Thursday, February 27, 2014

Blanket Stitch Machine Applique Tutorial

There are several different methods of machine applique.  Following is how I blanket stitch applique a small asymmetrical project.

Materials and supplies:
Sewing machine with a blanket stitch
Open-toe walking foot for appliqueing on quilted fabric or open-toe embroidery foot for non-quilted fabric
Roxanne's Glue Baste It!
Trans-Web or fusible web of your choice
Page protector
Pattern with clearly defined lines
Ultra Fine Point Sharpie pen black for tracing shapes onto fusible web and page protector
Small sharp scissors for cutting fabric, fusible web and snipping thread
Fray Check
Thread to match fabric used for applique shapes I prefer DMC 50/2

Creating an overlay:
Note:  If you are new to applique select a pattern that has already been prepared for applique.  If you are working with a small asymmetrical pattern your pattern will need to be reversed.
1.   Slip the pattern into a page protector and trace the design using an Ultra Fine Point Sharpie Pen.  Add the numbers and colours in each of the shapes.
2.  Mark the page protector "right side".
3.  Remove the pattern and flip the page protector to the other side.  Mark this side "wrong side". 

Creating the applique shapes:
1.  Place the page protector wrong side up on a blank piece of white paper.  Trace the applique shapes onto the paper side of fusible web leaving at least 1/8" space between the shapes.
Note:  Group shapes of the same colour together to save space when fusing onto fabric.
2.  For easy reference number the pieces and the colour in each shape.
3.  Rough cut around the shapes.
4.  With a hot dry iron on cotton setting, fuse the shapes onto the wrong side of the fabric matching up the shape with the corresponding fabric.  Set the iron on top of the fusible web and hold for about 5 - 10 seconds.

5.  Cut the pieces out on the lines.

Arranging and fusing the applique shapes onto the background fabric:
1.  Position the page protector where you would like your applique to appear and tape in place along the top only.

2.  Remove the fusible web from piece #1.
Note:  It is always best to score the fusible web paper in the centre of the applique shape with a sharp tool such as the points of scissors or an awl.  Bend the paper along the score and the paper will lift away from the glue.  Tear the paper along the scored line and remove completely.

3.  Apply small drops of Roxanne's glue on the back of the applique shape and place in position under the overlay.  Smooth in place.
4.  Remove the fusible web from piece #2 and repeat step 3.

5.  Continue removing the fusible web from each piece in numerical order and placing it under the overlay until the entire applique is in position.
6.  Remove the overlay and press using a hot dry iron on cotton setting for about 5 - 10 seconds.

Blanket Stitch: __|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__|__
A true blanket stitch consists of a straight stitch forward, then a zigzag to the left and back again.  The blanket stitch is easy to control around corners and curves as every part of the stitch is advancing forward.
Tip:  When choosing thread colours darker threads will frame the piece but also show any irregularities, it is much easier to produce great results quickly if you choose a thread that closely matches the applique pieces.

Setting up your machine for blanket stitch applique:
Place the open-toe walking foot on your machine if you have one and are working with quilted fabric.  If working with non-quilted fabric use the open-toe embroidery foot. When setting the stitch width and length take into consideration the size of the applique unit.  Begin with a stitch width of 2.0mm and length of 2.5mm and adjust your stitch as desired from this starting point.  For best results make sure the stitch is perpendicular to the angle of the applique shape you are stitching on.
Stitches perpendicular to the angle of the applique shape.
Tip:  Prepare a practice sample of your project to test the stitch length and width of the blanket stitch using the same fabrics, batting and/or stabilizer you are working with for your finished project.
Important Note:  If working with non-quilted fabric make sure to slip a light weight, tear away stabilizer under the background fabric beneath the shape to be sewn so the fabric won't pucker and buckle while stitching. 

Blanket stitch general information:
1.  The forward moving portion of the blanket stitch should be right along the edge of the applique on the background fabric.
2.  The left swing of the needle should be on the applique fabric.
3.  The right swing of the needle should be right along the edge of the applique fabric on the background fabric.
4.  Try to have the needle just brush the edge of the applique fabric when on the background fabric.
Tip:  Stitch slowly.  As the fabric begins to curve away or get too close to the needle stop with the needle in the background fabric, lift the presser foot and pivot the fabric so it is in the proper position.  Lower the presser foot and continue stitching .  Stop and pivot as necessary to keep the stitches nice and even along the edge of the applique.
Tip:  Never pivot when the needle is in the applique fabric during a left swing of the needle as this will cause unsightly gaps in the stitches.
Tip:  When starting to stitch where one fabric is on top of another always start where the fabrics intersect.
Tip:  When finished stitching each piece, cut the threads and pull them to the back, tie a knot and apply a small drop of Fray Check to the knot.  That knot will never come untied.  I highly recommend tying the knots after each piece has been stitched. 

I hope you will try blanket stitch machine applique for your next project.  If you have any questions please leave a comment or email me at I am always happy to lend a helping hand.

Happy Stitches,


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