To begin, let's list the reasons we like to applique by hand:
Portable, around the house or around the world.
Relaxing, even therapeutic.
Can engage in conversation with friends and family while quietly stitching, anywhere.
Can keep stitching when the power goes out.
Prefer the look and feel.
Now let's list the reasons for machine applique:
Faster (if your sewing machine is cleared off and working).
Don't know how to applique by hand.
OK, that's a bit biased, we confess. But what would you expect from us, really?
Seriously, through the years we have done our share of machine applique, too. And we do know there are times when machine applique is appropriate and preferred. We also know that many of you really like machine work. So for those times, and those people, we share the things that work well for us when using our machines.
First, and most importantly, if you are making one of our 2 Fabric Applique Quilts, READ and FOLLOW the "Fusible Machine Applique Instructions" in every 2 Fabric Applique Quilt pattern. Promise us you will do that, it will make your life so much simpler and more enjoyable.
For your chosen fusible, follow only the bonding instructions for temperature and pressing duration. Do not follow their marking instructions, or your quilt image will end up being backwards on your quilt, and it will just be harder to do. Trust us, read and follow our instructions in the 2 Fabric Applique Quilt patterns.
Set your sewing machine to a narrow zigzag stitch (between 2 and 2.5)
For stitch length, our preference is to have some space between the zigzags so the applique fabric will show through as in the image. The setting for stitch length is about 3/4.
Here are more of our stitching tips:
Engage the needle-down feature on your machine.
Begin stitching on a straight edge, not on a curve.
Stitching on the right side of this sample is better than the stitching on the left.
Position your fabric so the needle drops into the background fabric just barely off the edge of your applique fabric.
To turn an outside right-angle corner, stop with the needle down exactly at the corner of the applique fabric, turn the quilt top and stitch the next side.
To create a point, taper your stitch width as you approach the tip of the point, turn your quilt top and expand the stitch width as you move away from the tip.
To stitch a valley, sew just past the center of the valley, turn and stitch back over those few stitches as you go up the opposite side.
If you really want to perfect your machine applique stitching there are lots of resources available to explore different types of stitches and methods. These are the basics that work for us.