Testing, Testing… Dipping My Toe Into The “Applique” Waters

HELP!! I am so out of my comfort zone. Going to applique my String Circles.

I have only done mostly zig-zag stitches around raw fabric edges. I have to rewind back to St Pat’s Day to remember the first time I tried something different. Blanket stitching. Remember? But this time I wanted to try the applique stitch.

Got my sewing machine ready. Cleaned out the bobbin area. Put in a new needle. Swapped my quarter inch foot for the “F” foot and practiced making a few stitches to see if I needed to adjust anything. Nope. Stitch length seemed about right.

The first string circle I practiced on was one of the yellow ones.

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I pulled it from the pile for two reasons. It wasn’t my favorite. Kind of pale looking and I had been thinking it wouldn’t make the cut. Wouldn’t be used in my quilt. And also the strings crinkled when I ironed them. Meaning either bad fabric or bad sewing. So I figured, what the hay, stitch around it to see what happens.

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Not happy. Nothing to write home about.

On to the 2nd one. Turquoise/Aqua. A circle I liked and for sure wanted it to be part of my quilt.

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I got about the same result. Pulling in around the edges of the circle. Not the flat look I was trying for.

OK.. so what gives.. what was I doing wrong?

Ah, Ha. I know!! Something in my head said “stabilizer”. Some sort of backing. Off I went to dig out what I bought YEARS ago around the same time I purchased my sewing machine (which BTW, embroiders).

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Since I was clueless on which did what, I experimented with both, using the same background fabric.

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And they both turned out the same. No pulling, no ruffles. So… that is what I needed. A stabilizer. (It appears I spent WAY too much on one of these.) But glad to know I could achieve a flat look.

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These aren’t the best applique but with practice and perhaps using my embroidery thread, I should get better at it.

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Questions for you applique experts out there.

  • What stitch do you use for applique?
  • Do you use any special thread?
  • Any tips for me, the Newbie?

Thanks in advance for any help you can offer. 😀

6 comments on “Testing, Testing… Dipping My Toe Into The “Applique” Waters

  1. Jude says:

    I’m a hand applique junkie, Donna. I do needle-turn with YLI #100 silk thread. Not so keen on the raw edges of machine applique although have used satin stitch for appliqueing on to little boy’s dungarees. Have you thought of using an iron-on fusible web that adheres the patch to the background fabric? That stops any wrinkling, etc, and also bonds the raw edges so that they don’t fray. You use it rather than a stabilizer which is really intended for machine embroidery.

  2. Belinda says:

    I was going to say almost the same thing Jude said,because I also prefer hand applique. In my case, I don’t do needle turn; instead, I like the invisible applique stitch, which is basically the same stitch used to hand sew binding down, and I also enjoy doing the blanket stitch by hand. Regarding machine applique, I agree with Jude that you might get even better results by using an iron on fusible to fuse the circles to the background and then stitching around them. 🙂

  3. don_mae says:

    Hi Jude!! Hi Belinda!!

    Very helpful tips both of you. I thought about using some sort of fusible. I have fusible web and also Steam-A-Seam2. BUT… since I sewed the strings down to muslin first, I wasn’t sure what to do. The fusible would be ironed to the muslin. I will try it to see if it makes any difference to the fabric edges. If I can stop the fraying, I can use a shorter applique stitch. I have some of that Fray Check stuff. I could use that.


  4. I have done fusible applique…but you need to know that fusible is not permanent and needs the quilting to keep it in place. I have also put a double needle my sewing machine, two different green threads in the machine and used the fancy stitches my machine has to applique circles to blocks. I just sewed around the edge of the circle with fancy stitches. Now, this was a year ago, but I think I used light stabilizer on the front of the circle, cut a small X in the center and turn the circle right side out (eliminates raw edge) and press. I think that will solve your problem!

  5. deepa says:

    I do applique by folding and hemming the edges in with a matching ordinary stitching thread, so there are no raw edges. Easy on plain edges but needs extra care to fold in the material at corners and points where cloth curves in. But the look is worth it. A good ironing is enough to give it a finished look. You can then beautify the piece by working chain or plain running stitches around the edges.

  6. don_mae says:

    Thanks Susan and Deepa. So many ways to do this. I continued with the same way I was doing it even though I was not completely thrilled with the look. Since I was working with scraps for the circles, my plan is to finish off a small quilt and then try a different way for the next circle project. I like how sewing a piece of thin muslin around the entire circle looks. And then turning the inside out. Also found a site with instructions to inset the circle onto the background fabric. Much harder but has a super clean look.

    Thanks again, everyone, for your suggestions. Really appreciate it.

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