Embroidery Techniques

Applique with the Home Embroidery Machine


Today, we can do just about anything with our sewing machines.  With the introduction of the embroidery unit and digitizing software, our creative possibilities seem endless.  I can hardly wait to see what happens next.

I loved embroidery, but what really got me interested was the software and the idea of digitizing my own artwork.  How fun is that!

I have really enjoyed working on my appliques for children, and at present, I am  doing stitch-outs  of the designs to make sure they stitch perfectly and look the way I wanted.  After that, they are off to the the printer and available for purchase.   Yesterday, while working on my samples,  I thought you might enjoy seeing a little of the process involved in applique with the embroidery unit.

It’s not difficult and is really quite a lot of fun.  The hardest part is picking out the fabrics.

All digitizers of embroidery designs have their own way of doing things, so these steps reflect how I digitize my appliques for the sewing process.

My appliques are digitized with three stitching steps.

Stitching of the Placement Line

Stitching of the Tacking Stitch

Stitching of the Applique Stitch

In the digitizing process, we assign different thread colors to each of the above steps in order to make the machine stop for a thread change.  Even though the machine thinks we are changing threads, we simply tricked the machine so that it would stop sewing and allow us to do some other needed things.   Keep reading and you will understand what I mean.

First, I load my fabric in the hoop without stabilizer.  This is just my preference and is not written in stone.  I just feel I can get a better grip by the hoop  on the fabric without the stabilizer included in the hooping process.

Attach your hooped fabric to the machine arm and slide the stabilizer under the hoop.


Place Stabilizer under Hooped Fabric

After attaching the hoop and slipping your stabilizer under the hooped fabric,  the machine will apply the placement line of stitching  on your background fabric to show you where the first applique part will be applied.  In this case, we will be appliqueing the puddle of water for our little duck.  The photo below,  shows the straight stitch outline for placement of the fabric.


Placement Line of Stitching


Next, we will position our applique fabric over the placement line, and stitch the tacking stitch shown below in the next  two photos.


Placing fabric for applique over placement line



Tacking Stitch



We now need to trim away the excess applique fabric close to the tacking stitch.

You need to be careful not to loosen your fabric in the hoop during the trimming process.  I remove the hoop from the machine and place it flat on a table.  I then hold the excess applique fabric in my hand pulling gently to create a little tension on the fabric which seems to make it easier to snip.  I only snip about 1/4 inch at a time using the very tip of the scissor  rather than trying to make big cuts.  I also keep the scissors in my hand in a comfortable position and turn the hoop to accomodate the scissor position, rather than moving the scissor around the stitching line.  I hope that made sense.  Try to cut as close as you can so your final stitching will cover your raw fabric edges.


Trimming away excess fabric close to tacking stitch

We’re almost finished with the puddle!

Place the hoop back on the machine, and stitch the applique stitch which covers the exposed edges of the applique fabric.


Satin stitch applied

Puddle part is finished and we are ready to move on to the next part of our applique and repeat the same three step  process until our applique parts have been applied and our applique is finished.

How easy was that?

Hope that helps.

If you have any questions, feel free to post them.

Here’s our  little Sailor Puddle Duck.


Sailor Puddle Duck/copyright2011






8 thoughts on “Embroidery Techniques

    • Thank for asking Jan. Puddle Duck is at the printers with a promise of the second week of July for delivery.
      Will post it when ready. I hope to have them ready for the AQS Quilt Show here in Knoxville which starts I think on July 13th. Am hoping to also have a collection of quilting designs done with the embroidery mnachine. Come by the Bernina booth if you happen to be there. Will try to post a picture of one of the finished quilts.

  1. Hi. I have a new Bernina 830 and recently updated my Bernina software. I have recently seen your exquisite machine applique with embroidery at this link.


    I have just about figured out how you did most of this, and managed to even come out with the background stitching and do some basic flower appliques, but I can’t figure how you shaped the embroidery around the edges of the flowers and butterflies. Did you let the machine do a straight stitch around the edges and then digitized the embroidery over the edges or is there some way to get the machine to embroider shaped edges such as the ones you have so beautifully digitized on these flowers and butterflies when it does the applique?

    I really admire your work. It’s magnificent.


    Betty Jo

  2. Kathy…what stabilizer do you put under the hoop. I need to embroider names on some quilt blocks. What is the best way to do this?


    • Hi Donna. I am going to assume that the blocks are on a woven fabric and that the quilt has not been quilted. Whenever you embroidery on a woven material, the problem that you need to prevent is the puckering that takes place when you are adding stitches to an already existing thread count in your woven material. I always use a light weight tear away stabilizer sometimes needing two or more layers depending on how dense the embroidery is. If you are stitching a satin stitch font, a couple of layers should be enough. If the letters are fill stitch letters, you might need to use 3. Try to use a stabilizer brand that is not abrasive. Some can feel scratchy to the touch, and I try to avoid those to cut down on thread fraying. Always buy good quality stabilizers. It’s worth it in the long run. It is always recommended to load the stabilizer in the hoop, but there are times when you can slip it under the hoop. Just be sure to get the fabric as tight as possible in the hoop and also make sure the stabilizer does not extend past the hoop into the area of your embroidery arm. Hope that helps. Feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns that I can help you with.

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