Take you applique to the next level – make it freestanding. Sounds difficult? It’s really easy and super adorable!

freestanding applique machine embroidery design MAIN img

Much like freestanding lace, making applique stand on it’s own is not that hard to do with the right stabilizer. I have used water-soluble stabilizer, like Sulky Solvy, but have found an easier alternative in melt away films.

Melt away films I have used Stitch-n-Heat stabilizer by AllStitch but there are others like Floriani Heat N Gone, Sulky Heat-Away, and Gunold Thermofilm that should work equally as well.

1. Hoop the heat away film and make it taut in the hoop but do not over stretch to prevent needle perforation. Most of the time, I only need one layer of stabilizer. If an area starts to tear, just spray a scrap piece of stabilizer and finger-press it over the weak spot. Stitch the first placement stitches (sock areas) as you would with any applique.

Remove the hoop from the machine but leave everything hooped. Spray temporary adhesive on the back of the applique pieces and finger-press them in place over the placement stitches on the front and back.

Reattach the hoop and stitch the tack-down stitches.

Sock Monkey Applique End Of Step 1

2. Remove the hoop, place it on a flat surface, and carefully clip away extra applique fabric close to the tack-down stitches.

Sock Monkey Applique Step 2

3. Reattach the hoop and stitch the placement stitches for the face, hands, and tail.

Remove the hoop. Spray temporary adhesive on the back of the applique pieces for the face, hands, and tail, and finger-press them in place over the placement stitches on the front and back. Make sure applique fabrics do not overlap any stitch lines or you will have multiple layers of applique fabrics tacked on top of each other which makes a bumpy mess.

Sock Monkey Applique Step 3

4. Reattach the hoop and stitch the tack-down for the face, hands and tail, then remove the hoop and trim as before. Even though these applique pieces overlapped, the stitching did not.

Sock Monkey Applique Step 4

5. Reattach the hoop once again. Next, comes the placement stitches for the dress and shoes.

Remove the hoop from the machine, spray temporary adhesive on the dress and shoe fabrics, and finger-press them in place on the front and back.

Sock Monkey Applique Step 5

6. Put the hoop back on the machine and stitch the tack-downs for the dress and shoes. Take the hoop off of the machine, trim applique fabric to the tack-down stitch lines, reattach the hoop, and stitch the bow placement stitches.

Sock Monkey Applique Step 6

7. Remove the hoop, spray the back of the bow fabric, finger-press it in place, reattach the hoop, stitch the tack-down stitches, remove the hoop, trim excess bow fabric, and reattach the hoop.

Final satin stitching is now ready. From this point on, use the same thread in the bobbin as that with which you are stitching. Matching bobbin and stitching threads makes the back of freestanding applique just as beautiful as the front.

When everything is done stitching, remove the heat-away stabilizer from the hoop. It tears effortlessly away from the satin stitching. If there are areas where you have stabilizer pieces showing, carefully clip or pull them away. If that doesn’t work, use heat according to the manufacturer’s instructions to remove it.

Sock Monkey Applique Step 7

Because you used the same thread in the bobbin as was on the top and made the applique fully reversible by placing fabric on the front and back, both sides of the piece look perfect!

Attach string for a hanger, a pin back for a brooch, or attach end to end for a swag— so many possibilities!