Today I am going to share more tips on how I machine applique. If you missed my last post on preparing the applique shapes and setting up your machine, click here. For those of you who have missed a few blog posts, we are talking about how to do the applique on the following quilt – Pretty in Pink Mini.
Before I go much further, I wanted to mention a hand-out that I use at my classes. Rather than trying to remember all this info, you can just follow along with this handy little handout. (To print a PDF copy, click here). It also shares a little more info than what I can actually cover in these blog posts, as they become so long!
Let’s start by stitching down the ric rac. I used matching color thread and just stitched right down the middle. See how the open toe foot works so well for seeing exactly where the middle of the ric rac is?
When you get to the end, just tuck it under and stitch across the bottom so the edges won’t fray.
Before we start the applique on your project, it is best to test out some sizes for the stitches you are going to do. The handout has some sizes listed, but play around and find out what size you like. Write the numbers down on your handout or somewhere you won’t loose them (for example, a 3-16th” wide blanket stitch = a stitch width of 4 on my machine, etc)
Next, lets talk about proper alignment of stitches. The photo below (from the handout) shows how you need to keep the stitching almost entirely on the applique shape and just going over the edge into the ditch where the applique shape and your background fabric meet.
You also don’t want to see any background (in this case, the green fabric) showing between the stitching and the applique shape – see the bottom of the photo below. You want your stitching to be nice and tight to the applique shape as shown near the top of the photo.
For gentle curves, like my monster eyeball below, you need work your way evenly around the shape as shown. You should be able to do a gentle curve like this without pivoting. You don’t want to do 5 stitches, then sharply pivot, then do 5 more stitches and pivot again as you won’t get a nice, equally spaced set of stitches as shown below.
But, if you do need to pivot, make sure that your needle is in the outside position (the right side of your foot.) If you pivot when your needle is on the left side, you will get little Vs in your stitching like in the photo below (see the pink fabric).
If you pivot with your needle on the left side when you are using the zig zag stitch, you will get a goofy gap in the stitching, as shown in the circle below.
I know a lot of people just wing when it comes to stitching around the points, but I have some guidelines for doing the outside and inside points. Our project today only has a couple outside points – like on the leaves – but I will cover them all anyways.
To maneuver the outside point on the leaves, see the illustrations below (again from the handout). It’s a very easy point to maneuver.
If you decide to blanket stitch the leaf instead of doing a zig zag, it should look something like this:
Inside points are handled a little differently. Please see the two photos below for how to do the inside points with both the zig zag stitch and the blanket stitch.
One last thing from the handout – when you are starting and stopping, there are several ways to handle the thread tails. When I am doing the zig zag, I just stitch in place a few times at the beginning and end. Some machines have a tacking stitch, so now would be the time to use that.
With the blanket stitch, you are using a thicker thread, so that tacking stitch becomes too obvious. I usually pull my tails to the back side of the block, tie them in a knot, and clip the threads – like so:
By the way, this photo also shows the proper thread tension – with the top thread pulled just slightly to the back side of the block, thus the little black dots. (We touched on this briefly in our last session)
Applique just takes practice – but the goal is to get the stitches evenly spaced – around all curves and points – so our project for today should look something like this:
That’s all for today!
Anybody have some photos of their project to share with the quilt along group? Please email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!!! I would love to see them😉