How to Applique with a Sewing Machine: The Comprehensive Guide

Appliqué is a technique in which pieces of fabric are sewn onto a base fabric to create designs, patterns, or pictures. Here’s a guide to machine appliqué, which can be much faster than hand appliqué:

Materials Needed

  1. Base fabric (the fabric you’ll be applying the appliqué to)
  2. Appliqué fabric (the fabric that will be cut into shapes and sewn onto the base fabric)
  3. Thread that matches or complements your fabrics
  4. Temporary fabric adhesive or pins
  5. Stabilizer (optional, but useful for thin or stretchy fabrics)
  6. Scissors (both paper and fabric)
  7. Pencil or fabric marker
  8. Sewing machine with zigzag capability
  9. Appliqué design template


Prepare Your Fabric and Design

  1. Pre-wash and iron your fabrics to avoid shrinkage and wrinkles later on.
  2. Trace your design onto a piece of paper to make a template. Cut out the template.
  3. Trace the template onto the appliqué fabric using a fabric marker or pencil. Cut out the design.

Preparing the Base Fabric

  1. If your base fabric is thin or stretchy, attach a stabilizer to the back of the area where you’ll be sewing the appliqué. This will help keep the fabric from puckering.

Attaching the Appliqué

  1. Position the appliqué piece on the base fabric. Make sure it’s where you want it.
  2. Secure the appliqué piece to the base fabric using pins or a temporary fabric adhesive.

Machine Appliqué

  1. Set up your sewing machine for a zigzag stitch or a specialized appliqué stitch if your machine has one.
  2. Choose a thread color that complements your design.
  3. Test your settings by sewing on a scrap piece of fabric. Adjust the stitch width and length as needed.
  4. Begin sewing. Start at one edge of your appliqué and sew around the edges, making sure the needle catches both the base fabric and the edge of the appliqué piece. Take your time, especially around curves and corners.
  5. Finish off the stitch at the point where you started. Some people like to go over the first few stitches to ensure it’s secure.

Final Steps

  1. Trim any loose threads and remove pins or adhesive.
  2. Iron the appliqué to help it lie flat and to meld the stitches into the fabric.

Congratulations, you’ve just completed a machine appliqué!


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