Machine Appliqué- Time Saving Techniques for Appliqué Embellishment

By Sherri McConnell

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Embellish your quilts with machine appliqué designs in a fraction of the time it takes to appliqué by hand. Let's explore the variety of finishing techniques available if machine appliqué is your choice of appliqué method.

embellish quilts

First, when using machine appliqué you need to decide how you'd like to adhere your fabric pieces to the background while you are sewing. Special appliqué pins, fusible webs, or glues may be used. When working with glue, make sure that the glue isn't applied anywhere the machine needle will pierce the fabric.

quilt applique

You also must choose which method of finishing to use for your machine appliquéd edges. While some machine appliqué is done using the raw edge technique, usually the edges of the appliqué pieces are turned under to prevent fraying for a finished look. Using spray starch and templates made of freezer paper is the most common way to ?pre-finish? the outer edges of applique shapes. Or you could also use fusible interfacing sewn to the right side of the shape. To do this, make an incision in the interfacing and then turn the shape right side out. As a result the edges will all be finished, since the raw edges will be enclosed in the seam allowance. The interfacing backed fabric can then be fused to the quilt background to prevent shifting while machine appliquéing.


And finally you'll need to select a machine finishing stitch to use for your machine appliqué. Here are some of the most common stitches you can use:

Straight stitch machine appliqué is a simple method in which you use straight stitches to apply the appliqué shapes to the quilt background. This type of machine appliqué is most frequently done using top thread that matches the fabric.

Buttonhole stitch machine appliqué wraps the edges of the fabric. Buttonhole stitches can be created using matching or contrasting thread, depending on the desired effect.

Satin stitch machine appliqué is used for achieving a more formal look than the buttonhole stitch. The edges of the fabric are also covered when using this method.

Blind stitch machine appliqué is commonly used to achieve the look of hand appliqué. Most sewing machines have a blind hem stitch which is used for this type of machine applique. This stitch setting makes several straight stitches followed by one zig-zag stitch over into the appliqué fabric.

With the variety of machine stitches and methods for machine appliqué, there is sure to be a perfect fit for every quilter. What is your favorite machine appliqué technique?

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