Wednesday, 14 November 2007

A is for Applique

Inspiration for this applique tutorial are these beautiful hand-tended organically grown golden delicious apples which my family received from close friends.

I sewed up a teatowel and teacozy which I appliqued to give as a thank-you gift.

In a previous post about applique, I mentioned the machine feet I use when I applique or machine embroider. In this project I used the foot shown on the left, which is called the satin stitch foot and when I freehand embroider (as shown with the leaf quilt previously posted) I use the foot on the right, known as the embroidery foot.
My machine is a Janome 7500 (and is around 20years old), so depending on your machine model etc. the feet you have may or may not look the same as mine. **What's important to note here is that both these specialized feet are see-through (so you can easily view your stitches in relation to one another) and have a space wide enough for zig-zag stitches. Check your machine's manual or go to the authorized dealer of your machine to find the feet you need if you don't know or have the feet your machine needs for embroidering or appliqueing.

Below, I have given a sample of how I set my machine to do applique stitches. From the top to bottom in the following photo:
1. a regular zig-zag stitch without any adjustments
2. the same zig-zag stitch with only the width of the stitch being decreased (narrower stitch width)
3. this is the zig-zag stitch after I narrowed the width and shortened the length of the stitch. This is how my stitches look for appliqueing on the apples in this project
4.. this is a zig-zag stitch with only the length of the stitch being altered - I gradually shortened the distance between the stitches to show you how I make a satin stitch and you can applique at this setting. * I most often will narrow the stitch width as well, depending upon the scale of my project. In this project the narrower stitch width was better suited.
Before I stitch around my applique pieces, I do two things. First, I use a product called Heat'n Bond lite iron on adhesive on the back of each applique piece. This will bond the pieces to the main fabric so that you do not need pins to hold it in place and it also stablizes the applique fabric for making the stitches. Secondly, in order to keep my stitches nice and even (read: no bunching), I put a piece of tracing paper underneath the area I will be stitching. After all the applique work is finished the paper is torn off the back of the project.

The above photo shows the completion of appliqueing around the stems and leaves and my progression around the outside edges of the second apple out of the three on the quilted teacozy.
This shows the stitches on the back of the teacozy right before I removed the tracing paper.
Here you see the applique on the tea cozy upon completion, although it's before I assembled the tea cozy.
Hope this gives you a better idea of how easy machine applique can be and encourages you to try this technique if you haven't already. The best piece of advice based upon my own experience : always do a test piece first to double check . You really don't want to have to use the seam ripper on your project when you can easily take the time to troubleshoot first by doing a test run.


Nicola said...

Lovely, Katherine. I'm trying to think of something I can give you in order to receive something like this in return - hee hee.

Heather said...

What a beautiful gift. You are so talented. (did you know that I too grow lovely hand-tended organic apples?)
Love the tutorial, it gives me hope that perhaps one day I will be able to do machine applique. Although I have to tell you that I laughed when you wrote "how easy machine applique can be". ;-) I think it would be awhile before I could create something so beautiful very easily. Maybe we need you to give us a class.

Fantastic Five said...

Very, very lovely. I agree with Heather about the appliquing class. Your quilting and sewing projects make me want to get out my machine and play.


Niesz Vintage Home said...

WooHoo! Thank you Katherine!
Great tutorial.

Love those cute apples.
I need to get a see-through foot. (I may even run out today)

I'm so excited to try this! :)


Nicola said...

Dianne's comment makes me want to clear out my sewing room and get my machine set up again. It's wall to wall clutter right now!

Farah said...

Good tips, I will try it soon, love your appliqued apples.. cute.
I would love if you spare a little of your time to peek around me at

Gmama Jane said...

I'm teaching myself how to do this but I have not been using the Heat n Bond nor tracing paper. I believe this will help give my stitching the more finished look I'm striving for..
Thanks for some great tips
Gmama Jane