The Free Motion Quilting Project: Machine Applique

Monday, August 16, 2010

Machine Applique

I was ready to jump off running with this new series today, but yesterday evening I got an email from a slightly confused quilter:
Leah, When you make your appliqué quilts like the one you demonstrate with, prior to quilting, do you satin stitch the raw edges, turn them under or just leave them raw? (I'm also thinking about the quilt with the Ying/Yang symbol)

Thanks again, Suzanne from Concord, Massachusetts
This is a great question and one that reminded me that this video series and all its information is WAY overdue so I've probably confused a large number of people.

So here's the deal about machine applique:

First off, as I stated in the video I am fusing this applique using Steam-a-Seam 2 lite. Because this is FUSIBLE applique, I'm not turning any edges under at all.

Once the paper gets torn off the back side of the piece, I place it, then fuse it down with a hot, steamy iron.

Now just because I'm fusing these projects doesn't mean that this is the technique I use for EVERY project. I also really like the effect of a turned edge applique, and I used this technique around the circle of Shadow Self:

free motion quilting | Leah Day
The edges were turned with the help of a ton of freezer paper and secured to the top with Elmer's Glue. In this situation, I did stitch over the turned under edge with invisible nylon thread to secure it in place.

But again, this isn't the only method! I've also hand appliqued a considerable amount and the whole body, hair, and heart of Release Your Light was first turned using more freezer paper, glued in place, then hand stitched to secure.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
So really there are a million ways to applique and I don't consider myself an expert at any of them since I don't seem to ever do the same technique twice!

In this situation with these 4 quick applique quilts, I was going for speed more than anything else.

Speed dictates fusing because turned edges can be very time consuming.

Of course you can kill any speed and time you've saved from fusing by satin stitching each piece, which I learned with the heart applique quilt. 24 hearts took forever to machine applique!

free motion quilting | Leah Day
But it's still nice to see how the machine work was done. Let's watch how to machine applique a leaf shape using a blanket stitch:

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Of course, all machines are different, but I like to blanket stitch on these settings: width - 2.2mm, length - 2.3 mm.

Now let's learn how to machine applique using a satin stitch around a heart:

For satin stitching, I like the stitch width to be around 2.2 mm and the length to be 0.35.

On the rest of the quilts, I will probably stitch a much more open zig zag, blanket stitch, or simply straight stitch 1/8" inside the raw edge.

free motion quilting | Leah DayRaw edges aren't the worst thing in the world and sometimes that's just what the doctor... er ...quilter ordered!

If you need a super quick finish to a quilt that will be well used and well loved as a bed quilt, there's no need to spend a huge amount of time securing every single lose thread or raw edge. There's bound to be a bit of fraying over the long haul!

So now I'm off to finish up all the machine applique and start getting these bad girls basted!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day

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  1. Thank you, Leah! These videos are extremely helpful. I look forward to employing your tips and techniques in a project soon.

  2. I have been wondering how to do a blanket stitch and now thats to you I now know how I will just have to pratice. Thanks for sharing

  3. Thank you for cheering how to sew the tip of the hart. I love harts and have made many - looking for next time I'll make one :-)

  4. Another brilliant video! Since I am new to sewing and quilting, I get to watch these for the first time, 2 years later.
    I am looking to make an applique butterfly quilt but haven't decided how to secure the image to the quilt.


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