Raw edge applique – it’s all in the way you move

Oh my – we’re making significant progress on our decorative cushion cover for Valentine’s Day. Today, we’ll use the Husqvarna Viking Opal 670 to complete the decorative stitching on the raw edge applique we fused in place yesterday.

Husqvarna Viking Opal 670

My favorite presser foot for machine applique of any kind is the Open Toe Foot, an optional foot for the Opal 670, but well worth getting. The open space at the front of the foot allows you to see right into all the curves and indents. To me, it’s a must-have presser foot.

The Open Toe presser foot



  • decorative thread (I use 40-weight rayon or polyester machine embroidery thread)
  • white (or black) bobbin thread (I love to use pre-wounds)


Supplies for machine applique

Let’s chat about the most common type of stitches used for raw edge applique. The satin stitch and the blanket or buttonhole stitch are the most common, and the Opal 670 has three of each. We’ll start by looking at the blanket stitch.

There are three different ones, and each has its characteristics. Number 10 has two stitches between the jog, Number 11 is a double stitch, and Number 12 has only one stitch between the jog, which is easy to see in the stitch diagrams on the flip-up lid. It’s a good idea to stitch them out to see which one you like the best, and it is critical to understand the stitch sequence if you want nice curves and pivots at the corners.

The three blanket stitch options

It’s easy to switch between the four Stitch Menus by selecting the Stitch/Font button in the top right-hand corner of the black part of the screen. The four stitch menu options come up, and you can select the menu and type in the number of the stitch you want. You can also use the Up/Down arrows on the side to move between the stitches.

The four Stitch/Font menus

I decided to use Stitch 2:11 (the double stitch) to create a thick blanket stitch, and I left the stitch width and length at the default settings. Stitch out several samples to see what length and width are appropriate for your applique shapes if you’re not sure. I tend to use smaller stitch widths on smaller applique and larger widths for the larger pieces. Adjust the stitch lengths according to your project. There’s no right or wrong – it’s all personal choice. The Exclusive Sewing Advisor suggests a stabilizer, the fusible fleece I’m using on the background is sufficient as a stabilizer.

The default settings for Stitch 2:11

The jogs on a blanket stitch should land 100% on the fabric, and the traveling stitch between the jogs falls only on the background. In this photo, you can see my needle, in the right-most position, is right beside the applique shape in the background. This positioning of the stitch for applique is the same for the commonly used stitches, like blanket stitch and satin stitch. Sometimes a slightly more decorative stitch is centered on the seam. But for today, we’re focusing on the most common applique stitches.

The right-most needle position is in the background of the blanket stitch.

Now, this all works fine if the edge of the applique shape was straight. I would continue on the shape, and all would be good. However, you’ll notice there is a slight curve as I move to the bottom of the heart, and soon I’ll run into the applique shape.

The bottom of the heart has a curve.

You’ll need to pivot the fabric slightly to realign it with the Open Toe foot. Lift the presser foot lever slightly so it’s not sitting on the fabric and pivot to the new position. This pivoting is usually very slight – just enough to realign the fabric and no more, unless you’re on a corner or an indent. You’ll notice my needle is a smidgen away from the applique. This example is magnified, so in reality it isn’t far away, and shows you do have some flexibility in that area, but you want to keep the needle as close to the edge as possible without missing the background. In other words, don’t travel on the applique, but rather right along the edge.

The needle is traveling along the outer edge of the background of the applique

When I come to the point of the heart, I have to pivot to get around the corner. Understanding the stitch sequence is crucial if you want to have a perfect stitch at the point. If you have to manually lift the presser foot and shift the fabric forward or backward so the next stitch falls right at the point, it’s perfectly okay to do so. In my case, the stitch length landed just slightly beyond the point, and I didn’t need to move the project.

The end of the stitch falls right at the point of the heart

I let the Opal 670 take the double jog into the fabric right on the point, and I pivoted once more before it traveled along the edge.

Turning the corner with blanket stitch applique

I bet you’re thinking this calls for some very delicate stopping and starting. It does, but we have a fantastic feature to help us. A slight tap on the foot pedal allows you to move half a stitch at a time. If the needle is on the right and you need it to be on the left – a simple tap will advance the work by half a stitch. It’s a brilliant feature, and you can’t easily do applique without it.

The foot pedal

I didn’t take pictures of going around the upper curve of the heart, but the same rules apply. When the edge of the applique starts to get out of alignment with the foot, raise the presser foot slightly and pivot to realign the edge. This procedure is crucial to a good finish along the edge. Please don’t skimp on this, and don’t try to do it on the fly. It’s better to stop, lift, pivot, and you’ll be much happier with the results. Doing it on the fly can give your applique a wavy edge because the fabric gets distorted.

When you arrive at the point, you’ll follow the same procedure. Once the needle is in the center position, instead of letting it take the jog on an angle, I lift and pivot so the jog will fall in a vertical line on the applique shape.

This photo shows the foot’s position when I first arrive at the indent.

Arriving at the indent in the applique shape

This photo shows the position of the applique shape after I’ve lifted the presser foot and slightly pivoted. Now the jog will fall vertically on the heart shape. And my traveling stitch between the jogs will fall along the edge of the applique. It’s super simple, but you have to stop and think about where you are going, the final look you want, and the stitch sequence, so you know when to pivot.

The applique shape is now in the correct position for the next stitch

I’ve now stitched the jog, and I need to lift the presser foot and pivot once more so the traveling stitch will fall along the edge of the applique.

The jog in the center of the indent – it’s time to pivot once more

Use the Fix function to start the applique, as you’re never guaranteed whether the end will match the beginning. I got lucky, and when I arrived back at the start point, the last travel stitch matched up with the first jog. If it won’t match precisely, lift the presser foot and move your fabric backward or forward so that it does.

The end of the blanket stitch matches the start point

There’s the blanket stitch. Wow – that’s so perfect. The quality of the blanket stitch is superb, and I couldn’t ask for a better job. The double blanket stitch makes the stitching really pop. You can use a contrasting thread if you want, but I wouldn’t recommend it until you have mastered this technique.

A perfect blanket stitch

The inner heart looks fantastic, and I’m thrilled with the results. Check the position of the stitches in the indent versus the point. While both jogs are vertical, the ones in the indent face away from the jog, while those at the point overlap the center jog. It’s the nature of the shape. And all the points are pointing inwards, not on a slant along the edge of the shape. This happens because I pivoted the fabric regularly to keep the edge of the applique parallel to the edge of the Open Toe presser foot.

The blanket stitch on the heart applique

I’ll use a satin stitch for the outer heart. I have three default settings in Stitch Menu Number 1.

Three satin stitch widths in the stitch menu

It’s handy to have three default settings, and remember you change the width and length of any of them to suit your needs. I won’t get into the details here, but you should experiment with those satin stitches. What happens when you change the length using different thread weights? Try different widths, too, until you are familiar with all the possibilities. This would be a great exercise to do one afternoon. We don’t play with our sewing machines nearly enough, and the options available on the Opal 670 are endless.

For my project, I used stitch 1:35, the middle stitch with a default width of 4.0. I wanted to keep the widths of my applique stitches the same, so I reduced the width to 3.5.

The default settings for Stitch 1:35

As I mentioned earlier, the right-most edge of the applique stitch needs to fall on the background, and the rest of the stitch sits on the applique shape. Again, I’m not using a separate stabilizer because the fusible fleece is the stabilizer.

Ninety-nine percent of the satin stitch sits on the applique shape

With its shorter stitch length, a satin stitch requires more stitches to get good coverage, but the process for going around corners and indents is the same. You’ll find you have to pivot more frequently because of the extra stitches. I should also mention the satin stitch on the Opal 670 is a true satin stitch, not a tight zigzag. You get a much smoother look and better coverage, almost with an underlay stitch to further prevent the fabric from showing through the stitch. See how the lines on the zigzag are on a diagonal, and the lines on the satin stitch form a Z shape. It’s a huge feature of the Opal 670.

A satin stitch and a zigzag stitch

In this instance below, I’m approaching the corner, so I can use the tap function on the foot pedal to advance the stitch until I’m at the outer edge of the corner.

Approaching the point of the heart

Next up is to pivot the fabric slightly and take a stitch or two.

Turning the point on a heart-shaped applique

I keep pivoting, sometimes after each stitch, until I’ve turned the corner. Some people like to shorten the stitch length to get around the corner, but there’s no need. I more often forget to lengthen the stitch again once I’m around the corner, so I prefer to keep it the same length unless the point is skinny.

Turning the point on a heart-shaped applique

When going around a curve, don’t forget to lift the presser foot and pivot often. Keep those stitches facing toward the center to ensure they don’t end up on a slant along the edge.

Going along a curved edge of an applique shape

A note about the back of your work: I used a white bobbin thread, and by using the Exclusive Sewing Advisor to set the tension, the top thread is pulled slightly to the back of the work, which you can see by the pink thread showing on the back. This tension setting is critical to the final look of your work, as you don’t want to see the white bobbin thread on the top. It also allows me to use the prewound bobbins, which usually come in black or white, and I don’t have to change bobbins to match my top thread. Think huge time saving here!!!!

The top thread pulled to the back of the work

Here’s a close-up of the turn (pivot) using both stitch types on the point of the heart. It’s neat and even, something easily achieved on the Opal 670. You must learn the stitch sequence to make it this neat, lift the presser foot often and pivot, and keep your fabric correctly aligned. It’s not hard – you just have to practice to make it perfect. But isn’t the quality of those stitches impressive?

The stitches at the point of the heart

And here’s a close-up of the indent. I’m thrilled beyond words at the quality of these stitches.

The stitches at the indent of the heart

And here’s my completed applique. This process took no time to stitch out, and the Opal 670 did all the hard work!

The finished applique

And that’s a wrap for today. If you’ve never done applique before, I’m sure you’re shaking your head and thinking you’ll never get this good. Applique is not a fast process unless you’ve done it a lot. Like anything, you have to do the practice, but with the fantastic features and stitch selection on the Opal 670, you’ll have fabulous applique stitches in no time.

I’m so impressed at the variety of decorative stitches and the quality of the stitches on the Husqvarna Viking Opal 670. You truly can create a masterpiece with this sewing machine. If you’re looking for a second machine to take to retreats, or you’re looking to purchase a new one, the Husqvarna Viking Opal 670 is a great option.

Tomorrow, we’ll finish our pillow with a zipper in the back and some tips to finish off the final seam. Be sure to pop back for that.

Have a great day!


This is part 4 of 5 in this series

Go back to part 3: Quilting is fun with decorative stitches!

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