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Tips for Machine Appliqué

Regardless of how you prepare your pieces for machine appliqué, learning how to stabilize and stitch your pieces is key. Follow these tips for great appliqué and check out troubleshooting tips at the end of this slide show.

Machine Appliqué Troubleshooting


Here the stitches are too far outside the edge of the appliqué piece, so it may pull loose from the foundation.

Stabilizer


What’s the secret to smooth appliqué pieces? Using stabilizer! Place stabilizer beneath the foundation fabric before you being appliquéing. This will prevent unsightly puckers that pull at the foundation. Stabilizer is used beneath appliqué foundations to add support and eliminate puckers and pulling on fabric as you machine-appliqué.  Several stabilizer types are available—cut-away, tear-away, and wash away.

Experiment with a variety of types to determine which works best for you and your project.

Pivoting at Corners, Curves and Points


Pivoting evenly around curves takes practice. Let these steps and tips guide you to making improved pivots.

The position of your needle is critical when pivoting fabric to round a curve or turn a point or corner. Use the following illustrations to guide you in knowing when to pivot.

In each case, you will need to place your needle down in the fabric before pivoting. In each illustration the arrows indicate stitching direction, and the dots mark where the needle should be down for pivoting.

TIP: Mark edges of circular or oval appliqué pieces with the hours of a clock. Pivot the fabric at each hour.

Pivoting at Curves and Points

Learn about pivoting the machine needle in order to get smooth machine appliqué stitching.

Pivoting at Corners, Curves and Points


Turning Corners – Method 1

With this method the stitches cross over one another in the corners.

1. Stop with the needle down in the fabric on the right-hand swing of the needle.

Pivoting at Corners, Curves and Points


Turning Corners – Method 1

2. Raise the presser foot and pivot the fabric. Lower the presser foot and begin stitching to the next edge.

Pivoting at Corners, Curves and Points


Pivoting Inside Curves

Stop at the first pivot point with the needle down in the fabric on the left-hand swing of the needle. Raise the presser foot, pivot the fabric slightly, and being stitching to the next pivot point. Repeat as needed to complete the entire curve.

Pivoting at Corners, Curves and Points


Pivoting Outside Curves

Stop at the first pivot point with the needle down in the fabric on the right-hand swing of the needle. Raise the presser foot, pivot the fabric slightly, and begin stitching to the next pivot point. Repeat as needed to round the entire outer curve.

TIP: To maintain evenness between your stitches, pivot more often on a gentle curve than a sharp one.

Pivoting at Corners, Curves and Points


Pivoting Inside Points

1. With a marking tool, mark a line extending from the upcoming edge of the appliqué into the center. On the line, measure from the point a distance equal to you stitch width; mark the location with a dot. 

Pivoting at Corners, Curves and Points


Pivoting Inside Points

2. Stitch to the bottom of the inside point, stopping with the needle down in the fabric on the left-hand swing of the needle. The needle should be at the dot on your drawn marked line.

Pivoting at Corners, Curves and Points


Pivoting Inside Points

3. Raise the presser foot and pivot the fabric. Lower the presser foot and turn the handwheel until the right-hand swing of the needle is just about to go into the foundation fabric. Lift the presser foot and reposition the foundation fabric the tip of the needle is above the point where the needle thread is coming out of the appliqué. Lower the presser foot and begin stitching to the next edge.

Machine Appliqué Troubleshooting


This machine-appliqué stitching is correctly placed.

The outside edge of the stitch is just grazing the appliqué foundation.

Practice Your Stitches

Watch this video to discover the secret to great applique!

Machine Appliqué Troubleshooting


This stitching is too far inside the edge of the appliqué piece, so fabric threads from the appliqué will fray and poke out around the edges.

Machine Appliqué Troubleshooting


Here the stitches are too far outside the edge of the appliqué piece, so it may pull loose from the foundation.

Machine Appliqué Troubleshooting


Gaps will occur in the stitching if your needle is down the fabric on the wrong side of the needle swing when you pivot.

Machine Appliqué Troubleshooting


Your stitches will slant if you try to pull or push the fabric through curves, rather than lifting the presser foot and pivoting the fabric.

Machine Appliqué Troubleshooting


Pivoting too soon on an inside point will leave an incomplete line of stitches at the point.

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