Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Applique Embroidery Designs by Serena Smith of Embroidery Treasures

Stitching applique designs on your sewing machine is a neat technique to combine many of your favorite fabrics. Combine applique fabrics with machine embroidery and the list of projects you can create is endless.

Why would you let your embroidery machine applique a design instead of you stitching the satin stitch around the fabric? With machine embroidery, the machine is guiding the satin stitches, mitering corners and knotting the thread at the beginning and end of the design. Some applique designs add details on top of the applique fabric after it is stitched to the base fabric, such as facial features, flower centers, animal wings or shading to further compliment the design. So why not sit back and watch your machine do the work? :)

Two fabrics are used: the base fabric, which is what the design is sewn onto and the applique fabric, which is the fabric that is trimmed and attached to the base fabric. Wonderunder needs to be fused to the applique fabric before stitching for several reasons. It adds stability to the fabric, it is easier to trim the excess fabric around the shape and can be fused to the base fabric after the stitching is complete, which can eliminate puckers and wrinkles in the applique fabric. I prefer to use Heat 'n' Bond wonderunder. It irons on smooth, without wrinkles and the paper backing easily peels off, leaving the adhesive on the fabric.

Most applique designs offer an outline or a series of outlines where the applique fabric will placed, then satin or blanket stitches finish the raw edges of the applique fabric. The most common applique designs will have 3 outline stitches: a placement stitch, a tackdown stitch & an outline stitch. Your machine will read each stitch as a separate thread color, although you may use the same color throughout the design. The thread color change tells the machine to stop so you can trim the fabric before the final stitch is sewn.

Placement stitch - This is the first color in the design. It is a straight stitch that attaches the applique fabric to the base fabric. This stitch lets you trim off the extra fabric around the outside of the applique shape.

Tackdown stitch - This is the second color in the design. Most commonly it is an open zigzag stitch that tacks down and holds the applique fabric in place before the outline is sewn. It will also help to prevent any fabric edges from showing through after the design is complete. If a blanket or decorative stitch is the outline stitch, the tackdown is usually eliminated so that it will not show through when the design is finished.

Outline stitch - The third color in the design is the finishing outline stitch. Most of the time it is a satin stitch that seals the raw edges of the fabric, but on some designs a blanket stitch or other decorative stitch is used.

If you haven't stitched an applique embroidery design or are unsure how it works, here is how to do it. You can download the heart applique design that I have created and stitch it out yourself! Just click on the link at the bottom of this page.

Prepare the applique fabric by fusing wonderunder to the wrong side. Cut the applique fabric so it is larger than the design.

Hoop the stabilizer, spray it with 505 spray adhesive and place the base fabric in the hoop. Peel off the wonderunder paper backing on the applique fabric. Lay the applique fabric, right side up, on the area where the design will be stitched. If needed you can lightly spray the wrong of the applique fabric with 505 adhesive and stick it to the base fabric. I prefer to lay the fabric down and hold it with my hands if necessary. It is very easy to spray too much of the 505 adhesive, which makes it tougher to trim off the excess fabric.

Select the applique design or send it from your computer to your machine. Stitch the first color - the placement stitch. It will be a straight stitch in the shape of the design. The thread color does not matter; it will be covered by the outline stitch.

Take the hoop out of the machine, but DO NOT take the fabric out of the hoop. Trim around the applique fabric with a small pair of scissors, cutting close to the placement stitches, trying not to clip the stitches. For best results, work on a flat surface and pick up the excess applique fabric while trimming close to the placement stitches. This will keep tension on the fabric as you clip, making it simple to do! I like to use Snip-Eze scissors which have a curved blade with a sharp point. This makes it easy to get close to the stitches without clipping them.

Place the hoop back in the machine and stitch the second color - the tackdown stitch. It will stitch an open zigzag, which secures the fabric in place before the outline is stitched.

Continue stitching the design. The third color will finish the fabric raw edge with a satin stitch. It will automatically tie off the start and end of the thread, just like any other design. You're finished!

Keep in mind that applique designs are digitized differently in how they stitch the placement and tackdown stitches. Either there are two outlines, one for placement (straight stitch) and one for the tackdown (open zigzag) or there is only one outline. If there is only one outline, it will be necessary to go back and repeat the placement stitch to secure the applique fabric to the base fabric.

Details and shading are sometimes added to applique designs after the applique is stitched. Multiple appliques may be stitched in the same design. The same procedure is repeated with each applique part in the design. The corresponding design color chart will guide you through the design colors in designs that have more than one applique part.

To get you started, download the applique heart design (available in multiple formats) and stitch it out using some of your favorite fabrics! Click here to go to the download page.

Serena Smith is an avid embroidery and quilting enthusiast living in Kansas. Creating new projects and sharing them with others through local classes and online lessons is one of her greatest joys. Visit her website, Embroidery Treasures, for fun projects, helpful tips, inspiration, notions, fabrics and embroidery supplies!

You may freely reprint this article on your website or in your newsletter provided the entire article, author's name, bio information and URL remain intact. Thank you! ©2007 Serena Smith Embroidery Treasures

Copyright ©2007 - All Rights Reserved - Written By Serena Smith. Serena is the owner of Embroidery Treasures

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