As most of you may remember I've an aunt that is new to quilting. Unfortunately she doesn't live close, so we can only talk about quilting via the phone or email. So far she's only pieced quilts but has expressed an interest in machine applique. Today's post is a short tutorial with some helpful links about machine applique.
The first thing is making the pieces. I learned to make applique from Erin Russek's blog One Piece at a Time. Here's a link to her applique lessons, and in my humble opinion they're the best applique tutorials on the internet.
Erin is known for her amazing free BOM's, this years freebie is so cute! You can find it here. Of course I didn't come up with this method of machine applique all on my own. Here's a link to where I learned some helpful tips on making the best invisible machine applique.
Okay after you get all your pieces made you need to stitch them down as quickly as possible before you loose your quilty mojo. Here's what you'll need.
Let's go over these items.
1. Superior Mono Poly thread. Great stuff! It won't melt or discolor and it's invisible. It comes in two different shades, smoke and clear. I prefer clear because it blends best with my color palette. You could use a matching thread if you wish but for me this works best because I don't need to change my thread several times for one project. And should I make a mistake in stitching it's less likely to show because it's invisible.
2. A thread net. This may not be needed with your machine but for mine it a must because my thread holder lays on it side(picture below) With out it the thread gets tangled coming off the spool. You can get them at Joann's or online shops. But mine were free from the local florist. Yep FREE! A lot of the flowers are shipped with thread nets around them. Just ask your local florist if she'll save a few for you the next time you order fresh flowers.
3. 70/10 needle. This is my go to needle and works best for me in almost all of my quilting. I even piece with it. When doing invisible applique it makes a tiny hole, that's all you need for this very fine hairlike thread.
4. A pair of reading glasses, so you can see the tiny stitches as you make them. Now not everyone is going to need these. But my ole eyes need a little extra help. My reading glasses aren't strong enough so I borrow Mr. Podunks when doing small machine stitches.
Below is my machine. You can see the thread spool and net. Before appliqueing your block make a test piece for testing your stitch tension and width. Every machine is different, what you're looking for is the smallest stitch possible without making big puckers. I'm using a tiny blanket stitch that I programmed into my machine. For some reason Brother thinks quilters don't need a stitch this tiny. Thank goodness I had the option to design my own. Several different stitch styles will work for this type of applique. A blind hem stitch or a zigzag are good options.
This project was started before my dad had surgery. So I started hand appliqueing while in waiting rooms. Well the waiting is over and I want it done. Part of this is hand and part machine, see the difference? It's minimal.
Here's a shot of the backside. Amazing just how invisible it really is!
Okay let's take a look at the stitch in action. Pull your bottom thread to the top. If you don't know how to do this here's a tutorial. Don't cut your thread tails just yet, we'll need them later. Remember to do a tack stitch after you pull the bobbin thread to the top. If you machine doesn't have a tack stitch do two or three back stitches to properly anchor your thread. You'll want to start with your needle as close to the applique piece as possible.
Just how wide is the stitch? About one or two threads into the applique, 3 or 4 at the most. You can do this, I promise, just take it slow until you get the feel for the tiny stitch. If your machine has a speed control this is a good time to try it out. If you look a the picture of my machine above you'll see a slider button right next to the scissors button. It's set to a fairly slow stitch.
This is why I leave my thread tails, so I can see where I started! They'll be clipped ass soon as this piece is done.
The completed circle. Can you see the stitches? Sure, but you're super close. If any one is this close to your quilt they better be carrying a basket of ribbons and a big ole grand prize check.
Let's back up a little.
And a little more.... there's really no more distortion to the fabric than there is with hand applique.
It's so much quicker and the results are pretty darn close to handwork.