Tell all: applique stitching tips

Yesterday I mentioned that I would share with you my machine applique tips, because quilters would write and ask about the stitches I use on my applique from time to time.

Well, you probably won’t be all that impressed after I share with you my little secret! And really, it truly is no big patent-able idea! On my published quilts, my method of choice for applique is blanket stitched fusible applique.

I set my blanket stitches teeny tiny in order to achieve the neat and tidy look. The stitch width and length are between 1.4-1.6 on my Bernina on the fabric. For fabrics that tend to fray easily, I use 1.6. Otherwise, I try to set my stitches as small as possible.

I have also found that stitching with fine threads makes my stitches look better. I have used both YLI Silk 100 and Aurifil Mako 50 Cotton with very satisfactory results.

Up close and personal:  You can see in this next picture the effect of buttonhole stitching with YLI silk 100.  To me, the stitches look neater with a finer weight thread.  I also like the fact that stitches stitched with the finer weight thread do not have an overpowering effect on the overall applique.  You can see that the stitches penetrate about 3 threads into the fabric weave.  I generally do not go more than three or four threads with the width penetration.  And with a much shorter stitch length, I was able to nicely follow the shape of the applique shapes.  Undoubtedly with tiny stitches, it takes more time to cover the territory so to speak, but it’s worth the extra effort and time:

Joan asked about the foot I use – I almost exclusively use my 20C foot because its wide opening affords me the best visibility.  I would imagine any foot you have that has a wide opening and can accommodate the widths of the blanket stitch would work.

So, there you have it. My not-so-impressive secrets are out. Your thoughts (especially after you try my method)?

48 thoughts on “Tell all: applique stitching tips

  1. Wendy: Thank you so much for sharing. All your work looks so neat and very professional as always so now I must try to do this. I think I was using to heavy thread plus too long a stitches. Thanks a million. You are a motivator to me.

  2. Thanks for the tips. I will use them on my next project. Could you recommend a brand of fusible web? Would you be able to wash the quilts or is it more suitable for decorative wallhangings only. Your work is beautiful and I enjoy all your posts, thanks.

  3. OK. I just tried this, and I do like the unobtrusiveness of the tiny blankets.

    Have you used this stitching style on any quilts that get used and WASHED much? Does it hold up well? Or do the edges get really fuzzy after a couple of washes?


  4. I am so happy to know that you use the same applique stitch that I do. I’ve experimented with other stitches and I always go back to the blanket stitch. Thank you so much for all the tips. You do beautiful work!

  5. Thanks for these tips. I’m anxious to try some of them as I usually don’t like fusing and blanket stitch. However, on your quilts they are beautiful and now I want to try it. I’m particularly interested in trying those different threads. Thanks again.

  6. Thank you SO much Wendy – that is all sew helpful :) I will certainly keep the notes and try this…its something I am not at all good at. Its always a pleasure to see what you do and also how you do it…Again – I thank you

  7. I have used the same stictch on my machine called the pin stitch. I however have never used silk, and I will try that. Thanks for the tip. Bunny

  8. The only tip or comment I would add is that being a Bernina user myself, whenever I machine applique I am sure to thread the bobbin thread through the “finger” of the bobbin case. That little extra step makes all the difference to achieve a thread tension that keeps the bobbin thread below the surface of the quilt. I love the precision and beauty of your stitches, Wendy!

  9. This is the only type of applique I do – well, I also do blanket stitch by hand, I find it very soothing. I use my walking foot to do it on my machine, and machine embroidery thread. My favorite way to applique!

  10. It all looks lovely, and nice to see you make it easy for newcomers who might be put off by the traditional turning method to try. As to free motion quilting, I still haven’t been game enough to give it a try :) Happy crafting, Jenny

  11. I’m just glad to know it’s that easy! LOL I’ll give it a try very soon and let you know of my results. Thanks so much for sharing! Happy Wednesday! :)

  12. Beautiful! I usually do a satin stitch for my machine applique unless I’m going for a chunky buttonhole with black thread. But, yours looks so pretty, I’m definitely going to add it to my repetoire!! Thanks so much for the tutorial!

  13. Wendy, do you turn under the edges of your fabric before you stitch it down? It’s hard to tell in the pictures. I’ve done very limited machine applique but after seeing yours’, I’d like to give it a try.

  14. Hi Wendy! I´m spanish dealer of bernina, and I love them so much too. I love to make my works with bernina 440 and my 830. I use this stich so much. My last work made with ir was a Christmas quilt of Nina Halvorsen. It is so wonderful work! If you want to see it is in my blog. Thanks and bye!

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  17. these tips are awesome…thanks for taking the time to let us know all of this…

    where did you find the pattern for the teacup and saucer. that is just the cutest..

    thanks for all you share with us

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  21. Wendy, This is my first time on your page. Looking at you applique work it is beautiful. Thank you for sharing your work as not all of us can afford to pay for lessons.

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  23. Thankyou Wendy for sharing with us. I have been fussing over learning how to applique, and your tips look like something I can handle. You inspire me to try more and more things with my quilting. I wish the best for you and yours to get better soon.

  24. hi Wendy thanks for your page it is so clear to understand and follow I enjoyed trying it could I ask your advice when I sewn an applique onto a cotton bag the hole where the needle went into the bag was very noticable any idea how to stop that from happening it did not show on the applique just the bag side any help would be great thanks Janet x

    • Hi Kay,

      It depends on the weight of the fabrics I am working with – sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. When I do, I either would use a thin iron-on fusible web, or just thin paper that I can easily tear away later.

      Hope this helps, WS

  25. oh i love using blanket stitch on my applique, but since my machine does not have this stitch, i do it by hand. However, when i buy my next machine, i will make sure it has all the stitches i could possibly ever use! To conclude, i just wanted to say i really enjoy your stitches and all the pic and your notes are great for all of us! Thanks for sharing!

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  30. Wendy, I love to use YLI 100wt for satin stitching, it lays flatter, will now try it for blanket stitch. I usually like a shorter stitch also but haven’t tried one as small as you mentioned. Your tips will probably help to like blanket stitch, it’s not my favorite. Thanks.

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