How to Applique

The How to Applique Videos are half way down this page.

Here is a link to a free beginner's kitten pattern to print out and use while you watch and learn machine applique techniques in the videos below. 

Most people learn visually, so we've created some videos to help you become an expert.  Relax, grab some popcorn...this is fun! After you've watched the techniques videos, come back and read the email interchange I had with an inquiring customer at the bottom of this page.



I just finished watching all of your videos - wonderful! I can't wait to begin working with the patterns that I bought from you at the Quilt Show last weekend. I enjoyed looking at the quilt you were working on at the show, following the embroidered flowers and trees - just beautiful.

I do have a question, what is your thought process about deciding whether or not you are using the straight stitch around the critter (like the long haired cat) or the satin stitch (like the moose)? I like both techniques and will try each of them but I was wondering about the "why." I will send a photo when I have something done. I plan on beginning small so hopefully it will be soon. Thanks again. Susan

HI Susan,

There is a reason for satin stitching the edges or raw edge stitching. Fuzzy animals, like cats, look better in raw edge, and smooth animals, like dolphins, look good in satin stitch. The moose are depicted further away from the viewer than the cats. The furry edge is not as obvious when you see them from that distance. Satin stitching shows the edges better so the viewer can tell which legs are in front and which are in back.

Remember though, that I've been appliquing as a pattern designer since 1989, when raw edge was not done. The earlier patterns are all satin stitched because that was what was the accepted method then. But even satin stitching was not accepted as a real quilting technique in the 70's. If it wasn't done by hand, then it wasn't a quilt. That was the thinking. Even today, people tell me they won't do raw edge. They don't like the results. Also in the choices for stitching methods, is thread painting, like I used on the Hedgehogs. Thread painting is raw edge stitching on steroids, drawing the fur by moving the fabric back and forth, to fill in an area.

This is a free country. Nothing is wrong or right. Whatever you decide to do, is appropriate for your project. Mastering all the techniques gives you the power to do your best work. Machine work gets things done faster. Now that I've started to felt my appliques, I've added another option. In the Sheep Wannabees, I am showing that all sorts of animals can be done that way as well. So I am coming full circle, with all my hand embroidery, slowing down the process of making a quilt (it appears)...since you don't embroider every inch, it doesn't take as long as it looks like it takes.




I have watched your videos and read all the comments but I still am not getting how you are going back and forwards with your feed dogs up. Could you please explain.  Thank you, Dawn

Hi Dawn,

It is easy to understand once you walk your sewing machine through the actions.  When the needle goes into the fabric the foot goes down.  When the needle goes up the foot goes up too.  Now you can move the fabric in any direction to free motion sew.  You can't go too far though because the needle is going up and down very fast, there isn't a lot of time to move the fabric. 

The purpose of leaving your feed dogs working is to give you more even stitches.  When you put the feed dogs down (not working) YOU make the size of the stitches, not the machine.  This causes you pain in the shoulders and a bit of stress to try and make the stitching look even.


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