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Classic Applique Embroidery

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Applique embroidery uses fabric pieces to fill in parts of a design and finishes with a smooth satin stitch.  This tutorial demonstrates how to stitch a design that uses one piece of fabric as well as how to use a dieline to cut the applique fabric to the proper shape and size.

Project Needs & Notes

- Applique fabric (good-quality and tightly-woven
  quilter's cotton, denim, felt, canvas, twill, etc.)
- Medium-weight (2.5 ounce) cutaway stabilizer
- Base fabric (in this example, a kitchen towel)
- Temporary spray adhesive

For this tutorial, I use the Apple (Applique) design. Find even more applique designs in the Applique category here.

Designs Used

All applique designs from Embroidery Library come with a dieline file.

Download the applique design and unzip it. Extract the files, and look for the file marked with the letters "DL." That is the dieline.

Dielines are used to cut applique fabric to the right shape and size.

When you download an applique design, you will find multiple files. Some are the embroidery files, and the others are dieline files marked with the letters "DL". Dielines are used to cut the fabric to the correct shape and size. Open and print each dieline file using an embroidery software. If you do not have an embroidery software, take a look at our helpful video on using dielines.

To prepare the applique piece, spray a piece of medium-weight cutaway stabilizer with temporary adhesive.

Smooth the applique fabric on top. Then, place the printed dieline on top, and cut out the shape.

Some applique fabric, like the lace in this Delicate Details Bunny (Applique) design, does not need stabilizer. Simply proceed with the next steps and skip adding a layer of stabilizer to your applique fabric.

When using faux fur fabric as applique, as in this Fuzzy Woodland Squirrel (Applique) design, you can use a water-soluble stabilizer such as Sulky Ultra Solvy as a topping. This will keep the stitching looking crisp on top of the fabric.

Simply lay the topping over the design after adding the faux fur fabric, then continue embroidering. After the design is complete, tear away as much of the topping as possible, then remove the rest according to the manufacturer's instructions. See the tutorial Embroidering on Faux Fur for more information.

In the above step, the applique fabric is backed with cutaway stabilizer. The towel needs stabilizer, too.

Cutaway stabilizer is the best choice for a kitchen towel. Hoop the towel with one piece of  medium-weight (2.5 ounce) cutaway stabilizer.

Load the full embroidery design (not the dieline) to the machine.

The color change sheet shows the stitching order. The first thing to embroider is a dieline. That traces the shape for the applique piece.

Spray the back of the applique fabric and stabilizer piece with a bit of temporary adhesive.

Place it in the outline on the towel.

Continue embroidering the design.

A tackdown stitch, also called a zigzag stitch, is next. That binds the applique fabric to the base fabric.

The satin stitch border is the finishing touch. In this example, the leaf and stem of the apple are stitched with thread.

Trim the excess stabilizer away from the back of the towel. Leave about 1/2" around the design.

Applique designs are a wonderful way to use favorite fabric prints and patterns to bring a unique and custom look to your embroidery.