shape that you’re stitching. Now how does one get the needle over to the correct side so you can pivot or rotate or whatever you need to do next? In the past, we used to turn the handwheel by hand to move the needle.

There’s no need to do that with the Brilliance 75Q. Simply tap the foot pedal (and it’s huge so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding it) and the needle will be advanced by half a stitch. So if you’re doing a satin stitch and your needle stopped on the left, a single tap will move the needle to the right. Another tap and the needle will advance another half a stitch. This feature is one of the main reasons that I can turn the corners on my applique with very accurate stitching.

When I learned of the features of the foot pedal, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Do you know how much time this saves? A lot of time. And no need to take my hands off my work. Once you get the hang of all these tools, you can go around corners and points and other tricky spots very quickly and very accurately.

The foot pedal is large and very intuitive

The foot pedal is large and very intuitive

If you find that your foot control is slipping away on your floor, I found that a large outdoor mat works wonders as an anchor. I’m in a temporary sewing space at the moment, and the floor is less slippery than the studio so the mat isn’t needed.

The Sensor System is invaluable

Another set of tools within the Brilliance 75Q that is invaluable to applique stitching is the Exclusive Sensor System technology.

There are several components to this technology. One of them is the Sensor Foot Lift. There’s NO PRESSER FOOT lever on this sewing machine. One more variable taken out of the equation. I can get my work lined up and without taking my hands off the project, I can start to sew. All I have to do is press on the foot pedal, the machine will lower the presser foot and start to sew.

I can also use the buttons on the Function Panel to position the presser foot in one of the four positions: Down (for sewing), Pivot (essential for applique), Up (when you getting started) and Extra Lift (if you have something super thick to put under the needle).

If you’ve never used a sewing machine without a presser foot lever, it seems a wee bit weird to get started, but once you try it, you’ll be hooked.

I included a video in today’s post and you’ll see the Sensor System in action and see how invaluable it is for turning the points, corners, curves in the applique.

The Function Panel

The Function Panel

The Satin Stitch

There’s a built-in satin stitch on the Brilliance 75Q. I’ll discuss the difference between the satin stitch and a zigzag stitch later this week. The built-in satin stitch is a gorgeous stitch and provides great coverage and eliminates any issues with jamming as can happen when you use a zigzag stitch.

The default stitch width is 4.0 but using the arrows keys on the Interactive Color Touch Screen, I can change the width anywhere from 1.0 to 7.0. That gives me loads of choices depending on the look I want for my project.

I tend to use a wider satin stitch on larger pieces of applique and a narrower stitch width on smaller pieces. Keep in mind that it’s going to be easier to deal with points, curves, and corners if you use a narrower stitch. But not so narrow that you’re not getting good coverage.

This is a super opportunity to experiment with the sewing machine. What are the options? What do the various widths look like? What’s the limit where the machine and my skill set can give me the look that I want? Don’t be afraid to take ONE stitch and play with it until you’re comfortable. Make sample stitch outs and write on the stitch outs what the various widths are. There’s no sense in recreating the wheel each time you want to do some applique.

The Stitch Information screen for the built-in satin stitch

The Stitch Information screen for the built-in satin stitch

Placement of the satin stitch

As with all applique stitches, 99 percent of the stitch should rest on the applique shape. The remaining 1% falls off the right-hand side of the applique shape encasing the raw edge.

In the photo below, you can see the needle just skims the right-hand side of the applique shape and goes directly into the background. This will ensure that no fabric is peeking out the side of the satin stitch.

The needle swings just to the right of the applique shape to get proper coverage

The needle swings just to the right of the applique shape to get proper coverage

Even though I’ve probably done miles of satin stitching over the last 20 years, I still goof from time to time. In the photo below, you can see where the green stitching didn’t quite cover the applique shape in that one tiny spot. GRR! It happens. I might have taken my eye off the work for a nano-second. You can’t do that!

But the rest of the satin stitching looks amazing and I wasn’t about to rip that tiny bit out. That’s another thing – we need to get over these small imperfections. Once you see the entire piece, you won’t see that small little blip!

What we need to focus on are the nice smooth curves and the points. Look how nice those points are! Remember, the size of that applique stitch in the photo is HUGE. In real life, it’s not nearly that large and so little glitches are much less noticeable.

Detailed view of satin stitches on curves, points, and straight edges

Detailed view of satin stitches on curves, points, and straight edges

Other cool features to make applique a snap

Can you see why I LOVE the Brilliance 75Q for applique? The features take all the hard work out of the stitching process. Wait! There’s a couple of things that I haven’t mentioned yet.

  1. The workspace is a generous (nearly) 10″ to the right of the needle. This is very important when appliqueing as I want to be able to turn my project completely around. If I end up shoving my piece through a small arm opening, that isn’t fun. Not only is the width of that space important, but the height is as well. There’s a lot of height in that opening. All great for applique stitching.
  2. Straight Stitch Plate with Sensor Technology. Let’s say that you were doing regular sewing and used the Straight Stitch Plate and now you’re going to do some applique. If you have the Stitch Width Safety on and you attempt to select the satin stitch, you’ll see a pop-up message letting you know that the Straight Stitch Plate is on the machine and you must change it before you can do your satin stitch. No broken needles. That’s a super feature, especially for those of us who are always in a hurry!
  3. Built-in Needle Threader. More than likely you’ll be changing thread colors often when stitching your applique. The built-in needle threader makes changing threads a whole lot easier.

There are other features as well, but I was sold at the foot pedal! All you have to do is sit back and guide that applique under the needle. The Brilliance 75Q takes care of a whole lot of the “work” for you.

Pop up message warning that the straight stitch plate is on the sewing machine

Pop up message warning that the straight stitch plate is on the sewing machine

Turning the corners

The challenging part of machine applique is turning the corners or going around a curve. Often this will deter someone from getting started on their project.

I’ve put together a couple of short videos for you to browse so you can see all the features of the Brilliance 75Q in action that make turning the corners and going around points a snap.

Here are some tips to keep in mind.

  • You may need to shorten the stitch width as you approach the corner.
  • Be mindful of the stitch width as the wider the stitch, the harder it is to turn the corner
  • Pivot OFTEN
  • Pivot on the LARGEST or OUTSIDE of the curve/corner – ALWAYS
  • Relax
In this first video, I’m changing the stitch width to turn the corner.

In this next video, I go around the corner without changing the stitch width.

It looks super easy in the videos to go around the corners and it is! The best part? It’s totally hands-free. My hands are doing what they should be doing – guiding the project to get the needle in the correct alignment. ALWAYS.

The Sensor System takes care of slightly raising the presser foot to the pivot position so I can pivot my work when I need to and tapping the foot pedal will advance the machine by half a stitch so I can get the needle in the exact position that I need to make the pivots.

Take the Brilliance 75Q for a test drive. You’ll see how easy it is for applique even on those sharp points and curves.

Here’s a quick peek at the final piece. Notice how that lighter shade of blue gives a shine to the edges of the blue. So much to tell you and just not enough time!

All the satin stitch applique is finished

All the satin stitch applique is finished

I hope you enjoyed today’s post. Having the best tools that you can get your hands on will make your projects look amazing every time. The features discussed today will eliminate many of those troublesome variables so you can focus on the important stuff.

That’s why I love the Husqvarna Viking Brilliance 75Q. The features and benefits of this sewing machine will always give you a perfect applique stitch.

Be sure to join me tomorrow as I have a look at using decorative stitches for my raw edge applique. Be prepared to think outside the box.

Have a great day!


This is part 1 of 5 in this series.

Go to part 2: 4 essential tips to applique with decorative stitches

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Linda Garcia April 24, 2019 - 11:03 pm

I know this comment is a little late. While it is very cool to have a state of the art machine to help with cool stitches, having the technical mechanics can’t be forgotten. One of my favorite go to books for machine applique is “Traditional Quilts, Today’s Techniques” by Debra Wagner. Published by Krause Publications, copyright 1997. I do not know if it is still in print, but I use this book regularly. It has great examples and illustrations. I can look at the examples and know whether I should pivot with the needle on the inside or outside of the applique. I can’t say enough about how great this book is for showing how it should be done. Even with a great machine, technical skill can’t be discounted.

Elaine Theriault December 5, 2019 - 9:39 am

Lina — you are so absolutely correct. I’m a very technical and technique-oriented person. I always tell my students, you need to learn the basics and then you can break the rules. Having access to the new technology just makes the work a lot faster and easier. But definitely operator skill and knowledge are important. Elaine


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