Machine Blanket Stitch Applique

Some time ago I posted a tutorial on showing a fused Blanket Stitch hand applique method for working with Felted Wool.
Since I have heard that many quilters are afraid to try Applique; I thought today it might be of interest to follow up with an easy fusible Blanket Stitch machine applique method.

This method can be quickly done and looks great on almost any type of applique block such as this Sunbonnet Sue block pattern which was first published in the Kansas City Star in 1930.

Any applique pattern can be done in this method. Trace all the pieces in the design onto the paper side of the fusible web. Note: if the pattern is not symmetrical, you must make a mirror image of the pattern before tracing it onto the fusible web. It this is not done the pattern will be facing the opposite way to your origianal drawing.
I prefer a soft fusible web such as SoftFuse or HeatnBond Lite so that the appliques do not feel stiff or hard.

Rough cut out the shapes leaving approximately 1/4 inch around the shapes. If you prefer you can cut the paper out of the interior of larger shapes, as shown in the example of Sunbonnet Sue's sleeve shape which is shown below. This leaves the shapes softer and more flexible.

Iron the fusible web shapes onto the wrong side of your chosen fabrics following the instructions that come with the brand of fusilbe web that you are using.

Let the shapes cool and then cut them out directly along the traced
lines--except remember to leave the 1/4 inch if there is a place where one shape tucks under another. Remove the paper and place the shapes onto your background block. Using a Teflon pressing sheet helps you easily position the applique shapes and fuse them together before placing them on your background block. It also helps prevent any fusible from getting on your iron. Press the shapes in place onto your background block following the pressing directions that come with your brand of fusible web.

Traditionally this type of applique was done over the raw edge as curved edges do not fray very much and the blanket stitch encloses the edge providing a seam finish. Often black thread was used to give an outline to the shapes; but a matching thread can also be used as shown on the Heart blocks on the right.

Sometimes it helps to use a stabilizer behind the background fabric as shown on the Heart block on the upper left. If you lightly starch the background fabric this may not be necessary. If your work starts to pucker, place some tissue paper or a light weight stabilizer behind the applique shapes before doing the stitching.

Use a machine open toe embroidery foot so that you can see clearly where you are stitching. Use either cotton machine embroidery thread 60/2 or just regular 50 weight cotton thread in both the top and in the bobbin. A machine quilting needle 75/11 or a machine embroidery needle 75/11 work well for the stitching.

Choose a Blanket Stitch selection--I used # 26 on your machine. Loosen the top tension (use a smaller number--I used 2.6 for my sample)so that no bobbin thread shows on the top.

Adjust the length and width of the stitch to your preference--make a sample and record the settings that you used, so that you can refer to them at a later time.

Stitch any underneath pieces first so that beginnings and endings can be hidden underneath the top pieces.

The needle should just brush the cut edge of the shape being appliqued as you sew. The bite should be wide enough to hold the fabric securely and prevent fraying. Sewing slowly helps you keep your stitches lined up neatly along the cut edge.

Outside corners should be done manually by turning the hand wheel so that there are three stitches at the corner with all stitches meeting in the same inside needle hole. One stitch will be just before the corner, the middle stitch will go diagonally into the corner, and the third stitch will be just after the corner.

An indent should also be done manually in the same manner so that one stitch is right at the indent. Loosening the pressure on your machine foot with help you turn the block more easily; or if you have a pressure foot lifter (see below) this makes the stitching easier as you do not have to lift the pressure foot by hand each time you change direction. You press your knee against this lifter and it will raise the pressue foot so you do not have to take your hands away from your stitching area.

Choosing the "needle down" position makes the needle stay in place when you stop and have to change direction. Pull the threads to the wrong side and tie them.

When all the stitching is completed; if you have used a stabilizer, tear this away from the back of the block. Make sure all thread ends are tied and clipped closely so that they will not shadow through to the front. Press carefully using steam.

Please leave your contact information if you have any questions concerning this tutorial.