Appliqué with a Sewing Machine: Essential Tips for Beginners

Posted by Freya Gilbert
on September 19, 2023

Appliqué is a fantastic way to embellish your sewing projects with intricate designs and vibrant colors.

While it may seem daunting to beginners, sewing appliqué with a sewing machine can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience. In this blog post, we'll explore some basic tips to help beginners get started with machine appliqué successfully.

Choose the Right Fabric and Thread

Fabric: Begin with easy-to-handle fabrics like cotton or cotton-blend fabrics for your appliqué pieces. These fabrics are stable and don't fray excessively, making them ideal for beginners.

Thread: Use a high-quality, all-purpose polyester or cotton thread that matches the color of your appliqué fabric. This choice blends seamlessly and is easier to work with.

Select Your Appliqué Method

There are two primary machine appliqué methods for beginners:

Raw-Edge Appliqué: This method involves securing the appliqué fabric onto the background fabric with a machine stitch, typically a zigzag or satin stitch. It's a straightforward technique that works well for most projects.

Fusible Appliqué: With fusible appliqué, you use a fusible web (like Heat 'n Bond) to attach the appliqué fabric to the background fabric. Then, you stitch around the edges for added security. This method is excellent for beginners because it provides stability and precise placement.

Choose the method that suits your project and personal preferences.


Prepare Your Appliqué Pieces

Before you start sewing, ensure your appliqué pieces are ready:

Cut Carefully: Use sharp scissors or a rotary cutter to cut your appliqué shapes. Precision matters, so take your time to achieve clean, accurate cuts.

Fusible Web: If you're using fusible web, follow the manufacturer's instructions to apply it to the back of your appliqué fabric. Remember to remove the paper backing before adhering it to the background fabric.

Set Up Your Sewing Machine

Properly setting up your sewing machine is essential:

Needle: Use a size 80/12 universal needle. It's suitable for both fabric layers and the fusible web.

Stitch Selection: Depending on your chosen method, select the appropriate stitch. For raw-edge appliqué, a narrow zigzag or satin stitch works well. For fusible appliqué, a straight stitch or narrow zigzag for securing the edges is recommended.

Practice on Scrap Fabric

Before diving into your actual project, practice your chosen stitch and technique on a scrap piece of fabric. This will help you become familiar with the stitch settings and gain confidence in your skills.

Position and Stitch

Now, it's time to attach your appliqué pieces to your project:

Positioning: Carefully place your appliqué pieces on the background fabric, following your desired design. You can use fabric glue or pins to hold them in place temporarily.

Stitching: Start sewing along the edges of your appliqué pieces, keeping the needle close to the edge. Go slowly and pivot the fabric as needed to follow the curves and corners of your design.

Finishing Touches

After stitching, trim any excess threads and inspect your appliqué for loose edges. If necessary, go back and reinforce any areas that need extra stitching for security.

Machine appliqué  doesn't have to be intimidating. With the right materials, techniques, and practice, you can create beautiful appliqué designs that enhance your sewing projects. Start with simple designs, gain confidence with each project, and soon you'll be adding stunning appliqué embellishments to all your creations. Happy sewing!