There are lots of different ways you can applique by machine, and this method is one of my favorites! The next time you need to add applique to a quilt, consider adding this method to your quilting toolbox.
This method results in a finished edge (rather than a raw edge which can fray in time). For me, this method works best when used with large shapes because I find it difficult to turn the edge of smaller shapes. Try it and see for yourself!
Trace the applique shape
Trace your shape onto the non-fusible (the non-shiny) side of lightweight fusible interfacing. The shape you trace should be the reverse of the finished shape as you want to appear on your quilt. Roughly cut out the shape.
To hold the interfacing in place while you trace, use a quilter's sandboard.
Pin the fusible interfacing to your fabric and cut out the shape
Pin the fusible interfacing, fusible side (the shiny side) down on the right side of your fabric. Yep, you want the fusible stuff touching the right side of your fabric. Seems wrong, but trust me, this is right.
Pin the interfacing in place, the cut around the shape roughly, leaving at least a seam allowance.
Sew the applique shape
Sew on the drawn line completely around your applique shape. Use a slightly smaller stitch length to make a good strong seam.
Trim your seam allowance
Trim the fabric and interfacing, leaving a scant 1/4” seam allowance. Clip outer curves to make it easier to turn the curve. Clip into inner curves such as the V in a heart shape. Trim the tip off points close to the seam to help keep them sharp after turning.
Cut a slit in the interfacing
Pull the interfacing away from the applique shape and cut a small slit, being careful not to cut into the applique.
Turn the shape right-side out
Turn the shape right-side out by pulling it through the slit. Carefully poke out any curves or points until the shape is completely turned. Finger press the edges of the applique to flatten them but do not iron or you’ll fuse the applique to something you don’t want to!
Fuse applique in place
Because the applique process may cause your background fabric to shrink up a bit, you should cut the applique background square larger than needed, and then trim it down after appliqueing. Place your applique in position then fuse it in place following manufacturer’s directions.
I always cover the applique with a pressing sheet to protect my iron from the fusible glue but I didn’t do that here so you could see what I was doing.
Pin stabilizer to the back of the applique
The stabilizer will prevent the applique edges from puckering when you stitch the edges down. Stabilizers come in lots of varieties—tear-away, wash-away, and cut-away—and it doesn’t matter which one you choose. Just follow the manufacturer’s directions for attaching it to the back of the applique and to later remove it after stitching.
Set up your machine for applique stitching
Even though the applique is fused in place, you should stitch along the edge to permanently attach it. You’ve got a lot of options here: you can use a straight stitch, zigzag stitch, blanket stitch, satin stitch, or other decorative stitch to finish the applique edge.
To prepare my machine, I change to an Applique/Sharps 80/12 needle and thread my machine with either 50 or 60 wt. cotton thread. You can go with a thread that contrasts, or use a thread that matches the color of the applique. I use the same thread in the bobbin.
Since I normally piece with a straight-stitch throat plate, I switch to a zigzag stitch plate if I’m going to use a zigzag, blanket, satin, or other decorative stitch. I put on an open-toe or zigzag foot and I’m ready to go!
Stitch the edge of the applique
Stitch the edge of the applique with a straight stitch, zigzag stitch, blanket stitch, satin stitch or other decorative stitch.