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Appliqué Tutorial: Part Two

Applique Tutorial by Jacks & Kate

I was FINALLY able to complete part two of the appliqué series. Sorry it took so long…but, I wanted to make sure I covered everything….and it made sense.

I’ve been doing machine appliqué for a few years now. I absolutely love it! I started out with an embroidery machine, but wanted the freedom of my own designs. So, I researched, learned, and practiced my way to where I’m at now.

Please make sure to visit Appliqué Tutorial: Part One. This is an essential guide in prepping your work.

For this part of the tutorial…you will need the following supplies:

  • thread – 40 wt rayon
  • stabilizer – medium wt cut away
  • open toe sewing foot 
  • pins
  • appliqué

Two of the most important things about appliqué: tracing and cutting. This is covered in part one of my appliqué series found here. You should definitely familiarize yourself with it. If your tracing and cutting are off, then it’s going to show in your stitching…and we don’t want that.

Here are some useful tips:

  • good posture
  • match thread to appliqué – helps hide mistakes
  • watch the fabric…NOT the needle

Next, cut a piece of stabilizer bigger than your appliqué and pin it to the back side of the fabric on which you will appliqué. I’m working with a small piece as an example. But…if you are working with a larger piece…you should roll and pin any excess fabric. This will help keep it out of your way and make it easier when you need to push it through the machine.

Applique Tutorial by Jacks & Kate

Now, I almost always use a zig zag stitch when doing appliqué work…there are plenty of other stitches, however this is my preferred stitch…so that’s what I’ll be showing you here.  First, you need to adjust your stitch width/length settings. I like to use a 2/4 setting. That’s 2 long x 4 wide zig zag stitch. It’s a tighter zig zag, but I find I like it better. I will do a smaller stitch… if the piece I’m working on requires it. For a comparison… try a more open/shorter stitch…maybe a 3/3? Also, if you find your bobbin thread pulling through on the top, you might need to adjust your tension settings. This will vary by machine, so you’ll just need to play around with it…until you find a setting that works for you.

Your foot should have some sort of guide or indentation. On mine, there is a red line in the center. Align the right side of your guide over the edge of your appliqué.  Your needle should be in the right and down position.   Begin sewing and keep a steady pace…and NEVER watch the needle. The needle knows what to do all on it’s own…you just need to guide the fabric {don’t push or pull}…make sure the edge of the appliqué is staying aligned with the guide on your foot…so that your thread is properly “wrapping” your appliqué.

Applique Tutorial by Jacks & Kate


As you approach a corner…start slowing your pace down. When you release the foot pedal,  your needle should be in the down and right position {in the fabric..Picture #1}. Since your needle is down…it will anchor your fabric. Lift the foot to the up position {some machines do this automatically when you release your pedal}…and turn the fabric counter clockwise until your guide is now aligned with the new side of your appliqué. Your needle is still in the down and right position {Picture #2}. The only thing that has changed…is the direction of your fabric. Your first stitch should place your needle in the down and left position {needle in the appliqué…Picture #3}. Continue sewing and your stitching should cross over at the corner {Picture #4}

Applique Tutorial by Jacks & Kate

Applique Tutorial by Jacks & Kate

Applique Tutorial by Jacks & Kate

Applique Tutorial by Jacks & Kate


Inside corners are done differently, but just as easy. There is actually a way they are “supposed” to be done, but I don’t like the look of it. So…I messed around with the stitching and found a way I liked better. It’s a series of 6 stitches. As you approach the inside corner, your needle should be in the down and right position {Picture 1}, do 1 stitch…this will put the needle in the down and left position {Picture 2}. Then, go directly back over that same stitch..ending with the needle back in the down and right position. At this point your needle should be directly across from the inside corner. Now you are going to pivot your fabric…so that if you were to draw an imaginary line from needle to inside corner…it would make a diagonal {Picture 3}. Do 1 stitch, then again come back over the same stitch. The needle is in the down and right position again. Pivot your fabric, so that the guide on your foot is almost aligned on top of the appliqué. I say almost, because you are still coming through the corner. If you completely align it, then the last two stitches will have a noticeably larger gap than the others. Make your 5th and 6th stitches here {in the same manner as above}. So… you have done 6 stitches, one on top of each other…making it only look like three.  You can also use this same technique on a tight inside curve…like an “s.”

Applique Tutorial by Jacks & Kate

I’ve used a different picture here, so you can clearly see the stitching. Notice that the 3 stitches are “thicker” than the other surrounding stitches. That’s because they are doubled up. Now…you can see the doubled stitches here, because I’ve zoomed in. However, on your actual work, it is not that noticeable and blends in quite nicely.

Applique Tutorial by Jacks & Kate


Now…here is where it gets a little tricky. You have to SLOOOOW it down here. It’s all about the adjusting of the fabric. The best way I can describe adjustments is to slightly move the fabric in either a clockwise or counter clockwise motion… You don’t want to make too big of an adjustment…smaller is better. I do 1 – 2 stitches at a time when I’m rounding a corner. I also like to put my hands right by the foot to gain more control over the movement. Remember…slow is the key here. Just like corners, there are outside curves and inside curves. When you are working on an outside curve…you want to make your adjustments with your needle in the down position on the fabric side {Picture #1}. On an inside curve…you want to make adjustments with your needle in the down position in the appliqué {Picture #2}. You will make a slight adjustment for every stitch when working on a curve.

Applique Tutorial by Jacks & Kate

Below is a picture of what you want your stitching NOT to look like. Look at the span of stitching form arrow to arrow. See all that wonkiness? That’s a combination of going too fast and not making the right adjustments.

Applique Tutorial by Jacks & Kate


My machine will do a “fix” for me. It basically ties the top thread and bobbin thread together..then knots it. If yours doesn’t do this, then you will want to hand knot from the backside. I also like to dab just the tiniest bit of fray check where I ended my stitching {careful not to squeeze the entire bottle on your appliqué. I know this how??}

I hope this tutorial is helpful to all those wanting to learn appliqué. You can read this over and over, but the best way to learn… is to just do it. Your stitch work might not be great at first, but you will improve over time.

Happy sewing!


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