Machine applique can add beauty or whimsy to your quilt. Raw edge machine applique is a favorite method of quilters to add flowers, vines, feathers, animals, birds and any other complex shape to a quilt.
Accuquilt sells many applique shape dies such as classic shapes, geometric shapes, animals, birds, and many holiday or themed dies. Each die comes with a machine embroidery applique design.
Do I need an embroidery machine?
No! The Accuquilt applique dies come with machine embroidery designs but the dies can be used with traditional machine applique techniques.
This tutorial will explain and demonstrate how to machine applique with the free embroidery machine designs and traditional fusible raw edge applique technique.
This tutorial will use the Accuquilt Snowflake die as an example shape die but the techniques and tips shown will apply to any Accuquilt shape dies.
Learn more about machine applique by watching our video through the link below or keep reading this post.
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WHAT YOU NEED for machine applique with Accuquilt shape die
Scroll to the end of this tutorial to find the current Accuquilt Sales and Coupons!
INSTRUCTIONS for cutting the fabrics
The cutting instructions are identical for both machine applique embroidery and raw edge applique embroidery with a traditional sewing machine. So, this tutorial will begin with the cutting instructions and then provide instructions for using an embroidery machine or traditional sewing machine to complete the applique.
Accuquilt provides a PDF document with the embroidery designs download for the Go! Applique shapes dies. Even if you are using traditional applique, this PDF has a lot of information on cutting and using the shape dies. I recommend that you review this document for your shape die.
Look for the downloadable files on the Accuquilt website by clicking the "AQ Circle Account" at the top right side of the page and selecting "Download Library".
If the download is not available there, it will be linked on the page for the shape die.
STEP 1: Prepping Fabric and Cutting
The process of prepping the fabric and cutting the shapes for applique is the same for both machine embroidery applique and traditional raw edge applique.
Measure the width and height of the shapes on the die and cut fabric pieces ½” larger than the measured size.
To cut all three snowflakes on the snowflake die, the fabric will be cut 7-1/2” x 22-1/2”. Cut a piece of Heat ‘n Bond Lite the same size.
STEP 2: Fuse the Heat 'n Bond
Place the fabric on the ironing board with the wrong side facing up. Cover the fabric with the Heat 'n Bond and the paper side facing up.
Iron as directed on the Heat 'n Bond package to fuze the Heat 'n Bond to the back of the fabric. I use a hot dry iron and it takes only 5 – 10 seconds to fuze.
Cut fabric pieces and fuze Heat 'n Bond to all fabrics needed for the applique die.
Do not remove the paper from the Heat 'n Bond.
STEP 3: Cut the applique Shapes
Place the prepared fabric over the die shapes with the right side of the fabric facing up. Add the mat and cut the shapes with the Accuquilt cutter.
Accuquilt can cut up to six layers of quilter's cotton at one time. Since the Heat 'n Bond is attached to the fabric, I recommend cutting less than six layers.
Since the Heat 'n Bond fusible web is attached to the fabric, it can be placed in any direction, lengthwise, crosswise or on the bias grain. The fusible web with the paper will keep the fabric from stretching and distorting while going through the cutter.
Keep in mind that many of the applique shapes are directional so the fabric cannot be fan-folded and must be facing up.
The snowflake die is an exception since the snowflakes are symmetrical.
If you do want to stitch a mirror image, be sure to have the fabric facing down for all shapes of the applique design, if it has multiple pieces. When machine embroidering, mirror image the design in your machine.
The applique shapes are cut and ready to be appliqued to your project using either the machine applique embroidery or the traditional sewing machine method.
The next section of this tutorial will show how to use an embroidery machine to applique the design to the background fabric.
For the Sewing Machine Fusible Web Applique instructions, click the link to jump to that section of this tutorial!
INSTRUCTIONS for Machine Embroider Finish
STEP 1: Download the Embroidery Files
When purchasing Accuquilt shape dies, Accuquilt will automatically add the embroidery designs to your “Downloads” folder on the Accuquilt website.
Download the ZIP file for the designs to your computer, unzip and copy the design files to your USB or transfer them to your embroidery machine.
Accuquilt provides three machine embroidery designs for each applique. The three files are for different options for the embroidery cover stitch step. The included options are satin, motif, or blanket stitch. Copy the file you would like to use for the finish stitching.
If you need more information on downloading files and copying design files to USB drive, please click the link for our previous video tutorials.
STEP 2: Review the stitch steps
Accuquilt includes a PDF document with the design files. This PDF includes general instructions on cutting with the shape dies and information on the embroidery designs.
Review the PDF to find the stitching steps for your specific applique shape die.
The photo above is a sample of the PDF for the snowflake die. From this information, I notice that the embroidery design consists of two steps, placement stitch, and cover stitch.
Your design may have placement, tack down and cover stitch steps for each fabric in the applique.
STEP 3: Prepare the embroidery machine
Thread the embroidery machine with a white bobbin fil in the bobbin and a thread that coordinates with the fabric color in the top thread.
Depending on the embroidery cover stitch selected, it is possible you will see the thread used for the placement stitches or tack-down stitches. If using the satin stitch option, it will completely cover any placement or tack-down stitches.
The motif or blanket stitch options may not cover the previous stitches completely, so when using these options, carefully select the top thread color so it will blend in.
Load the design you would like to machine embroider. Pick the file for the type of cover stitch desired: satin, motif or blanket.
STEP 4: Hoop the fabric
Hoop the fabric with a stabilizer underneath. Use a stabilizer appropriate for your project.
I am stitching the applique onto a dish towel so tear away stabilizer is appropriate. This hoop is a magnetic hoop and it’s my new favorite hoop for machine embroidery. It's so quick and easy to hoop and the magnets are strong and hold the fabric stable.
I have used this magnetic hoop to quilt with a continuous quilt design. So, it can hold two layers of fabric with batting for machine quilting without slipping.
STEP 5: Stitch the placement stitch
Review the PDF for the color changes in your design. The snowflake design has two colors, 1) placement stitch; 2) Embroidery cover stitch of satin, motif or blanket.
Some shape dies have more than one fabric layer. For these dies there may be multiple placement, tack down and embroidery cover stitch steps. The order of the steps is determined by the pattern so it may stitch a placement and tack down for one fabric and then another placement and tack down for a second fabric.
Follow the directions in the PDF for when to place and adhere the cut shapes into the hoop. The embroidery cover stitches are usually stitched last, but they could come in any order.
For the snowflake applique design, the placement stitch is first.
Use a color that will blend in with the background fabric or with the applique fabric. If the placement stitch is not completely covered by the fabric, it could show after the embroidery cover stitches are completed.
STEP 6: Place the applique
Carefully remove the hoop from the embroidery machine and place the hoop flat on your ironing board. Do not remove the project from the hoop!
Use a pin to score the Heat 'n Bond paper on the back of the shape and remove the paper.
The shiny side of the Heat 'n Bond is the iron-on adhesive. Place the applique shape on the fabric with the right side facing up (shiny side down).
Carefully adjust the fabric so it completely covers the placement stitch. It’s essential to get the applique placed correctly or the cover stitch may not catch the edge of the fabric. The cover stitch, satin, motif or blanket, will be worked over the raw edge of the fabric and this tacks it down to hold it in place and finish the edge.
Iron the applique to the background fabric. Follow the manufacturer's instructions on the Heat 'n Bond. I usually iron with a hot dry iron for about 5 - 10 seconds.
Use an iron that will fit inside the hoop. You may need to use a small mini iron when using a smaller hoop.
Let it cool a bit and then check the edges to make sure they are adhered to the background fabric. Iron more if necessary.
STEP 7: Stitch the Next stitch
Return the hoop to the embroidery machine. For the snowflake design, the next stitch is the embroidery cover stitch. I selected to stitch the motif design.
Keep in mind that the next stitch in your design may be a tack-down stitch. Tack-down stitches are used to hold the fabric in place while the next steps are stitched.
If there is more than one fabric in your design, the next stitch could be another placement stitch. You may want to change top threads in between steps depending on your fabric colors. Always use the white bobbin fil in the bobbin.
Continue stitching placement, tack down stitches for each fabric in the design and iron the fabric to adhere.
The cover stitches are usually stitched last and these will stitch to cover all raw edges of the fabrics. There may be multiple cover stitch steps to allow for the changing of the thread color.
STEP 8: Remove the stabilizer
After stitching all of the steps of the embroidery design, remove the hoop from the embroidery machine and remove the fabric from the hoop.
Turn over the fabric and carefully tear away or cut away the stabilizer to trim it on the back. Be sure to not cut the fabric. The appliqued piece is ready to be used in a quilt, table runner or other project.
My project was appliqued snowflakes onto a towel, so the project is complete! Here is the machine embroider appliqued towel hanging on my oven handle.
If you need more information on how to machine embroidery applique, please visit the link for a full tutorial.
INSTRUCTIONS for Fusible Web Applique FINISH
If you do not have an embroidery machine, use any sewing machine to fusible web applique the shapes to the background fabric.
STEP 1: Place the shapes on the background fabric
Bring the cut shapes and background fabric to an ironing board.
Place the background fabric on the ironing board with the right side facing up. Decide where to place the applique on the background fabric.
Use a pin to score the paper on the back of the Heat 'n Bond and peel to remove the paper backing.
Place the applique piece in the desired location on the background fabric with the right side facing up. The shiny side with the Heat 'n Bond will be facing down towards the background fabric.
Iron the applique to attach it. Follow the manufacturer's instructions on the Heat 'n Bond. I usually iron with a hot dry iron for about 5 - 10 seconds.
Let it cool a bit and then check the edges to make sure they are adhered to the background fabric. Iron more if necessary.
If your applique design has more than one fabric, you will place and adhere all of the fabrics now.
STEP 2: Sew around the shapes
Thread your sewing machine with the thread color you would like to use as the finish stitch color. Thread the bobbin with a color matching the background fabric or a white bobbinfil.
Several stitches can be used to sew around the edge of the applique. The blanket stitch, zigzag, or any other decorative stitch can be used. In this tutorial, I will use the blanket stitch.
Set the sewing machine for the desired stitch. Use a scrap piece of fabric to test the stitch length and width and adjust as necessary.
If you have an open-style presser foot, use this on your machine when stitching applique. The open foot makes it easier to see while you are stitching.
If you have an option for needle down on stop, turn this on. It's very helpful while stitching the applique.
Place a piece of tear-away or cut-away stabilizer under the applique fabric and place both under the presser foot. The stabilizer will help to support the stitches in the completed project.
Stitch along the raw edges of the applique fabric. The edge of the fabric should be in the center of the presser foot. The stitch should be stitched across the raw edge of the fabric.
When the needle swings to the left side of the stitch it will go into the applique fabric. The right side of the stitch should go into the background fabric at the edge of the applique fabric.
Stitch slowly around the applique pieces, stopping with the needle down to pivot around corners. For curves, stop every few stitches, lift the presser foot and turn the fabric a bit at a time. Be patient and work slowly.
Back tack at the beginning and end of the stitches.
If your design has multiple fabrics, change thread colors as needed and tack down all raw edges.
STEP 3: Remove the Stabilizer
Once the stitching is finished, carefully remove the stabilizer from the back of the piece. Below is the finished applique using the blanket stitch and a sewing machine.
Since my project was an appliqued snowflake onto a towel, the project is complete! Here is the raw edge appliqued towel hanging on my oven handle.
Below are my finished towels with the appliqued snowflake designs. The applique designs can be used in a quilt, table runner or other project.
In my case, these towels are complete and ready for gifting!
Scroll down to purchase Accuquilt dies, hoops, or other supplies for this project.
We hope you enjoyed learning how to machine applique with Accuquilt shape dies.
If you have any questions about this project, contact us through the YouTube Video
comments or our Contact Us page. We respond to questions in e-mails and YouTube comments regularly.
Other Accquilt Go! Block Tutorials:
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