One of the best features of computerized machine embroidery is that even novices can easily create beautiful applique the first time out. What once would have taken days to create by hand can now be stitched by machine in minutes with a few easy-to-follow steps.

Applique is the process of applying layers of fabric on top of a base fabric(s). Before you begin,

Gather base fabric and coordinating applique fabrics. Scraps work well for applique pieces.

Iron the base fabric and all applique fabrics. Some people find it helpful to use a spray starch or ironing spray for added crispness.

Assemble thread needed for the design. If you do not have the right thread colors, read this.

Hoop a cut-away stabilizer with your base fabric. Use a temporary spray adhesive on the back of the base fabric and finger-press it to the stabilizer to help hold it in place while hooping.

Load the design to your machine and make sure you have a print out of the stitch sequence for reference.

What is Applique

In this design, colors 1, 3, 5, and 7 are placement lines. Colors 2, 4, 6, and 8 are tack-down stitching. You do not have to change thread for each of these colors. They are added so the machine stops between colors, allowing you to place or trim the applique fabrics.

TIP: By loading the first non-placement and non-tack-down color (in this case, color 9), you avoid re-threading the machine eight times. Since the placement and tack-down stitches are covered with satin stitches, they will not show anyway!

In this tutorial, dark colored thread is used for placement and tack-down stitches so it is easier to see.

Applique Step 1

Color Change 1:

Color 1 is the placement stitch for the letter K. After stitching, remove the hoop from the machine. Spray the back of your applique fabric with temporary adhesive and finger-press it in place on top of the placement stitch. Turning the fabric on point adds some variety (right).

Applique Step 2

Color Change 2:

Color 2 is the tack-down stich for the letter K. Place the hoop back on the machine and stitch out the second color. It secures the applique fabric to the base fabric (left). Remove the hoop from the machine and place it on a flat surface. Then use a pair of applique scissors (or scissors of your choice) to clip fabric outside of the tack-down lines close to the stitching (right).

Applique Step 3

Be careful to not push on the base fabric and stabilizer as it will loosen in the hoop and possibly not register other stitches correctly. Cut away only the applique fabric. (left) Place the hoop back on the machine.

Color Change 3:

Stitch out color 3, the placement stitching for the sock monkey face and body (right).

Applique Step 4

Remove the hoop from the machine. Place it on a flat surface. Spray temporary adhesive on the back of the sock monkey face and body fabrics then finger-press them in place over the placement stitches (left).

Color Change 4:

Color 4 tacks down the sock monkey face and body fabrics. These applique fabrics are somewhat overlapped which is fine so long as the fabric overlap will not be subject to tack-down stitches (left). Trim excess fabric away from the outside of the face and body tack-down (right).

Applique Step 5

Color change 5-8:

Continue in order as above. Color change 5 puts down the placement stitches for the bow while color change 7 shows placement for face, hand, feet, and tail. Color changes 6 and 8 tack down these applique pieces.

Applique Step 6

When all applique pieces are trimmed, place the hoop back on the machine and continue stitching the embellishment stitches (eyes, ears, and mouth) followed by the final satin stitches. Notice that the sock monkey hand stitches were clipped a little bit too close. The temporary spray adhesive helped keep it in place and the final satin stitches still covered the edges without incident.

Applique Final

You’ve done it, and it’s adorable!

When done, remove everything from the hoop and trim cut-away stabilizer close to the edges on the back. Press from the back to remove hoop marks.