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So What is an Applique?

In the world of machine embroidery, there are two main styles of designs:

Filled stitches: the file is made completely of stitches. Details and depth are achieved using different stitch patterns and different thread colors.

Applique: the file is made to accept fabric in place of thread which adds depth, interest, contour and style to the final stitch out. Most likely the fabric is held in place with a satin stitch, but some digitizers will use other stitches to give the final stitch out a raggy look.

I try to offer a good mix of filled designs and applique designs so that customers can find exactly what they want. Often I will get a request to have a design changed from an applique to a filled design. I love these emails because they help me decide which files to offer as both applique and filled.

Occasionally, an embroidery file that you purchase will not translate the colors correctly to your machine. Some machines don’t even display the thread color that is associated with each block, leaving this design element entirely up to the user. For this reason, I include a Color Chart with my more complicated files. The chart helps both a novice and experienced embroiderer get a feel for the different blocks that make up the file and get comfortable with the stitch out before she stitches. I highly recommend reading the Color Chart before starting to stitch. If a color chart is not included and you would like one, don’t hesitate to contact me (or the company where you purchased your design, if it wasn’t purchased from me).

When stitching a filled design, study the color chart and gather the thread colors you would like to use. I find it helpful to line my threads up in the order they will be used. For a very complicated design, I may print the color chart and write down the thread colors next to the blocks listed if I feel like I want to use different colors than what the digitizer recommends. This keeps me organized and saves time. When stitching an applique design, I also study the color chart and gather thread colors. Then I am sure to get my fabric or felt ready to cut so I’m not hunting for things in the midst of my stitch out.

The steps associated with stitching out an applique design include die line blocks (placement stitches), tack down blocks, satin outline blocks, and possibly some filled stitch blocks. Here is an example of the steps you need to take to stitch a project using a simple applique design that uses one piece of fabric applique.

Step 1: Review your color chart. Gather supplies including thread, stabilizer, receiving item (like a t-shirt or blanket), spray adhesive, applique fabric and scissors.

Step 2: Hoop your project and load your design in your machine. Thread your machine.

Step 3: Stitch the first block of your design. Most likely this will be the die line (placement stitch). This will show you where your applique fabric should be placed.

Step 4: Remove your hoop from your machine, but do not unhoop your project. Measure the width and length of the area outlined with your die line using a measuring tape. Cut your applique fabric so that it is larger than the area shown with the die line. Use spray adhesive to place the applique fabric on your project so that it completely covers the die line stitches and return your hoop to your machine.

Step 5: Stitch the second block of your design. Most likely this will be the tack down stitch. This will hold your applique fabric in place. Remove your hoop from your machine, but do not unhoop your project. Use applique scissors or small curved scissors to trim the excess applique fabric. Don’t be shy. Trim as close to the tack down stitches as possible. Return your hoop to your machine.

Step 6: Stitch the next block. Most likely this will be the satin outline stitch that will cover the raw edge of your applique fabric.

Step 7: Finish stitching your design. Change thread colors as necessary.

If you have questions, please feel free to contact me. I will get back to you as soon as possible.

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