Machine Applique does it sound difficult or scary to you? It doesn’t have to be!

Machine Applique – the process of preparing and stitching a shape to a quilt block or background fabric.

I’m sharing today how I use machine applique in my quilts, and how you can too!

Applique illustration with a small zigzag in the center and a straight stitch around the edge.

Learn the Basics

** Thread – I like to use Glide Embroidery thread. It is a thin, polyester embroidery thread. It is so awesome because it does not break or knot. It also has a slight sheen to it that adds beauty to the finished piece!

**Sewing machine needles – I like to start with a new needle when I start a new project. I usually use a 80/12 machine needle.

**Applique pieces or shapes and background fabric. For this tutorial I will be talking about applique shapes that have the edges turned under. For example, quarter or full Dresdens or English Paper Pieced Hexie flowers. The background is the quilt block or maybe it is the front of a pouch you are making that you will be appliquing your pieces to.

Steps to Machine Applique

Step 1 – Assembly and make ready your Hexie flower or other shapes

Step 2 – Center it on the block, by folding the block in half vertically and horizontally and finding the centre. Smooth it out so it lies flat. Then pin it with several pins. Another option us to use a washable glue. and just place a small amount on the wrong side. I personally like to use pins. I find if it is pinned well it is not moving!

Step 3 – Decide what stitch you will use to applique your shapes. You have a few options here, a small zigzag, a decorative stitch or even a straight stitch works.

Sometimes I experiment and try different things. One of the deciding factors for me is figuring out if I want to add a component to the quilt or piece and how much do I want it to show or am I just stitching the shape(s) down.

Step 4 – Thread your machine and put in a new needle. I like grey or silver thread. It goes with anything and looks absolutely amazing!

***TIP*** I strongly encourage you to experiment with a scrap of fabric to find out what size of stitch you like, how it will look and what is the best way to feed your piece through your machine when you begin your machine applique. I can’t stress this enough, to make a trial on a sample first!

**Zigzag for machine applique – when I use a small zigzag I like to make sure that the stitch is catching both pieces of fabric. Essentially this means that the edge of my applique shape needs to be feeding into my machine at the centre.

**Using the Blanket Stitch – when I use this stitch I like the straight stitch along the edge of the shape and the stitches perpendicular to be on the applique piece. Whatever stitch you choose, the goal is to have the stitch catching both of the pieces of fabric.

Step 5 – Ready Set Applique!

Place your piece on your machine and I usually start somewhere inthe middle and not at a corner. Slowly start stitching turning the fabric as needed to make your way around the shape.

See How to Applique a Hexie flower


I always turn corners with the needle down and in the right side position of the stitch I am using. this way when you turn the corner, your first stitch should go to the left catching your appique shape.

**Pay attention to the corners or points stitching right up to them, and with the needle down go ahead and turn the corner.

Continue stitching until you have completely stitched down the entire shape.

I love the way applique looks especially with embroidery thread! It adds so much to the piece. I enjoy appliqueing Hexie flowers. If you are wanting to learn more about or how to English Paper Piece you can learn here . . .

4 Comments on Machine Applique in 5 Easy Steps, a Tutorial

  1. Hello!! You make it seem simple, why does it seem to stress me? First off no fusing?? with the heat n bond, do you ever choose that for some of the more intricate designs like a Pine Needles pattern?…and no stabilizer? I want to learn more. Thank you!

    • I do use fusing when I do raw edge applique, but for edges that are turned under before you stitch them down, I don’t find it necessary. I do use starch which does add a bit of stiffness to the fabric. I also am careful to use simple applique shapes that don’t require lots of extras to keep them in place.

  2. I really want to learn to applique. I read all your direction and watched the video. I will get some of that thread you recommended. How do you keep that large spool on the machine. My machine has a small thread holder on top.

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