This method produces a fine zig-zag on the raw edges
of your appliqué.
Set your machine on zig-zag.
Shorten the stitch width so it just covers the edge of
the fabric piece, but goes over into the fabric background about 1/16th of an
inch. My machine has numbers 1-5 and I set mine at just a little under 2.
Shorten the stitch length to something a little longer
than the normal satin stitch setting. My machine has numbers 1-5 and I set it on ½.
Needle Down: If your machine has the option of needle
down, set this option. In other words, every time your machine stops the needle
stops down in the fabric. It helps hold the piece you are sewing on in position,
while you move your hands or slightly move the block as you are turning the
corner or going around a curve. If your machine does not have this option, then
always hand wheel the needle to go into the fabric when you stop.
Use a foot that has an open section in the front, or
is a see-thru plastic, so you can see your stitching. This is not always an option
with some brands, but if your machine has that option, it is a little easier to
see where you are going and what your stitch is doing if you can see the space
right in front of your foot. Your line is straighter, and you have less opportunity
to miss the fabric edge and then not have good stitch coverage.
Start in a corner rather than the middle of a row. The
starting and ending will have smoother transition. This is not possible with a
circle. You have to start and end somewhere in the circle. Begin with a very short
straight stitch to anchor the stitches. Then start to zig-zag. Don't go real fast,
but then don't go real slow. It is hard to keep an even stitch and line going too
fast or too slow. You somehow have to find a happy medium.
Try to make your corners and curves smooth. Being able
to see in front of the foot helps. When you get to the end, zig-zag right up to
the starting zig-zag stitches, then change to a very short straight stitch length
and stitch just a few stitches. Cut your threads even with the fabric and press.
I like to press with a little bit of steam and from the wrong side of the fabric
on a soft ironing board. It keeps from mashing (mash is a technical term!) the
Now, place the next piece on your block and do the
same thing, continuing for all of your pieces. Do a final press of your block,
then square it up and trim the block to the size specified for your pattern. If
you have cut your backing piece just slightly larger, you will be able to do this.
When you hand or machine appliqué, the stitching draws up the background piece and
makes it a little smaller. That is the reason it is a good idea to cut the background
piece slightly larger and then trim it to size.
One other note: If you machine stitch on a section of a
piece that will be covered by another piece, don't satin stitch in the part that
will be hidden by the top pieces. You may be able to see the stitching or the ridge
it makes underneath the top piece, especially after ironing.
©2003 Dori Hawks