Smooth stitching of appliqué shapes is all about understanding needle position and pivoting.

Pivoting Outside Curves

When appliquéing, position the presser foot so the left swing of the needle is on the appliqué and the right swing of the needle is just on the outer edge of the appliqué, grazing the foundation. 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.

To help you know when to pivot, mark the edges of circular or oval appliqué pieces with the hours of a clock; pivot the fabric at each hour.

Turning Outside Corners

When turning a corner, knowing where and when to stop and pivot makes a big difference in the finished look of your appliqué stitches. Stop with the needle down in the fabric on the right-hand swing of the needle. Raise the presser foot and pivot the fabric. Lower the presser foot and begin stitching to the next edge.

Using Stabilizers

For better-looking appliqué, use a stabilizer beneath an appliqué foundation to add support and eliminate the puckers and pulling that can occur when you machine-appliqué.

Many brands of stabilizers are available. Two of the most common types are tear-away and water-soluble stabilizers. Freezer paper also may be used as a stabilizer. Experiment with a variety of types to determine which works best for you.

Remove temporary stabilizers, such as tear-away, wash-away, or freezer paper, once stitching is complete. Hold the stabilizer firmly on one side of the stitching and gently pull it away from the other side. Cut-away stabilizers are permanent and remain in the quilt or are only partially cut away after stitching. Experiment with a variety of stabilizer types to determine which works best.

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