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An appliqué design is basically where s design incorporates
a section of fabric cut into a shape and secured to another fabric
(your projects fabric) by blanket stitch or satin stitch. Digitizers
automate the process in appliqué designs making the process
of appliqué by machine embroidery simple and easy to do.
Appliqué is fun to do, quick and produces wonderful results
without lots of stitching. Also great for children's clothing where
you do not want too many stitches against the child's skin.
These instructions are designed for sewers who are new to machine
embroidery appliqué and would like to see how it is done
and how easy and fun it can be.
The instructions go through the process of doing a simple machine
embroidery appliqué design from Bunnycup Embroidery’s School
is Cool embroidery design set. The principals apply to any appliqué
With Bunnycup Embroidery’s appliqué designs – in addition
to these instructions, each design also includes a txt color chart
which also has further instructions and the actual needle color
changes. All of Bunnycup Embroidery’s appliqué designs are
manually punched so that each step of the appliqué process
is recognized as a distinct color change to ensure that your machine
stops between each step. Some digitizers will put the steps of the
appliqué process in the same color meaning that your machine
will not automatically stop at each step.
An example of a text color chart follows this tutorial.
The first step of any project is to make sure you have the right
materials. Suggested materials include:
• Embroidery machine
• Embroidery threads
• Your item to fabric you want to appliqué to
• Appliqué machine embroidery design
• Small pieces of fabric for the appliqués
• Sharp small or curved scissors (I prefer sharp curved nail scissors
as they get in the curves and trim well)
• Spray on adhesive (optional)
Properly stabilize and hoop your fabric. In this tutorial,
the background fabric has been hooped with two pieces of medium
Stitch out the placement line as document in the text color
chart. This stitches out a template which you will lay the appliqué
Cut out a piece of fabric that will over the placement line.
Place the fabric over the line you stitched.
Some might like to spray the back of the appliqué fabric
with spray on adhesive.
Stitch the cutting line (as detailed in the text color charts).
Carefully remove the hoop from the machine. DO NOT UNHOOP.
Using appliqué scissors (curved ones work very well),
trim the appliqué fabric as close to the line as possible
without cutting the stitching.
Replace the hoop in the machine.
Proceed to the next step which will be either a tack down line
or the appliqué satin stitch depending on the design.
Refer to color chart for details of what step is next. A tack
down line is sometimes used to further stabilize the material
depending on the design.
Stitch the final step, being the satin stitch outline, inch
marks and numbers in this case. Viola, the cutest little ruler
that ever graced a school.
Appliqué designs typically come with a JPEG color chart
and a text color chart. The JPEG color chart will show the digitized
colors – but as each appliqué step is digitized in a different
color to ensure your machine automatically stops at each appliqué
step, you will also need to refer to the text color chart. The text
color chart also includes some useful information as to the appliqué
process. For this reason I have included an example of the text
color chart for this particular design.
School is Cool Appliqué 1 Text Color Chart
You will see some colors that may be repeat colors, or many color
changes in appliqué designs. It is important that you do
not change the order to attempt to reduce the color changes. Many
of the color changes are not actually color changes, rather are
placement lines, cutting lines or tacking down lines. These are
critical to the structure and success of your appliqué design.
You will use the color of the appliqué stitch or a light
plain color for placement, cutting or tack down lines rather than
the color that shows up on your machine, software or that listed
Where the needle below says placement line - these stitches will
stitch out a template on your fabric to show you where to place
your appliqué fabric (i.e. on top of your other fabric).
Please the appliqué stitch color or a light color for these
After sewing out a placement line, place your appliqué fabric
on top of your other fabric. It is suggested that you may use a
light spray adhesive to attach the two fabrics together so that
the appliqué fabric does not slip when the cutting line stitches
Where the needle below says cutting line, this is a line which
you cut your appliqué fabric. It is recommended that you
use a pair of nail scissors which will cut close to the cutting
line. These can be purchased from embroidery shops or from pharmacies.
Trim as close to the cutting line as you can without cutting the
Where the needle below says tack down line, this will stitch out
a set of stitches to further tack down your fabric.
Where the needle below says appliqué stitch - this will
stitch out the satin or blanket stitch forming the visible stitching
of the appliqué.
If there is no notation against the color below, the color noted
should be used as it is an object (filled part or decoration lines)
in the design. Please note that from time to time, an object color
will show in between steps in the appliqué - this is necessary
detail that will show on your appliqué fabric.
Needle 1,White - PLACEMENT LINE
Needle 2,Silver Gray - CUTTING LINE
Needle 3,Gray - TACKDOWN LINE
Needle 4,Black - APPLIQUE STITCH
This is a very common question that arises on many embroidery designs. There are a number of reasons as to why an outline may be off including;
If you are using a reputable and experienced digitizers design, the design in question will have been tested to ensure the outlines and components are properly in place and the underlying issue often is insufficient stabilization. I have included a section below as to some common stabilization techniques to help improve the performance of your stitch out.
Some common things to check when your outlines are off are:
Stabilization is tricky and complicated part of machine embroidery; however, it is also the underlying foundation of good embroidery. Without proper stabilization, designs may pucker or sag and outlines may be off, stitches may sink into the fabric or fabric might poke through the stitching. Stabilization is one specific areas that new comers to embroidery may not be knowledgeable and consequently is a common cause of heartache when stitching out designs.
Many experienced embroiderers have developed their own technique as to proper stabilization, including adhering the underlying stabilizer with and adhesive spray and stitching a template around the hoop to attaché the stabilizer to the fabric prior to stitching out a design. Once learning what stabilization is recommended for your design and fabric, try some of these techniques to see if they help you in your stitch out performance.
I have included below a basic chart of stabilizers and how they can be used:
Type of Stabilizer
Light to medium weight woven fabrics
Stretchy, unstable fabrics
Most fabrics – especially lightweight fabrics
Free Standing Lace Designs and topping on toweling, corduroy, velvet and knits
Fabric or quilts that can not been hooped
Unwashable fabrics/projects and delicate fabrics
The basic recommendation that I have here is to ensure the fabric is firm in the hoop – but not pulled excessively tightly or too loose as this again can effect the performance of your design.
The following table list design formats and the corresponding machine brand.
Baby Lock, Bernina Deco, Brother
Elna, Janome/New Home, Kenmore